What’s on the horizon? Five project management predictions for 2022.

Posted by Team Sharktower on December 1st, 2021

2021 hasn’t exactly been packed with good news stories. While Covid held its ground in much of the world, climate change dealt many countries a secondary blow with floods or wildfires. Thank goodness a giant ship got stuck in the Suez, or we might have had nothing to deliver collective cheer.

Still, 2022 has to be better right? Well, who knows. We’ve read dozens of economic forecasts and the most common answer seems to be “Nobody really”. And that definitely includes us here at Team Sharktower. 

So for our 2022 predictions, we’re sticking to what we do know. And you know what’s always certain? CHANGE. 

And so with that seamless segue, let’s get on with the predictions.


Pressure on IT delivery teams will continue to grow

Earlier this year, Mulesoft interviewed 800 global IT leaders from organisations of 1000+ employees. Their report found that only 37% of IT teams were able to complete all the projects asked of them in 2020, and they were asked to complete 30% more projects in 2021.

Growth in the number of projects IT is being asked to deliver
MuleSoft 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report

IT teams can expect this to increase in 2022 as the pressure on organisations to digitise services quickly at scale, innovate boundlessly, and create new revenue channels shows no signs of easing. Indeed, in a very recent study by Forbes, when asked which trend is having the greatest impact on their business, UK-based CEOs put ‘Accelerating technology and digital transformation’ at the top of the list, and 71% said they are planning a major new transformation initiative. 

It’s great news for the end-users and consumers who will benefit from these advances. But if you’re charged with delivering these initiatives – with ever tighter deadlines and limited access to resources – you’d be forgiven for feeling a mild sense of dread.

What to do now 

Get a single source of the truth. If you’re being asked to deliver a greater number of projects, and failure isn’t an option, it’s time to get your teams out of their siloes. Where previously project leaders have found themselves having to firefight risks and issues as they’re unearthed, to succeed in the faster-paced future, you need a way to identify problems long before they occur. And that means bringing all of your people, projects and data together in one place.

Ramp up your reporting. There’s no longer time for repetitive manual reporting, nor for the potential errors/delays associated with it. 92% of UK CEOs expect that a global standard for measuring and reporting on long-term value creation will emerge in the next five years, so if you want to ahead, get real-time project reporting.


Teams will want facilitators, not managers.

This one has been bubbling under the surface for a while, but after almost two years of remote working, the relationship between project teams and project managers is changing for good.

In their own predictions article (yes, we’re all writing them), Gartner’s Research VP Daryl Plummer goes on record to say “Teams are becoming much more autonomous [and] independent. They can work on their own, and the idea of a boss is becoming less helpful.”

It’s a view we’re seeing shared a lot, and it’s been on the cards since the advent of Agile project management. While there’ll always be a need to plan, prioritise and organise work; Teams no longer need a ‘gaffer’ to tell them what to do – they need a project leader who understands the challenges they’re up against and can remove any blockers that slow them down.

For many experienced project managers, this new approach is a big culture shift, but it’s one that benefits everyone involved. No longer required to be fire-fighters, project managers can become proactive value managers – focusing on business benefits and outcomes rather than micro-managing the detail.

What to do now

Don’t ignore it! Gartner predicts that within three years, 30% of corporate teams will have no ‘manager’ at all, so ignoring the issue now is only delaying the inevitable; and will hold your business back in the meantime (not to mention you may find yourself losing employees to organisation’s where the culture has already shifted). 

Improve your digital communication. For PMs to break away from the traditional ‘policing’ role, they need to be able to monitor projects and check-in with teams without the need for time-consuming meetings and walkarounds (which the hybrid working model doesn’t support anyway). Give everyone in the project team a way to manage their own workload and communicate digitally in one place.  


Visual data will drive decisions

It’s now 16 years since the world started talking about Big Data. And while there are over 250 different technologies in the project management software market, many organisations are still not making the most of the project data available to them. 

If yours is one of them, 2022 is the year to get involved. Because those new project leaders we talked about above – the proactive change-makers – well, to make a real difference, they need data. And they need it to be visual. As highlighted in a recent MIT report: 

‘Visualizing data and conveying quantitative information is one of the new forms of literacy that’s needed in the knowledge economy.’ 

So having access to reams of abstract data isn’t enough. To be truly Agile, project leaders and their teams need to be able to quickly understand and act on the data available to them. Software that has AI and machine learning built-in can analyseinterpret and present information in ways that support this ‘decision intelligence’ and enable project leaders to quickly review, rethink or redirect projects as needed – at a glance. 

What to do now

Be a data champion. You don’t have to be an expert to drive the conversation about project data in your organisation, but you can begin to use it to tell a story. Find your fellow data fans. And if you’re looking for a good conversational springboard to share, this article from SmartData Collective is simple short read. 

See what’s out there. Research some software options that have data visualisation built-in, then arrange a demo and invite key decision-makers to join the walkthrough. There’s no obligation to act on what you see, but it might just convince senior managers to take things further. 


Outcomes > outputs

Across all business sectors, productivity and efficiency have ruled for decades now. But project leads who are used to putting outputs and deadlines above all else now have another factor to consider: IMPACT.  

With a growing focus on purpose-driven and value-driven outcomes, traditional ‘shopping list’ style delivery may meet practical needs, but it won’t meet a business’s overall mission and objectives. 

Success is no longer measured solely on whether a project was delivered on time and on budget (although those metrics will always matter). Now, all eyes are on project outcomes that will set the business apart. Developing products and services that make people’s lives easier and enable them to live more ethically. Services that continually respond to an ever-changing world. 

Of course, achieving those goals calls for robust planning and organisation, but it also requires flexibility, agility, experimentation, and continual reiteration.  

What to do now

Define success differently – Focusing on outcomes means you’re no longer in charge of a production line – you’re heading up an ideas factory. We saw many businesses respond to lockdown challenges at lightning speed, and that innovation and agility is now no more than consumers and users expect, so before you start delivering, work with your team to consider “What is the problem we’re trying to solve?” and “How will we know if we’ve solved it?”. Keep end users front of mind, and be prepared to change direction if the original problem or challenge changes.  

Build value outcomes into your planning from day one, and only agree your outputs once you’re clear on the objectives. And that’s just day one. From there, keep reviewing and – where you need to – reiterating every few months at least, to ensure you’re still on the right track. Consider a project delivery platform that allows you to link project activity directly to objectives and outcomes in a simple, transparent way. 


Project leaders will become change leaders

Yes, OK, we know. Having already predicted that nobody wants ‘managers’ anymore, and that outcomes are the new outputs, this throws project leaders yet another curveball. But the good news is that when project leads become problem solvers who deliver outcomes AND enable change, their importance, value and influence increase too.  

In many ways, project and programme managers have always been change managers – driving innovation projects through various logistical challenges among a landscape of cultural resistance. Unfortunately, the same people have often become scapegoats when those change initiatives fail.  

Thankfully, attitudes are changing, and many organisations are appointing ‘change champions’, and bringing project, change and product managers together to create a change committee or task force with a unified value proposition. 

What to do now

Get everyone together. If you’re a senior business leader, bring your managers together now to discuss how they can join forces. Some organisations are creating ‘Transformation Offices’ staffed by project and change professionals. Others are creating brand new job titles. There’s no perfect formula, but defining the way forward has to involve everyone whose role will be impacted. 

Manage change in one place. As well as bringing people together, it’s time to start planning and managing your business change in one platform, where it’s visible to everyone involved. Not only does siloed data conceal potential risks and issues, it also creates unnecessary barriers at a time when everything needs to be seamless. Find a platform that’s designed for delivering continual change, allowing individual teams to communicate and collaborate in a more consistent way.  



Let’s talk

If you’d like to know more about how Sharktower can help you manage change in 2022 and beyond, get in touch today.