Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Top Project Management Trends & Why Leadership is Important Today

As a practitioner, entrepreneur and an academic, I have observed that there will always be evolving project management trends; however, the rate of change is continuing to accelerate requiring project managers to possess leadership skills to be effective and successful. Although there has been some form of project management since early civilization including structures like the Great Pyramids or the Great Wall in China, project management in the modern sense began in the 1950s even though the Gantt Chart that we use today was invented in 1917. In the 1950s, Dupont invented the Critical Path Method (CPM), and the US Navy developed the Performance Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)and both are fundamental to project management and scheduling1.

In 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was created and officially started Project Management as a Profession. Let’s fast forward to today where PMI serves more than three million professionals including over 650,000 members in 213 countries and territories around the world, with 303 chapters and 14,000 volunteers serving local members in over 180 countries2. In addition to PMI’s global reach, the “World Population Prospects 2022”document released this week has forecast the global population to reach 8 billion by November 15ththis year3.  With population growth and increased globalization, projects are becoming larger, more complex, and increasingly challenging to manage.

The demand for project managers remains high as PMI reports a forecast of 22 million project management job openings through 20274.  To keep up with the demand project managers must adapt to the rapid changing landscape of evolving technologies, tools, and the latest trends in the same manner as the CEO of an organization. Having worked in both roles, they both have similar challenges, requirements, managerial and leadership responsibilities. It is important to understand what the top trends are today through the lens of leadership capabilities. I will discuss 3 top project management trends that have emerged globally and why leadership is a project management skill that is needed now more than ever.

Remote Working

As we all know the pandemic sparked a dramatic increase in remote working globally and it’s trend that is here to stay. With a growing number of employees transitioning into a remote working environment, there are fewer opportunities for face-to-face communication. This presents an opening for collaboration platforms that keep projects progressing accurately and within budget. In fact, 78% of 669 CEOs survey revealed that remote collaboration should be considered as a long-term business strategy5. A challenge of remote work is finding an effective way to collaborate across teams. Remote workers need the ability to work well within their own team, and they also need to communicate across multiple departments to deliver business value. This shift requires seamless collaboration and effective communication to ensure all individuals are on the same page which is a leadership skill to possess. The Remote Leadership Report found that 77% of leaders had never managed a full remote team before the pandemic6. Leadership is needed to overcome enhanced silos from working remotely, lack of face-to-face involvement, access to information and motivating the team. Mastery of remote work on a project requires effective leadership through visionary communication, adaptability and motivation of team members that are isolated. The project manager as a leader becomes responsible for creating sustainable strategies to serve long-term success.

Hybrid Project Management Approach

A Hybrid Project Management Approach (Hybrid Approach)is a top trend that is also here to stay. A Hybrid Approach typically is the combination of an Agile and a Predictive approach that  increases flexibility and enhance project success. A Predictive approach employs traditional project management activities including work assignments, schedules, status reports, and project plans, while an Agile approach employs short iterations of work, standups, and frequent feedback loops internally7. In the infrastructure sector, hybrid project management approaches have been welcomed solutions with our clients from small projects to large mega projects and we have seen a dramatic increase of hybrid approach solutions. Tapping into multiple tools and methodologies, instead of sticking with one has become a project management trend across all industries. The hybrid approach is also described within the latest PMI Body of Knowledge document and in today’s changing landscape this approach supplies additional flexibility that that traditional approaches or predictive approaches may not provide. Leadership by the project manager is required to understand, customize, and implement a project management approach for project success.

AI and Real Time KPIs

In a recent study, 54% of organizations lack access to real-time KPIs for their projects and over a third of them spend over one day to collect data8. This underlines how project management tools can no longer be ignored. Combined with AI-based automation capabilities, project management software can bring about positive changes in the way organizations go about managing their projects, no matter how complex they are. Leveraging KPIs and tracking expenses and invoices for all projects in real time through AI software with customizable dashboards is helping project managers make more informed decisions quickly while keeping all stakeholders informed of project status, progress and changes made in real time. The project manager as a leader must stay abreast of emerging technologies and share a strategic vision for the organization.

The project management trends that were once standard are now considered ancient and are slowly being replaced by even more modern and innovative solutions. Emerging trends in project management are happening all around the world show the importance of staying relevant in the project management industry that is rapidly changing. Undoubtedly, new techniques and better practices will continue to evolve and improve as we push the boundaries as leaders in the project management profession to meet and overcome the challenges of emerging trends. Project management leaders can drive us forward to a better future, with continual improvements in the way we effectively and successfully manage projects.


1.A Brief History of Project Management (projectsmart.co.uk)(Haughey, 2021)

  1. Project Management Institute – Wikipedia (Wikipedia, 2022)
  2. World Population Prospects 2022(United Nations, 2022)
  3. Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap Report | PMI(Project Management Institute, 2017)

5.Remote Jobs Statistics(Flex Jobs, 2022)

6.Remote Leadership Report – Terminal.io (Terminal, 2022)

  1. A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge, Seventh Edition (PMI, 2021)
  2. The State of Project Management 2020 (Wellington, 2020)