As more companies use project management software, developers like us are able to listen to their concerns, ideas and problems, and then evolve to meet their needs.
Of course, we’re not the only ones doing this, and project management tools have grown rapidly in their ability to share files, organize teams and improve communication in the past few years. In order to create a tool that companies will use, future project management software needs to evolve for the modern workplace.
Meanwhile, the office environment as we know it is changing. Technology has lead to one of the fastest workplace revolutions in the past several decades, where the daily tasks and work environments of employees look nothing like they did 10 years ago.
As technology continues to change the workforce, the workforce demands changes in technology. The two work together to produce better results in cleaner, faster ways.
Here are five ways project management is changing in the office, and how software tools are evolving to meet their needs.
Gamification Sets New Performance Incentives
Project management software is able to track deadlines, hours worked, sales made and completed tasks. Instead of offering performance incentives and manually tracking teams, companies are able to base their bonuses and incentives on a variety of metrics and goals.
For example, a sales team can offer incentives based on the number of leads generated and entered, as well as the number of clients landed. By tracking multiple metrics beyond commissions, employers are able to identify different employee talents that work together to improve workflow.
Many competitive departments and high-energy startups are already testing gamification in the workplace, but this concept expected to trickle into more qualitative departments and be used as a tool for changing employee behavior and encouraging them to push harder in both the short and long term.
Even if they’re just checking to make sure employees are completing their daily quotas, future project management tools allow leaders to instantly see who is performing above par, and who is struggling below.
Cross-Departmental Collaboration is Crucial for Production
It’s always been important for co-workers to get along, but managers in the days of old often tended to assemble workers with different strengths and just hoped they all worked well together. But in the modern office, it’s important for co-workers to get along with colleagues in their departments plus everyone else in the company.
Proper execution of projects involves representatives from multiple departments across the business. Failure to involve members of certain teams can slow down the project or cause major holes in completion.
The connected office also changes the role of networking. The most valuable employees aren’t just the hardest working; they’re also the ones who offer their services to execute the vision of other teams as well as their own. The ability to work across multiple departments proves to senior management that they’re a team player, are willing to add extra work to their load, and understand the big picture of the company.
Project Management is Becoming Less Task-Based
At its inception, software to manage tasks and projects was meant to help employees balance their workloads. When teams are expected to do more with less, it becomes easier for assignments to slip through the cracks, causing projects to fall behind or end up abandoned.
However, modern project management software is more than a task-mastering tool. It’s an opportunity for collaboration and understanding the big picture and strategy behind a project.
Agencies can use it to track client feedback and use software tools as a reference when working with vendors, while in-house teams can share information and ask questions about various project aspects. Instead of a digital grocery list, today’s project management software is a hub for collaboration.
The reason for this trend lies in the nature of modern office work. Projects are rarely one-step events completed by one person. Most projects involve multiple phases — taking place over several weeks and months — that require input and help from several collaborators.
Even simple jobs such as the development of product copy requires input from the project development team and even the legal department before it can get management’s approval. As such, project management is less of a tool for managers as it is an organizational resource for employees.
Managerial Roles are Shifting Toward Strategy
In the same way that project management software is evolving from a task list to a collaboration space, the role of middle management is changing from its original roots. Today’s managers are expected to offer more than motivation and leadership skills. They need to be strategists, planning and executing new ideas to benefit their department and the company as a whole.
If the role of the middle-manager is changing, so is the role of senior managers. Vice presidents and C-level executives prioritize projects and serve as bulldozers to open doors for middle managers and their teams. This might involve lobbying for a budget increase, approving additional resources during the fourth quarter, or pressuring other senior managers to help their team.
A smart middle manager can create and launch a series of projects throughout the year, as long as they have a competent team under them and a strong senior manager lobbying from above.
Project Management Tools are Expanding to Clients and Vendors
As project management software becomes commonly used internally, some companies are expanding their reach and granting access to clients, vendors and outside contractors.
As of 2015, 66% of companies used project management tools to communicate with clients, and 46% of software tools were web-hosted as opposed to installed. When the entire team has access to the project dashboard, it makes sense to keep the communication central by letting the client or vendor view and contribute to the discussion. This keeps the collaboration hub in one place, instead of forcing managers to track notes and updates from multiple sources.
Often, full team buy-in is one of the main barriers to onboarding project management software. When the tool fails to become a hub, team members will continue using the communication methods they have always used and view the new software as a waste of time. Bringing vendors and clients into the discussion is a great way to prove that no party is exempt from this communication tool.
Essentially, future project management tools will make it easier for teams to spend less time checking or recording their progress and spend more time doing. In the same way that digital platforms have reduced time spent filing papers, project management tools reduce time spent reporting. Companies will continue to demand more from employees, and project management tools hope to give back some of their time to meet their employers needs.
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