With the new year just weeks away, it is fun to play
Nostradamus and make predictions about project management trends for 2014. These are five trends I think you should watch for in the
project management domain.

1. Project management roles continue to develop
in the business function.

The concept of a project manager is no longer restricted to
IT. Several years ago, system
implementations were staffed with IT project managers and a business resource
who had project and operational responsibilities. Business organizations are getting smarter as
they begin to mirror the IT project management role to ensure successful
implementations. 

The concept of establishing a business owner to represent the
department’s IT priorities will continue to grow. This business/IT lead will take on
business-related project management tasks (including project portfolio
prioritization) and work directly with the IT project management staff to ensure
project success.  HR, finance, legal, and
other business functions will invest in project management training to help
implement organizational changes that were once expected to be completed as
part of business operations.

2. More project schedules will move to the cloud.

In 2014, more firms will move to cloud-based project management
tools to support scheduling and collaboration. Innovative tools like LiquidPlanner, AtTask, ProjectManager.com, Wrike, and Gantter have useful project scheduling tools that are direct competitors
with Microsoft Project. In 2013,
Microsoft’s Project Online with Office 365 also introduced improved web-based
scheduling with its flagship product. LiquidPlanner (Figure A) and AtTask have improved their project scheduling
features to provide different ways to develop and manage a project schedule
collaboratively.

Figure A (click the image to see a larger view)

 

   

These solution providers will continue to innovate the project
scheduling domain, and more firms will take advantage of web-based scheduling
tools that are platform independent and work in mobile environments. Individual scheduling on a single client
machine will eventually be replaced by these innovative scheduling solutions.

As collaborative scheduling increases, you’ll wonder how could
we do it any other way.

3. Online
collaboration tool adoption will increase.

Web-based document
sharing solutions have been around for more than 10 years, yet these tools are being
replaced by seamless collaboration platforms that move teams out of their inbox
and into the collaboration platform.

In 2014, more firms will adopt collaboration tools like tibbr,
Asana, Trello, and Siasto to manage tasks and provide lite project management
support. We’ve already seen a lot of
these tools integrated with Dropbox, SharePoint, Google Docs, and Box in
2013. As the collaboration space improves, platforms will provide an integrated
collaboration suite instead of disparate instant messaging, document management, and desktop sharing tools.

4. There will be more of a reliance on resource management.

With scheduling and project data centralized, resource
management becomes a feasible option. PMOs will develop a better view into the work pipeline and in determining
existing capacity. By integrating
project schedules with collaborative task tracking and time keeping, real-time
resource curves can be developed to obtain a top-down view of the project
pipeline.

Using the platform, data-driven decisions will improve resource
and project portfolio decisions instead of subjective guessing over who has
capacity to take on additional work.

5. Distributed teams will continue to grow.

As firms leverage collaboration solutions and have better
visibility into project and portfolio progress, the reliance on distributed
teams will grow. Collaboration tools
help flatten the obstacles to communication, enabling organizations to access
talent across the state, country, and world without relying entirely on
co-location.

Seven years ago, conference
calls and text messaging were the predominant means to collaborate as a
distributed group. In 2014, better
collaboration tools will improve the way teams work and support greater
distances.

Trends are nice, but
delivery is better

Emerging trends may seem like shiny objects that can distract
project managers from their agreed goals. 
Regardless of new trends, effective project
managers should continue to focus on the technical and leadership skills that
help deliver projects. Customers will
value delivery over the latest collaboration tool. However, I’m convinced that these trends will
only help improve delivery in 2014.