7 Current Project Management Trends to Keep You Ahead

Last updated: Aug 1, 2023

Project managers tend to be highly organized, structured thinkers, which is another way of saying that project management is not a field known for its creativity and flexibility. However, the worldwide upheaval of the last two years has influenced the best project managers to embrace change in technology, strategy, tools, relationships, and processes, transforming the set-in-its-ways PM domain. Check out 7 current project management trends to keep you ahead of your less resilient competition.

7. Focus On Emotional Intelligence and Soft Skills

While technical skills have always been important in project management, emotional intelligence (EQ) and soft skills are an even greater focus for project management professionals.


Strong communication skills are vital for effective stakeholder management, team collaboration, and conflict resolution. Project managers must be able to convey ideas clearly, actively listen, and adapt their communication style to different audiences. Leadership skills are equally crucial. Project managers need to inspire and motivate their teams, provide guidance, and facilitate decision-making processes.


Recognizing the significance of effective leadership, collaboration, and stakeholder management, organizations are investing in training programs to develop these essential skills. Project managers who can empathize, communicate effectively, and build strong relationships with team members and stakeholders will be better equipped to handle challenges and drive project success.


6. Hybrid Methodologies

Hybrid project management is a way of optimizing your work by combining more than one PM methodology. Today, there are about two dozen methodologies to mix and match to suit the needs of your team or project. Conventional or predictive methods include Waterfall, which is focused fairly rigidly on planning and analyzing the future for risks. Iterative or adaptive methods include Agile, which is focused on planning, scheduling and risk-management similar to traditional methods, but endowed with a flexibility to change paths. Adaptive teams work in shorter sprints as part of a rapid development cycle. Agile is No. 1 in software development environments, but it can be challenging in its purest forms for projects outside of the scrum.


More and more teams are going with a blended approach that benefits from both methods. The Project Management Institute (PMI) reports that 60 percent of companies competent in Agile use hybrid methods all or most of the time.


To prepare students and working professionals to embrace the hybrid trend, training programs and universities are increasingly adding hybrid approaches to their curricula, including USF, which offers pure Agile and hybrid courses in project management.


Female and male coworkers looking at a laptop discussing project management trends.

5. AI and Automation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various industries, and project management is no exception. More than three quarters of project managers today use software platforms to plan, execute, and manage their projects and teams. These platforms are indispensable for scheduling, budgeting, keeping track of progress, and communicating about meetings, milestones, deadlines and obstacles. Add AI and automation to the mix and suddenly project managers can offload the grind of repetitive tasks to technology.


From helping teams automate repetitive tasks and analyzing large datasets to generating accurate predictions, AI-powered project management tools are becoming a regular part of project management. These tools not only save time and effort but also enhance overall project efficiency in the following ways:

  • Update tasks and track project health
  • Set reminders for timesheets
  • Generate project reports
  • Schedule meetings and set alerts
  • Monitor data, including KPIs and profit margins
  • Predict risk

Because digital platforms are integrating AI and automation into their capabilities, project managers do not need to become experts in how AI works, but they should understand the trend well enough to make it work for their needs. Gartner predicts AI and chatbots will be so integrated into project management that leaders will begin to consider them new stakeholders.


4. Sustainability and Green Project Management

With growing awareness of environmental issues, many organizations have zeroed in on sustainability as a top priority. Now, green project management is gaining traction, focusing on reducing waste, minimizing carbon footprint, and adopting eco-friendly practices. Project managers are incorporating sustainable considerations into project planning, procurement, and execution to ensure responsible project delivery. This trend aligns project management practices with broader sustainability goals and positions organizations as socially responsible entities.


3. Stakeholder Relationships

You cannot succeed in this new era of project management without developing the soft skill of building relationships with all your stakeholders. Begin by identifying them – the sponsor, the steering committee, your project team, and the customer. Then, to align with the current trend of managing the people of your project, spend a significant portion of your “management” time working on stakeholder expectations and encouraging buy-in of your project. Here are some suggestions for project managers who haven’t yet hopped on the interpersonal skills bandwagon:

  • Ask stakeholders for their opinions, in person or via survey.
  • Show sincere interest in their feedback.
  • Assign a team member to each stakeholder or stakeholder group, tasked with keeping in regular contact and reporting concerns and suggestions.


2. Data Analytics

Big data is making a big impact in project management. Useful data comes from a range of sources, such as smart devices, videos, social media, and websites. Project managers who gain insights from big data analysis can optimize many elements of their project outcomes. Here are some of the emerging benefits of data analytics on the PM industry:

  • Lowering project costs: Data allows you to predict trends, helping you forecast for resources and determine the right budget, estimates, and timetables.
  • Improving risk management: Data analytics helps you identify risks and can help you develop an effective risk response strategy.
  • Reducing project complexity: Data analytics can help you streamline projects by identifying, for instance, project hours required or resources vs. capacity.


1. Remote Working

Now and into the near future, location dependence will no longer be a given in project management. Remote and distributed project teams are expected to become the new norm for staffers and freelance project managers. Project managers must adapt their strategies to effectively manage teams across different locations, time zones, and cultures. Collaborative tools, video conferencing platforms, and cloud-based project management software are essential for fostering communication, maintaining team cohesion, and ensuring project transparency in this new virtual landscape.


Laptop screen display a project manager tasks board.

Gain an Edge with Project Management Credentials from USF

Perhaps no trend is more instrumental to your success as a project manager than earning industry-recognized certification. USF’s project management courses dive deep into foundational methods and next-generation solutions, including preparation for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam. Another key trend? Earning the PMP certification boosts project manager salaries by as much as 22 percent.


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