Ask PMI Anything – What will 2021 hold for PMI?


Tony Appleby, Chair of the PMI Board of Directors, reflects on 2020 and looks ahead to 2021 at the Project Management Institute.

2020 was a challenging year for all of us—of course. I’m hard pressed to remember another global event that impacted the lives of so many in such profound ways. Even those of us lucky enough to not suffer directly from the public health or economic fallout have seen our daily schedule or usual routine impacted in some way by COVID-19.

As I look back on the year and think ahead to 2021, a few key trends emerge that spell out where the Institute will head next.

Looking Back on 2020

Virtual teams are the new normal: I could not be prouder of how the entire PMI community rallied together when our world shifted overnight. In an almost seamless transition, PMI went from working face-to-face to collaborating via technology. We all became accustomed to un-muting ourselves and mastering the art of the professional office backdrop (even if things looked a bit chaotic at home sometimes just outside of camera range). And our chapters and stakeholders showed admirable agility and creativity, transitioning events to virtual experiences and “keeping the show on the road” despite all of the challenges.

Putting people first remains a top priority: Throughout the global pandemic, PMI has been laser-focused on the safety, both physical and emotional, of our employees and the PMI community. Social distancing has helped us ensure physical safety, while robust virtual events and internal opportunities have enabled us to promote mental well-being and connect.

Rolling out new products and brands: We quickly saw the results of PMI’s ongoing transformation journey, which for several years has focused on ensuring the relevance of project professionals and expanding their capabilities. The culmination of much of this work just happened to coincide with the dawn of a new era in which we all had to become “digital first,” like it or not. Some of the innovative new PMI offerings introduced include the Virtual Experience Series, Navigator, Snippets, PMIstandards+, Disciplined Agile certifications, PMI Citizen Developer™, Kickoff, Wicked Problem Solving and much more.

Enhanced instructional offerings: This year, the Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) program was relaunched as the Authorized Training Partner program, which will ensure an enhanced experience for certification candidates.

Test from home: Smoothly transitioning from in-person testing to online delivery in a matter of weeks, PMI stood up secure, proctored testing for our Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam. We then shortly after did the same for our PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® certification, both of which have been a huge success. We will be bringing other examinations online in the future.

Looking ahead to 2021

Emerging Technologies: We are committed to understanding the relevance and impact of emerging technologies such as big data and AI on The Project Economy. We will identify opportunities, build product offerings that leverage them, and deliver information about them in a timely fashion to help project managers be as effective as possible in their roles.

Regions matter: PMI is dedicated to meeting the specific needs of the community, wherever they are in the world. We took big steps this year to be less North America-centric in our approach and perspective. The managing directors in our regions will continue working with our various stakeholder communities to ensure that regional needs are being anticipated and addressed.

Focus on youth: The next generation is critical to our global economy, and PMI has developed several initiatives to learn from and connect with young leaders, such as our Future 50 list. Look for additional communications regarding these exciting opportunities and how they matter to you, the Institute and project managers.

Adaptive and predictive leveraged for success: More and more, project and program managers are using agile approaches for successful outcomes, and PMI is there to support these efforts on multiple fronts. However, as shown in the research from our Signposts report, there is a growing need for traditional predictive project approaches. Therefore, PMI will continue to invest in those as well—enabling project professionals to thrive regardless of what approach works best for their unique situation.

With so many exciting initiatives from PMI currently underway, there’s a lot to look forward to in the upcoming months. I’m excited to continue working with our vibrant, global, professional community to make these ideas reality.

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