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Masooma Memon

11 Hottest Project Management Trends to Be Aware of in 2024

Curious about what the future holds? Get to grips with the project management trends that are having the biggest impact on the way we work.

Between the rise of AI and increasing focus on flexible work,  project managers are seeing drastic changes in the project management landscape.

Among other things, organizations are now:

  • Emphasizing employee wellness and retention
  • Trying out hybrid project management strategies
  • Training their teams to strategically use AI in their workflow
  • And using project and resource management software to centralize their affairs

To be ready to deal with these new challenges yourself, stay on top of the new project management trends that are shaping up the year.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through these new project management trends and help you prepare for the challenges cropping up in their wake. 

So, let's read on.  

Key project management trends

From tech literacy to a growing demand for analytics skills and data analysis, there are a lot of interesting trends surfacing this year. 

Here’s a summary with the details below: 

1. Demand for analytical and creative thinking is growing

2. Technology literacy is on the rise

3. Employee retention is a high priority

4. Artificial intelligence in project management is here to stay

5. Leading organizations are prioritizing workforce development

6. Teams are leveraging project management methodologies

7. Focus on change management

8. Increased focus on resource management

9. Flexible working environments

10. Flexible working roles are also on the rise

11. More focus on data analytics

1. Demand for analytical and creative thinking is growing

Between economic uncertainty and the rise of generative AI, the demand for rational, logical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving is increasing.

In fact, analytical thinking is the most valued core skill than any other soft skills. Creative thinking ranks second — ahead of emotional intelligence — according to a fresh World Economic Forum survey.

This makes sense given AI can provide plausible solutions but the decision to take those suggestions remains in human hands.

How can you improve analytical and creative thinking?

  • In your next skills gap analysis, evaluate how strong your team’s analytical and creative thinking is. Provide training workshops accordingly.
  • Ask project managers to encourage their team members to build their analytical thinking muscles by reasoning more.
  • Dedicate a portion of your project budget to testing and experimentation. Bring team members together to propose and test creative solutions to recurring project problems.

2. Technology literacy is on the rise

AI-enabled tech isn’t a solution provider — it only suggests solutions based on the prompts (read: commands) humans give it. 

Meaning: project teams need to master prompt crafting and learn how to use different AI-powered tools to tap into the full benefit of artificial intelligence.

Interestingly, training staff to use AI and big data ranks third among companies’ skills-training priorities. In fact, 42% of the survey respondents are currently prioritizing it.

Other tools that drive benefits include project management tools — delivering benefits like:

  • Improved project time and budget estimates
  • More effective use of project resources
  • Enhanced team communication

How can you improve tech literacy?

  • Promote top-down use of AI-enabled tools. Focus on training your team to use AI to learn and master it, but never fully rely on it.
  • Arrange prompt crafting and AI best practices team training sessions.
  • Move your project management and team coordination to reliable PM software. Explore project management tools, then pick the ones that meet your needs the best. 

3. Employee retention is a high priority

With four million people quitting their jobs, the second half of 2021 witnessed record-high employee resignations.

Organizations have since been focusing on retaining top talent given the cost of losing, finding, and onboarding employees is significantly high. 

In fact, a Centre for American Progress study estimates the cost of hiring new folks could be anywhere between 20-213% of the leaving employee’s salary. The exact, of course, depends on the departing employee’s seniority and role.

Not only that but finding the right people within the available budget is another challenge. 

How can you retain top talent better?

  • Regularly survey your employees to keep a pulse on how satisfied they are in their jobs.
  • Offer competitive salary, customized benefits packages — instead of one-size-fits-all deals — and flexible working solutions.

4. Artificial intelligence in project management is here to stay

Gartner forecasts that 80% of project managers’ tasks will be run by AI by 2024. 

But how does AI help in project management? 

A TPG webinar surveyed its attendees about where they’d like to see AI’s help — here’s what the top three answers were:

Essentially, AI is playing a useful role in data collection and analysis, helping you make project reports, and assisting in efficient project planning, prioritizing, and progress tracking.

In fact, AI is useful for bridging the gap between resource demand and supply, therefore, playing a role in optimizing resource utilization.

What’s more, by anticipating potential problems and automatically addressing them with simple solutions, AI is also helping in effective risk management.

How can you tap into AI for better project management?

  • Go through AI-related privacy concerns to determine ‘how’ your team can use AI in their daily workflow.
  • Encourage your team to use AI-powered what-ifs and data analyses to make informed decisions and manage project risks effectively. 

5. Leading organizations are prioritizing workforce development

Skills training is one of the top perks workers look for in a new job. In fact, investing in employees’ professional development is a proven way to retain them.

Two-thirds of companies also expect to see returns on skills training within a year of their investment. These returns include improved employee satisfaction, enhanced productivity, and cross-role mobility.

Not to forget, investing in workforce development gives you a competitive edge.

How can you tap into AI for better project management?

  • Ask team managers to host one-on-ones with employees to learn which skills they want to develop.
  • Offer just-in-time training that is relevant to employees and, therefore, more engaging and retained better than one-size-fits-all training workshops.
  • Maintain a skills inventory to keep a record of employees’ interests and skills. Use it to assign projects that will help employees develop their skills.

6. Teams are leveraging project management methodologies

Hybrid project methodologies are on the rise with hybrid and remote work team structures growing.

Essentially, a hybrid project management methodology revolves around combining two or more project management methodologies to create a new method that works for your team.

For example, pairing the speed and experimentation from agile methodology with the sequential order of steps to take as in the waterfall method. 

Such a hybrid approach helps teams:

  • Better manage their teams and projects
  • Optimize their workflow — improving efficiency, speed, and flexibility
  • Overcome one type of project management methodology’s drawbacks

How can you better use a hybrid project management methodology? 

  • Emphasize people over processes.
  • Work out a mixed methodology that works for you but instead of working in a silo, continuously source team feedback.
  • Regularly review your workflow for bottlenecks. Test new project management tactics to optimize your processes further. 

7. Focus on change management

Change ensures continuous improvement. However, identifying the right time to change and the way to encourage change adoption throughout the organization is an invaluable skill.

Change management also lets you anticipate changing market and customer needs, which is essential for staying ahead of the game. 

And with the influx and impact of digital tech and tools, change management is more important now than ever before. 

How can you better manage change?

  • Always earn your organization’s trust first before you start implementing changes. A great way to do so: explain the ‘why’ behind your goal and ‘how’ it’ll benefit them as individuals.
  • Understand that change is slow, but it still needs to be executed by a realistic schedule.

8. Increased focus on resource management

Adequate resource management makes sure all resources are utilized to their optimal capacity. In turn, ensuring employees are engaged and there’s no resource wastage.

So what does resource management include? 

Having full visibility of the available resources, skill- and interest-based resource allocation, and managing resource schedules. 

In short, you’ll want to work on planning, scheduling, engaging, and optimizing resources. 

How can you better manage your resources? 

  • Talk to your employees. Learn what interests them, what projects bring out their best work, and what skills they’re looking to develop. Then provide workers with the opportunities to learn, tap into their strengths, and overcome their weaknesses.
  • Use a resource management tool like Runn. It can automatically forecast skills gaps and show you resource availability.

Dig deeper: 5 Project Resourcing Tools Ambitious PMs Need in their Toolkit 

9. Flexible working environments

Employees are continually demanding flexible working environments.

According to Microsoft’s annual Work Trend Index, 73% of workers want flexible remote work options to stay with their current employers. 

However, a flexible work environment isn’t limited to offering the option to work from home only. Instead, it gives up the notion of a rigid workplace and schedule — embracing the idea that employees can be productive working from anywhere. 

How can you provide a flexible working environment that retains employees?

  • Trust your team and let them take their responsibilities. Set goals with them, then let them create their own schedule to achieve them.
  • Provide project managers with the resources for hybrid or remote project management while keeping employee wellness to the fore.
  • Emphasize communication. Work with employees to create a communication strategy — how often they’ll meet, which tool they’ll use to keep in touch, and so on. 

10. Flexible working roles are also on the rise

Many workers now question job security in full-time roles, which is paving the way for contract-based work and fractional roles.

In fact, Gusto found that freelancers/contractors’ top priority is when and where they work. 

From an organization’s lens, such flexible roles are beneficial since you don’t have to pay for contractors’ health care, severance, and unemployment insurance. You can also cut back on hiring costs.  

How can you better offer work flexibility?

  • Gather quantitative and qualitative data to learn employees’ needs around flexible work. Unilever, for example, created its U-work initiative to release employees from fixed roles and give them the freedom to choose the project they want to work on.
  • Train and empower project managers to resolve challenges that surface with managing a flexible team. 

11. More focus on data analytics

There’s an abundance of project data but organizations are only now leveraging it for its massive potential.

You can use the data to:

  • Make informed project-related decisions
  • Better estimate project workload and timelines
  • Accurately plan and predict project success and mitigate risks 

How can you efficiently tap into data analytics?

  • Set up initiatives to collect and analyze the right type of data.
  • Encourage project management teams to regularly wear the data analytics hat to extract clear insights from available data.

Embrace these project management trends and stay ahead of the curve

Remember, process success relies on embracing the new tools and trends that are here to stay in the project management field.

To this end, regularly talk to your team. Ask employees how satisfied they are in their jobs, what you can offer to help improve their wellness, and what they’re interested in learning.

At the same time, conduct a skills gap analysis to understand which skills are lacking in your team. This is an essential step for identifying which training workshops to provide to employees.

And don’t forget to plan out strategies for implementing the ethical use of AI in project management. This way, you can reduce repetitive work and boost efficiency. 

By keeping an open and inquisitive mind, you can make the most of trends - keeping what works, discarding what doesn't - and future proof your professional practice.

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