Believe it or not, organizations worldwide waste a staggering $1 million every 20 seconds due to poor project management. As a result, more and more organizations turn to project management to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, improve customer and stakeholder satisfaction, and deliver results consistently, paving the way for greater value addition and business outcomes. So it’s no secret that project management continues to evolve rapidly, primarily driven by technological advancements, changing work dynamics, and an ever-growing demand for efficiency.
But what does 2024 have in store for project management as a discipline? In this article, we’ll explore the top project management trends that are set to redefine the way teams collaborate, communicate, and deliver successful projects in 2024.
Trend #1. AI and Project Management
Organizations invest $48 trillion in projects annually, but only a little over one-third of projects are considered successful. This is one reason why project management is long overdue for a little modernization. Many project managers still rely on slides, spreadsheets, and manual record-keeping for creating and managing project plans, stakeholders, and risks. These methods might help project managers get by and hit deadlines and deliverables but are woefully insufficient for large and complex projects with many moving parts and stakeholders.
We all know that generative AI (GenAI) took a massive step forward in 2023. So, we can only expect to see further growth in 2024 and beyond. But how exactly will GenAI impact project management? The best use of GenAI in project management is to automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2030, AI will “eliminate” up to 80% of project management tasks, which includes but is not limited to the following:
- Data collection and analysis
- Timeline updates
- Earned value (EV) calculations
Will AI Replace Project Managers?
This question is very top-of-mind for project managers and organizations alike. Whether you are an organization with a need for project management to increase productivity and deliver more successful project outcomes or you are an experienced or aspiring project manager, this question has likely crossed your mind at some point.
In 2024, AI will continue to be a game-changer in project management. We can expect more sophisticated AI integrations that streamline workflows and allow project managers to focus on strategic aspects and enhance project leadership.
But will AI replace project managers? Not a chance.
AI-driven project management tools are designed to enhance productivity and decision-making, from automating routine tasks to predicting potential risks. This means that AI will help project management professionals, giving them more significant forward-looking insights and increasing their “power steering” over project success. Here’s how:
- Improve risk management
- Represent the “C” for Consulted in your RACI or DARCI charts
- Improve project information delivery
- Sharpen communications with stakeholders
Trend #2. Increased Focus on Stakeholder Management
Another area of project management that is growing in importance in 2024 and that AI cannot automate is stakeholder management. Today, good project management goes beyond simply creating task lists and timelines; it prioritizes the well-being of project teams, incorporating those initiatives into everyday project management practices, and fostering a more positive team culture, all of which helps position organizations to reach their strategic goals. Additionally, more and more organizations are becoming more people-focused, offering programs and benefits that put mental health and well-being front and center, as well as programs that help individuals promote a healthy work-life balance. Therefore, stakeholder management is a cornerstone of project success.
By remaining attuned to stakeholder sentiment, project managers can effectively tailor their communication and engagement strategies to address individual stakeholder needs and preferences. How? By appropriate stakeholder mapping. AI-driven personalization fosters deeper connections with stakeholders, enhancing trust and collaboration throughout the project lifecycle. Moreover, AI helps identify emerging issues early, allowing project managers to proactively address concerns and keep stakeholders informed and engaged.
Overall, the increased focus on stakeholder management, coupled with AI tools and practices, will help project managers lead and deliver more successful project outcomes and higher stakeholder satisfaction.
Trend #3. Data-driven Decision-making
We can’t talk about AI without data. Data analytics is pivotal in project management. In fact, the two often intersect. Data provides insights that drive informed decision-making related to specific projects, rolling up to higher-level organizational strategies. Advanced analytics tools enable project managers to analyze historical project data, predict trends, and make data-driven decisions to optimize processes and resource allocation.
The introduction of modern data collection through digital systems has increasingly transformed how data can be used to inform decision-making. The methods by which data is collated, stored, and analyzed can help transform project planning and implementation. Data science teams use their knowledge to provide rapid, meaningful, and useful insights to project managers, helping align priorities with the data that is available, accurate, and known.
The importance of complete, accurate data—big or small—isn’t going away anytime soon. So if your data analysis skills need a little dusting off or are brand new to the discipline, consider reading up on or taking a course to help refresh your knowledge in this arena.
Trend #4. Hybrid Project Management Methodologies
Hybrid project management methodologies, combining traditional and agile approaches, are gaining traction. Organizations are recognizing the need for flexibility and adaptability in project execution. The hybrid model allows teams to blend structured planning with agile practices, ensuring a balance between predictability and responsiveness.
What is Hybrid?
No, we aren’t talking about cars, watches, or water heaters. We are talking about a very common project management approach. Gone are the days when project managers had to select and stick to a single project management approach for the entire project lifecycle. Modern projects often combine elements of different lifecycles to achieve project objectives and realize project success. The Hybrid methodology involves a “melting pot” blend of predictive, iterative, incremental, and/or agile approaches.
According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, Sixth Edition by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the hybrid approach is a “combination of two or more agile and non-agile elements, having a non-agile end result.” Early hybrid approach adopters utilized an agile development lifecycle, followed by a predictive rollout phase. This approach is often used when there is uncertainty, complexity, and risk in the development portion of the project. For example, developing a new high-tech product followed by rollout and training to thousands of users.
Why Use It?
So why is this particular project management approach gaining traction in 2024? Today’s project management really comes down to tailoring. This means that organizations must tailor their project management approach according to specific business situations. Here are some scenarios where a hybrid approach might be advantageous:
- Complex Projects with Varied Requirements: Projects that involve diverse requirements across different phases or components may benefit from a hybrid approach. For example, a project may require a traditional waterfall approach for planning and requirements gathering, but an agile approach for development and testing.
- Fast-Paced Projects with Changing Requirements: In dynamic environments where requirements are likely to evolve throughout the project lifecycle, combining agile principles with more structured methodologies can provide flexibility and adaptability.
- Large-Scale Projects with Cross-Functional Teams: Projects involving multiple teams or stakeholders with different skill sets and expertise may require a hybrid approach to manage coordination and communication across the organization effectively.
- Regulated Industries with Compliance Requirements: Projects in regulated industries such as healthcare or finance may need to adhere to strict compliance standards while also maintaining flexibility to respond to changing market demands.
- Resource Constraints and Budget Limitations: In situations where resources are limited or budgets are constrained, a hybrid approach allows project managers to prioritize tasks and allocate resources effectively while focusing on delivering value to stakeholders.
- Risk Management and Mitigation: Projects with high levels of uncertainty or risk may benefit from a hybrid approach that combines elements of predictive and adaptive methodologies to proactively identify and address potential issues.
- Client or Stakeholder Preferences: When clients or stakeholders have specific preferences or requirements regarding project management methodologies, a hybrid approach can provide a tailored solution that meets their needs while also ensuring project success.
Ultimately, the decision to follow a hybrid approach should be based on a thorough assessment of project requirements, constraints, and stakeholder expectations. This just proves that organizations need to be flexible and adaptable when choosing the best project management approach or a combination of them to achieve project objectives effectively.
The Project Management Landscape in 2024
As we delve into 2024, the project management landscape is marked by innovation, adaptability, and a commitment to holistic success. Embracing these trends will empower project managers and teams to navigate the complexities of the modern business environment and achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and success. Stay ahead of the curve, embrace change, and unlock the full potential of project management in 2024 and beyond.