IPMA International Project Management Association
7 December 2020 / 9:00

Year 2021 Pledges of PM progress: List of five

Time book is set to turn to page number 2021 in the next couple of weeks’ time. With it comes the seasonal ritual of setting objectives and making pledges for the new year and onwards.

In last one year, life has changed in many ways and that requires a change of focus for project management (PM) too. With that in mind, below we present a few areas of focus for further development in the year 2021 and onwards. Needless to say, that the proposed areas of focus are neither exhaustive nor conclusive, and certainly there could be other strands of focus in addition to ones discussed below.

  1. Bot economy readiness

The transition from dot.com economy to bot economy seems to be unavoidable. The growth in AI adoption and fast-paced technological developments indicate that ‘bot economy’ and ‘bot age’ are potentially the new versions of economies (McKinsey, 2020).

We define bot economy as a type of economy in which AI devices will play a central role in driving and supporting economic activities.

Additionally, we define bot age as a time period characterized by significant use of AI devices to support and amplify human capabilities for the performance of day-to-day chores and assorted business functions.

Like other professions, PM needs to be ready, should this transition happen in near future. So, one of the pledges for PM progress for the year 2021 should be to make PM ‘bot economy’ ready.

What that means is defining standards, guidelines, processes and ways of working for delivery of projects to support bot economies activities. The complexity of bot projects requires outside-the-box thinking and hence an innovative pursuit to design of PM standards and guidelines will be useful.

  1. Women project management

One of the areas that needs attention is Women project management. The men-women ratio in PM has been a matter of debate for some time (Caietti, 2019). It points to the need for furthering work on education, awareness and dissemination of information in order to bring more women into the PM fold.

Perhaps one of the ways it can be done is to develop bespoke PM educational programs and trainings for aspiring women to join PM profession. Similarly, more work is needed on the organizational side as well to raise awareness in relation to PM recruitment (Caietti, 2019). As such, one of the pledges for PM progress in year 2021 is to develop and implement concrete measures for increasing ratio of women in PM.

  1. AI and Cognitive-tech workers development

The potential transition to ‘bot economies’ means that AI and cognitive-tech workers will be the key driver of growth and sustainability. Developing and providing skills to project staff to handle AI and Cognitive technology development projects is vital. People working on these projects would need a variety of skills including human cognition, technology understanding, project management and socio-ethical considerations.

Such skills can be provided by developing AI educational programs, on-site experience workshops, and tailored trainings.

Therefore, one of the pledges for 2021 should be to proactively work towards finding ways and means of developing AI and cognitive-tech workers capabilities through skills and experience development endeavors.

  1. Specialized project management

One of the takeaways of the year 2020 is that it has put the spotlight on healthcare, digital transformation and space exploration, in particular.  These trends deserve to be considered carefully. Developing PM capacities to handle specialized projects will help in the delivery of such projects efficiently and effectively.

Therefore, one of the pledges for PM progress in the year 2021 is to build specialized streams of project management. Early candidates for the development of such streams should be healthcare, digital transformation and space engineering (based on the year 2020 experience).

Developing specific guidelines and standards which can be used as supplementary or add-on to existing standards/guidelines; providing specific skills to people; and upgrading knowledge of current project staff by providing specialized domain knowledge in relation to the streams will help towards achieving the objectives of specialized project management.

  1. Future of project management

To ensure that the PM profession remains relevant and aligned to the changing needs of the time, it is important to do futuristic thinking and forward planning for the progress of the profession. Therefore, one of the pledges for PM progress in 2021 should be to build capacities and thinking about future evolution.

The covid-19 challenges have highlighted the importance of resilience and keep on progressing in difficult times. The situation demands futuristic thinking and vision to handle projects in time of unexpected circumstances. So, it is very logical and rationale that more work is carried out to build futuristic vision for may be next 10 years which will serve as a platform for refining and redefining the vision as per needs of the situation.


Year 2021 is upon us. It needs a fresh start. One of the ways to get the ball rolling is to build vision and thinking about the objectives to be achieved in the new year. Keeping this in mind, we have proposed five areas of focus for PM progress in year 2021 and beyond. The bot economy, digital transformation, healthcare, women PM and people skills development are the focus of our proposal. The list does not end here, as there could be and there will be many other areas that would need attention for PM progress. But, we hope that the five areas of attention discussed above will serve as a springboard for further considerations and development of strategies to achieve PM progression in year 2021 and beyond.

Wishing you all very Merry Christmas and a blissful year 2021.

Follow on Linkedin: Jiwat

Caietti, N. (2019). Celebrating Women in Project Management, https://www.projectmanager.com/blog/celebrating-women-in-project-management
McKinsey, (2020). The state of AI in 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-analytics/our-insights/global-survey-the-state-of-ai-in-2020?cid=podcast-eml-alt-mip-mck&hdpid=edff6cd6-3b1f-4ffc-b0f7-e73691cf1abe&hctky=10391422&hlkid=8888947fdfc344bfa38308d54a015fea#

© 2020 Jiwat Ram, All Rights Reserved.


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Author of this post

Jiwat is a Professor in Project Management. He has considerable experience of working internationally in diverse cultures and business environments.

Jiwat is currently serving on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Project Management.

Jiwat actively contributes to project management community. His work has been published in top scientific journals and Four of his published papers have remained in Top25 most downloaded papers. Additionally, two of his papers have been ranked as the Most Cited article published since 2012. More recently, he has published a number of articles on some of the issues confronting project management in various industry based outlets.