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Technology Developments and Transformations in Project Management

Rakhi Seth-Forrest, Program Management and Consumer Protection Strategist, HBO
Rakhi Seth-Forrest, Program Management and Consumer Protection Strategist, HBO

Rakhi Seth-Forrest, Program Management and Consumer Protection Strategist, HBO

Rapidly evolving developments in technology are impacting the landscape of project management, prompting transformations. Business leaders will need to harness new technology in order to revolutionize the way that project teams think and work, in order to compete. Consumers expect to have products and services immediately through the use of a variety of mobile devices, market latecomers will easily loose the chance to participate in this new technology driven environment. What this translates into is that companies can no longer effectively rely on highly institutionalized classic project management with heavy project schedules and complex dependency ridden Gantt charts to succeed. Project managers will be expected to change the way they currently operate by adapting project management practices, which allow for increased flexibility and can demonstrate results immediately. All to be achieved with dispersed resources and myriad of information transforming how we sell, collaborate, and communicate internally and externally.

The inevitable implication of technology advancements should drive project managers and leaders to reinvent themselves with new skills 

Project managers and PMOs should consider acclimating to the following in order to compete in the changing digital environment.

Distributed Resources

Virtual project teams are the new normal. Companies are increasingly leveraging the options of a distributed working team to provide employees flexibility, gain global footing as well as take advantage of economical resourcing. Technology is closing the distance gap, making remote working much easier to accomplish. With team members no longer collocated, project managers are required to become more versatile in communication delivery by using collaborative tools for messaging and project status. While not all companies have a need for remote project management, it is increasing in popularity and bears consideration especially when determining the additional security required to safeguard data being shared between colleagues in multiple locations. Attention should also be given to different time zones, communication styles, cultureas well as system access. Using online collaboration tools,project teams can connect around the world as easily as they would in the same location obliging project managers to learn how to manage over long distances, communicate to remote colleagues and react to project issues all in a variety of different sites.

Cloud-based Project Management

Cloud-based project management tools are easily available to all team members, replacing unconventional project management software. Traditional project planning tools are too pricey and large and inhibit software to be shared to more than just the project managers. Moving to cloud-based solutions eliminates the need for per seat licenses, complex installations, and maintenance heavy servers. These tools are not only less expensive they are much easier to use thereby also reduces training costs. Access to important project information is available and accessible anywhere, on mobile devices and across the globe. Project managers can react quicker to unexpected delays in plans and adjust accordingly as well as communicate updates easily. Additionally, these tools can allow for a centralized place for the teams to share documents and product results, which can all lead to increased productivity.

Iterative Development

With the pace of technical advancements accelerating, companies will need to develop in shorter spans of time, to quickly move to market. Project managers are finding that they need to change traditional mindsets that focus on project delivery to the idea of product centric development with continuous iterations. This requires a shift from detailed project plans to more loosely defined projects that demonstrate value quickly. Individual projects should be replaced by a continuous stream of updates, features and enhancements, which can be delivered to customers as soon as the technology determines that they are ready for market. Teams will be more involved in making decisions and supported in an environment where they can ‘fail fast’ if results do not lead to positive solutions. To do this, it is critical to recognize the importance of empowerment of the team to make decisions enabling continuous improvement and speed to market. Methodologies such as Agile and Lean Start-up can be used to help guide teams show incremental progress. In this new environment project managers can help by removing project obstacles and coaching team members on how to make emboldened decisions.

Abundance of Data

Almost everything we produce translates into the creation of data. Project managers have copious amounts of data available, which can be mined for better interpretation of how products are being developed or received. Visualization tools help make use of data, which can be overwhelming. These tools allow project managers to make informed decisions on details, which were not necessarily as easily viewable through spreadsheets. Availability of project data can indicate and alert project managers to when things could go wrong, which often does happen. Data tools can also ensure that project managers are not buried by tons of data but rather use it to leverage and optimize project resources and provide meaningful reports to stakeholders. Many of these functions were once either unavailable or required manual efforts by projects managers to produce.

Artificial Intelligence in Project Management

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technological advancement that is changing the course of project management practice. AI is currently synonymous with automation, a controlled process, however the AI field is evolving from task automation to predictive project analytics and eventually could simulate human thinking. Project plans can be enabled with auto scheduling, progress tracking and status updates alerting the project manager if there is a need for problem solving. This same technology could be used to for predictive analytics to identify risks, alter course and manage risks. Although this technology has not completely reached its potential, it is something for project managers to monitor as future developments are made.

The inevitable implication of technology advancements should drive project managers and leaders to reinvent themselves with new skills in order to employ technology for successful outcomes. This requires an adjustment of focus from the project to bigger picture strategizing. Effective leaders will use these new skills to monitor trends, identify opportunities and seek innovation for project delivery. By embracing new technology, project managers can help improve the delivery of products quickly in a consumer and technology driven world and provide advancement towards the organization’s success.

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