Project management has changed and evolved greatly over the last decade, with significant shifts in the last two years post-2020. Through technological advancement, a global pandemic, and the rise of the freelance worker, how projects are managed has irrevocably changed.
And we think this is a wonderful thing.
Project management is a vital part of how we live, work, and interact with others. As it evolves, so do we.
This blog is going to talk about the newest trends in project management for 2022 and how they are changing the game. We have compiled a top 6 list of what we think are the most influential project management trends right now, and we are going to talk you through each one individually.
Let’s dive in.
There is simply no getting away from the long-lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in nearly every aspect of society. But this doesn’t have to be something that is all doom and gloom or bad news.
The Covid pandemic brought remote working to the forefront of the global workforce. When companies and businesses shut their doors to stay safe from the virus, they also kick-started a new revolution on how we would work for years to come.
Remote working is something that, of course, existed pre-pandemic, but the pandemic moved it into the mainstream, with no signs of going back. Right now, in 2022, over 60% of people say that they work remotely at least some of the time. Before the pandemic, only 6% of working people worked primarily at home.
Remote working offered many people a newfound sense of flexibility and work-life balance that they are not yet willing to give up. Without time spent commuting and searching for lunch deals in a busy city, remote workers have more time to devote to personal hobbies, wellbeing, and rest.
This trend has had a big impact on the world of project management as many of us are now working with people entirely through digital systems. We are no longer, for the most part, meeting with people face-to-face in conference rooms and boardrooms. We are also no longer confined to working with one specific set of people; many of us work with people from all across the world from the safety of our own desk chairs.
The great thing is that this means the tools we have for project management and digital communications have greatly improved over the last two years. As we have worked remotely, developers and great minds across the world have worked diligently at bringing out and improving systems for us to use. This, in turn, has opened up the market of remote work even further, allowing more people to work in freelance and self-employed roles.
Without needing to be on a company’s payroll to have access to the tools you need to find work, do work, and get paid for that work, many people have taken the opportunity to take a leap of faith and go out on their own. There are now estimated to be around 1 billion freelance workers in the world, with 67% of these freelancers stating they have started this independent journey in the last three years.
Increased remote work has led to the increased accessibility of high-quality tools, and systems and these systems have led to the further increase and stability of remote and freelance workers. A very well-oiled chain reaction, if you ask me.
According to the AI Innovator’s report, 81% of project professionals report that their organizations are being impacted by AI (artificial intelligence) technologies. One of the biggest aspects of AI technologies in project management is the concept of automation and automated tasks. In regards to project performance, the AI Innovators’ report further states that 62% of organizations expect a high/moderate impact on their business due to process automation.
The trend within a trend here is efficiency.
In our fast-paced, modern world, one thing we know is how to be efficient. Statistics show that 70% of freelancers juggle 2-4 projects at any one given time. When you are working on multiple projects at one time, you need to be efficient, and you need to find the best systems of task management for juggling this kind of responsibility.
Working with automation can help freelancers manage their projects much more efficiently. It can help cut down extra, unnecessary time spent doing repetitive tasks that could easily be handled by a computer program. Automated tasks also help freelancers remain consistent and reliable when it comes to client work. You can’t forget to send a reminder or an invoice if those things are already automated.
Automation is one of those project management trends that has really helped us, freelancers, tap into a futuristic market and help us stay on par with established businesses. Gone are the days of laborious copy and paste activities that consume our Friday evenings, and now in their place comes easy, clean automation that brings our work to the next level and helps to guarantee project success.
Project management is all about moving up to this next level right now. Automation is definitely a great stepping stone within that movement.
3.Relationship management and emotional intelligence
Almost ironically, the more we transition to working in remote and freelance ways, the more important it is that we have a good grasp of soft skills and emotional intelligence. To have a successful project, we need to be able to manage all the relationships within that project successfully. Otherwise, everything very easily falls apart. This is why both relationship management and emotional intelligence are big project management trends in 2022.
Emotional intelligence is something that has specifically been highlighted multiple times across the sphere of business and project management. It is defined as “the capability to understand and manage not only your emotions but also those of the people around you.” According to Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee, there are four dimensions of the skill:
- Social awareness, and
- Relationship management.
Relationship management and emotional intelligence, therefore, are integral to each other. You can’t have one without the other. To be a successful freelancer in 2022, you need to not only be good at the paid work you offer, but you need to also be efficient in all the communication that goes around the work. You need to work on these multiple layers of awareness so that you are able to provide the human aspect to your work and maintain productive relationships with every other person involved in your project.
In this useful article, former Forbes contributor Dan Schwabel discusses four execution disciplines for business and breaks them down into accessible chunks. These are the factors that determine whether projects are achieved effectively and whether we can meet our goals within our projects or not. The four disciplines are:
- Focus - clear identification of what matters most
- Leverage - best utilizing the time and resources available
- Engagement - building relationships with co-workers, and
- Accountability - taking ownership of the result.
It is this third discipline of engagement that is important for our point here. How we manage our relationships and engage with co-workers and clients is integral to the overall functioning of our project. If we want results and we want our project to be a success, this model shows us just how vital this appropriate engagement with others is. Relationship management and project management, then, go hand-in-hand.
To manage relationships with others in a project, the main soft skills you need are teamwork, communication, and conflict management. There are many moving parts in a project, and there will always be negotiations, issues, and hurdles to overcome. How you deal with all of those moving parts will greatly determine the success (or lack thereof) of your project.
Aspects of projects such as proposals, for example, have a huge part to play in how your work as a freelancer goes before it even really gets started. If your communication isn’t appropriate at this stage of the project, why would a potential client want to work with you going forward? How we engage with potential clients from the second we make that initial contact with them is vital, and it determines our own success right from the beginning.
Maybe it isn’t ironic at all that emotional intelligence and relationships are so important in a field where we spend most of our time talking to people through screens. Maybe the remote nature of the work is the exact reason that these things are so vital.
With remote, freelance work in which we are working with people we may never physically meet, how we communicate through our digital systems has critical importance to how our clients see us and our work. If we don’t understand each other and each other's processes at all, how can we expect to work together towards a mutual goal? In a digital age, having great communication and relationship management are not only desirable but essential project management skills.
Data is the big buzzword for many fields and circles this year. It is no different when it comes to project management tools.
Data analytics are essential to the decisions we make at every turn in projects. Without data and the appropriate analysis of said data, we would be pretty much making stabs in the dark. With data, we can make informed decisions that have a tangible goal at the end, every time.
Data-driven project management is one of the best trends of 2022, if you ask us. Using the data that we already generate every single day to influence how we work is an excellent example of efficiency and using the digital age to our own advantage. Our own data is something we have in abundance, so we may as well use it for everything it’s worth!
Luckily, as we talked about earlier, the systems and programs that we have seen arise and improve over the last 3-4 years have really helped make data analytics an accessible concept for lots of different people. You don’t need to have a degree in software to run data analysis anymore, and you don’t need a qualification to help you use the results to your advantage. With accessible tools and software, any freelance worker can use the data they generate to help influence their project management and to make it as effective as possible.
Data is the future. You may as well jump on board now.
In every project, we are instigating change and movement, and effective change management is one of the most important project management tools. Change isn’t always an easy task, and how we manage the change will greatly influence its outcome, especially for our clients. If we don’t handle a change well, the whole project may fall flat and become ineffective.
Prosci writes that both project management and change management have it in common that they “ support moving an organization from a current state (how things are done today), through a transition state, and to a desired future state”, and change management specifically, “focuses on the people impacted by this change and enables them to engage, adapt and use the change.” This really describes the entire journey that we have with clients when we are working as freelancers. From start to finish, we are managing a service and a relationship, as well as one individual project.
In 2022, we are rolling with the punches, and we are helping our clients do the same. We are providing top-quality service that is rooted in effective change management. It is not enough to create something and then pass it along to a client without appropriate and accessible merging. To count a project as one successfully managed, we need to make sure that our clients are able to take their new systems/content/product/site/package and run with it in the way that they want to. We need to make sure that we are planting our clients in their “desired future state” and bringing them the genuine success from the project that they wanted in the first place.
In this way, we can see the theme of relationship management and emotional intelligence come back into play, and we see all project management skills link up together. Creating something and then dumping it into the client’s hands isn’t conducive to a successful and mutual client-freelancer relationship. Leaving a client high and dry without the ability to take their new content and implement it in the future implies a lack of emotional intelligence and human empathy. Change management reminds us of the continuity needed between all the stages of creation and delivery, and it reminds us how project management is a complex, multi-faceted thing that takes dedication and consistency.
If we can successfully make lasting change for a company or client, that is when we will see genuine project success that we can be proud of. And that is also when we will see repeat customers coming through the door, time and time again, leading to further projects and further success.
It is lasting change and lasting creation that we should be focusing on this year. Anything less simply won’t make the cut in such a competitive and high-quality market.
6.Project management software
With each and every one of these project management trends, they can all be brought under one trend umbrella, and that is project management software. The use of project management software is a big trend right now in 2022, and it is one that is going from strength to strength over time.
As we have mentioned previously in this article, we are really and truly in the digital age, and we have seen so much advancement in our digital tools in the last 2 to 3 years. To not use the tools available to us on the market would be a waste of our readily available resources.
The life of a freelancer involves many versatile, moving parts. We do not do one type of task that we do with one specific group of people. We work in lots of different ways with lots of different people, usually people strewn across the world. Many freelancers have their hands in different avenues at the same time, too, with over 55% of freelancers having external, full-time jobs.
When it comes to successful project management, we need to think about efficiency and productivity. With the life of a freelancer being so busy and eclectic, project management software is one of the best possible answers to our collective prayers. With great project management software, we can improve our levels of efficiency and productivity almost overnight.
Project management software such as Indy can help us bring together all the trends we have discussed in this article in one cohesive program. We can see all the integral parts of project management come together on Indy as follows:
- Remote working: With Indy’s project management software, you can chat with your clients directly in one work-focused place. Streamlining your conversation and allowing it to flow throughout a project really helps to reduce the barriers between clients and freelancers. With the simple digital platform, you don’t need to worry about who is in which country and when. It is easy to chat and get work done when the tools are there.
- Automation: As we talked about, automation is one of the best ways to level up your efficiency in project management. It is also one of the best ways to prioritize your time and get the most out of the time you have. With Indy, you can automate aspects of your work, such as recurring invoices and time tracking. Being a freelancer encompasses many job roles in one, and sometimes the admin and payroll side of things can slow down your work on the actual content of the job. Automating tasks like these helps speed things back up again and helps you stay on the cutting-edge side of the market.
- Relationship Management: There is no project management without relationship management. How we communicate with our clients from the very start to the very end determines our project’s success. With Indy’s platform, you can start things off properly with easy-to-use proposal software. You can use effective templates, easily switch estimates into invoices, and keep a good track of your proposals and their progress. Getting things right from the start sets a great precedent for the entire project. As we said, you can also use the in-house chat function to keep communicating with your clients throughout the entire project too.
- Data Analytics: Knowing exactly what is going on within your work and projects is vital to project success. In project management, we make decisions, and we need those decisions to be informed. With Indy’s use of forms to capture leads and receive feedback, you can be sure that you know yourself and your own projects better than anyone else. Information is absolutely key, and having all the information you need in one-safely stored space makes all the difference in long-term project management.
- Change Management: Last but not least, using project management tools such as Indy can make a big difference in how you manage the change you are providing for a client. A streamlined, top-quality service that is managed with care and ease is second-to-none in the world of freelancing. Using a project management service can help your clients be on the same page as you throughout the entire time you are working together and behind. It is much easier to guarantee project success when you have the right tools behind you.
Want to look more professional in your work?
Use Indy’s full set of freelance tools to make your proposals, contracts, invoices, and projects look and work more professional.
The life of a freelancer who is managing paid projects might never be an easy one, but it is a profitable and worthwhile avenue to take. All trends in project management for this year show the need for using effective project management software that can help us all move to the next level of PM.
It’s time to kick things up a notch.