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The Top Ten Project Management Trends for 2016

2016-project-management-trendsTwentyEighty Strategy Execution are back with their trends and predictions for 2016 in project management. 2015 trends were all about project management talent, hybrid projects, coaching, change management, technology and strategy. This year, the team of experts have once again got together to outline their trends for the coming year. Here are the headlines:

  1. The Permanency of Agile Project Management
  2. Broadening Strategic Role of the Project Manager
  3. Turn, Turn, Turn — The Fundamentals of Change Management
  4. Mastering Modern-Day Complexity
  5. Upskilling Talent
  6. The Need for Design Thinkers
  7. The Significance of Portfolio and Programme Management
  8. Diversity Matters
  9. Co-location, Global Teams and Distributed Work
  10. The Spread of Project Management into Non-PM Arenas


>> Download the Top Ten Project Management Trends for 2016

1. The Permanency of Agile Project Management

2015 was the year that Agile Project Management started to really take off, this year it’s all about maturity and how organisations can make Agile and agility work:

Smart organisations are helping their employees grasp agile ways of thinking to move their mindset away from how things used to be done to how they need to be done now.

2. Broadening Strategic Role of the Project Manager

Last year the trend around strategy was all about bringing two parts closer, “Project management will take a big step closer to business strategy”. This year it’s about the project manager’s role in that bridging of the gap between strategy and execution. With PMI changing the way PDUs are gained – crucially adding business management skills to the mix – 2016 is about how the project manager can think strategically too:

Project management is no longer just about managing the triple constraints, but rather about reaching solutions faster and demonstrating strong, direct business impact.

3. Turn, Turn, Turn — The Fundamentals of Change Management

2015 saw the trend of change management and project management merging more and more and this year it’s about organisations utilising this and bolstering the skills needed to bring change management to the forefront:

Forward-thinking organisations do not assume people have learned these skills somewhere else; instead they are providing PM leaders with the resources to learn how best to manage change quickly and with impact.

4. Mastering Modern-Day Complexity

Complex and complicated projects has almost become a genre of project management, with this trend it is more about the need to balance technical project management skills and relational skills:

While project management used to be focused on the technical execution of the Project Management Institute’s A Guide to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), today’s world requires strategic viewpoints and the understanding of project-based work’s impact, a fact that is slowly being embraced as organisations begin to see the value of PM leaders who possess a solid balance of technical and relational skills.

PM-Trends-2016-Quote5. Upskilling Talent

Project management talent features again this year. Drawing on PMI’s Talent Triangle, project managers will need to focus on the balance of skills such as:

Solid PMs must have a multidisciplinary skill set that includes effective communications skills, analytical thinking, strategic initiative, a business mindset and technical finesse.

6. The Need for Design Thinkers

Design thinking as emerged as a major trend in how organisations are carrying out innovative problem solving.

Design thinking encourages innovative solutions by drawing on approaches from engineering and design and combining them with ideas from the arts, social sciences, and the business world

7. The Significance of Portfolio and Programme Management

With the increased focus on bridging the gap between strategy and execution, portfolio and programme management are emerging as key components in making that happen. What does this mean for project managers?

Understanding how various projects affect others while maintaining a strategic perspective requires PMs to be able to focus on the details as well as step back to a more strategic, multi-project viewpoint.


8. Diversity Matters

Organisations that understand the benefits of a diverse workforce can hope to tap into diverse markets and client bases:

A diverse workforce enhances client engagement and brings new perspectives to the workplace. In fact, according to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit study, 83 percent of respondents claimed a more diverse workforce actually improves an organisation’s ability to engage a diverse client base, which then leads to expanded access to a number of markets.

9. Co-location, Global Teams and Distributed Work

For some organisations, programmes and projects are becoming much more distributed with virtual working and offshoring being major features. Yet distributed working for projects – especially Agile projects – becomes increasingly difficult without the support of processes and technology to make it work.

Those who know how to coordinate distributed teams will increase the likelihood for achieving success as well as career advancement as they demonstrate this most essential skill.

10. The Spread of Project Management into Non-PM Arenas

Heard the saying that “everyone is a Project Manager now”? Businesses are adopting project management principles across their organisations:

Project management best practices and concepts are being adopted by many non-PM roles such as marketing, sales and logistics. The benefits of this can be seen in increased efficiencies, stronger strategic alignment and improved customer satisfaction — to name a few — all of which lead to improved organisational performance.


Project-Management-Trends-2016Project management is no longer boxed away in a corner of the room.

It stands front and centre and is being adopted by every area of smart organisations. Forward-thinking organisations understand its significance and are investing heavily to ensure their people, teams and organisation have what it takes to deliver maximum impact.

Download the full  Top Ten Project Management Trends for 2016


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About Nadine Rochester

Nadine Rochester
Nadine is a marketing director at Strategy Execution.

A experienced marketing strategist and technologist, Nadine is also passionate about project management, business analysis and agile PM, managing and contributing to the company PM blog servicing 40,000 monthly users.


  1. Avatar

    Greetings. It is so wonderful to see how these trends line up with a blog article I wrote. I would appreciate it if you would review that and add comments. It is at http://agilesriram.blogspot.com/2015/06/future-of-project-management-in-next.html

  2. Avatar

    Have you published 2017 trends yet?

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