Since project management is evolving at a faster rate each subsequent year, recognizing the trends is an important part of successful project management.

Certain project management functions or tools that were followed or used in the past may or may not work as efficiently as they can today.

So, what do we do, which way do we go? Here’s a list of 6 key trends that help show how project management is moving forward.

Agile vs. Waterfall

Agile project management is a more collaborative process, which is increasingly becoming the preferred method over the traditional waterfall method. Agile’s functions focus on people, communications, the product, and flexibility. Agile utilizes an empirical, or sense method where everyone involved knows what’s going on and how the project is progressing, constantly evaluating, and sharing information at all times. All this is usually done via an interactive project management software platform, which can add up to a shorter project management life cycle. Whereas, the waterfall method employs the structure of completing one task at a time, and you move to the next task only when the previous one is complete. This typically creates a longer project management life cycle.

Risk Management

Organizational culture can influence how a project is managed and its outcome, especially if that organization utilizes an Agile approach to its project management philosophy. That being said, this type of process increases the need for proper risk management. Proper risk management can control the path of future events within a project and is a good proactive tool to keeping everything on track. Conducting a risk assessment should be completed at the beginning, mid-point and at the end of each project. Doing so will help organizations see the need of having contingencies in place and may see a reduction in any crisis management.

Cloud Based Project Management Software

Online project management software and other cloud based solutions can help a team that may be located in many places collaborate together on a project. Typically, information like project scheduling, communications, and documentation, among other items, is shared online through various connected devices. This cloud based platform gives all that are connected the ability to communicate, perform, update, generate reports, etc. for all to use from a single database, creating a virtual office.

Project Management Software Application Programming Interfaces (API)

Project management software is not a new idea, however the interface of your software to other programs are increasingly becoming a requirement. For example, for a successful project start you may want to have integration to the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This function may help bridge the gap between sales, marketing, or engineering and project management to create a seamless effort for new projects or tasks.

Cybersecurity

It seems that malicious cyber attacks on large companies and high profile people is reported in the news on an almost weekly/monthly basis, and are expected to increase through 2015 and 2016. So, it is important the project team be aware of defensive processes and technologies when planning and executing a project, since the project team will be responsible for a secure deliverable.

“A process-based approach to cybersecurity is not only the most realistic defense against evolving threats, but has the added value of establishing a record of decision-making that can deter future litigation in the event of a breach.” – CIO Journal Guest Columnist Brian Finch

Increased Use of Independent Consultants and Contractors

As companies grow and projects become more complex the need to reduce/control costs, improve project management performance while reducing the life cycle of a project becomes more important. To help accomplish this the need for independent consultants and contractors is becoming increasingly evident. The use of independent consultants and contractors not only brings you the targeted expertise when needed, but can also bring new ideas, latest technologies and approaches to your project team. The use of outside help like this is really not a new trend, but one that is getting more active each year.