Peter Drucker once said:

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”

And so this insight is never more pertinent than in the industry of project management today, with an ever shifting digital, political and environmental landscape (current pandemic included).

Many years ago projects were run by small, siloed teams within large organisations. Today, it is essential to all organisations, of all types and is inherent to the business strategy. We take a look at a handful of the already established trends in the industry that our PMs are upskilling in and how they will continue to pave the way in 2021.

Digital intelligence

It is a no brainer to site that digital intelligence is a requirement for today’s project manager. Our PM today requires in-depth knowledge of the latest software to support their need to be organised in their project planning, scheduling and communication such as MS Project, Trello, Basecamp and Virtual Kanban. Many of which are now automated. The software requirements are to save time, organise and assist the project manager and provide transparency to the team and project stakeholders.

Running virtual project teams

Now due to increased virtual working our project managers also need to be even more upskilled in the software that enables remote teams to be collaborative, productive and communicative. Most project teams are expected to work remotely for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic of course. However, the pandemic was simply a catalyst for a future norm where working from home (at least in part) is an expectation.

Virtual project management is no longer an interim measure for many organisations and it’s people alike, so software that makes this job easy will continue to be in the forefront of the project managers mind. For more information on the tools and techniques to make projects run successfully with virtual teams read our working remotely blog for more tips.

Artificial Intelligence

Digital acumen is probably just the tip of the iceberg too. 58% of those surveyed in the APM (Association for Project Management) 2020 market trends survey, advised that Artificial Intelligence was used to some degree in their projects.

Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, Artificial Intelligence (AI)

“is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

Everyday examples include the self-driving car and Google search engine.

Closely aligned with our first trend, AI helps to automate tasks and make complex data driven decisions. It can assist with resource management and task allocation (laborious data driven tasks that free up time for other project requirements). It also provides outcome projection, for example, risk assessment, budget spend and changes to project scope.

Emotional intelligence (the people part)

This leads us nicely onto our final (already well established trend), the ‘people part.’ Project managers require a high level of emotional intelligence to support their teams in today’s environment. Now that automation is freeing up more time for them, project managers are able to focus on softer skills like empowerment and motivation. The importance of soft skills is recognised by the APM PMQ (Project Management Certification).

In fact 37% of those surveyed by APM listed people management as ‘the’ most important skill of the project professional* This focus on people management and the essential part it plays at a business level has also led to an increased demand for experience in change management, or in the least an understanding of change management as an approach. Although some organisations require the role of the change manager and the project manager to be combined, it is widely thought that this can cause challenges due to the differing objectives of the roles. However… the best project leaders have an understanding of the importance of successful change teams and their ability to win the hearts and minds of the users for successful project outcomes.

Successful projects are not simply made up from budget and timescale objectives being achieved. The people involved and affected by the change need to be on board for the change to successfully take place and the project to be a success. SPOCE has been running Change Management Virtual Classroom courses for some time. Please visit to see our 2021 schedule.

We are also about to launch our SPOCE Change Management e-Learning course and you can apply for a free demo of this by contacting us as follows:

Tel: 01202 736 373


Or using the chat function on our website.


*APM Market Trends Survey 2020

* Information correct at time of broadcast.