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Every year, the Project Management Institute (PMI) releases the Pulse of the Profession® report, a much-anticipated overview of trends in the field of project management. This year’s report has some good news for project managers who’ve incorporated agile methodology into their practice. Last year, 71% of organizations surveyed reported using agile approaches either sometimes, often, or always. This year’s report delivers a continuation to the growth trend we’ve seen, with agile use increasing from 71% to 87%*. With so many new, competing methodologies available, it’s becoming more important to select the correct project management approach to deliver expected business value.

The 2018 report shows increased project benefits realization stemming from increased agile team maturity, as well as significant progress in cultural transitions that support the value-based agile mindset. For example, 47% or respondents reported having a formal knowledge transfer process to transfer learning from one part of the organization to another, a critical process for dealing with the ambiguity of adaptive planning and continuous improvement. We don’t do less planning in agile, we do more of it, more often, based on knowledge-sharing strategies which should involve every department in an organization.

The next level of organizational project management framework is evolving and continues to integrate and impact the overall organizational structure. After reading last year’s report, I had one major question I hoped would be answered in the coming years’ reports: will the involvement and role clarity of executive sponsorship in overall agile project success become quantified? Practitioners of agile can attest to the necessity of an escalation procedure to help our scrum masters manage issues involving prioritization, organizational politics, resource constraints, and project alignment to dynamic strategic goals after they’ve exhausted their creative problem-solving skills. The 2018 report gives us an answer, advocating executive support: “Organizations with actively engaged executive sponsors report greater collaboration and mutual support, better project success rates, and experience less risk. Effective project sponsors use their influence within an organization to actively overcome challenges by communicating the project’s alignment to strategy, removing roadblocks, and driving organizational change.” The report suggests that investing in executive sponsors is a top driver of project success.

The impact of the gig economy on the project management profession was a surprising factor of this year’s report. 68% of organizations surveyed reported using outsourced or contracted project managers. What does this mean for project management professionals and how does this affect the value of certifications such as PMP and PMI-ACP? What value will these or other certifications have for millennials pursuing careers in IT project management? Increased global competition, fickle market demand, cost containment, and profit enhancement will continue to drive the profession, but some things never change. Organizations will continue to rely on experienced professionals who are highly competent not only in technical disciplines, but also leadership, change management, and strategic capabilities – talents that are difficult to find, cultivate, and incorporate when outsourcing.

Disruptive technologies are forcing organizations to rethink current processes, including project management methods and approaches. The continuous adoption of agile demonstrated in the 2018 report means that embracing change and living into continuous improvement are recognized skills for those in a position of responsibility for project and organizational success; these are good times to be an agile project manager.

*(“Pulse of the Profession,” appendix, page 23)


Jean is a Senior Project and Plant Operations Manager with experience in resource management, implementing high quality processes, and developing cost-effective project management methods. Jean has an extensive project management background honed by years of managerial experience in organizations ranging from large, complex manufacturing environments to small startups.

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