AT A GLANCE
- The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of businesses and organizations worldwide
- Project management is needed now more than ever in planning and implementing the adjustments imposed by the pandemic
- As a result of Covid-19, project management is expected to undergo several changes
The world of business changed in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic, which originated in China and has infected since then more than 32 million people worldwide (as of September 27, 2020, per the World Health Organization), has rewritten how companies and businesses worldwide tackle day-to-day activities and operations. Work from home became the norm for most companies, with some of them opting to extend their work-from-home schedules until early or mid-2021 (Google is a prime example of this, having announced on July 27, 2020, work from home for its employees until July 2021). Plus, online collaboration tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become the new norm for communicating and conducting business remotely.
THE EFFECT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON PROJECT MANAGEMENT
The dynamics of Project Management as a field have also been affected by the pandemic. Some of the projects that had been considered a necessity before the outbreak are being phased out. Others are replaced with new projects focused on enabling advances in technologies, restructuring of organizations, and upgrading business infrastructures — all of which are needed to cope with the new reality imposed by the pandemic.
Furthermore, agile project management has gained traction during the pandemic, as it is more suited for environments where changes are recurrent and planning phases are flexible and short in duration. It is also expected to become the norm in many businesses who will likely prefer the flexibility of agile management to the rigidity of traditional project management approaches.
“Many businesses will likely prefer the flexibility of agile management to the rigidity of traditional project management approaches.”
So, what does the future hold for Project Management post-Covid-19? Here are four main changes expected in the years to come:
1. A Reliance on Online Communication / Collaboration Tools:
Remote work, with its reliance on online collaboration tools, has, in its most part, been effective in producing desired results when it comes to communicating and relaying project management requirements. Online collaboration tools will be expected to stay and shall prove integral in project management’s communication aspect. Such tools will allow seamless engagement with project stakeholders, as well as relay necessary information for the project’s progression.
This reliance on online collaboration tools does not come without its disadvantages. Some project activities, such as team building and casual stakeholder discussions, usually work best via face-to-face interaction and onsite presence, which in turn boost team members’ engagement and productivity. Moving forward, communication planning and strategizing will be key to ensuring project stakeholder engagement and motivation.
“Moving forward, communication planning and strategizing will be key to ensuring project stakeholder engagement and motivation.”
2. More Focus on Change Management
The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that change is inevitable, sometimes at a scale too large for projects with weak change management structures to handle. Change and crisis management plans will be critical when projects are being planned, and dedicated teams and task forces will need to be formed to make sure such plans are implemented when the need arises.
3. Wider Adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
With recent advances in AI and Process Automation, the need to have simple and mundane tasks automated has become key to increased operational efficiency. That also holds for project management, where the use of AI and Robotic Process Automation will allow for admin-related tasks and other planning, reporting, estimation, and data management tasks, to be fully automated. This will shift project managers and team members’ focus to major tasks and activities where thought and creative input are required, thus increasing the team’s productivity and efficiency.
4. A Gradual Shift to Hybrid Project Management (and in some cases, Agile Project Management)
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the future is more uncertain than ever. In project management terms, this now means that any thorough planning is, in many cases, no longer feasible. Moreover, traditional project management approaches, which rely heavily on having a clear view of project requirements as well as a full early-project planning phase, will start to fade and give way to more flexible approaches.
Still, this does not mean that such traditional approaches will cease to exist. Project managers will start blending different methodologies in hybrid approaches to account for the future’s uncertainty and allow for flexibility in planning and change management. Some businesses will take it even further and adopt agile project management to safeguard projects against any unexpected changes.
“Project managers will start blending different methodologies in hybrid approaches to account for the future’s uncertainty and allow for flexibility in planning and change management.”
In conclusion, the future looks bright for project management, with many new projects on the horizon resulting from businesses’ new needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, project management as a practice will need to adapt to tackle what is to come post COVID-19, and project managers will have to build and enhance their skill set and know-how to keep up with expected changes in the field.