IPMA International Project Management Association
20 March 2015 / 2:41

Project Management Trends 2025

The discipline of project management is developing very fast. Some developments are obvious, others are rather hidden. The German Project Management Association (GPM) initiated a trend survey which was conducted by Professor Hans-Georg Gemünden of the Technical University Berlin in cooperation with Professor Yvonne Schoper, a member of the Executive Board of GPM. Trends are change in a certain direction, they describe a development. The 48 participants (26 academics and 22 practitioners) from 14 countries were asked what they perceive as the five most important trends in project management. Their answers could be grouped in the following trends:

  • Projectification of Societies;
  • Coping with Complexity;
  • Transnationalisation of project management;
  • Virtualisation of project management;
  • Professionalization of project management;
  • Learning and Education;
  • Stakeholder Management;
  • Projects as Business;
  • Project Management goes Boardroom;
  • Project-oriented Organisations;
  • Women in project management;
  • Project management research.

Some of the trends are obvious, e.g. the increasing complexity in projects and their context requires project managers to thoroughly manage stakeholders. The increasing number of projects drives organisations into project-orientation which requires professionalization. This includes the individuals, projects and programmes as well as the organisation. Learning and education is needed to catch up with the growing demands of projects. The globalisation requires organisations to apply standards across countries, sectors, organisations and even cultures. Through the ISO/TC258 internationally accepted standards such as the ISO 21500 Guidance on project management are developed for usage in an international setting. The virtualisation of organisations and collaboration is also boosted by the globalisation, IPMA is a good example for an organisation that performs projects in a virtual set-up. Project Management Research is key to learn and adopt to the changing conditions. IPMA and its members have a strong heritage in PM Research, supporting the continuous development of the profession.


Two trends are important because they seem to be a game changer: 1. The trend “projects as business” offers a new perspective. Project are perceived as an entrepreneurial undertaking to deliver business results. The emphasis is on value and benefits. Budget and time are outweighed by benefits and are no longer seen as strict constraints. The perspective of projects (or programmes) becomes more long-term, strategic, and stakeholder-oriented than in the traditional „iron triangle“ view. The project managers need more autonomy, influence and entrepreneurial capabilities. 2. Mentioning the trend “women in project management” sheds light on a challenge, that is getting more and more attention. In Germany for example, only 20% of the project managers are female. Maybe the focus on engineering-type projects led us into this situation.  Other surveys show in addition, that women in project management work harder and earn less. Overcoming this situation may resolve the shortage in capacity and would change project management approaches significantly, e.g. regarding leadership, communication, meeting style, team composition and development.

Thus, working in the field of project management is exciting. We are faced with dynamic change and need to develop our competences in order to catch up with the change in our context.


  • Ewen says:

    Agree with the trend of women in project management. I worked with two great PMs who taught me a lot but we lost them both due to poor management and pay. Their skills are now being used in other organisations that recognise their ability better!

  • Organisations and their top management need to pay more attention to that issue. If the work place is not attractive enough, people may choose to leave and find another organisation with a culture that fits them better…

  • Greg Usher says:

    Interesting trends Reinhard, particularly the increasing interest in Project Management in the Boardroom. Attached is one of my articles published in the PM World Journal regarding the potential avenue for PM cross-over into the Boardroom:


  • Thanks Greg for sharing, a great article sheding more light on an important trend.

  • Giel Bekker says:

    Projectification of Societies, Complexity and Transnationalisation of Project Management seems interesting. There is still a lot to figure out and learn. Global efforts will be required, the world is just getting smaller everyday.

    Good list Reinhard!

  • Oke Yusuf Olawale says:

    I’m a member IPMA YC Nigeria. I’m learning from the trends and experts approach, I will keep on track to be a better PM in the future to come.

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.