Challenges & Skills needed for the Next Generation Project Managers

Challenges & Skills needed for the Next Generation Project Managers

The modern workplace is undergoing a significant transformation. As a result, project professionals in both the public and private sectors worldwide have started to recognize the full range of benefits that successful project management can bring to their businesses and are prepared to make the required adjustments, particularly on cultural changes.

The success of each project is dependent on an effective project management strategy. Considering the next generation of project professionals, it is critical to have an efficient leader who can direct this process since it is methodically planning, organizing, and executing a pre-determined series of procedures to maximize resource utilization and achieve objectives. Project goals will likely be met with a manager monitoring adequate planning and checking off milestones.

To compete in the upcoming competitive market, a project manager must have the technical, digital, and other essential project management skills to comprehend future project challenges. On the other hand, a project leader with an effective skill set can tackle all the challenges in a project in the right way. So here are some of the challenges and skill sets to manage a project for the next generation of project managers.

Challenges of Project Management

According to data provided in the PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2020, 11.4 percent of corporate investment is lost owing to poor project performance.

What variables might contribute to poor project performance? There are examples of a need for more precise planning, inconsistent procedures and techniques, incorrectly managing or accounting for all project stakeholders, budget overruns, and other causes.

Feeling the project blues? Don't despair! This post explores the top 3 reasons projects fail: People, Processes, and Communication. Learn about common project manager challenges and effective tips to overcome them, ensuring your project's success.

Categories of Project Failure

However, if we take a step further, the causes of project failure fall into three major categories:

  1. People
  2. Processes
  3. Communication

Let’s look at the most common challenges for project managers and some tips on how to overcome them.

This guide tackles the top 10 challenges project managers face, from unclear goals and scope creep to resource limitations and digital transformation. Discover actionable solutions to ensure project success, including fostering accountability, managing risks, and engaging stakeholders.

Challenges of Project Management

  1. Undefined Goals

Identifying project goals is one of the most common challenges in project management. The entire project and team might suffer when objectives need to be clearly defined. When top management cannot agree on or support undefined goals, the project has a limited likelihood of success. To define and convey clear goals, the project manager must ask the right questions and make the right decisions.

  1. Scope Creep

“Scope creep” occurs when incorrect project management permits the scope of a project to expand beyond its initial objectives. Clients and supervisors may request modifications to a project, requiring the project manager to examine each request and determine how and whether to accept it meanwhile also conveying the implications to all stakeholders regarding budget and timelines.

  1. Inadequate Skills for the Project

A project may necessitate the use of talents that the project’s contributors may need to have. Project management may assist a project manager in determining the required competencies, assessing existing personnel, and recommending training, outsourcing, or recruiting extra people.

  1. Lack of Accountability

When each team member accepts responsibility for their role in project success, the project manager’s leadership characteristics may come through. A lack of responsibility, on the other hand, might bring a project to an end. Learning to lead groups toward a shared objective is an essential part of project management.

  1. Improper Risk Management

Another key aspect of project management is learning to cope with and plan for risk. Because projects rarely go as planned, risk management is a desired project manager trait. To do their work effectively, project managers must solicit input, build trust, and understand which aspects of a project are most likely to deviate from the original plan.

  1. Ambiguous Contingency Plans

Project managers must understand which path to pursue in pre-defined “what-if” situations. The entire project may become entangled in unexpected problems if contingencies are not recognized. On the other hand, requesting that people identify possible problem areas can result in a smooth and successful project.

  1. Poor Communication

Poor communication can cause major project management issues. Project managers must offer direction at all project stages so that each team member understands what is expected from them. Therefore, effective communication with all people involved in the project is critical to its success.

  1. Resource Deprivation

Management must offer adequate resources for a project to function smoothly and successfully. The project management process aids project managers in establishing demands and securing approval up front, as well as how to assign and prioritize resources during a project.

  1. Lack of Stakeholder Engagement

A project can be ruined by an uninterested team member, customer, CEO, or vendor. A skilled project manager communicates openly and invites input at every stage to increase participant participation.

  1. Digital Transformation

Adapting to the correct tools, systems, and procedures becomes even more crucial as more firms board the digital transformation train. This difficulty stems from adapting to the appropriate project management system, enabling teams to construct, change, and improve existing procedures to expand and scale.

Overall, project management is in great demand and isn’t going away anytime soon. Indeed, project management is anticipated to expand by 33% by 2027. However, to keep up with the ever-changing business landscape, project managers must be updated on proper project management methods and trends.

Major Challenges for the Next Generation Project Managers

Discover the art of juggling roles and responsibilities as a project manager. Embrace generational differences, lead with integrity, and optimize team performance.

Major Challenges for the Next Generation Project Managers

  1. The first major challenge project managers must confront is technology globalization and the disruption of traditional corporate culture and model. This aspect includes eliminating the requirement to do business or manage projects from a single place. The adaptation of the “virtual team” has become a must, and a company’s agility might mean the difference between success and failure. What used to take months may now be accomplished instantly, emphasizing the necessity of a company’s ability to fast and naturally adapt to the fluctuating nature of today’s technology culture.
  2. The second major concern is worker involvement, a project manager’s capacity to grasp various roles and responsibilities and use agility to wear numerous “hats” depending on the project. Knowing generational drives, establishing moral leadership, and understanding how the team performs are all part of this.
  3. Finally, project managers will be impacted by innovation and risk. The problem is figuring out how to strike a balance between innovation and risk—as managing risk is an important project management skill—but without it, it’s hard to realize the entire project’s potential.

Future Trends of Project Management

Consider project management ten years ago: fewer tools, smaller teams, and more straightforward tasks. Since then, the project landscape has changed dramatically, with important developments such as:

  • Blockchain
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Sustainability
  • Remote teams
Unlock the potential of Project Management in the era of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Sustainability. Future-proof your skills and strategies for success!

Future Trends of Project Management

Trend 1 – Blockchain

More businesses use blockchain technologies for management, such as when conducting dispute investigations. The capacity of blockchain to automatically update data makes it ideal for reconciling records and transactions. One of the most significant contributions of blockchain to project management will be smart contracts, which are effectively self-executing contracts powered by computer code.

Smart contracts reduce the number of key functions within the project manager’s scope, such as checking on project milestones and assigning new ones, which speeds up management processes. As a result, quicker workflow assures project completion on time and improves a company’s overall performance.

Trend 2 – Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is increasingly finding its way into project management systems, managing anything from predictive analysis to risk management. Because of its efficacy, as per the PwC report, by 2030, AI is expected to contribute:

  • $42.7 B (7.7%) to Egypt’s economy
  • $135.2 B (12.4%) to Saudi Arabia’s economy
  • $96.3 B (13.6%) to the UAE economy

The primary capacity of AI is to provide data insights for decision-making, which increases the agility of any given project.

Trend 3 – Sustainability

Project sustainability is more critical than ever now. Governments and societies worldwide are demanding greener alternatives throughout the life cycle of a project.

Green initiatives are cost-cutting solutions for businesses. For example, energy is required for project completion, and shifting to renewable sources reduces costs. In addition, this frees up resources that may be directed toward other essential areas like innovation and research. Meanwhile, sustainable practices improve a company’s reputation and encourage consumer loyalty.

Trend 4 – Remote Teams

Remote teams have been the norm since the advent of communication technology. As a result, businesses gain from a more diverse and borderless talent pool easily available through contracts. In addition, they spend less on office space, travel, and other administrative expenses.

Data from Upwork’s Future Workforce Report 2021 revealed that more than half of the US population was working remotely to some level. Furthermore, 40.7 million Americans will likely be fully remote during the next five years.

Furthermore, in its 2022 State of Remote Work Report, Buffer discovered that 97% would promote remote work to others and continue to work remotely, at least for some time or for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, just 26% of businesses are prepared to offer a remote work environment.

As a result, it’s not unexpected that more workers anticipate that workplaces will become entirely virtual over the next several years. In general, remote working arrangements enable businesses to extend their resources while increasing operational efficiency. As such, they are crucial in developing lean, competitive firms.

Key Skills needed for Next-Generation Project Managers

Because of rising trends such as remote teams, digitalization, and automation, project management has changed dramatically in recent years. More companies rely significantly on technology to plan, execute, and monitor work.

As an example:

  • Big data and artificial intelligence for better risk forecasting
  • Remote progress tracking using digitization technologies
  • Automation software for more efficient execution

These solutions have improved firms’ management capabilities and altered project management’s future.

According to Gartner research, 80% of management duties will be automated by 2030, and future managers will need more technical skills. They must be knowledgeable about cybersecurity, blockchains, machine learning, and robots, all of which are expected to play larger roles in management.

To stay up with trends in modern project management, a fundamental understanding of topics such as data science, conflict resolution, and entrepreneurship is required. For example, data science skills may assist a manager in incorporating AI into more elements of the project life cycle. Here’s a closer look at what these skills include and how they’ll stay up with future innovations in project management.

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Key Skills Needed For Next Generation Project Managers

Skill 1 – Data Science

Big data insights are essential management tools in the future, especially for large projects with extensive life cycles. In terms of planning, insights from previous projects indicate inefficiencies that can guide the current project, such as the number of idle hours and their causes. In terms of execution, data analytics assess progress and spot deviations early, such as changes in material prices and exchange rates that exceed estimates.

Skill 2 – Conflict Resolution

Today’s projects are extremely complicated, with constantly changing deliverables. As a result, conflicts are never far away.

These conflicts, if left unaddressed, can undermine your team’s performance, resulting in delays and missed deliverables. Managers must thus understand the aspects of conflict resolution, such as:

  • Behavioral and organizational aspects of a positive workplace
  • Effective communication
  • Effective contingency planning

Skill 3 – Entrepreneurship

Project managers are essentially CEOs. On the one hand, they are in charge of project deliverables, while on the other, they are negotiating with shareholders and setting targets based on estimates. As a result, being productive requires more than technical and administrative skills. Project managers must also have entrepreneurship skills, such as strategic thinking and market insight. This skill is beneficial for modifying deliverables, which is typical in agile projects like software development.

Skill 4 – Resource Management

Budgets and timeframes became tighter as projects got more significant and more complicated. Today’s project managers must balance budget constraints, deliver quality, and achieve deadlines with limited resources. They are entrusted with creating a lean organization.

For optimal efficacy, a delicate balance of resource allocation is required, as over-allocation to one activity inhibits the others. So, managers must understand resource management principles such as equilibrium shifts and flexibility.

Skill 5 – Digital Skill

Digital skills are essential for future project managers. According to the CBI’s report on developing a world-leading innovation economy, upskilling employees with digital skills is critical. However, the digital skills pipeline could be improved. They believe more should be done to foster more ambition in that field.

Master the essential digital skills for success: data analysis, security, online collaboration, knowledge management, and data-driven decision-making. This ensures project efficiency, compliance, and effective leadership in the digital age.

Digital Skills For Project Managers

Project managers need to have the following digital skills:

  • Data analysis, analytics, and management
  • Data security and protection
  • Compliance with the rules and regulations
  • Leadership and collaboration online
  • Management of knowledge
  • Decision-making based on data.

Considering the vital significance of the project manager’s role and how it changes, here is a list of additional skills for project leaders to follow in the present and future to enhance their careers and succeed.

Unleash your inner leader! This guide explores 10 essential soft skills for project managers, including emotional intelligence, adaptive communication, strong people skills, and a results-oriented mindset. Discover how to build trust, manage teams effectively, and navigate challenges with flexibility and business acumen. Become a well-rounded project leader and drive projects to success.

Skills For Future Project Leaders

  1. Emotional Intelligence: The capacity to detect and interpret events and interactions (both verbal and nonverbal) in the context of the project plan.
  2. Adaptive Communication:The ability to explain one’s views to various individuals, groups, and cultures, whether orally or in writing, utilizing the most successful communication approaches for each group.
  3. People Skills: The ability to rapidly establish and maintain strong connections with team members and stakeholders.
  4. Management skills: The capacity to serve, encourage and concentrate a team, and create team member collaboration.
  5. Flexibility:The willingness and capacity to modify one’s project management style and course of action in response to business needs.
  6. Business Skills:Understanding the organization’s business, strategy, and industry. Understanding of a plan and ability to coordinate tactical work around that strategy.
  7. Analytical abilities:The capacity to think through circumstances and make judgments.
  8. Customer Focus:The ability to comprehend the end user’s or end customer’s demands and the drive to guarantee that projects meet those needs.
  9. Results-Orientation:The capacity to do tasks efficiently and successfully.
  10. Character:The project manager should have a pleasant demeanor and a solid moral and ethical foundation.


Final Thoughts

With a focus on the future generation, we’ve entered a project management world where we need to be aware of the key challenges we’ll encounter as project managers and the skills we’ll need to improve to succeed: technology globalization, worker engagement, and the battle between innovation and risk. There are, however, a few crucial insights to remember as you continue your journey through the strange and ever-changing world of project management.

  • Be agile or be gone:Business constantly needs greater flexibility, strategy, and adaptability than ever before. No one strategy will work every time; knowing how to adjust to change with agility and rapidity is essential.
  • Expect all teams to act differently:Teams will always be more diverse than those who make them up. However, you can lead more successfully if you genuinely grasp your team and each member’s unique imperatives. Because project teams determine project success, one of the most crucial skills of a competent project manager is the ability to construct an effective, high-performing team.
  • Help team members understand the big picture:This will assist them in preparing for obstacles. When attempting to resolve an issue or manage change, keep the immediate consequences in mind to prevent losing sight of the forest for the trees.


Feel free to check out my discussion on this topic with Thomas Walenta in YouTube