We all know that there are a standard set of ways to improve your career in project management; enhance your leadership and soft skills, have the right technical skills, broaden your network and so forth. But in what other ways can you upgrade these foundational skills and differentiate yourself from your competition?

1.Get your PMP certification

Firstly, before anything, enrol in a course that will secure you a PMP certification. Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the PMP course can be completed from the comfort of your own space and according to your own time. PMP is the world’s most recognised certification for project management and will validate your skills in Predictive (Waterfall), Agile and Hybrid approaches.  

According to PMI, the three main benefits of the PMP course are as outlined:

  • It adds VALUE – employers will recognise your certification as a valuable and specific skill set and displays your “capacity to perform at the highest levels”
  • It delivers BENEFITS – for project professionals in North America, those with a PMP certification earn 25% more income than those without it. Simple as that. 
  • It proves you work SMARTER – indicates to organisations and your team that you are able to “drive business results and increase your organisation’s impact”.

2.Be prepared to work remotely 

As we have seen during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, social distancing measures and travel bans have changed how we interact with one another. Here in Australia, a study conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that 41% of employees were working from home at least once a week in 2021, which is a 17% increase from just last year. We are also seeing trends in favour towards remote working globally. According to a survey conducted by the Association for Project Management in 2020, 66% of respondents (from the UK) expressed that they value the option of having a flexible working condition when searching for a job.

The field of project management is no exception, as organisations can utilise remote working to take advantage of a number of benefits. These include improving efficiency and productivity of employees, enhancing a work/life balance, working with more geographically diverse teams and using technology to monitor and manage progress. 

It is likely that organisations will continue to shift towards remote working, as we continue to deal with slowing the spread of the virus and face unprecedented situations.To be more prepared to assist your team in transitioning to a work-from-home situation in the long term, have a plan prepared. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Team work, team work, team work!
  • Be strategic in how you run online meetings, and consider how you will retain engagement and inclusivity within your team
  • Consider the unique challenges of remote working when building teamwork 

Utilise technology and tools that will maximise communication and teamwork.

3.Be well versed in Agile project management

Due to the increasing focus on the need for firms to improve their organisational ability, adopting an Agile framework will become increasingly common across a wide variety of industries, not just exclusive to IT software development. As outlined by PM Times, the Agile approach allows for project management to be more flexible, have an increase in transparency and communication with the customer and encourage collaboration. It is expected that project management will be increasingly customer-driven, therefore the need to be familiar with hybrid management approaches is vital. This approach ties together the benefits of the Agile framework with the waterfall system (which runs on a more linear and sequential model) to satisfy the project demands in a less overwhelming manner for the teams involved. 

As organisations will continue to adapt their ways of working in coexistence to the volatility of the business environment, it would be appropriate to suggest that Agile frameworks will continue to develop and reform. Therefore, as a project manager, it is essential to be aware of the current trends in Agile and which frameworks are relevant for each industry. This is where project management courses in Agile will become indispensable assets for your career and allow you to upgrade your capabilities.

4.Be prepared to integrate change management plans into your projects

As we have experienced during the recent pandemic, change can present itself in an unprecedented manner and can force organisations to restructure their entire internal processes. This has made change management more necessary than ever, as organisations will look for project managers who can communicate the ins and outs of the changes occurring. In 2019, the International Project Management Association (IPMA) reported that 63% of organisations will incorporate change management within their projects. As a project manager, this should present itself as an opportunity to upskill your ability to embrace change management. 

Whether it be new trends in technology, rebranding a product/service or even the transition to remote working, project managers should be prepared to successfully lead this change. Stay alert on the shifts in trends and preferences within your relevant industry and show that you are able to proactively establish change management when appropriate.

5.Broaden your knowledge on the use of AI in project management

The field of project management has no exception to the shift towards automation, as it is reported that by 2030 approximately 80% of project management tasks will become automated (Gartner). However, this is not to say that you will be replaced by AI. In fact, the automation of tasks can help project management teams to become more effective and efficient, by letting AI handle the low value added tasks such as creating performance reports and other admin work. This can allow project managers to focus on leading their teams to addressing the more complex questions and tasks. 

So, in order for your skills and expertise to stay relevant, it is important to understand which AI tools are currently being used and how they can be utilised to their fullest potential in maximising the efficiency of teams. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a software technology that is becoming increasingly popular within the field of project management. RPA takes the capabilities of automation to another level as it can automate repeatable processes that are more complex. It may be worthwhile considering how RPA can be used to boost your teams’ performance, if not already, and how it can be further utilised to maximise these benefits.

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