Top 7 Trends From Our Big Project Management Survey: What Did 2020 Change?

Date:1/27/2021
Length:3 minutes
Author:Jan Pop
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How did 2020 change the work of teams according to project managers worldwide? At the end of last year, we asked more than a hundred project managers around the world how their work had changed due to the Covid-related events. Maybe you were one of them!

Even if not, in this article you will most probably find answers to questions similar to the ones you asked yourself last year. Come and see the top 7 thoughts and results we picked for you!

What were we curious about

Home office, team discipline, rapid budget changes, redundancies and recruitment, a transition to more efficient project management software , and often mentioned "problems with self-motivation". Learn about the challenges, obstacles, but also the positives that 2020 brought for project management.

“What bothered me the most was the customers' pressure to reduce prices, resulting in a constant evaluating of the project's profitability.”

Take a look at the 7 most interesting – and sometimes perhaps quite surprising – results and answers.

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1. 2020 – worse, or better?

Let's start with some good results. Despite last year's situation, every third project manager perceives 2020 at least a bit better than expected. Approximately one-quarter of our respondents think it was as they thought it would be. Not bad, though! However, to be completely honest, we have to admit that a significant part of managers taking the survey comes from the IT sector, which, in general, reports better results than eg. heavy industry.

The result: Only 12 % of project managers have had a much worse business year than they expected.

The result: Only 12 % of project managers have had a much worse business year than they expected.

2. Homeoffice vs. productivity

Frankly, here we've predicted something else. Many project managers were afraid of switching to the home office. Especially those for whom it was their "first time". On the contrary, companies with teams already used to working from home report the most positive evaluations of its impact on productivity. But almost one-third of the asked managers feel home office has had no impact.

The result: Despite our predictions, switching to home office did not have a largely negative impact on teams' productivity.

The result: Despite our predictions, switching to home office did not have a largely negative impact on teams' productivity.

“I couldn't get used to the fact that I don't personally oversee everything, and had to rely only on deadlines.”

Complete PDF report with the survey results

18 key questions & 250+ respondents

1. 2020 – worse, or better?

Let's start with some good results. Despite last year's situation, every third project manager perceives 2020 at least a bit better than expected. Approximately one-quarter of our respondents think it was as they thought it would be. Not bad, though! However, to be completely honest, we have to admit that a significant part of managers taking the survey comes from the IT sector, which, in general, reports better results than eg. heavy industry.

The result: Only 12 % of project managers have had a much worse business year than they expected.

The result: Only 12 % of project managers have had a much worse business year than they expected.

2. Homeoffice vs. productivity

Frankly, here we've predicted something else. Many project managers were afraid of switching to the home office. Especially those for whom it was their "first time". On the contrary, companies with teams already used to working from home report the most positive evaluations of its impact on productivity. But almost one-third of the asked managers feel home office has had no impact.

The result: Despite our predictions, switching to home office did not have a largely negative impact on teams' productivity.

The result: Despite our predictions, switching to home office did not have a largely negative impact on teams' productivity.

“I couldn't get used to the fact that I don't personally oversee everything, and had to rely only on deadlines.”

How would you like 2021's project management to be? Easy.

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3. How was it to manage projects from home?

Well… Not bad, not good. Around 40 % didn't enjoy it. There were several reasons for a rather cold attitude to home office management, but the main was reported problems with the team's discipline. And since there's no sign of getting back into offices soon, we should face this challenge and embrace it – just like 22 % of the respondents.

The result: Managing teams remotely will be part of the stable equipment of an experienced manager. Therefore you should work hard on eliminating the problems it brings. That's why we recently wrote 3 + 1 really working and proven tips on how to do it.

The result: Managing teams remotely will be part of the stable equipment of an experienced manager. Therefore you should work hard on eliminating the problems it brings. That's why we recently wrote 3 + 1 really working and proven tips on how to do it .

4. Deadlines and Money

Quiz: How has the corona crisis influenced the profitability of the projects? One-third of project managers responding to our survey said it hadn't. On the other hand, there was no company to report at least 50%+ growth of project profitability the last year.

Deadlines and project delivery problems are “a good 'ol issue” even in the times when there's no crisis. But, luckily, only eight-and-a-half percent of project managers report heavy delays.

The result: You cannot have power over everything, but the financial success of the project is at least partly reflected in good management and on-time delivery. The answer to the next question in the survey is related to making projects work as smoothly as possible in complex situations.

The result: You cannot have power over everything, but the financial success of the project is at least partly reflected in good management and on-time delivery. The answer to the next question in the survey is related to making projects work as smoothly as possible in complex situations.

“The home office suddenly added two more projects to take care of – one is 2 and the other 5 years old.”

5. Lost & Found

Asking if the Covid crisis has brought something good for your organization – such as new, unexpected business projects – might sound like a provocation to some. But take a look at the results: only one-third of the respondents claim that there was no new business in the past year.

And when talking about the business losses, an optimistic answer comes from more than forty percent of managers: “No, we haven't lost any projects due to the crisis.”

The result: The fear of project cancellation was definitely justified. But in the end, it turned out that the bigger problem was how to keep on managing the existing and new projects. Every third company even received a new project on top of the planned ones from a new or existing client.

The result: The fear of project cancellation was definitely justified. But in the end, it turned out that the bigger problem was how to keep on managing the existing and new projects. Every third company even received a new project on top of the planned ones from a new or existing client.

6. The “2020 Busiest Department Award” goes to…

HR. Probably. Only one-quarter of our respondents say that the chaotic last year did not influence their people-management at all. Approximately two-thirds report important changes related to hiring & firing, such as training, re-recruiting, and educational support.

But, how has this all influenced bonuses and salaries? A bit more than 50% of managers say it had absolutely no impact – ”money level” has stayed the same.

The result: HR managers were facing not only firing and hiring employees. An important part of their agenda was about workload reduction/addition, retraining, and education.

The result: HR managers were facing not only firing and hiring employees. An important part of their agenda was about workload reduction/addition, retraining, and education.

The result: HR managers were facing not only firing and hiring employees. An important part of their agenda was about workload reduction/addition, retraining, and education.

“I'm a face-to-face person. I stared at the blank email page and felt like I had to write a book.”

7. PM tool in need is a PM tool indeed

Believe us, it has been a tough one also for companies that develop project management software. We noticed this ourselves with the clients' requests for new functions: already in March we have added the Risk management tool and then the best Gantt we ever had plus the Reports upgrade in the Human resources management tool. It all resulted in the new Autumn edition of Easy Project , adjusted to even smoother remote work.

We have also personally advised many managers how to respond to the corona situation so that they maintain the continuity of outputs and the financial health of the projects.

Companies and organizations across the world are using lots of different PM software. Still, only 50% of them stayed with their PM tools, but the other half added or completely switched to new project management software.

The result: Remote work and quick response to changes have tested not only project managers, but also their tools. Many proved to be insufficient – a significant part of respondents had to either replace or supplement them completely. It is therefore worth using software that provides all the tools for project management under one roof.

The result: Remote work and quick response to changes have tested not only project managers, but also their tools. Many proved to be insufficient – a significant part of respondents had to either replace or supplement them completely. It is therefore worth using software that provides all the tools for project management under one roof .

Conclusion

The 18 questions from our large survey resulted in several surprising answers. If we should pick up something like “a bright side of the crisis”, then it would be uncovering the true weaknesses of companies' processes. The winners are those who are eager to risk doing new things when the situation is calm – such as companies that have largely outsourced their employees or supported their teams to work remotely.

One of the things we definitely recommend is the choice of the right software for project management. It has a large positive effect on the readiness of teams, work efficiency, and timely delivery of projects.

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