Gone are the days when sharing platforms such as Google Drive and emails made up the basis of project management and collaboration. Over the past few years, there have been significant developments in technology, which have enabled project managers and projects team to work more efficiently and achieve their goals. Your projects are much more likely to succeed when you have the right project management technology available to you. In this post, we are going to take a look at the use of technology in project management in further detail.
Different tech tools and trends
There are many different tools available that enable project managers to control all areas of their project, from budgeting to communication. These tools ensure increased efficiencies, smoother operation, and an improved collaborative experience.
Predicting the future
Every project should be seen as a learning curve. If you do not reflect on how you and your team have performed, how are you going to move forward and improve next time around? No project team can afford to remain stagnant. Technology enables you to reflect on past tasks and projects so that you can spot trends and opportunities. You will be able to see where you have performed well and where your team could have been better. This enables you to make informed decisions. Perhaps it would be better to have one of your team members work on a different part of the project? Maybe you have been spending too long on one phase? Or, have you spotted an opportunity to cut back on project costs? All of this is possible with the right software in place.
Uniting virtual teams
The project landscape has changed. Gone are the days when everyone working on a project would be in the same room from 9 am until 5 pm every weekday. Instead, project teams are spread all over the world. One of the most critical things you will learn as a project manager is how to communicate with and manage a remote project team. Using the right technology can assist with this. It will help you to manage a global team that consists of people speaking different languages and working in various cultural environments. It is important to have clear standards in place when using such technology. It won’t work if everyone is on a different page. Establish what methods you are going to use for communication – for example, you could ensure that all employees leave you a message with an update on their progress at the end of each day, and then you could decide to use Skype for screen-sharing and video conferencing. Put together technology standards that best suit your team and make sure everyone is aware of how important it is to stick to them.
Different tools for various stakeholders
Social networking, mobility, and collaboration are some of the technology trends that are increasingly responding to the changing and dynamic world, not just within project teams, but also amongst stakeholders. Collaboration tools help teams to accomplish specific tasks. Social networking enables people to create strong personal ties, and mobility enables groups to collaborate from anywhere in the world. However, it is not that easy when it comes to stakeholders. Project managers need to be careful and considered in their approach when deciding what channel to use to reach stakeholders.
It is important to enable your stakeholders to interact in a manner that is most comfortable for them, and this means that you need to use a variety of tools, including whiteboard and document collaboration tools, wikis, online forums, web conferences, phone calls, and instant messages. Before you decide what tool to use to support the project, you need to keep in mind the tools that the stakeholders’ organisations have approved. Also, don’t forget that stakeholder buy-in to certain collaborative tools will differ depending on the usability of each tool. It doesn’t matter what tech trends are going on at the moment, the impact the tool is going to have on the outcome of the project will determine your ability to sell it.
It seems that a day does not go by without news of a data breach. It is fair to say that there is no bigger threat to businesses at present. A cyber attack could seriously jeopardise the project, and the future of the business. It can lead to significant financial damage and your reputation could be in tatters. Plus, this is only the start of it!
The way projects are managed have been impacted by cloud computing and the security implications of it. There are always going to be vulnerabilities when there is data on the cloud. You need to have more direct control over data than you currently have. If you don’t know where your data is, how are you going to protect it? It’s true that the company storing the data has the responsibility of physically protecting it in most cases, but as a project manager you are still accountable.
You need to be responsible for the way you handle data and you need to make sure that your project team is too. You can’t divert the risk. Investing in ethical hacking can be advantageous – this is when a security company ‘hacks’ your system so that they can determine any vulnerabilities before cyber criminals do. This enables you to patch them up. Not only this, but make sure passwords are changed regularly for all software, and that default passwords are never used. Passwords should be a mixture of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Plus, two-factor authentication can add an extra layer of protection too.
Another top tech trend that is influencing the future for project managers is project management software integration. Seamless workflow management is possible because software can easily be integrated nowadays so that everything works together. When everything happens in real time and speaks the same language, you have a game changer in terms of how teams collaborate.
As a project manager, it is important for you to keep up with this as software continues to evolve. Clients, companies, and hiring managers are increasingly expecting their project managers to be tech-savvy. You need to learn new systems and technologies and adapt to them with ease.
The way teams interact and exchange information is changing due to the evolution of cloud computing, social media, and mobile applications. Work is easily spread out during the day thanks to these tools, as they ensure you can share documents and answer questions at any time, no matter where you are.
With so many different tools available, it can be difficult for you to know where to start. You need to think about what is going to be most suitable for your team and your project. This will depend on a number of things, such as how geographically dispersed your team is and the nature of your work. For instance, you may decide to have a restricted Facebook group for some projects, whereas for others you may use cloud-based project management products. This means you can manage different projects at different times in different places.
To successfully lead a team, knowing technical processes is vital. There is only one way to do this: practise, practise, and practise some more. Begin with the basics of new technology, and then get to grips with new features.
Why cloud software?
Of course, there is a lot that needs to be considered when choosing technology for you and your project team. Above, we assessed the different types of technology and the trends that are changing the face of project management. One thing you may be wondering is why your tools need to be cloud-based. Does it even matter? One of the main benefits associated with the cloud is that it offers seamless use of technology. You don’t have to get to grips with expensive or complicated software, nor do you need to login to an intranet each and every time. Plus, no matter where you are, you can share and access information. This is not only beneficial for remote teams, but means you can check-in with projects while you are on the go.
Another benefit associated with cloud software is that you can invite anyone to collaborate and take part in the project – this includes those in and outside of the organisation. This is especially beneficial when it comes to smooth collaboration with customers and partner companies. Projects often include dealing with a wide range of people across different levels, and cloud-based collaboration breaks down barriers so the entire team and everyone involved in the project can work together to achieve the goals.
Important things to look for when choosing project management software
There are some things you need to consider carefully when choosing project management software, no matter what type of tool you are looking for. You need to choose solutions that are aligned with the processes and methods of the organisation, however, bear in mind that the software we utilise will also shape our behaviour. In other words, if you select really great software, it will enable you to do new things and be more efficient.
You need to look for a solution that is going to enable you, your team, and senior management to collaborate and communicate seamlessly, no matter the time zone, so that documents can be reviewed and shared with ease. You also need software that is going to give you a complete view of a project’s overall status, as well as individual action items, so that you can address any activities that are lagging behind immediately.
Aside from this, you need to pick tools that enable you and all team members to instantly communicate with one and other to boost accountability and create a sense of one team. No one will be able to shy away from their responsibilities if everything is on a visible platform for all to use. At the same time, such a tool creates a sense of unity. This is especially beneficial for remote teams. It gives everyone a platform to communicate and work together. You should encourage employees from remote teams to talk to one and other. A bit of small talk will be good for team morale and make the team feel more connected.
Most importantly, the software you choose must be easy and intuitive to use. If the software is complicated and difficult to get to grips with, your team will be resistant. They won’t want to use it. Plus, with so many people using the software, you need to eliminate as many barriers as possible. Your software should empower teams to self-organise and it should free up their time. It certainly won’t do this if it is complicated. Plus, you will end up spending a considerable amount of resources on training.
When introducing new software to your project team, you need to be careful regarding how you go about it. You should always explain the benefits of the software to the team. How is it going to make their life easier? Be transparent about the project goals and how the software is going to help you achieve them. This will help to get everyone on board.
All in all, there is no denying that technology has changed the face of project management today. And, it will continue to do so, as new tools and technologies are developed all of the time. As a project manager, you need to stay up to date with this. Companies are looking for tech-savvy project managers that can adapt to new tools and processes with ease. You also need to empower your team by choosing software wisely and ensuring that they are all aware of the benefits of the tools in question. If you do this, it will lead to greater efficiencies throughout the entire lifecycle of the project. From time management to quality control, there are tools to help with all.