Project management trends to watch in 2014

Read Andy Makar's predictions about what will be the hottest project management trends in the coming year, and then let us know if you'd make changes to his list.



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,, 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.