How does Software fit into the future of Project Management

I’ve recently done a fair share of research on future trends in Project Management and I realized that aside from the increasing need for emotional intelligence from Project Managers, software tools will be a focal point of all those trends. Keep in mind, however, that trends can change just as quickly as they get identified. The list below is nowhere close to being comprehensive but it does point out the major tendencies in Project Management industry. Being part of software development and project management community, it is hard for me to be indifferent about how tightly those two areas will be interconnected.

The general gist of what’s coming revolves around empowering advanced leadership capabilities that will facilitate decision-making abilities. It’s important due to the dispersion of teams, changing methodologies, and simply increasing amount of projects in organizations everywhere.

Trend #1: The need for collaboration

Someone once said that e-mail will soon die out as a communication tool. I don’t believe it will, but I do think that it will have less involvement in professional communication. Often, in complex projects, a number of departments or organizational branches need to take part and provide their insight or feedback. In most of those cases, collaboration takes place via lengthy email correspondence or meetings where half of the participants only nod and agree with whoever speaks the loudest.

Today’s technology allows to save time by decreasing the need for frequent meetings or searching through tedious email “RE:”s and “FWD:”s. Solutions such as Slack, Jira, and Confluence or SharePoint make it easy for everyone to be involved and give one’s input at his or her convenience. They also help to mark someone directly, assign a task to them, pin a question or issue that is of utmost importance or let people work on a single document simultaneously. All that a solid collaboration needs.

Trend #2: Remote workers

In a large organization, it is not uncommon that a project manager has to deal with the distance between team members. Distance, however, is not his only worry. Sometimes language, cultural and even time barriers in communication between employees may take place. Some companies also allow people to work from home. It is crucial to build a global, working 24/7, process where skills, knowledge, and experience will be well balanced and distributed.

Having the right software can make or break project schedules, budgets, and overall success. Remote project management is no easy task but facilitating technological tools help teams connect, stay mobile, share data and collaborate with ease. All that is needed is Internet access. With secure cloud-based solutions, it is ridiculously easy to keep everything in one place with access from all over the world at any time.

Trend #3: Blended methodologies

We’ve all probably heard the Agile preachings, with how it’s better than waterfall approach and that it is no longer only in software development but it’s also adopted in other fields too. All true, but not as valid in real life as it sounds. Why? I will quote another article of mine here:

Because in the real world, there are very few pure Agile projects. Most companies use some form of custom hybrid process. This is caused by a variety of factors, from resistance to change in some departments to working with outsourcing companies who rely on a different flow. Managing a big project in a pure Agile method is almost impossible. This requires project managers to be highly flexible and skilled at blending an array of methodologies. Experienced project managers know to follow their gut feeling and use all tools necessary to keep the upper management off their backs.

The project management method, that one uses, truly is of little importance once you realize that “the end justifies the means”. As long as a project’s work is done efficiently, on time and delivers required results, all methods are welcome.

For software developers, it will be crucial to not only build feature rich and intuitive solutions but to make sure that blending methodologies will be feasible. One of the best project management hybrid solutions is the BigPicture plugin for JIRA which blends agile and cascading methodologies with remarkable ease by for example showing Agile Sprints on a Gantt chart and being compatible with MS Project.

Bonus Trend: The king is dead. Long live the king.

According to a research report by Capterra, MS Project is losing its market share significantly and soon enough there might be a new king in town as Atlassian, with its flagships JIRA and Confluence, is creeping up quickly. Project teams feel the pressure to think beyond the Windows ecosystem. The competition is stiff out there, and the more flexible and compatible solution the more likely it is for it to be adopted.