Project Management 2.0 – The ultimate benefits of the new approach to project management

NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS LINE, BUSINESS LETTER 2.0

The social networking phenomenon has already transformed the consumer web into so-called “Web 2.0”. Now Web 2.0 is affecting business processes in thousands of organizations by offering incredible communication and collaboration opportunities known as “Enterprise 2.0.” “All these things that are believed to be consumer services come into the business,” says the former Oracle Corp. President Ray Lane, now a general partner in venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Large companies around the world, such as IBM, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney, have embraced Enterprise 2.0 technologies. We are witnessing the transformation of traditional ways of doing business, and this transformation has been brought about by the new generation of applications.

The term Enterprise 2.0 was coined by Andrew McAfee, associate professor at Harvard Business School, in spring 2006. Professor McAfee introduced this term to describe the use of new social software platforms within companies or between companies and their peers (partners or customers).

Through the adoption of wikis, blogs, collaboration planning tools, social networks and other “weapons of mass collaboration” as Don Trapscott calls them in his book Wikinomics, the patterns of collaboration in today’s organizations are changing. Enterprise 2.0 software and business practices give managers access to the right information at the right time through a system of interconnected applications and services. Examples of thousands of small businesses as well as giants such as Microsoft, Toyota and many others show that web-based Enterprise 2.0 applications allow businesses a huge competitive advantage in terms of enforced innovation, productivity and agility through access to the collective intelligence of many professionals.

Efficient information gathering and sharing, easier social connections within businesses and improved customer interaction are not the only benefits that Enterprise 2.0 software provides to small and large businesses. Let’s see how these tools can help manage projects.

The new approach to project management

The Enterprise 2.0 movement naturally influences and fascinates project management in organizations. Blogs, wikis and other 2nd generation tools provide better opportunities for communication and collaboration. They thus offer great potential for improving existing project management practices.

Traditionally, a project manager is the best link in all project-related communication. This directly affects the efficiency of the team as well as the manager’s own productivity. Today, many companies still use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or traditional project management applications, such as Microsoft Project, to track their projects. Emailing text documents and spreadsheets is still very popular despite its many shortcomings.

Email is a closed communication medium and many companies confirm that it does a poor job of capturing and sharing knowledge. For example, if you If you email a document to two people, you have three copies of this document to manage, merge and differentiate. Working on this document is difficult at the same time. This is not the only problem. Knowledge is buried in emails as it is only available to the sender and recipients, so all the other team members cannot take advantage of it. For example, if an employee emails a status update to their manager, the change will only be visible to other people once the manager has manually updated the plan. This produces unnecessary work and delays the exchange of information. There is little visibility and control over the project if all information is buried in thousands of emails that reside in employees’ mailboxes. The list of drawbacks could go on.

Traditional project management tools are also not focused on collaboration. They were mostly designed with the top-down approach and are not intended for open collaboration. These tools are focused on a project manager and make him the central element of project communication. He must first extract the facts from the employees through meetings and emails, then put them in a file and communicate the project plan to top management and clients. The process is then repeated every time something changes. The project manager must also play the role of an alarm clock and remind the staff of their deadlines and overdue tasks. The whole process turns out to be time-consuming and demanding, resulting in a heavy burden for a project manager. The amount of routine work sometimes does not give the manager time for leadership.

Enterprise 2.0 technologies catalyze innovations in project management. These innovations can be called Project Management 2.0. The term highlights a new approach to project management, characterized by a dramatic shift towards having collaboration as the heart of project management. The new generation of tools takes care of the routine part of a project manager’s job: reminding team members of deadlines, merging status updates into a single plan, and communicating changes. New tools also allow people to collaborate and share information easily. The role of the project manager is changing; he becomes a visionary project instead of a taskmaster. New generation of tools gives him more room to be a project manager.

What makes the new technologies so effective? I show the five main benefits below.

Make it easy to collaborate

One of the major limitations associated with traditional project management software was its complexity. Traditional tools have hundreds of features that take months to master. Adopting traditional project management software is often associated with spending a lot of staff time and company money on training. In contrast, the second generation of project management tools is easy and easy to use. They provide an opportunity to immediately start collaborating without any delays to extensive learning and initial setup.

New project management tools can easily be used, even by unskilled computer users, enabling more people to be involved in project collaboration. A well-known example is blogging. It is very simple to share ideas in a blog and get feedback in comments. Simplicity drives adoption. When people like the software, they use it more often.

New software tools provide a much better user experience that helps solve one of the biggest challenges of traditional software packages. One of the biggest problems with traditional tools was the users’ unwillingness to update data regularly. The plans often became outdated and became useless because of this. New tools are much more convenient to use. For example, they let you create tasks in the system by sending emails from their Blackberry devices. This level of simplicity and convenience engages users and thus helps keep information up to date. This is a critical component to successful project management software implementation. The power of new tools comes to the surface as they transform the simple actions of simple users into a fantastic product of collective work. In Enterprise 2.0 designations, it is called collective intelligence and new structures.

Collective intelligence is the ability of human societies to evolve into higher order complexity and harmony through differentiation, integration, competition and collaboration. In other words, it is a form of intelligence evidenced by the cooperation and competition of many individuals. This view is closely related to the term “new structures.”

Emergence is one way complex systems and patterns emerge due to a variety of relatively simple interactions. Usually it is a form of collective behavior when parts of a system do together that they would not do by themselves. Therefore, emergent structures are the structures that appear as a result of multiple, relatively simple interactions between a number of individuals. The interactions are uncontrolled but are targeted.

Together, these two powerful principles make project management 2.0 tools powerful tools to improve team productivity.

Benefit from Wisdom in the whole team

The new generation, web-based tools provide an easy way for team members to contribute to the shared storage of tasks and plans. These tools unleash the power of collective intelligence and change the pattern of project management.

In his book The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki states that “groups are remarkably intelligent and are often smarter than the smartest people in them. Groups do not need to be dominated by exceptionally intelligent people to be smart.” He also emphasizes that “the greatest strength of decentralization is that it encourages independence and specialization, on the one hand, while still allowing people to coordinate their activities and solve difficult problems.”

With the new technologies, people get a more efficient work environment, where they can gather and share knowledge from different fields, on which each project team member is an expert. The project manager directs the work of the team and chooses the right direction, based on the information received from the individual employees. The tools even help the manager merge this information and transform an email mess into well-organized timelines.

At the same time, the new generation tools let project managers control changes and project progress. Reporting is highly automated at all levels, including business executives who get their views on the project automatically.

The reports are subtracted from real data so they are up to date. All of these factors increase team productivity and help the company make the right decisions at the right time.

Collective intelligence goes hand in hand with new structures, another practice that has a huge impact on modern project management.

Benefits of many structures

Microsoft Project and many other traditional management tools allow you to have only a strict, one-to-many division structure for tasks (and other similar elements). This creates several negative consequences. First, there can only be a picture of the project, while in real life there may be a need to have many different views on the same project. Project marketers, business analysts, engineers and testers may want to cut the project in different ways. Often, the same person needs different slices – for example, upon release and after function. This disadvantage makes the software less usable and people are therefore hesitant to check plans and update them regularly. On the one hand, these factors lead to outdated and useless project plans. On the other hand, the necessity of choosing a division of labor greatly increases the cost of errors for the project manager.

The whole process becomes very difficult and requires a lot of thinking, predictions and responsibility for the project manager.

Project management 2.0 tools have fewer limitations. They allow structures to emerge without strong central control. These structures are born out of lots of small interactions designed to solve specific problems. Eg. Allows collaborative planning tools, such as Wrike, bottom-up degradation structures. What employees design as the best divisional structure for their tasks becomes part of a bigger picture that the manager has seen.

In these tools, hierarchies are many-to-many as opposed to the one-to-many hierarchy in Microsoft Project. This effectively means that you can select any reasonable sub-set of tasks, create a view, and share it with anyone who needs that view. It doesn’t look like all-or-nothing sharing of a file. At the end of the day, more people can collaborate. As the new tools allow team members to make changes to the original structure simultaneously, more people can organize and reorganize their views and more structures emerge. The resulting structures fit the project participants much better than a rigid work allocation structure.

This agility helps bring iterative and incremental practices into project management without giving away the control. The project manager’s job becomes more about coordination and guidance than routine manual updates, and the whole team can respond to changes much faster.

Project Management 2.0 tools allow you to start a task, add twenty more, organize them, add more tasks, reorganize them and repeat the process on a daily basis by many or your employees and managers. When seven employees share their daily to-do lists with a team leader, the team leader gets a bigger picture. When five team leaders share their team’s plans with project managers, the picture gets bigger. As it goes through directors and vice president to CEO, the entire structure evolves from what was a mission to a large ecosystem that fits the organization perfectly. All with very simple tools and very powerful principles that remain behind these tools – collective intelligence and new structures.

Project managers, bolstered by new structures and collective intelligence, can combine field knowledge that comes down and down with the guidance that comes from the top down. There is also a significant benefit to managers: new emerging structures allow you to gain complete visibility that bridges strategic business plans and daily to-do lists of employees. Get the bigger picture

Full understanding of what is happening in the organization is essential for internal business resources to be adapted to the demands of the changing environment. For example, if we talk about software development, the bug fix may affect the next release schedule. The next release plan, in turn, can affect the marketing campaign, which can affect the sales plans. Of course, sales plans will have an impact on financial plans. Having the whole picture helps business leaders make a better choice for the distribution of internal resources when there is a need to respond correctly to the changes in the business environment. Project management 2.0 tools, reinforced by new structures and many-to-many hierarchies, are obviously capable of providing this big picture. Emerging structures help transform separate strategic plans, quarterly plans, project plans and daily to-do lists of team members into a business plan for business development. Many-to-many hierarchies let business leaders view each project and their entire organization from different perspectives. These two powerful principles allow executives to drill down to the tasks of each team member and follow the entire company work at the same time.

When project managers can easily see every detail of their project development and business leaders are able to use their business resources most rationally, projects add value faster.

productivity Increase

With new tools, project managers save hours on routine operations related to gathering information from emails and meetings and keeping it up to date. Reporting is simplified at all levels as part of it can be easily achieved by sharing the related part of the collaborative area. Second generation project management software gives each team member an opportunity to be aware of the changes in the project without unnecessary meetings, emails and phone calls. Collaboration becomes much faster and much more productive. This results in faster project delivery and faster return on investment.

Starting innovation and improvements in your organization is easy. As already mentioned above, new tools are very user-friendly and easy to use. You just have to choose the right ones.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT 2.0 TOOLS: A NEW COOPERATION ROOM

Perhaps the most popular of the new generation applications that companies can take advantage of are blogs, wikis and collaborative planning tools.

blogs

Both internal and external use of blogs can be a benefit to a project. The main advantage of internal blogging is that it facilitates direct communication between different layers of an organization. Blogs allow team members who would otherwise not have been aware of or invited to join a discussion to contribute their expertise. Thousands of companies now use blog tools such as Blogger, LiveJournal, Typepad, Movable Type, WordPress or Radio UserLand. Eg. Collaborates with the British Library and University College London on a project called LIFE (Lifecycle Information for E-Literature) through a blog. A blog is a way for these two organizations to work more effectively together and keep all the project information in one place.

External blogging helps encourage the strongest community goodwill, and this goodwill, in turn, promotes significant marketing and sales gains. Thousands of companies are already reaping the benefits of their investment in external project blogging. For example, companies like Microsoft, IBM, Google, Sun Microsystems and SAP regularly write project blogs. The number of non-technology organizations that have their own project blogs is also growing rapidly. One of the most prominent examples is From Edison’s Desk blog – a blog for the GE Global Research project. It provides an opportunity for technology enthusiasts around the world to discuss the future of technology with top researchers from one of the world’s largest and most diverse industrial research laboratories.

wikis

A wiki is another technology that can be successfully used for project management. Its basic advantage is that it makes it easy for users to create, edit and link web pages. Wikis usually have very few restrictions and therefore tend to accumulate a shared knowledge traditionally kept out of rigid enterprise software and intranets – the knowledge usually buried in emails. A good example of wiki use would be Dresdner Kleinwort, the investment banking department of Dresdner Bank AG, which received a 75% reduction in email traffic volume. They also cut the meeting time in half. Another example is a Linux-based operating system called Fedora, which uses a project wiki to bring the end-user’s point of view into product development. There are many wiki solutions that are successfully used by many companies. The best known is an open source wiki called MediaWiki, the one used by Wikipedia.

Wikis and blogs are good generic tools that can help share knowledge much more effectively than emails. To gain visibility and control over operations, companies also need to empower their managers and employees with a collaborative planning solution.

Cooperation Planning Tools

New collaborative programs and platforms combine the level of control associated with traditional project management software with the benefits of Web 2.0 applications to increase business productivity and improve visibility. The best tools in this field are integrated with email and easy and cheap to use. They democratize project management software. Can you give some examples

Collaborative planning tools bridge the gap between employee to-do lists, project plans and strategic goals. Using these tools, a project manager will have full visibility for all the projects he is responsible for. The top management knows what is going on inside each project and has the whole picture. The software takes a lot of routine action on its shoulders – transforming email messaging into a neat timeline that reminds people of overdue tasks and building reports. These tools help gather information and make it accessible to any team member anywhere. This speeds up information sharing and speeds up decision making.

Government, education, commercial and nonprofit organizations around the world embrace project management tools 2.0 to improve their project management. Companies like McDonald’s, Walt Disney, Apple, Toyota and Capgemini use second generation project management applications within their departments.

CONCLUSION

Using innovative project management technologies promises to have a profound and far-reaching effect on how projects are managed today. These technologies allow businesses to acquire the most important ingredient for success in any business – helping businesses make better decisions faster. Project management 2.0 provides a huge productivity boost for project managers and their teams.

Today, the project management landscape is changing, opening up new competitive advantages for businesses. While some companies struggle with the pain of traditional project management tools and email, others become more efficient and innovative by leveraging the benefits of the new technologies. I hope this article will help you adopt some of Project Management 2.0 tools and practices.