Another year is upon us! After the past two turbulent years we have all experienced, it is difficult to know what to expect anymore. The same holds true with project management. As I work more closely with teams and organizations that are trying to find any advantage that might be an opportunity to outpace the competition, I have observed a few common patterns that I found to be interesting. From the patterns, I will make a few bold predictions with the understanding that there will be critics that do not agree. I would like to share a few of these with you and hope they might inspire you to have a positive outlook for the year ahead.
Prediction #1 – More companies/teams will try to adopt Agile methods
For the past few years, many project teams have been challenged with improving their efficiency so that they can deliver faster, cheaper, or more value to customers. In an effort to achieve such improvements, many teams have chosen to experiment with Agile methods, but many still struggle to make this transition a positive one.
Why is Agile so hard? Shouldn’t Agile be easy to learn and implement? The problem lies in commitment and discipline, and also desire. Changing the “old ways of working” can often stir up resistance not because Agile is hard or that it doesn’t work, but simply because it is different, and people sometimes fear something that they don’t understand or disrupts the status quo. This is the main reason that Agile doesn’t always succeed – many organizations don’t commit to understanding how Agile works, nor implement it in a methodical manner by engaging the front-line team members that have the most to gain (or lose).
Prediction #2 – More companies/teams will need a “hybrid” approach to managing projects
For most organizations, Agile will take time to learn as people need time to adapt and master new skills. This means that the traditional Waterfall methods will continue to be important and applicable; even if a company is able to deploy Agile successfully, it is likely that there will still be projects that benefit from a plan-driven approach, especially if it’s a relatively small effort with minimal uncertain and highly-established requirements.
Prediction #3 – Scrum will continue to thrive
The Scrum framework has been the most popular Agile method in use around the world for many years, and all signs point to Scrum remaining at the top of the pyramid due to the plethora of resources and established educational/certification programs available in the market today. In addition, with proven success stories, organizations such as Scrum.org, Scrum Alliance, and Scrum Inc. are actively continuing their efforts to champion and market Scrum, as more organizations explore scaling Scrum to larger and more complex project environments.
Prediction #4 – Many Project Managers will be expected to serve as Scrum Masters
Although this is not necessarily ideal or aligned with the intentions of the founders of Scrum, I believe that many organizations still perceive the “Scrum Master” role as equivalent to a Project Manager position. While there are many similarities between the skills required to succeed in either role, there are distinct differences between the roles that are important to understand. While we will not dive into the details in this article, it is important to note that there will be an increased expectation of PMs having the ability to serve in both roles because of companies attempting to deploy both Agile and traditional projects within the same organization. This means that PMs should see this as an opportunity to prepare themselves for this highly-likely scenario. This is also a great time for PMs to learn Scrum which could open up new and unexpected growth opportunities.
Prediction #5 – Agile Program Management (not “project”) will become a focus for investment and discovery
As more companies begin to master Agile/Scrum techniques and incorporate them into their normal operational environments, they are also looking to scale these practices and expand them into larger, more sophisticated initiatives (a.k.a. “programs”). Because the field of Agile Program Management is still in its infancy, many companies will struggle with how to scale Agile practices. Many will attempt to adopt a scaling model such as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) or Scrum at Scale, more than likely, many of these organizations will realize that they need to define what Agile Program Management means within their specific context. They may not realize this until they have made a significant investment into one of the aforementioned frameworks, but I predict that this is a likely outcome.
There you have it…my top 5 predictions for 2022 in regards to Project Management. I will make a mental note to revisit these at the end of the year to see how accurate I was. Either way, I think it will be an exciting year ahead!