If you are a project management professional, you surely have thought about what features should have a global tool to manage all kind of projects, at every organization –public/private, non/for profit– at every industry, anywhere in the world.
We already have collaborative tools to manage all tasks, messages, emails, photos, files, videos, notes, etc. Nowadays, we as professional project managers need to use these kind of tools to control teamwork, but these tools are not sufficient to meet the project management goals, mainly to get them finished on time and on budget. For project teams to succeed, they need to use many tools and techniques we as project managers are supposed to know.
Specially, we need to measure project performance regularly, just the way the great Rita Mulcahy advised us to do:
That is, in project review meetings, we need to measure and adjust: we report project performance in front of a steering committee and propose corrective actions to get the project back on track.
We also have enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to manage resources, products, clients, procurement, sales, logistics, supplies, income, expenses, invoices, wages, etc. These tools are fit to manage all services and operations at every organization. Although they may include project management features, they were not intended for professional project management, neither.
In order to fill this gap between ERP and collaborative tools, covering the specific needs for professional project management, PPM tools came up. PPM stands for Project Portfolio Management. These tools were not designed to manage all projects of many organizations in the same place. They required customizations at each organization, they did not give access to many project stakeholders, project managers were overwhelmed with rich interfaces impossible to use in mobile, etc.
In my opinion, two main causes can explain why PPM tools ended up with this inefficient dessign patterns:
- Business analyst not familiar to project management standards or they lacked any real experience managing projects professionally. Our expert judgment as project management professionals was not taken into account seriously.
- Enterprise software extended to add project management features. Instead of creating brand new software to manage projects professionally, many PPM solutions copied or extended preexistent enterprise software from ERP, scheduling, business process management, business intelligence, issue tracking, team work collaboration, etc.
As project management professionals, we know that projects have their own entity: specialized language, roles, phases, grouping structures, techniques to manage project goals, etc. On the other hand, projects are different from each other: success depends deeply on effective communication, project management experience, interpersonal and team skills. In other words: effective people collaboration is key for a project to succeed.
Professional project management is important for business. Successful projects allow companies to beat their competence. In 2027, employers will need nearly 90 million individuals in project management-oriented roles, growing at a rate of 33%. Professional project managers are more and more appreciated and we get more responsibilities. From just taking orders from sponsor in the past, now we are expected to be more proactive, to relate directly to top managers, to anticipate problems and take advantage of opportunities, all this inside highly collaborative environments with real-time information needs.
Luckily for us, project managers will never be replaced by robots. Organizations, however, don’t want to “reinvent the wheel”: they need to apply project lessons learned and good practice endorsed by standards. When projects fail badly, with huge delay or over cost, causes are not found in tools or methodologies –tools are just a means to an end. Project management tools of the future will not replace us. They will help us to be more effective as project managers: knowledge base repositories for lessons learned and risks, interactive feedback platforms, chatbots, voice assistants, AI, big data, business intelligence, blockchain, etc.
For many reasons, I think it is just a matter of time we can see tools capable of unifying all projects, of all kind organizations, public or private. In the same way Asana came up to manage all tasks for all teams in the world, Slack to manage all messages, Google Mail to manage all emails, Evernote all notes, etc., shall the day come when we have tools to manage all the projects in the world?
In PMPeople we have been pursuing this vision for more than 3 years. PMPeople means “people collaborating on project management”. This month we celebrate our first anniversary since launch on August 2018. Experiences with customers are reaffirming and validating our operative model. We are also getting customers change some old paradigms:
- People can manage projects professionally with a mobile application.
- PPM tools normally use only 3 roles –project manager, team member, and administrator. We need more roles to manage projects professionally.
- We can use a common language and a common standardized framework to manage projects professionally.
- Any good PPM tool should save a lot of meetings and effort to produce status reports.
- The main function for a PMO should not be tool administration.
- PMO setup should take no longer than one month.
- Good PPM tools can save a lot of time if workers track their time and expenses from a mobile app.
- Blockchain technology will benefit professional project management.
Coming soon, I want to share here our design principles, how different roles can collaborate, standards and security compliance, integration with other tools, our mobile app, our operative model for setup and support, etc.