Trends in Information Technology Project Management

Introduction

Project management has been a common approach to accomplishing tasks within specified constraints such as time, scope, quality, and cost. Since project management gained interest from various fields of construction, engineering, and government, it has been advancing at a constant rate. Today, several companies depend on project management to achieve their business goals (Catia & Pedro, 2018). To succeed, project managers employ various contemporary techniques that suit their task requirements. A survey by Project Management Institute (2018) revealed that 93 percent of organizations now use standardized approaches. With the desire to attain satisfactory performance and quality projects, managers target to enhance their know-how by applying available standards and rules (Catia & Pedro, 2018). However, the numeracy of these standards and regulations makes it advantageous to use frameworks that are easy to use and capable of meeting organizational goals.

This research paper focuses on exploring top trends in the IT project management domain. To achieve this, it will perform a synthesis of current literature related to the topic. Eventually, it will have answered the following questions:

  1. What are the three top project management trends in the IT industry?
  2. Why are these technologies trending?
  3. What are the impacts of these approaches on project management?

Therefore, this paper will identify and elaborate on the trends that relate to project management in the IT field. It will also provide clear insights as to why the mentioned practices are trending. The impact of this development will also be examined and reported by this survey. The first trend to be covered in the next findings section will be discussed in detail since it is currently the most critical development.

Hypothesis

Traditional project management methods are gradually being faced out and replaced by modern technology.

Findings

Top Trends in IT Project Management Industry

The enhancement of technologies in different sectors also affects how project managers embark on their tasks. This section will test and prove the validity of the hypothesis. Some of the developments in the IT project management industries include:

  • Remote working and monitoring
  • Leveraging Artificial Intelligence
  • Use of hybrid methodologies

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way leaders work, which accounts for the main trends witnessed in portfolio management, as revealed in the points discussed below.

Increased Remote Working and Collaboration

This trend involves program managers assigning each teammate tasks and letting them collaborate with others virtually such that physical encounters are few while most consultations occur over the internet. This method is presently effective due to the global outbreak and spread of COVID-19, which led to movement restrictions, and company staff resorted to working from home. According to Udoagwu (2020), this trend will continue growing even after the pandemic since it is already a culture in some organizations. Furthermore, Levy (2020) indicates several companies worldwide have invested in remote working tools, and it will be difficult for them to discard this approach once the virus is gone. Hence, more research should be done on this growing trend.

Cyberculture

Cyberculture is a term coined to refer to the concept of effective cross-site communication on a specific but distributed project. According to Nozari et al. (2016), “cyberculture despite traditional culture is product-oriented, which is not supposed to be replaced with traditional culture” (p. 50). It denotes practices for unique systems that generate the requisite information for establishing the interrelatedness of tasks. It differs from the traditional approach in that it seems to be formal in structure while the latter is informal.

Typical cyberculture comprises the following aspects:

  • Diversity: Virtual teams are comprised of members from various backgrounds. The interaction between these people helps create a composite relationship that combines different skill sets, opinions, and ideologies to develop a rigorous project team.
  • Language: Since virtual teams are made of members from diverse locations, some could be from other nations. This difference in areas would lead to a language barrier, which may hinder easy communication and collaboration when assigned project tasks (Nozari et al., 2016). Discrediting or misusing other people’s language may lead to skirmishes and misunderstandings when there is no common language to be used.
  • Project rules: Project rules are a fundamental aspect of cyberculture, and they include communication and leadership directives. They can be viewed as a component of filtered project memory.

Emphasis on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science for developing systems that enable computers to exhibit natural intelligence similar to human beings. Artificial intelligence is commonly used confused with automation, yet they do not bear the same meaning. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (2019), “Automation is a controlled process that follows preprogrammed logic and rules, while AI is designed to simulate intelligent and even human thinking” (p. 3). Automation processes in managing projects are an indication that project managers are slowly embracing AI. Artificial intelligence would connect project management to computer software (Catia & Pedro, 2018). According to Catia and Pedro (2018), the incorporation of artificial intelligence in projects has brought positive impacts, such as minimization of errors due to software’s ability to notice changes in production systems, information, and technology. This minimization of errors, Catia and Pedro (2018) state, promotes efficiency in production. In a project-based organization, AI also empowers project managers with decision support; hence they can make informed choices pertaining to the project.

Artificial intelligence technologies will likely automate several managerial roles in project management. A study by Brownlee (2019) quotes a senior leader at Association for Project Management (APM), saying that AI will create program schedules and risk registers. The same source echoes the sentiments of PMI’s Vice President on AI as follows:

While traditional project management roots focused on tasks like scheduling and tactical planning, AI will likely automate much of that functionality thereby shifting the Project Manager’s core focus to understanding how to leverage this technology to deliver more value for customers (para. 2).

Since the technological world is rapidly transforming, project managers may be required to possess technical expertise. These skills are essential because, in the future, the managers may be involved in projects that relate to artificial intelligence technologies such as data science, machine learning, and robotics. They should not have to be experts in these knowledge areas but rather aim to comprehend their organization’s plans to incorporate AI to prepare to shift roles and duties (Fergus, 2021). Therefore, having a basic knowledge of these technologies will be advantageous to them.

Leveraging Customized or Hybrid Approaches to Project Management

Presently, project managers are interested in techniques that allow for flexibility, relevance, and adaptability as they seek to contain the rapidly changing business environments (Brownlee, 2019). Hybrid approaches combine different management principles and methodologies to produce optimally blended methods used in project management (see Appendix 1) (Bushuiev & Kozyr, 2020). A study by Catia and Pedro (2018) observes that, “for these to be used, it is necessary to have some factors in consideration such as requirements, division of roles, errors, failures, quality, and documentation” (p. 7). Examples of hybrid approaches as provided by Bushuiev & Kozyr (2020) include “Agile with flexible lifecycle, Waterfall lifecycle PMBoK, Value-based P2M and Prince 2 with Gateway project phase management model” (p. 37). Although there are opposing views on the effectiveness of waterfall and agile methods, it is worth eliminating the trade-off using one of the two approaches by implementing hybrid methodologies (Brownlee, 2019). Thus, hybrid methods can complement traditional approaches to program management.

When the Program Management Institute (PMI) combined the PMBOK Guide (Sixth Edition) with Agile Practice Guide in 2017, Brownlee (2019) reports that the Vice President, DePrisco revealed that:

The Guide was developed in response to stakeholder requests asking us for more content on agile and to provide tools, situational guidelines and an understanding of the various agile approaches available to enable better results (para. 10).

This move by PMI signifies the rising popularity of using agile methods in program management to attain quick market access and adaptability. Project-based organizations are, therefore, free to use existing methodologies or develop new hybrid agile approaches.

Important Emerging Issue in Remote Working

This report has established that working remotely is a critical trend on the rise. According to Fergus (2021), this is a good resource during this pandemic period. Through communication systems developed, workers can deliver their duties remotely. The significant components of remote work include virtual leadership, virtual communication, and cyberculture.

Virtual Leadership

Virtual leadership is a considerable challenge in remote project teams. Udoagwu (2020) notes that there are concerns about leadership in remote working environments since project managers are not in the same place as their subjects. This leadership challenge is further compounded by the fact that remote teams are usually diverse in time zones, nationalities, and cultural backgrounds. To achieve maximum benefits from remote work in a project-based organization, the managers should possess leadership and communication skills. However, comprehending the different forms of one-on-one control on the part of leaders may be challenging.

The delegation of duties to affect leadership is one-way project managers exercise their authority (Nozari et al., 2016). Leadership authority over virtual teams depends on these factors:

  • Virtual electronic supervision of workers as a way to exercise direct management when the unit is not co-located.
  • Objective-oriented management as a form of delegating leadership values.
  • Self-managing teams as an instance of autonomous project teams.

Virtual leadership is concerned with the following activities:

  • Team unity: Team unity in a virtual team means adding more people to the team. It results in greater satisfaction by the members, more unified groups, and a capacity to share domain knowledge.
  • Reception of constant feedback: It is usually challenging to receive a steady response in a virtual work environment. As a project manager, it is not easy to retrieve information on the performance of team members due to a lack of established frameworks for doing so (Nozari et al., 2016). The incorporation of methods for retrieving the performance of members will result in high output per individual.
  • Enhancement of cooperation: Cooperation and collaboration of virtual team members on assigned tasks is more comfortable since they are not co-located. Mobilizing virtual team members to provide input on a given task promotes teamwork and partnership (Nozari et al., 2016). Cooperation is inspired by trust and understanding among individuals.
  • Delegation of authority: One-on-one leadership is more suitable in non-virtual teams but not fully practical in virtual teams—this inability to exercise direct leadership forces project managers to consider delegating management roles. Virtual team members are, therefore, capable of setting goals, collaborating, and issuing feedback.
  • Definition of project goals: Definition of goals is done in the planning phase of the project life cycle. Nozari et al. (2016) states that “Research indicate that there is a positive relationship between setting clear goals and team unity, cooperation, the quality of decisions and the number of generated alternatives” (p. 48).

Program managers should consult and collaborate with team members on practical ways of setting succinct goals.

Virtual Communication

Virtual communication is among the most important activities done by the virtual team. Its implementation in the virtual system is a significant concern to project managers. The project manager has to utilize specialized tools and functionalities to ensure an utmost relationship with virtual team members. The activities associated with virtual communication include but are not limited to the following:

  • Physical distribution of team members
  • Different time zone between team members
  • Communication configurations

Conclusion

This report explored three significant IT project management trends, which included an emphasis on remote working, artificial intelligence use, and adoption of hybrid agile approaches in managing projects. It performed a literature review and synthesis of available materials to answer to test the hypothesis andanswer the research questions. During its analysis, the report established that remote working has gained more industrial attention during the global pandemic period since people are working from home. This study prospects more investment in that domain because it has become a culture in some organizations. Since technology keeps on changing, technological innovations will be adopted to provide better solutions to emerging needs.

References

Brownlee, D. (2019). 4 project management trends on the horizon…Are you ready? Forbes. Web.

Bushuiev, D., & Kozyr, B. (2020). Hybrid infrastructure project management methodologies. Innovative Technologies and Scientific Solutions for Industries, 1(11), 35 −43. Web.

Catia, P., & Pedro, R. (Eds.). (2018). Proceedings of the international conference on intelligent systems. IEEE.

Fergus, A. (2021). 5 project management trends taking control in 2021. Bizcommunity. Web.

Levy, A. (2020). Working from home is here to stay, even when the economy reopens. CNBC. Web.

Nozari, H., Najafi, S. E., Jafari-Eskandari, M., & Aliahmadi, A. (2016). Providing a model for virtual project management with an emphasis on IT projects. In project management: concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 43−63). IGI Global. Web.

PricewaterhouseCoopers. (2019). AI will transform project management. Are you ready? Web.

Project Management Institute. (2018). Pulse of the profession. Web.

Udoagwu, K. (2020). 4 important IT project management trends you can’t ignore. Wrike. Web.

Appendix 1

Context diagram of hybrid approaches
Figure 1: Context diagram of hybrid approaches