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2017 Project Portfolio Trends Report


From increasing use of predictive analytics to utilizing augmented reality, 2016 was a year of innovation and change for project and portfolio management professionals. As explained in a previous blog post, some of the top trends of 2016 also included new strategies in change management and involving the project management office (PMO) sooner in the sales cycle. Big Data had a major impact on the decision to implement business-intelligence tools. But, more will be needed to meet increasing demands in 2017.

Throughout 2017, several new trends will become evident as PMOs look to gain visibility. Will your office gain additional tools to maximize working remotely, or will organizational limit your capacity? Although Big Data 2017 will not be without its own set of challenges. But, you can help your office prepare by understanding what trends to expect this year.


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1. Increasing Application of Tools For Remote Work Will Drive the PMO.

The size and scope of projects grows every day. Durations expand as stakeholders invest in future aspirations. The need to drive costs down, as explained in this ebook, while boosting efficiency, impacts organization’s decisions and overall portfolio. In addition, comprehensive standard practices may improve visibility when managing projects remotely.

For example, recent political turmoil in Africa could impact the area’s oil and energy projects. Thus, remote management may have to address limited communication with remote workers. Traditional standard practices dictate phone conferencing as the sole means of communication, management channels and visibility will deteriorate. So, adaptive standard practices, such as deploying web-based project controls, may counteract problems with visibility.

Additional challenges to remote work include the following:

  • Differences in time zones.
  • Problems with accessing raw materials or labor resources.
  • Changing domestic views on conducting business around the globe.

For those concerned about domestic impact on foreign projects, certain actions to improve visibility, as explained by this ebook, are essential. But, the hierarchies of managing a portfolio must also evolve.

2. Traditional Top-Down Hierarchies Will Get a Makeover.

Data point collection and analysis lack value when not accessible by the whole team. Yet, traditional applications of predictive analytics and Big Data have fallen upon top-down management hierarchies. This creates risk as upper-level management may forget to pass information to other team members, or lower-level team members might have new ideas to improve issues identified by Big Data analysis.

The solution lies in motivation. The whole PMO needs to be motivated for a project to succeed. Yet, motivation suffers when trust and collaboration do not exist. Thus, more project offices are turning their attention to improving team environments.

Ways to improve team environments might include emphasizing experience over certification requirements, boosting morale through milestone celebrations and dividing traditional upper-level responsibilities among lower-level team members. Of course, project management professionals with certifications will continue to be important. But, possible employers will look for experience.

Giving team members ownership of their responsibilities can improve team environments as well. For example, team members that can view metrics indicating their current performance scores may be inclined to put more focus into their responsibilities. Also, performance scores can reflect use of collaborative tools, such as conference calls, video chats or other interactive media.

3. PMOs Will Blend Project Management Methodologies.

Lean project management focused on eliminated redundancies. Agile project management gave project managers flexibility in responding to different issues. A traditional top-down work breakdown structure (WBS) might resemble a “waterfall” approach to project management.

Every year, new types of project management methodologies will grow, become popular and retreat into history. In a sense, agile methodologies are an extension of lean PMO methodologies. The key to optimizing workflows and managing a portfolio is not relying on one methodology. Instead, the PMO should consider blending different methodologies.

Blended methodologies allow project offices to create custom solutions to overcoming challenges during a project. It may give more project management professionals opportunities to work in teams, as explained by the second trend. Or, blending methodologies may help the team adhere to their responsibilities.

For example, if person A does not understand lean methodologies, he or she might seem invaluable. But, a blending allows person A to work with his or her other team members regardless of experience in using certain methodologies. Essentially, the PMO should use what methodologies boost visibility and productivity, including combined methodologies.

4. Project Managers Will Turn to Big Data, Not Just People, For Answers.

Big Data is only starting to get notoriety in project management. Retailers began implementing Big Data four years ago, reports Charles Orton-Jones of Raconteur. Today, manufacturers can almost pinpoint issues before they arise and divert resources to keep inventory levels stable. But, PMOs continue to lag.

The implementation of Big Data might seem simple. If your organization uses tools that track time and resource accountability, you are contributing to the mountain of Big Data. But, are your methods of using Big Data meaningful? Per Dr. Mathieu d’Aquin, project management applications that have “meaningful use of Big Data” are almost nonexistent. So, today’s PMO sits on a ticking time bomb.

Those organizations that have implemented Big Data tools are not necessarily seeing the highest possible returns. Organizational silos might have made gaining insights impossible, or insights might have been poorly indicative of actual issues. Think of it like this:

If you have a stack of sales ads at the grocery store, you might think you are going to save the most money. But, if you do not pay attention to the dates of each ad and where it may be used, you could spend more without realizing it.

But, organizations that have not implemented Big Data tools are facing extinction.

The rationale for NOT USING BIG DATA is also obsolescent. The days of working with data scientists are over, and your team can use Big Data on a self-serve basis and from anywhere. The benefits of using Big Data outweigh any perceived drawbacks too.

These benefits include the following:

  • Leveraging historical benchmarking data to crease realistic, accurate budgets and schedules.
  • Reducing overall risk profiles by applying insights learned from ongoing projects.
  • Increasing level of visibility and accountability in your project.
  • Eliminating redundancies by consolidating operations wherever possible.
  • Gaining early notification of possible threats or opportunities when similar circumstances arise.

Use 2017's Trends to Boost Your Visibility Now

Time might reveal other key trends in portfolio management throughout the remainder of the year. But, these four trends are inevitable. They will become hallmarks of best-of-breed use of project controls, enhancing visibility and maximizing your PMO’s potential.

Start planning 2017’s activities in your office by downloading and reading this ebook today. Make it a group effort, and encourage your team to share their thoughts below. It’s time for your team to evolve.

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