As any project manager can tell you, the only constant in their lives is change–changing project scopes, changing deadlines and changing stakeholder expectations.
Beyond just the changes inherent in managing individual projects, we’ve taken a look at the larger marketing project management landscape to spotlight some key trends that marketing and creative project managers should be ready to respond to in 2019.
1. A blended approach to structuring work
“The future of value delivery is a spectrum of approaches—predictive, iterative, incremental, agile, hybrid, and whatever will come next to change how we work,” according to PMI. As each organization addresses its unique needs, marketing leaders will have to choose and combine the best marketing project management approaches to execute on their teams deliverables and optimize cross-functional collaboration within their organizations. Different projects may call for different approaches or different functional units within a larger marketing team (PR vs. social media vs. brand management) may choose to lean more heavily toward one methodology vs. another.
2. A focus on skills and continuing education
The role of the successful project manager is growing and shifting. Beyond being responsible for making sure marketing and creative work are delivered on time and budget, they will need to be fluent in agile, waterfall, lean principles and design thinking and bring to the table high emotional intelligence and the sensibilities of a product owner. As PMI puts it, “The constantly-changing technical landscape—from social media, to web-based tools, to learning management systems—will present tremendous opportunities for exploration and experimentation. The shift toward on-demand, customized, and problem-specific learning will grow. Innovations in learning will continue to make it possible for the new worker to learn anything, anytime, and anywhere.”
4. The digital disruption train picks up steam
According to PMI’s survey of 4,455 project management practitioners, 447 senior executives, and 800 project management office directors, “more than half of champions feel digital transformation will have a major impact on work.” Back in 2017, Forrester was calling digital disruption the new normal for B2B marketers and that reality has only become more entrenched over the last two years. As customer expectations rapidly shift in response to new digital technologies (or new uses for existing ones), marketing and creative project managers will need to work to stay ahead of the curve.
5. Get comfortable with the idea of Artificial Intelligence
Dr. Michael Chui, a partner at McKinsey Global Institute, has indicated that 60% of occupations his organization has researched could expect up to 30% of their activities to be automated using current technologies. For marketers, this means leveraging AI for better market segmentation, more finely-tuned target market data analysis and more relevant customer interactions. For project managers working in this space, adopting the right tools to automate key workflows related to their projects can mean significant cost and time savings. Dr. Chui’s advice for project and creative project managers looking to adapt to this new environment is to keep educated on the disruptions, and “understand the art of the possible and try to stay at least abreast, if not ahead, of what these technologies can do.”
A spotlight on soft skills
In a PMI survey, “four in five respondents report that soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and negotiation, are more important today than they were just five years ago. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Work Report predicts that “social skills” will rank as employers’ second most desired skill, right after “complex problem-solving skills.” These findings mirror our own thoughts on the right mix of skills and aptitudes that a modern marketing project manager needs to excel.
2019 is set to be another year of change and growth for marketing and creative project management. Those PMs with a growth mindset and an appetite for continuous learning will find themselves well-equipped to handle the emerging trends they’ll be called upon to embrace.