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What Will Project Management Look Like In 2025?

Project management has become ubiquitous in today’s world – its methodologies are used in virtually every industry, in every corner of the world. In this whitepaper, Marty Wartenberg, a project management expert and UC Irvine Extension instructor, shares his outlook for the next 10 years.

Prediction 1: There will be no designated project manager

Project Management Future I expect that the job of project manager—as a principle role—will disappear, except in heavy construction and large aerospace projects. Instead, the role of the project manager will rotate, depending on the phase of the project. During the product development phase, someone from marketing or business development may run the project. Next, as it moves into its design phase, an engineer may take over, and so on, throughout the development lifecycle.

What this means is that...

Prediction 2: Everyone will be a project manager

Teamwork Project Management (PM) skills will be required for everyone in the organization—just like basic computer skills and Keurig operation. But this doesn’t mean everyone sits in classrooms for hours on end. Project Management skills will be acquired as needed, at the student’s own pace, via online learning. Certification will come through a series of hands-on practicum courses that demonstrate mastery at each level.

Prediction 3: You’ll have to increase your agility

Agility Currently, the advocates of traditional waterfall project management are duking it out with the proponents of agile PM, with each claiming that theirs is the true religion. Well, I don’t believe in cults, but rather see them both as being effective toolkits. So, just as you shouldn’t drive nails with a screwdriver, you shouldn’t demand status reports when you should be running stand-up meetings. I anticipate that by 2025, the divisions between traditional waterfall project management and agile techniques will have closed-up. Each approach offers useful tools, so smart project managers will select the tools from waterfall and/or agile that best fit their needs.

Prediction 4: Show me the quality

Quality Here we are in 2015, smugly admiring spreadsheets that carefully track cost and schedule, thinking that we have wrestled our project into submission... but wait! Where’s the row-or-column labeled Quality?

It isn’t there yet. That’s because these are still the bad old days, when we build our widget, write our code, or design our procedure, then go back and test it to see if it might actually work. I believe that in the year 2025, we will all practice Technical Performance Measurement (TPM). Metrics for defect and failure prevention will be taken and analyzed during the project planning and implementation phases so that they can be addressed in the design phase, when it’s much less costly to make fixes.

Prediction 5: Stinking badges

Education As both a working project manager and an instructor, I’m often asked how future students will learn the art and science of project management, and how they will prove to potential employers that they know their stuff.

While project management skills are transferable across industries, running a project at a power company is different from running one for a software firm, or for the government. I envision that by 2025, PMI® will expand their certification offerings to include industry specific credentials. First you will take the general examination to prove you have your basic chops, and if you pass, you sit for the exam for the specific certification in your field of interest. Think of merit badges for Boy Scouts.

But why stop there? Accountants take the CPA exam, lawyers have to pass the bar exam, and so I see state professional licensing for the project manager of the future. You will take the general examination, and then work in your specific field of study for a pre-determined number of years before satisfying eligibility requirements to take the specific certification exam.

Putting it all togetherPutting it all together

When you view all of these predictions as a whole, the future looks bright for those who are able to adapt to changing trends by increasing their knowledge of new tools and techniques, and through pursuing accreditation for knowing how to run projects in their specific industries.

Marty Wartenberg Marty Wartenberg, M.B.A., P.E., has spent over 40 years managing companies and projects in aerospace, software, commercial product development, oil field instrumentation and pharma R&D. A project management instructor since 1988, his projects have been featured in the PMNet as examples of the application of basic and advanced project management techniques in high technology rapid development type projects. Marty has received a distinguished instructor award from UCI, and had been selected by the McDonald Douglas Corporation (now Boeing) as a major contributor during the C-17 training program. He has taught project management in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America, and is a frequent speaker on special topics at PMI and the International Council on Systems Engineering chapters throughout California.