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Software project management is the art and science of planning and leading software projects. It is a sub-discipline of project management in which software projects are planned, implemented, monitored and controlled.

As the industry has matured, analysis of software project management failures has shown that the following are the most common causes

  1. Insufficient end-user involvement
  2. Poor communication among customers, developers, users and project managers
  3. Unrealistic or unarticulated project goals
  4. Inaccurate estimates of needed resources
  5. Badly defined or incomplete system requirements and specifications
  6. Poor reporting of the project's status
  7. Poorly managed risks
  8. Use of immature technology
  9. Inability to handle the project's complexity
  10. Sloppy development practices
  11. Stakeholder politics (e.g. absence of executive support, or politics between the customer and end-users)
  12. Commercial pressures

Here are 4 trends that are shaping the future of IT project management:

Trend 1: Greater emphasis on leadership & communications skills.

Gone are the days when technical competency was the most important qualification for an IT project manager: leadership and communication skills are increasingly vital. In a recent survey by ESI, 40% of IT project managers cite leadership or communication as the most necessary skill to succeed and advance in their careers.

More training opportunities are focusing on teaching managerial "soft skills" such as effective leadership and communication techniques, and IT project managers who take advantage of those opportunities now will be ahead of the curve.

Trend 2: Talent retention is becoming increasingly important — and difficult.

IT is a highly competitive industry. And with the global shortage of qualified project managers, finding a talented IT project manager is becoming increasingly difficult. Because companies are unlikely to find a candidate with the qualifications and experience they're looking for, they're recognizing the growing importance of developing employees internally.

Employee training and professional development programs are growing in popularity, and as a result, PMOs are becoming more popular as a means of providing structured training.

Trend 3: The popularity of Agile is transforming stakeholders relations.

The spread of Agile means IT project managers everywhere are having to reframe their relationships with clients and stakeholders. Instead of stakeholders dictating exactly what should be produced and when, they're being asked to embrace a new way of working: establish an ongoing relationship with the development team, and redefine the final deliverable as the project progresses.

So IT project managers are having to approach stakeholder relationships and communication in an entirely new way — and must convince them to get on board with this new approach that is sweeping through development teams on a global scale.

Trend 4: IT projects are becoming more complex.

The rise of big data and mobile platforms are leading to bigger, more complicated IT projects. More complexity means larger teams to handle, more departments to coordinate with, and more stakeholders to please. Complex projects may also mean an entire team of project managers leading a project, instead of a single manager overseeing the process.

Which means collaboration is more important than ever. Helping your team work better together — with external stakeholders as well as internal departments — is now a matter of project success vs. project failure.