For decades, task managers and their subordinates have been using project management processes to plan and implement large-scale projects. Though legacy approaches have changed over time, the emergence of cutting-edge physical technology and cloud-based software solutions are quickly changing the game.
This post takes a look at the past, present, and future of project management techniques, and how workforces across industries will be leveraging the latest tech trends to drive their initiatives further.
The history of project management
Though the concept of project management can be traced back to ancient Egypt, more complex organizational demands in the mid-1950s led to a surge of new processes and techniques. In particular, the U.S. Navy’s Polaris Missile project led to the development of a mathematical assessment called “program evaluation review technique”, or PERT. This set the standard for mapping out a massive undertaking in broad strokes, from cost and time estimates to general probabilities of outcome.
Around the same time, the E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company began to develop a similar process that would more precisely pinpoint cost and turnaround for use in the private sector. The end result was called “project planning and scheduling” (PPS). Due to its more definitive nature, the process was more widely used and refined upon, most notably by the construction industry.
The emergence of the personal computer in the 1980s shortened the project management lifecycle dramatically. The accessibility of both on-premises processing hardware and low-cost software solutions meant that project management expanded into more verticals than ever before. By the 1990s, project management technology was becoming more prevalent, and more sophisticated.
The current project management landscape
Today, more than half of all manufacturers reportedly use a combination of project management methodologies, according to a 2017 report by LiquidPlanner. This is due in no small part to the ubiquitous nature of centralized software solutions. Additionally, most solutions, especially those in the cloud, operate on a pay-as-you-go principle, making them cost-effective for smaller businesses looking to scale projects for eventual growth.
The increased focus on automation, interconnectivity, and user experience (UX) has led to a kind of “development renaissance” amongst technologists.
Forging the future of project management
So what does this mean for the future of project management? For one, it spells good things for project managers, helping expedite the planning and execution phases of complex projects, as well as providing reporting tools for predictive planning. Some of the top trends for the upcoming year are listed below:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI and machine learning algorithms have taken the private sector by storm in recent years. The ability to harness the computing power of machines to expedite decision making has made business strategy more nimble, and more profitable.
AI has been utilized in a variety of different function areas already, most notably in resource management. Because its core function is to analyze and report on complex data sets, AI-powered software can efficiently parse real-time data to optimize the deployment of resources to a project, no matter how complex. It’s also being used more and more to automate day-to-day administrative tasks. It can simplify and accelerate the initial stages of project management. This allows project leaders to focus on higher-level strategy, freeing up valuable time and resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
In 2015, Google reported that mobile searches had officially surpassed desktop searches. In the years since, the advent of smart devices, next-generation wireless networks, and the increase in remote workforces around the world has led to a connectivity boom. The IoT, a collection of physical devices on a shared wireless network, has played a huge role in the ongoing development of project management software to date.
Much of this shift can be seen in the focus on UX. The need for simple interfaces that are responsive on a variety of different devices, as well as a comprehensive yet centrally organized suite of apps and tools for collaborative projects, has shaped the way developers approach creating and selling a platform to businesses. Simply put: as the nature of work changes, so must project management processes.
Kanban and Business Agile
Some specific methodologies getting a lot of press these days are Kanban Boards and the concept of “Business Agile”. The former is a legacy process that is being updated for the new generation of project planning. Comprised of a grid with itemized tasks, lists, and files,its aim is to minimize bottlenecks and support multitasking on projects with variables that are subject to frequent change. Most often seen in the form of a whiteboard with colored Post-It notes, some software companies like Psoda are helping to expedite the process of translating a board into an actionable project sprint via their AI-powered PsodaVision app.
Business Agile has seen rapid growth due to its adoption by smaller companies which allows them to utilize their personal styles of communication and task management. Being styled as “not just a trend, but a new way of doing business”, it integrates agile philosophies into function areas like marketing and creative departments.It leverages automated tools to increase the flow of communication and delineate clear accountability.
Modern project management continues to expand on what is possible in terms of project scope and repeatable results. It has far-reaching implications across all aspects of a business and will shape business strategy and leadership styles going forward
Sara Carter is the Co-Founder and Editor for Enlightened-Digital, an online magazine dedicated to covering the latest technology and business trends. An avid programmer, she’s passionate about the potential for technology to disrupt the status quo and improve our lives.