Project Management Skills of the Future

RT-281 Topic Summary
RT 281


The objective of CII Research Team 281 (RT-281) was to investigate “the skill set that will be required by the project manager of the future.” The research found that the duties and responsibilities of construction project managers (PMs) are currently undergoing a significant shift. Industry predictions identify four drivers that will require PMs to have different competencies than they now need to adequately address stakeholder and project team member needs:

  1. The evolution of technology
  2. Greater access to information
  3. Rapidly evolving workforce demographics
  4. Changing organizational structures

These factors will change the way the industry approaches projects, forms project teams and manages the flow of project information.

The project manager (PM) is the individual with ultimate responsibility for the outcome of a project, and project management has gained increasing recognition as a profession in recent years. It is unquestionable that the PM of the next decade will have to contend with deep underlying global forces and will need to respond quickly to surprising breakthroughs and to innovations that come at an accelerated rate. In the next 10 years, the industry should expect the project manager role to require greater competence in communications, relationship building, complex decision-making, business insight, risk management, diverse thinking, engagement with others, and coaching and mentoring. These new skills will not change the fundamental attributes associated with project managers, such as integrity, accountability, initiative and decisiveness.

Across the industry, there is a generational gap between those currently in the industry and those who are entering the workforce. Members of the younger generation will assume leadership roles so preparing them for these roles is a crucial part of managing the future of project management.

Feedback from industry experts indicates that future challenges will require a different way of thinking, learning and managing.

  1. Think Differently – There will be a shift in focus from technical and management skills to cognitive and leadership skills.
  2. Learn Differently – PM education will require an interactive team setting with a skilled facilitator and will emphasize leadership.
  3. Manage Differently – The new way of educating PMs can be used to gain insight into the real problems of the organization.

This research summary describes the competencies needed to successfully deliver the project of 2022. The aim of this research is for companies to use the competency forecast for their recruiting and professional development programs. It will also be useful for PM education at the university level and for the creation of project management training tools.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Disruptive Trends

Following are the four primary drivers or “disruptive forces.” Industry predictions indicate that these four drivers that will require PMs to have different competencies than they now need to adequately address stakeholder and project team member needs. 

  • Workforce Demographics – evolving workforce demographics, diversity, and reliance on nontraditional resources
  • Globalization – projects are global, network is global, and the project team will be virtual
  • Technology – pace of change, greater access to information

  • New and Changing Organizations – globally dispersed project execution, stakeholders with competing agendas

The trends and 21 specific PM challenges associated with each driver are shown in the graphic below. (RS281-1, p. 15, and Table 1, p. 16)

Reference: (RS281-1)

2 : Project Management Competencies of the Future

RT-281 identified 14 competencies that will allow PMs to successfully address the challenges of the future. The 14 competencies are grouped in these 4 competency areas, as shown in the graphic below. (RS281-2, p. 27)