Top ten predicted trends for project managers in 2016

Gina Theron   |   January 27, 2016

Now that the first month of 2016 has come and gone, construction professionals are back in the swing of work and focusing attention on the year ahead. With a new year comes new opportunity and new challenges. As a project manager, you must stay on top of the advancement and changes to your position if you wish to continue performing and winning work. We've researched industry trends for 2016 and come up with a list of predictions outlining what a project management role will look like in 2016.

  1. Certified project managers: Due to the increased use of the Internet and the "I want it and I want it now" mentality resulting from the advancement of technology, investors and stakeholders are going to put pressure on deadlines while still maintaining quality. This will result in an increased need for certified project managers who are qualified and equipped with the skills to perform under pressure. 

  2. Broadening strategic role: Project management is no longer just about managing the triple constraints, but rather about reaching solutions faster and demonstrating strong, direct business impact. PMs are moving away from their historical position within the organisation as a technical cost centre and toward a more pivotal role charged with ensuring that project-based work aligns to, and helps achieve, the organisation’s strategic intent. 

  3. Change management becomes required skill in any PM toolbox: Every project is a cause for change. Change management is made up of more than just technical skills, but emphasises relational and strategic skills too. 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: Although many have mastered keeping track of all the data, it is not enough. Understanding and interpreting the information about projects, people and relationships are essential skills for breaking down complexity into pieces easily understood by others. PMs who can explain complexity simply will be the first to experience career advancement as organisations begin to see the value of PM leaders who possess a solid balance of technical and relational skills.

  5. Upskilling talent: PMs can no longer function without the ability to execute strategy. It requires upskilling to meet the demands of today’s marketplace. Solid PMs must have a multidisciplinary skill set that includes effective communications skills, analytical thinking, strategic initiative, a business mindset and technical finesse. 

  6. Design thinkers: 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. For PMs it is particularly significant for exploring and then narrowing the scope of requirements for a project in a way that generates non-typical solutions to a challenge. Leading organisations are helping their PMs build a strong knowledge and skill base around design thinking approaches and balancing that with agility and discipline, encouraging PMs to step up to a more strategic perspective that accelerates innovation.

  7. Green building on riseHutchies recently pointed out that there were 218 Green Star projects in Australia certified in 2015 compared to 156 in 2014 - a 40 per cent increase over the last year. The number of projects applying for Green Star Certification is also on the rise. In 2015, 184 projects were registered, 52 per cent more than in 2014. As a result, there are now over 100 Green Star certified projects. You'll find this on a global scale too - with the rate of green building is continuing to double every three years (World Green Building Trends 2016 report by Dodge Data and Analytics).

  8. Laser scanning technology emerges: 3D laser scanners can create a digital reproduction of the dimensions and positions of objects in a certain space, and then turn that information into a point cloud image. Laser scanning has a lot of room to run - not as many people are using it, but it's a great tool to measure more precisely than most conventional ways. What the laser scanner allows you to do is get millions of data points and put that into a building information model and provide much more information about conditions you couldn't get previously. Look for that to continue to grow certainly next year and for another five years.

  9. Prefab/offsite construction methods to gain popularity: Offsite — also known as modular or prefabricated — construction has been gaining ground as an alternative building method that offers the benefits of reduced construction time, less waste and possible cost savings. As companies struggle to stick to difficult schedules, some have started to turn to prefab as an option that offers more certainty.Some of the larger owners out there are starting to realize there are efficiencies there, but you have to be doing a certain amount of volume for these kinds of strategies to pay off.

  10. Increased access and mobility: Teams and machinery traveling and being spread across the country and even the world isn't a new concept but is one that's growing quickly. With the use of mobile technology it's possible for teams to work together without being in the same office. Project managers must be ready for the increased demand for web-based and mobile applications as well as mobile devices throughout 2016.

Smart organisations are hiring, retaining and training their PMs for the skills necessary to manage this evolving role. 2016 will see an even greater demand with more advanced technology being developed and project managers being required to integrate these with their current methods. An agile project manager can better adopt the new software solutions and apply these to their processing with an understanding of the benefits to accuracy and other tasks. This will allow them to better manage complex and large projects with the ability to juggle several tasks and even projects. 

Adapting to change can be difficult but if you want to be a successful in project management it's important to grow and develop with these changes and in the end they'll make your job much easier. In order to help minimise the things you need to worry about onsite we've created a free toolbox talk template. Use this template to cover all your bases and be prepared for all your prestart meetings. With all the changes that can be expected in 2016 your best game plan is to be organised! 

Author's note: The expert information provided about project management trends in 2016 first appeared in the following resources: the Twenty Eighty Strategy Execution and Construction Dive. 

Gina Theron
Gina is a Marketing Coordinator at Felix. She is a business and engineering student, and relishes working for one of Australia's greatest mining and construction disrupters. Harsh critic of tomatoes and spiders that surprise her.

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