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OPS 935 Project Management: Impact of Digital Technologies

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How have digital technologies changed project management approaches, and how has this impacted on project manages and human resource management? How have these changes affected business processes, project timelines and deliverables, risk management and people management and quality?

Answer:

Introduction

This essay explores the impacts of digital technologies on project management. It explores how adoption of digital technologies by companies for managing their project have affected their, project managers, human resource, business processes, timelines, deliverables, and practices  of risk management, people management and quality management.

Impact of Digital technologies on Project Management Practices


Digital technologies have changed the way people work today and use information to achieve results. Across the world, there are many organizations that use project management to organize their processes and enhance productivity of their teams. Digital technologies have affected the way project management used in the organizations today. Digital technologies provide certain benefits that have been the drivers for adoption of technologies for project management and these include:

Information Storage and Sharing: With the use of digital technologies, information can be stored and exchanged in various ways such as through file sharing features like Dropbox and Google Drive. With these cloud based applications, one need not store the project documents in hard copies but they can access electronic documents through laptops, computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

Reduced Time: With the digital technologies, work can be done faster on project. Google search can make the search easy fast. Besides these, there are applications that can streamline operations and processes in the organizations such that redundancies are reduced. Technologies help project managers achieve their business goals in less time as compared to earlier. Software projects require testing procedures that take significant time when carried out manually. However, with programs like DebugMe, software testing can take much less time so that projects can be completed within schedule.

Enhanced Communication: With the use of connected devices, people can communicate with each other anytime, anyplace and by any means making communication easy, fast and efficient. Applications like Skype and WhatsApp make real time communication possible in project organizations. This brings more flexibility to project team members so that they can collaborate in a more effective manner. Project management software are used for creating a collaborative environment on project that not just includes internal project teams but also external parties like clients and other project stakeholders that can be collaborated with over the digital media.

Save Costs: With the use of technologies in project management, less human resource is required and thus, the human resource costs are less. Moreover, with the use of technology, projects can be finished in less time and thus, using fewer resources which further reduces the cost to the company.

Ease of Documentation and Approvals: Project charters are not more printed but can be sent to project sponsor online for approval. Instead of physical sign, stakeholders can digitally sign project documents which make the work both easy and fast for them. Approvals can be managed online through emails such that project managers do not need to store physical documents in filing cabinets to get all documents together for approval processes. Shared servers are used with scanned copies of documents distributed to teams who can use the same for taking approvals.

Better Project Scheduling: Digital project management applications today allow project managers to keep track of the project schedule and resources. These schedules and resource information can be updated in the real time as and when project needs modification and the impacts of the changes on the entire project schedule can be seen and evaluated. Microsoft Project is one such software application which can be used for project scheduling and resource management. The software can be used for assessing project timelines and determining budget such that work can be aligned (Forecast, 2016).

Improved Workflows: Project management integration is the latest trend that is prevailing in corporate. Digital technologies make provisions for integration main the project workflows smooth and seamless. There are a variety of digital software available that can be used for streamlining workflows on projects today such as AtTask which provides work management and allows integration with other business applications such as Sharepoint, JIRA, Outlook, and ProofHQ.

Application of Best Practices: Complex projects today need to adapt to best practices that are tried and tested. For this, project managers rely on social channels like Digital Factory ad Idea Foundary from where they can get the information about best practices in project management. These practices may provide information about delivering digital technologies, managing project owners, customizing services, gathering consumer data, setting up project management office, and so on.

Project Management Software: There are a variety of targeted and general project management softwares that can be used today for managing different processes of a project. Most software allow management of some essential project management functions including project planning, project evaluation, scheduling, resource allocation, budgeting, communication, documentation, and monitoring. Project management software can be desktop based such as MS Project or web-based that allows teams to collaborate in the virtual space. Decisions on project management software can be taken on the basis of deployment, characteristics, and specialization. Most project management applications today are web based such as AceProject, Basecamp, Asana, and COllabtive. Several web based project management software also provide on-premise management features but some of them can only be used over web such as 24SevenOffice, AceProject, ActionSpace, and Asana.

Considering deployment, a software can be used on-premises such that files used remain in the system and the organization has greatest control over the application or cloud hosted in which a vendors server is used on subscription basis. On-premise software can be costly to built but cloud based software are very cost effective which is why more and more companies are moving to cloud based deployment models. Some of the hosted on-premise applications include AnyChart, dotProject, FusionForge, Jira, and Microsoft Dynamics. Most on-premise software has web-based functionalities but some of them may not be used over web such as ConceptDraw, FastTrack Schedule, and Gantt Project.

By characteristics, a software can be made for a single user such as done for DIY projects, collaborative involving multiple users collaborating in the virtual space or integrated which integrates business applications with collaborative tools. By specialization, project management software can be used for specific application of project management such as scheduling, issue tracking, portfolio management, and so on (Online.com, 2016). The most common feature available with most project management software is collaboration except a few software that are targeted to only limited functionalities on project management such as Calligra Plan and Gantt project that are used only for schedule and resource management and MatisBT which is a niche issue tracking system for software projects. Some project management software have most project management features including collaboration, issue tracking, scheduling, portfolio management, resource management, document management, workflow management and reporting such as 24SevenOffice, ActiveCollab, Assembla, Axosoft, Brightwork, Compuware, ConceptDraw, and Microsoft Office Project Server.

Impact of Digital technologies on Project Managers

AS project stakeholders are connected and have information at their fingertips with the technologies today, the expectation from project manager in terms of remaining updated about the project progress has become vital. Stakeholders expect real time data, always updated project status reports, and fast response to their email queries. In order to keep these expectations, project managers are required to always remain updated with the project status. In traditional and manual systems, it was not possible for project managers to remain updated at all times but with the use of digital technologies, real time updates are possible. Hiring managers in companies today look for project managers who are tech-savvy and have the ability to learn and adapt fast to newer technologies (Matt McWha, 2016).

As per CEB research, the project mangers that possess some entrepreneur skills are most preferred on projects in the digital age. These include leaning ability, business knowledge, stakeholder partnership management, judgement, risk management, team leadership and commitment.

Companies can adapt to new requirements of project management in digital age. First, they have to recalibrate their selection processes for project managers to include these skills in testing over only process knowledge and certification assessment. While citification can present a differentiation in project manager, other skills like leadership, responsibility taking capability and entrepreneurship play a significant role in the performance of a project manager and thus, must be incorporated in the selection process. Moreover, companies can invest in targeted skill development for project mangers such that it can be ensured that they give the best returns to the company by performing.

Project Managers of today have to play consultative roles on projects rather than commanding and thus, people management becomes the most essential part of their where they have to manage all the stakeholder expectations as well as internal team requirements to keep the project flow smoothly (Bredin, 2006).

Impact on Project Management

Adoption of digital technologies has affected various components and areas of project management in significant ways such as:

Business processes: Traditional project management processes are not capable of handling the complexities that arise on projects today in the digitized world. Data has to be integrated in the real time if effective decisions have to be taken on projects. Digital principles have transformed project management processes by enabling real time data processing. These principles act as guidelines that help project managers take informed decisions in the technology enabled project environment. Microsoft Dynamics is a tool which can be used for managing processes and business workflows through its features like Workflow design, user management, task management, case management, and so on.

Project timelines and deliverables:  Project timelines and deliverables can be defined and enlisted using project planning and scheduling software like Microsoft Project such that the same can be use to share with the entire team such that project progress is sufficiently monitored and it is ensured that all deliverables are clear and all millstones are achieved on time. While project management methodology already defines milestones and deliverables clearly, technology ensures that it also gets communicated to the right person and remains updated at all times increasing the chances of completing deliverables on time as per the project schedule (Bridgewater State University, 2015). Software can be used for designing templates that make the project plan clear with incorporation for all the details including deliverables, migration requirements, hardware upgrades in case of IT projects, roll out plans, data management , and so on. This makes it possible for companies to integrate the information flow of the entire supply chain of the project (Office Timeline, LLC, 2016). Microsoft Project is a scheduling and resource management application which can be used for recording important milestone dates, deliverables, and resource requirements to create a WBS with specific time duration and resource allocations. This software would then automatically be used for creating ER diagrams, Flowcharts and other visual representations that makes it easy for project managers to analyse project progress and identify deviations from schedule (EPMA, 2017).

Risk management: With increasing complexities of supply chains, organizations can ace higher reputation damages if any damages occur on project. With the use of technology, risks can not only be defined but also analysed such that the impacts and probabilities of risks can actually be calculated accurately rather than just assessed on the basis of guts which was one when using manual procedures. With this accuracy, decisions on whether to take a risk or how to manage the risk can be taken better. With digitalization of processes, risks have also increased such that data and information related risks have taken a strong part in risks management process. In the digital world when information is largely present online and is shared through the cloud, a lot of security risks are faced such as data breaches. Coyer threats demand companies to be more proactive and be prepared for handling both expected and unexpected risks. Various counties have implemented data protection regimes that can help project managers secure their project information by complying with their procedures. Crisis protocols, security risk disclosure, and more such methods allow project managers to take help from the wider community in the cyber space to deal with online security risks. Human resource of projects has to be realigned to adapt to the digital processes and remain aware of the digital risks (Soon, 2016).  Project management software can simplify risk management processes and make things faster as they have built in tools for risk management tools like risk register, risk identification, qualitative risk analysis, quantitative risk analysis, risk response techniques identification, risk monitoring and control (Guru, 2016).

People management: Project teams today can be managed virtually such that people from across the world can work on same projects and collaborate without the need for travelling to places. With established standards of global communication, language and cultural barriers are also taken care of. Project management is all about managing teams and other resources. With the intervention of digital technologies, project team members have got new competencies that can add value to projects.  It is not just the project team but also other stakeholders on a project including communities, institutions, and individuals who are associated with the project success. Digital technologies bring these individuals together through collaboration and partnerships enabling them to bring innovation on projects together (Ünal & Mete, 2010). Changing digital technologies create more flexible jobs allowing people to work from different locations in collaboration and thus, a new form of personnel management is needed.

Project quality: Digital initiative has brought about new concepts that are used in project management such as iterative development, agile development and design thinking. These methodologies allow companies to develop prototype of software project on which feedback is gathered to check viability of the software before it is put to actual designing stage. Thus, quality of the project is maintained. Further, project management involves use of quality assurance and quality control processes that involve product verification and validation. These processes can be managed through digital applications such as DevOps (Kartik, et al., 2016).

Conclusions

This essay explored the impacts of digital technologies on project management practices. It explained how adoption of digital technologies by project management organizations have affected project manager roles and responsibilities, human resource management, business processes, timelines, deliverables, and practices  of risk management, people management and quality management. It was found that with the use of digital technologies, human resource management, timelines and schedule management were simplified. However, risk management practice has to be adopted by making internet security, information security, and data security as a major part of risk management which was not the case in traditional project management. Thus, it can be said that while digital technologies do simplify and streamline project management practices thereby reducing delivery times and costs, they also pose additional risks that have to be manage by the organizations which can balance out the cost and would also need additional resources for management of such risks. Organizations have to be prepared to deal with the situations of cyber risks if they are using digital technologies for project management.

References

Bredin, K., 2006. Human Resource Management in Project-Based Organisations: , s.l.: Linköpings universitet.

Bridgewater State University, 2015. Project Request and Approval Process, s.l.: Bridgewater State University.

EPMA, 2017. Art of Microsoft Project Scheduling: Using Milestones and the DBS. [Online] Available at: https://blog.epmainc.com/art-microsoft-project-scheduling-using-milestones-and-dbs/[Accessed 8 May 2017].

Forecast, 2016. Benefits of using Project Management software. [Online] Available at: https://blog.forecast.it/blog/benefits-of-using-project-management-software[Accessed 8 May 2017].

Guru, P. M., 2016. Project Risk Management Tools & Techniques. [Online] Available at: https://www.projectmanagementguru.com/risk.html[Accessed 8 May 2017].

Kartik, M., Gopalaswamy, M. & Devadason, D., 2016. FAST FORWARD 2020: PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN THE CONNECTED WORLD!, s.l.: Tech Mahindra.

Matt McWha, 2016. Reshaping the project manager role for the digital age. [Online] Available at: https://www.networkworld.com/article/3152049/leadership-management/reshaping-the-project-manager-role-for-the-digital-age.html[Accessed 8 May 2017].

Office Timeline, LLC, 2016. IT Project Management. [Online] Available at: https://www.officetimeline.com/gantt-chart-template/it-project-management-download[Accessed 8 May 2017].

Online.com, F., 2016. Types Of Project Management Software. [Online] Available at: https://project-management-software.financesonline.com/types-project-management-software/[Accessed 8 May 2017].

Soon, L. N., 2016. Managing change and risk in the age of digital transformation, s.l.: EYGM Limited. .

Ünal, Ö. F. & Mete, M., 2010. The Impact Of Information Technology On Human Resource Practices And Competencies, s.l.: 2Dicle University.

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