Project management is a relatively new specialization that is constantly evolving and penetrating various fields and industries. In fact, its renowned industry-standard benchmarking tool, the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), has been updated seven times in its 25-year history.
Project management is not easy, as it often feels like grasping for the wind. In fact, its several not-so-easy stages are initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing of a project.
No matter what tasks are in question, there are some core skills and competencies every good project manager should have to remain competitive in the job market. Furthermore, a savvy project manager will follow current trends and constantly upskill or even reskill to meet the high demand of the rapidly developing profession. This is all the more important in the context of the Great Resignation, which allowed professionals to job-hop and navigate a dynamic work environment.
This article sheds light on the current trend in project management and provides a list of top-in-demand skills and personal qualities you should keep in the loop and work on in 2024.
What’s the current state of project management in 2024?
The world has changed dramatically over the last two years, and we can see the changes do not stop coming. The German Handelsblatt headlined its report on STEM Reporting (German: MINT-Reporting) from November 2021: “Short of over 275,000 skilled professionals – Shortage of experts already greater than before COVID”.
Worldwide, physical and cultural events are shaping the entire project management discipline. While everyone is looking into the future, let us also pay attention to the current industry ideas that are sure to influence project management teams as well:
- Improved communication. Effective communication proved essential to remain productive for blended teams working remotely. When asked about the most significant challenges in managing remote work, 45% of respondents said they lacked communication.
As a Fall 2021 study conducted by Google revealed that over 75% of survey respondents expect hybrid work to become a standard, the challenges of efficient work from home will remain topical for project management teams.
- Maximized effectiveness. Currently, just under 1 out of 4 organizations use any project management software. While the rest are working with Excel, paper, or a patchwork of tools with suboptimal integration, the hybrid work model is still a staple of business moving forward.
Both face-to-face and remote interactions now require the use of new technology and strategies to manage them properly. As a result, the need for adaptability and fast learning remains in high demand.
- Intelligent project management. According to recent research, 89% of organizations now have at least one project management office (PMO), and 50% have more than one. Furthermore, 71% of PMs surveyed believe the perceived value of their role is increasing, up from 55% in 2019.
These facts prove the enhancement of professional skills and qualities to be a considerable competitive advantage in the job market.
Recent trends in project management
Due to the ever-expanding nature of project management as a field, we can foresee upcoming trends. Understanding these predictions allows project managers to be well-prepared for future tasks and make smarter decisions.
Furthermore, these trends often shape the demands toward candidates on the job market so that your career can also benefit from an upgrade in these project management trends.
a. Multicultural virtual teams
Like many other fields, project management is shifting to virtual teams with remote teams and more flexible working hours. This also means hiring more diverse and multicultural teams at the same time.
According to Harvard Business Review, a multicultural team achieves better results, but that success doesn’t happen automatically and with no additional effort. It’s about developing cultural awareness. A multicultural team is all about opportunities rather than threats. Even so, people strive to avoid cultural missteps and harness the strengths of diversity.
b. Upskilling and certification
Effective project management requires constant self-education and professional development. Thus, a PM who’s received a project management professional certification is to make 22% more money than a PM who hasn’t been certified.
Thus, there is always another course to be taken or a workshop to participate in to become an even more valuable team member rather than relying solemnly on real-life experience.
c. The expansion of AI and data analytics
Almost 85% of CEOs believe AI will significantly impact business in the upcoming years. 63% agree or strongly agree that AI will make a more considerable difference to business than the internet, and project management is no exception here.
As AI promises to take care of repetitive tasks and complete them rapidly and accurately, it gives PMs more time to focus on other tasks. Thus, project managers who can harness the benefits of AI, automation, and data analytics can spot forecast variances earlier and make economic rectification more efficient.
Which project management skills are invaluable in 2024?
Project management is not easy as it encompasses multiple spheres of responsibility and demands full engagement in the process. For such a versatile job, skillful professionals are required.
Based on the upcoming trend and current tendencies, there seems to be a bunch of top project management skills and core abilities that apply to any project, big or small. Here is a complete list that includes hard skills, soft skills, and even personality traits, which are a must for an excellent project manager.
4 Project Management Hard Skills
Hard skills, also known as technical skills, are learned and carefully cultivated through education and learning. Indeed, employers reduced the degree requirements for 46% of middle-skill positions and 31% of high-skill jobs between 2017 and 2019. Nevertheless, according to recent research from Harvard Business Review and Emsi Burning Glass, hard skills are still paramount in project management.
Thus, if you are not new to PM, make sure you’re training to develop the most in-demand project management skills in 2024 before moving on to other ones.
1. The 3Rs – reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic
Accurate and quick reading, writing, and arithmetic are essential for a good project manager. The 3Rs are basic hard skills that are repeatedly taught throughout the whole education cycle. However, as we become adults, these skills tend to fade away without constant practice.
The secrets of keeping up with the 3Rs are straightforward: extensive reading, consistent writing, and practicing basic arithmetic on paper or with dedicated apps. Making these simple activities a part of your daily routine is the habit you need to develop in 2024.
2. Process management
The ability to map vital stages and keep track of all processes within the project ecosystem is vital for a project management specialist. Unfortunately, many young specialists and even experience pros often struggle to grasp the enormity of process management.
By its very nature, process management requires balancing. Therefore, excelling in process management is a surefire way to stand out as a PM. Consider investing in some process management training certifications to stay ahead of the curve.
3. Project planning
Architecting the whole path of the project development is a crucial task of a project manager, despite the tendencies or trends. Proper planning should cover all the aspects from micro to macro levels to make everything work right.
Thus, mastering project management planning skills means learning to be ten steps ahead. To learn this skill, you will need to diversify your learning and follow the tips of multiple experts simultaneously to be ready for negative and positive twists.
Sequencing the right people on the project at the right time is another vital skill a good project manager should have. Building out a calendar that indicates who is doing what and when is among the top requirements in any job description for a project manager position.
The power of good scheduling is enormous. As the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession survey shows, organizations that employ one of the variants of project management methodology are more likely to stay on schedule. You’d better choose the one for yourself and master it perfectly.
3 Project Management Soft Skills
Soft skills, also known as personal, transferable, and professional skills, help regulate matters where intellectual engagement and personal interaction are required. Since soft skills are much harder to learn and train, 87% of companies worldwide are well aware they either already have a skills gap or will have one within a few years, according to McKinsey & Company.
Another explanation is that machines and AI cannot recreate much of their interpersonal or creative aspects. Here are those of utmost importance for skillful project managers in 2024:
Teamwork is a skill a good project manager should constantly learn and be able to teach simultaneously. Working together is a proven way to efficiently process creative ideas despite all of its challenges.
Under conditions of hybrid team widespread and taught working schedules, improving teamwork skills will require the following two primary approaches: 1) deepening of theoretical knowledge and 2) in-person exercises to promote trust, understanding, and comfortability.
Creativity is a skill that AI cannot match for sure, at least for now. Therefore, it is an invaluable skill every project manager should possess. Furthermore, creativity is also among the most high-income skills essential in any profession.
Strange as it may seem, really simple or even routine practices like changing a habit, spending time outdoors, indulging in a hobby, and listening to music helps boost creativity.
3. Critical thinking
Oftentimes, PMs are confronted with conflicting data, mismatched ideas and facts, and flaws in common reasoning. Thus, making critical decisions when there are no obvious choices and tackling problems with confidence is essential for a project manager.
According to HBR.org, three habits can help you improve your critical thinking: question all assumptions, find reason through logic and diversify your thought. In addition, habitual reading that requires concentration and the ability to analyze the text calmly and without bias improves critical thinking skills.
Project manager personality traits
With all the hard and soft skills mentioned above, this list still misses the personal traits essential for a successful project manager. Traits are hugely important, as they predetermine your chances for a successful career within this field right from the start.
In fact, many hiring managers and company owners practice establishing the candidate’s character traits and aptitudes to make the best possible hires. These traits primarily include:
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help to concentrate on the traits you need to improve and showcase those that could win you the project manager position right away. Therefore, the employer’s interest in your personal characteristics can benefit you.
A set of project management skills includes all those skills required to start, carry on and complete a project successfully. Undoubtedly, some of these skills come to the front in different stages, while others play a less crucial role.
The chances you read through the above and realized a few areas where you fall short in project management are pretty high, yet this is normal. These are the matters that can be improved, yet one is willing to.
While knowing project management is desirable, theory without the skills to apply it is useless. Having the right project management tools without the practical PM skills to put them to good use at the same time is wasteful. The most important step is to start, as there are many options to improve the existing skills and develop new ones to have a competitive edge in the job market.
Tania Doshko is a motivated and avid content creator who believes in the power of quality writing for business success. She finds her inspiration in careful observations and amazement with the fastly developing world.