A Guide to Modern-Day Project Management and Tech Tools
Since its development in the early 50s, project management has changed significantly. In this article, learn how to use these changes to your advantage.
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In its essence, project management is the ability to make people come together and strive for a common goal while managing available resources. This has been happening for a long time. From the construction of historic monuments like the pyramids to any modern piece of infrastructure, project management has been used in one way or another over the years, and not just in construction.
Formally, project management as a concept started in manufacturing environments after the second world war in the 1950s. Since the need to break down complex tasks into manageable items and efficiently manage resources was widely felt, project management quickly expanded and became essential for almost all sectors.
Development of Project Management
In the early days, formal project management was highly technical and limited to experts. Strategic planning and resource allocation were considered the job of critical thinkers while deviations from the planned progress were very common. A major chunk of time and resources were spent on manually recording and maintaining documents, which was both inefficient and wasteful.
This might seem like absolute chaos to any reader right now, but it was a huge step up at that time. In the initial days, the focus was on processes and steering teams in the right direction. Other factors were secondary.
Technology's Role in Project Management
As technology developed and new and more intuitive tools entered the market, the focus of project management evolved as well. It shifted from methodologies and processes to tools and people.
Concepts like automation, collaboration, and stakeholder management were recognized as the determining factors for project success. New tools targeted those areas and made many non-value tasks like documentation and reporting simpler and more efficient.
However, while modern technology did simplify the management part of projects, it also brought some unique issues to the table. Virtual teams, cross-functional projects, and a high level of unpredictability in the market made projects quite complex and further increased the challenge quotient.
Current Project Management Issues
Today, project management processes and methodologies have been greatly optimized. However, delays, cost overruns, and other issues are still common because the project management landscape has completely changed. With modern project management tools available to everyone, there is severe competition in almost all markets. This means that your team needs to deliver results with unparalleled efficiency and effectiveness to stand out from the competition.
This has changed what’s expected of project managers as well. The subjective and complex nature of present-day projects necessitates a certain degree of technical knowledge in addition to management and leadership skills. As a response, some businesses have incorporated project management in their regular training programs for functional managers. However, some managers end up being given project responsibilities projects without much formal training and are expected to learn on the job with the help of existing tools, processes, and other similar resources. These individuals are increasingly referred to as “Non-Project Managers.”
Introduction of Non-Project Managers
While some functional managers settle in their new additional roles as project managers with training or experience, many don’t maintain a strict focus on methodologies or processes. These non-project managers prefer to collaborate and coordinate with team members rather than simply assigning tasks and monitoring progress.
Since the basics of project management are now ingrained in almost all industries, non-project managers increasingly emerge from diverse fields. They are almost exclusively taught and develop their project management knowledge and skills while simultaneously balancing the technical side of their jobs.
Irrespective of the industry, most non-project managers initially focus on coordinating with their team and completing the task at hand. Simply steering the team in the right direction and completing the project is enough for them in the beginning. However, with time, they start caring about optimization, planning, ROI, and other such factors.
Another thing that distinguishes non-project managers is their focus on productivity and efficiency. Rather than confining themselves to a basic project management methodology and its rules and rituals, they keep their eye on the ball and collectively work with their team to get the job done.
Reliance on Project Management Tools
While tools have been a part of project management processes for a while, their importance has never been greater than what it is today. Especially for non-project managers who have not been specifically trained in the discipline and require all the help they can get to effectively manage and lead project teams.
Most project management tools are designed to facilitate a project manager and reduce the hassle of tracking, reporting, and other essential duties. For non-project managers, this often is not enough. Any tool that expects them to have a deep understanding of project management methodologies and processes would only increase their challenge quotient.
For non-project managers, the ideal tool is intuitive, flexible, and transparent enough to help sort out issues with collaboration and communication. It would also be scalable to accommodate increasingly complexity and facilitate effective monitoring and tracking down the line.
As non-project managers gain confidence, they seek out ways to improve and grow in their new roles. Naturally, that tool they use should also grow with them and handle modern integrated projects without placing the focus on intricate technicalities.
The landscape of project management today is entirely different from what it was even a few years ago. Advances in technology and the ever-changing requirements of the market mean that businesses today treat projects as a regular business activity rather than a one-off instance.
To keep up with the times, businesses use a combination of full-fledged project managers for strategic activities and non-project managers for day-to-day project management. The right tool that facilitates those non-project managers in maintaining the effectiveness and efficiency of the team can yield excellent results in any environment.
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