Strategic Planning is one of the most important and often misunderstood aspects of managing your company. We all know we need to do it. But most of us do it wrong.

Over the years, the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) landscape has seen drastic changes. These changes have led organizations from the simplicity of Excel to more complex Enterprise SaaS solutions. With the advent of newer technologies and management paradigms, PPM continues to undergo significant evolution. The volaitily of 2020 and 2021 sure didn’t help.

The massive shutdowns and global lockdowns of the last two years will continue to impact us in 2022 and beyond. Those disruptions shaped PPM trends, as organizations scrambled to embrace new ways to manage their overall portfolio as well as individual projects.

With that in mind, we at Innovation Minds have compiled our top 8 PPM trends for 2022. We have taken these from direct input from client champions who use our PPM platform, as well as from our own research and insights on what’s shaping the world of PPM.

1. Be inclusive in your strategic planning

Discussing and designing your roadmap in a small elite group of leadership is no longer effective. You can’t teach a new dog olds tricks! Instead, bring in perspectives from all possible players involved in your portfolio. These could include core project teams, support teams like Operations, IT, or Security, or even external partners. It does not necessarily mean that the PPM Leadership would incorporate all the feedback, but listening to the collective perspectives will help them narrow down the top and relevant challenges and identify the right partners. Ensure everyone feels they are contributed and being listened to.

Projects and strategy have traditionally been separate domains. The old role of a project manager was to help lead individual projects to successful conclusions. Today, project managers are adopting a more hands-on role in broad organizational strategy. This makes sense, since executing strategy well demands perspective and finesse. So project managers need to focus more on understanding the relationship between programs, portfolios, and projects. This helps the organization see how individual projects relate to one another, and how each connects with the overall strategic goals of the organization.

2. Be informed of the new reality and adopt outside-in market perspectives

So much has changed in the past few years both in consumer-facing products and services as well as those we use to serve our own employees. Hybrid work, the “Great Resignation,” supply chain issues, inflation, and so many other factors have profound effects today on your decisions about tomorrow’s project deliveries. It is now more important than ever to include customer insights, market trends, and best practices relevant to your focus areas to balance your portfolio and make it future-proof.

3. Balance remote work in strategic planning

Remote work was already on the rise before 2020. But the pandemic boosted its adoption to unprecedented levels. As safety concerns decrease, most predict that organizations will continue to allow and empower remote work for the foreseeable future. One Gartner survey shows that 74 percent of CFOs plan to shift a part of their workforces to remote work permanently. This change creates challenges for project managers.

Cloud-based project management software can help workforces stay on top of their tasks and projects seamlessly. This software captures all relevant data and helps project managers track, verify, and use the data to make informed decisions in real time, irrespective of shift timings and locations.

4. Include emotional intelligence in strategic planning

Project managers have always needed organizational and analytical skills. Now the situation also demands they have experience in emotional intelligence. The Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum has repeatedly shown how employers across industries are seeking out candidates with emotional intelligence and other social skills. The rise in remote work has only increased the demand to connect and empathise. Project managers especially need to understand people well to lead projects to success.

Dave Birdsall, Senior Manager at The Parker Avery Group, points out the management trend of scheduling daily touchpoint meetings not just to catch up on work. “The agendas for these daily stand-ups are no longer just about work. These meetings also give people an outlet to socialize. I have found by doing this, I am able to stay on top of what people are working on and ensure that their work-life balance is not suffering.”

5. Account for the decline of the traditional PMO

One of the most significant project management trends has been the steady decline in the popularity of Project Management Offices (PMOs). Traditionally, PMOs have been a key part of hierarchical organizational structures. However, the demand for agility has made those hierarchies less useful. PMOs lack the flexibility we need today to adapt to quick change. And the lack of executive involvement makes it harder for the PMO to understand and execute strategic goals.

If the PMO is to remain relevant, it must evolve, urgently. PMOs need to become more agile to provide support for modern projects. That also need to become more involved in creating and implementing strategy. For PMOs to survive, organisations need to re-approach them and invest in new methods.

6. Manage strategic planning like innovation contests

Strategic Planning is a living and continuously improving process. To get from where you are to where you want to be demands collaboration and inclusion at high levels. Shared responsibility and ownership of the Strategic Plan is critical. Promoting team-centric involvement and participation throughout the process can help achieve that.

Use the techniques of innovation contests to make your strategic planning work out best. This includes actions like:

  • Increase transparency with collaborative goal setting.
  • Incorporate innovation methodologies and tools
  • Use an IMS or IMS-related system like the Innovation Minds platform
  • Work smarter, not harder by incorporating workflow automation
  • Harness the power of AI and program analytics
  • Employ and retain a superb workforce using Predictive Team Modeling
  • Promote innovation by embracing crowdsourcing of projects and ideas for your strategic plan

7. Right tools for strategic planning

A 2020 report from Wellingtone notes that 54 percent of organizations lack access to real-time KPIs for their projects. While over a third of them spend more than one day collecting data. Good project management tools can streamline this situation. Project management software can bring about many positive changes in the way organizations manage projects, no matter how complex. Especially when combined with AI-based automation capabilities.

Here are some ways that the right software can make a massive difference.

  • Leverage historical data to make better bids and plans for future projects
  • View resource availability, skills, and other details to simplify allocation
  • Automatically track all time spent on tasks and projects with AI
  • Quickly allocate and track budgets to stay on top of financials
  • Capture all expenses with invoices for all projects in real time
  • Track all projects through customizable dashboards and make informed decisions on the fly
  • Keep all stakeholders and team members informed of project status, progress, and changes in real time

8. Employ data analytics

Even small organizations can generate copious amounts of data every day. It’s obvious you should leverage that data to help make decisions. Data analytics and reporting can help project managers identify early signs of scope creep and measure project progress rates, as well as many other important analyses.

AI-powered analytics provide a complete picture of the organization and its projects. They help you see all activities at the granular level and generate custom reports to visualize the data the way the managers need. With these tools, project managers can make informed decisions in real time instead of waiting around for manual reports or making gut-based decisions.

Would you like to know more about how to empower your organization to transform your project and portfolio management in 2022? Reach out to us to start off your year with a bang.

Even better news is that you can book your dedicated and complementary office hours through January with Rosemary Rein, our SVP of Product, Employee Experience, and Innovation. She will help you identify your strengths, gaps, and strategic opportunities.

Bala Balasubramaniam, CEO, Innovation Minds

edited by Michael Lee