6 Trends Shaping Project Management In 2018

Pavel Aramyan

Mar 15 2018

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As the challenges of businesses all over the world keep evolving, project management tends to follow suit. When managing a project, changes are around every corner, and adaptation is the best response. While the end of one year and the beginning of a new one doesn’t herald new movements and ideas by itself, it does provide an analysis line for industry experts to look forward to. Today we highlight the top trends expected to make a significant impact on project management in the current year.

1. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has quickly gone from being a futuristic concept that we commonly encountered in movies and TV shows to a very real, applicable, effective and efficient problem-solving mechanism in numerous industries today.

If you’re using any kind of project management software, common implications like workflow, email automation, and gathering, distributing and storing data should sound familiar. However, AI is currently moving into another space that we can classify as smart predictions – suggestions and structured information meant to help businesses make better decisions – taking automation to a whole new level.

The latest AI technology is capable of analyzing data and coming up with smart suggestions on how to respond to various events based on the needs of the project. Imagine how much information processing and analysis time can be saved with such tools at your disposal. And the best part is, the more data you feed the AI, the better those suggestions and predictions become.

This is where wearable technology comes into play as well. These types of AI gadgets streamline routine, everyday activities with the help of reminders and notifications, updates on task progress, or even sharing a single team member’s view with everyone else. They can increase productivity and efficiency in industrial sectors, but they also let you collect all sorts of data – be it project, market, consumer or team related – on the fly and instantly transfer it to your PM software.

With all of the above in the mix, project analytics receive a significant boost. Project data becomes easily filterable, helping PMs save tremendous amounts of time while allowing them to quickly identify and focus on things that really matter, all via seamlessly navigating to essential metrics.

2. Hybrid methodology expertise – agility instead of agile

We can safely say that 2017 was the year of agile. The significant amount of project managers on board of the agile bandwagon (who see it as the answer to all sorts of problems while being certain that waterfall projects are doomed for failure) created an artificial space that disregards the very essence of agile: welcoming change. Indeed, if you refuse to take change into account (even if it refers to the methodology itself), doesn’t that suddenly make you less agile?

As more and more professionals have started to realize this, 2018 is looking to be more about hybrid methodology expertise and agility. We apply different techniques as needed to respond to the levels of uncertainty in every specific project rather than blindly following the agile manifesto.

A prime example of the latter is kanban boards, which are quickly making their way into many project managers’ arsenals as an effective addition to agile. Originally created by Toyota to streamline their manufacturing process, the methodology utilizes a visual board composed of grid and kanban cards to efficiently manage multiple workflows at a time. While it’s only being implemented in relatively smaller agile projects, the efficiency of avoiding multitasking, limiting work in progress, and most importantly, not losing the greater picture and moving in the wrong direction, are benefits you can’t ignore. Because kanban fits so well with most popular project management methodologies, project managers will be more inclined to embrace the hybrid methodology approach and think outside the agile-constrained box to move towards the concept of agility in 2018.

3. More emphasis on soft skills

With efficiency and productivity being among the top metrics of evaluating current teams and hiring a new recruit, it’s easy to get lost in the method and forget that people, especially millennials, don’t tend to follow the rules of math. With millions of new project managament roles to be created as the years progress, how do you identify the best candidate given that their tech skills are equal?

As more millennials are joining the workforce in every industry, the importance of soft skills is becoming more vivid. While technical skills and certifications are still definitely a thing, a project’s success, more than ever, depends on the ability to effectively communicate and manage team members. This allows emotional intelligence to push tech skills to the background. At the same time, what gets brought to the forefront is the ability to build relationships at work, deal with conflict, manage virtual teams, and deliver on strategy by implementing innovation to achieve tangible results for a business.

4. Cybersecurity

Moving deeper into the online world wields a number of threats in addition to numerous benefits for project managers and their teams, particularly in the form of cyber threats. With more and more businesses’ sensitive data being stored in the cloud, the chances of it being compromised, stolen and/or mishandled increase accordingly. Improved productivity, clearer metrics, and smart suggestions in exchange for a less secure network seem to be the case, for now.

However, while cyber-attacks and data breaches aren’t going to disappear anytime soon, an increased focus and investment into cybersecurity is on everybody’s radar. In particular, tech-powered data privacy management solutions software are the newest trend to keep customer, employee, partner, and business-related information safe from hackers.

5. Project management software is a must-have

With all those trends shaping the industry in the current year, the importance of utilizing a well-suited project management software simply becomes a must, and numerous vendors are doing their best to fill every niche possible. Depending on your business type (B2B or B2C), size, team, clientele, and a bunch of other factors, the market offers a large variety of tools and features to fit your organizational culture, processes, and business mentality.

For instance, tools like Monday offer a mix of value, routine task automation, and flexibility in terms of monitoring and controlling the pace and progress of multiple projects at once. Simultaneously, they can provide sufficient analytics and integration options to small, medium and large enterprises alike. HubSpot, the all-in-one marketing automation software, offers a simple tool to effectively manage all internal projects, especially if you have a large and/or remote team. Wrike puts a great deal of emphasis on security, and Paymo is specifically designed to suit the needs and budgets of small and medium-sized businesses, without compromising any essential features every decent PM software needs to have.

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6. Remote teams

Remote project management, another trend dictated by millennials who are very keen on preserving their work-life balance and not being tied to an office desk, is rapidly increasing in popularity both from the employer and employee perspective. With millennials estimated to represent 75% of the workforce by 2030 and the availability of numerous tools that help breach any communication and collaboration gaps, businesses are forced to make tweaks to their existing models and offer remote or at least partly-remote positions if they want to stay competitive.

With this novelty also comes the understanding and appreciation of the numerous benefits that remote team members bring to the table such as higher degrees of employee satisfaction and fewer logistic and administrative costs. These result in benefits such as boosts in creativity, innovative approaches to problem-solving, and flexible payment arrangements.


Project management isn’t, and will never be, stagnant as long as businesses strive to outperform their competitors and offer more value for the same price to their consumers. Some of the trends impacting the project management industry that we observed above are nothing new, yet they are increasingly more pronounced, while others are only just emerging and are most probably will be here to stay for years to come.

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