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5 project management trends and the skills required for 2022

3 November 2021

Project management is a specialisation that’s constantly evolving and expanding into more and more industries.

Its renowned industry-standard benchmarking tool, the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), for example, has been updated seven times in its 25-year history.

However, since PMBOK’s inception, many have questioned its value as a body of theory worthy of a profession.

In that time, Agile project management has been integrated as part of the many options at hand for a project manager. 

Author of five Agile project management books Chuck Cobb says for those with a Project Management Professional certification, Agile demands a change in mindset as well as processes.

The need to upskill with the right certification and to master the ways of Agile are just two emerging trends in project management. Let’s take a detailed look at more recent trends in project management and the skill sets required for 2022.

Recent trends in project management

A diagram of 5 project management trends for 2022Whether you have a formal title as a project manager or you’re just working in a project management capacity, you’ve probably realised that project management can be found in many industries.

In legal circles, project management has been refined further to become Legal Project Management (LPM). Legal news repository JD Supra notes that the LPM includes the guiding principles on taking consistent, repeatable approaches to managing matters, as well as promoting transparency during negotiations of project scope and budget.

In the accounting world, project management, too, has marked its significance. US-based Boomer Consulting Visionary and Strategist Gary Boomer, for example, advises accountants to include a project manager in their team. Boomer tells Accounting Today that scope creep is common for accountants, but project managers keep it in check along with the resources, budgets and ultimately project success.

The difference that project managers are making is felt as far as the space. CSIRO Commercialisation Specialist, Astronomy and Space Science, Dr Ilana Feain has played a big part in connecting farmers, land managers and emergency services to the data collected in orbit. She is an interdisciplinary academic entrepreneur who specialises in big science project management, with her work was being profiled by Science magazine Cosmos in August this year.

You may be working in other capacities such as engineering, healthcare or HR, but your career will also benefit from an upgrade in these project management trends.

Multicultural virtual teams

Project management is undergoing a shift to virtual teams with remote teams and work-from-home employees. So much so that virtual desktop provider Citrix acquired the project management platform Wrike earlier this year to make the lives of virtual PM teams easier.

According to Harvard Business Review, a multicultural team can achieve better results than a monocultural team, but that success doesn’t happen automatically.

Whether your team includes some of the 30 per cent of Australians born overseas (as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this year) or you’re working in a global team that transcends borders, you’re more than likely going to be working with a multicultural team. And in this emerging trend, your team is probably going to be doing remote work.

What you can do about it

Described as the modern multicultural manager, project management consultant Omar Zein has collected the stories, anecdotes and real-life examples of multicultural teams throughout his project management career.

Seeing multicultural teams more as an opportunity than a threat, Zein believes that when one has developed cultural awareness, they will not only be able to avoid cultural missteps, but also harness the strengths of diversity.

Take a look at Zein’s book Culture and Project Management: Managing Diversity in Multicultural Projects to benefit from his research and experience.

Upskilling and certification

Effective project management goes hand-in-hand with continual professional development. There’s always another certification inviting you to upskill and verify your work experience, which is why upskilling and project management certification will always be on trend.

The Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) offers a series of certifications under the heading Registered PM. These can take you from your career starting point as a Certified Practising Project Manager, right up to a Certified Practising Portfolio Executive.

What you can do about it

SCU Online’s Master of Project Management is also endorsed by the AIPM and aligned with PMBOK to strengthen your project management skills in addition to specialised certifications.

This 100 per cent online course has been designed for busy professionals to achieve the right qualification within two years part-time while they continue their career.

Increased focus on Agile project management and its best tools

One of the Agile principles is to reflect on how to become more effective, then tune and adjust behaviour accordingly. This is reflected in the ever-evolving practices of Agile.

The Public Service Commission of Canada has recently released a report about a decade-long IT infrastructure project which was doomed from the get-go by ‘faux-gile’ missteps. With the aim of streamlining an essential public service, this project was repeatedly delayed. This led to cost blowouts and ultimately, complete failure. 

“At SCU, we start with principles for delivering value to a client or organisation and then we tailor the approach to suit the context and project characteristics,” SCU Master of Project Management Course Coordinator Chris Lawler says.

What you can do about it

Introduction to Agile Project Management is one of the core units of SCU Online’s Master of Project Management.

Wherever your project management journey with Agile began, this postgraduate course will set you on the right path of learning starting from the origins of the Agile Manifesto. 

With a full mastery over Agile, you can stop the trend of project failures in your workplace. 

One of the key elements of Agile project management is sprints – a breakdown of large projects that are run over a shorter time frame to produce regular deliverables for the customer. You’ll also gain the latest insights in using Agile in hybridised project management situations.

The expansion of artificial intelligence (AI), automation & data analytics

Capital project and construction professionals in Australia regard AI, automation and data analytics as critical to project success in the next one to three years, according to a provider of construction project management software, InEight.

AI is able to take care of repetitive tasks and complete them rapidly and accurately. By tending to these monotonous activities, AI is giving project management professionals more time to focus on other things that matter.

AI and big data are also able to provide information on forecast variances earlier in a project lifecycle.

Quoting research from the Construction Industry Institute in the US, Senior Industry Consultant - Enterprise Project Performance of French project management software supplier Hexagon, Jean-Luc Ozoux says that forecast variance reporting in the construction industry begins when a project reaches 65 per cent of completion. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for corrective action to achieve a successful project.

Project managers who can harness the benefits of AI, automation and data analytics can spot forecast variances earlier, leading to more efficient and economic rectification.

What you can do about it

In addition to doing research into digital transformation, keep an eye on the AIPM blog and webinars for industry updates. Recent blog articles have focused on project management in the digital age and the future of AI in Australia.

Contrary to popular beliefs, digital transformation in project management is not going to replace project managers with robots, even though they have capabilities that exceed those of humans.

The AIPM recommends brushing up on soft skills that include emotional intelligence, leadership, personal communication and creative problem solving skills. It might be some time before computer chips develop the human qualities required to replace those essential skills.

Greater importance for soft skills

You may be surprised to hear that all of Australia’s top project managers according to the AIPM last year have one thing in common – highly developed project management soft skills.

JLL Project Manager Kelly Poniris won the National Future Project Leader Under 35-years award in late 2020. Among her other skills, Poniris is a strong communicator with stakeholders, from clients and consultants to regulatory authorities and all levels of government.

Next, NS Group Associate Director Nick de Vries was recognised as National Senior Project Professional. He was not only awarded for his high-level strategic thinking skills when managing Perth’s most prominent landmark projects (such as Perth City Link, Forrest Chase Redevelopment and Belmont Park Redevelopment) – he was also commended for his strong abilities in leading large teams of consultants and contractors.

“Excellent people skills that transcends culture and individual difference, coupled with a keen appreciation for the strategy or purpose, require the new age PM to be liberated from following step-by-step processes to now becoming more a partner with an organisation on its journey to gain the most efficient and effective results from their project investments,” SCU’s Lawler says.

What you can do about it

Observe your leadership, management, communication and ethical decision-making skills. There’s an opportunity for you to do this with expert guidance should you choose to undertake SCU Online’s project management graduate certificate, graduate diploma or master’s degree.

This is a rare opportunity to try on different management styles for size. You’ll be guided through self-reflection to assess and refine your abilities in positive, transformational and authentic leadership.

Technical skills required in project management

According to IT Brief Australia, the lack of clear goals is a common cause of project failure. With the right technical skills, you can ensure that goals are set and met.

These are the key skills required for project management.

A diagram of 4 technical skills required by project managersProject management software

University students are using cloud-based project management software for collaborating on assignments, and even project managing their entire degree. So can such software be used by project managers to their full potential.

Project management software does more than show you a Gantt chart and align your work with project management methodologies – they bring your project communications, materials and team members to one place.

When you choose the right software to use for your projects, you will help your virtual teams achieve their goals.

Project management methodologies

There is a detailed set of principles to achieve your goals efficiently and effectively, even in the most complex of projects.

Agile and Waterfall methodologies are two of the most popular workflow methodologies, but one is not a replacement of the other – it depends on the project at hand. 

Constructing a building is a linear process that can’t be adjusted at completion. This project can benefit from perfect Waterfall project management. 

Developing software, meanwhile, is less linear as the finished product can be repeatedly adjusted, making it an ideal Agile project.

With a deep understanding of Agile, you can avoid ‘faux-gile’ mistakes and be ready to evolve as workplaces are becoming more remote and hybridised.


Project managers must be able to lay out a comprehensive business plan while journeying through work schedules and budgeting for finite resources.

While these might sound like fundamental technical skills, it’s not impossible to find yourself in a project management role without formal training in those areas.

Upskilling and gaining certifications can be done online on a part-time basis, allowing you to apply your new skills in the workplace immediately.

Tracking and monitoring

Ideally, risk management is taken care of before a project gets under way, but tracking and monitoring can highlight potential risks early on and provide project managers more time to respond effectively.

Skills in tracking and monitoring are essential to spotting variances from the plan so you can realign your trajectory towards your goal.

By embracing AI, automation and data analytics, you’ll upgrade your ability in generating accurate forecasts and predicting an unfavourable situation earlier.

The future of project management

A study by Business Talent Group reveals that high-level professionals, including management consultants and executives, have identified project management as the most in-demand skill. The successful completion of projects will be one way in which businesses deliver value to stakeholders.

After all, we are entering the project economy – one which the Project Management Institute defines as one where people have the skills and capabilities they need to turn ideas into reality.

If you’ve got a PM’s eye for risk management, you might want to start working on your advanced project management skills to reach your career goals.

Want to start your professional development journey with SCU Online? Speak with our Student Enrolment Advisors about our Master of Project Management course and how it can enhance your career on 1300 863 819.