Project Management is really feeling the heat this year as companies struggle to implement Agile methods, so we thought we’d take a closer look at what’s driving this pressure, the direction it’s going and what would ease the process.

The Trends

Earlier this year ESI International released a report on the the latest shifts and inclinations in the world of PM, noting a particularly troublesome outlook in the leadership department: “Many of this year’s trends focus on the need to improve project skills, process and the overall management of our initiatives,” said J. LeRoy Ward, the company’s Executive Vice President. “It is clear that it is no longer possible to hire project managers and expect results. We need our PMs to be experts, and take control of our projects to get maximum results.”

ESI outlines ten trends in total:

  1. Organizations will continue to call for strong project leaders but will focus on investments in hard skills
  2. Agile implementation will be viewed in some organizations as a failure, but for the wrong reasons
  3. Project management is not just for project managers anymore
  4. Large projects pose unique challenges that are increasingly tough to overcome
  5. PMOs will focus on proving their worth and driving innovation
  6. The U.S. government will upgrade its PM certification in the face of rising criticism
  7. Improving vendor management practices will top the list of skills for project managers
  8. Continued poor project performance in many organizations will result in more PMOs being terminated
  9. Portfolio management will take on a greater role as funding continues to tighten and the number of projects grows
  10. Organizations will adopt Agile to accelerate time to market but what they ultimately achieve may be a different story

Check out the report in its entirety here.

The Demands

The quickly growing need for more PMs with IT skills is also on the forefront, as a recent survey from Computerworld revealed. Of the 334 IT executive respondents, 33% reported a plan to expand their teams — this an increase from 29% last year, 23% in 2010 and 20% in 2009.

“When you look at just about any research or market trend, IT is one of the top two or three always mentioned as a bright spot in the job market, and it’s pretty simple why,” says John Reed, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half Technology. “When you look at technology, it drives so much of what business does, from productivity to communication to improving speed to making better business decisions. So companies are investing in that, and you have to have the people experienced in doing that.”

These Would be Nice, Too

Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with a little wishful thinking. Many PMs put their dreams out into the ether this year, and while the majority of them turned out to be too fanciful to see fruition, this post from Dhan W. of ZilicusPM is a tad more realistic. In addition to solid higher management support and clear communication, he requested something else I think we can easily manage:

“Gone are the days, when I used to create a project schedule separately and…share it offline with team members. Today it is different. It is about working together; keeping everyone informed, (e.g. collaboration) and keeping project data organized. With excellent online project collaboration software available, I will insist and advocate in my team about using project management and collaboration software. There is undeniable improvement in productivity using collaboration software which can also give better clarity of project health to relevant stakeholders.”

Got any to add? Let us know in the comments below.