IPMA International Project Management Association
24 October 2019 / 1:00

IPMA Slovakia 25th anniversary: What has changed in the area of Project Management within the last 25 years?

There has been a massive transformation in companies caused by rapid innovations over the last 25 years. That is the fact. But those changes did not only affect the past 25 years. They are ongoing. The situation of change is a constant part of human’s life. It affects all its aspects all the time. Therefore it is also present, now even more than ever, within the area of Project Management.

In 2019 IPMA Slovakia celebrates its 25 anniversary. On that occasion, we decided to ourselves openly: What has changed in the area of Project Management within the last 25 years?

And because “the change” influences not only a single country, as well as to get a more comprehensive answer to our question, we have raised this question also during our “21st-century projects” conference in Bratislava, Slovakia on 13th of June. We decided to ask some relevant people from the “project world” to share their insights as regards the trends and innovations in the field of Project management, that occurred within the last quarter of a century. What has changed, and what are the open questions of tomorrow?

Some of the key insights are:

  • Projectification is unstoppable
  • The new business model of startups challenges all the conventional methods
  • There is a significant rise in the Agile approach as well as Agile skills
  • Soft is new hard – the project complexity results in the further development of the skills

Projectification is unstoppable
Project management is an inherent part of all industries these days. It is present in public administration, education, sports, and many, many others. The global trend of “projectification” – meaning an increasing number of projects within an organization, comprises all areas of professional and private life. It is just unstoppable.

The ambition and maturity of a particular organization or community towards a better future is an essential factor here. It shows how much, and what kind of changes, we plan and practice within a specific organization or society.

The number of projects is increasing, and for sure, it is a good indicator. But what about the quality and the aims of the projects, as well as the skills and competencies of all the people working on those projects? Those two factors – may be crucial for the organizations and the delivery of their projects in the future.

The new business model of startups challenges all the conventional methods
Startups, by definition, are the fast-growing businesses, with its’ primary aim to fulfill the demands of the market by developing innovative products or services. It is a difficult and challenging mission to run a successful startup. It may even sometimes resemble a laboratory, full of experiments led by engineers until the right products and services are delivered.

The excellent engineering skills, awareness of the needs of the customer, continually changing conditions – those are the critical insights into a startup environment. And this precisely gives us many opportunities to challenge, test, and develop new methodologies – to face uncertainty and manage better projects — methodologies such as Agile.

Rise of Agile methodology/approach and Agile leadership skills
Internet, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, as well as Sustainability and Industry 4.0 – we have a complete range of “buzz” words here. Words that pop up from everywhere these days. In other words, the complexity of projects and processes increased enormously in the last two decades, and it is done not just by inventing new words. As projectification so innovation in technology seems to be unstoppable.

Best practices seem no longer the only way ahead. We have already realized that planning everything makes us rather rigid than flexible. On the example of Slido (a Slovak startup providing an event experience management), we managed to observe that focusing on what is valuable to our customers is essential for success. Therefore a frequent interaction with customers is a must. That is the case where “Agile” pops up.

Agile is pronounced more and more in the project management world these days, but we should not forget that “conventional project management is not an old school.” During his keynote speech about IPMA and Adaptive leadership, Joop Schefferlie emphasized that: “We cannot just replace waterfall with agile. It is more complex. Agile is an excellent methodology – as the waterfall is. So except replacing one with another, we should rather find the way how to combine them. And rather than focusing only on Agile methods, we should also focus on individuals. And that can have a significant impact in an agile environment – an Agile leader”.

Project management is the business of people. Projects are not only black and white. And mostly, the environment of projects is very uncertain and complex. To have the right people in the right place is, therefore, a must.

But what does it mean to have the right people?

Soft is new hard – the project complexity results in the further development of the skills
Seemingly – both technical and soft skills may be in demand for project managers in the following years — data mining, AI, Machine learning, IoT, ability to make a data-driven decision, etc. So, there is a definite requirement to acquire some basic knowledge and skills.

On the other hand, as projects become more complexed and interconnected, the project managers need to collaborate more with broader groups of stakeholders. As a result, soft skills will become more critical. It is proven already, by daily work, that engineers and managers with higher soft skills are more successful.

While looking for the answer to the question: “What has changed in PM in the last 25 years?” we have realized that it is the way we manage projects that affect how companies operate. It affects how we work. By projectification, more and more work is divided into projects that result in different organizational processes. It has a massive effect on how we communicate and behave. New business models, such as startups, show the various structures of meetings and reports, different working conditions, different needs for project documentation that force us to be more agile, etc.. And most of all, the way we manage projects reflects how we treat an environment in which our projects are located.

So nowadays, it is not just about Project Management; it is about the strategy development towards an innovation and organization change; it is about managing a sustainable business.

If you want to know more about the future trends in Project Management and what is fundamental for the future success in the world of uncertainty – IPMA Slovakia invites you to join the 6th IPMA SENET Project Management conference on 17.5.-19.5.2020, in Slovakia – Teams of tomorrow – The human side of Project Management.” 





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Marek Demcak

Author of this post

Marek works as a LEAN Coach at Vaillant. His main job is to coach and develop sustainable culture of continuous improvement industrial plants of the Vaillant Group in Slovakia and England. Besides his love in Process improvement, he is very enthusiastic about project management as well. Marek founded and developed IPMA Young Crew in Slovakia. Currently, he is the Management Board Member of IPMA Slovakia and since march 2019 also the Management Board Member of Young Crew Global, responsible for GYCWS and Coaches and Mentors program. His hobbies range from books to different kinds of sports such as Crossfit and climbing iron ways. Why is he so involved in IPMA? As he says: “Whatever we do in our lives has the impact on the world and other people, therefore we should do the right things, be more professionals but never forget to have fun” :)