Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:07

Is your project management still in the dark ages?

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In current project management (PM) practices people are treated as units of resources, rather than a whole resource.

Let me explain; goals originate at the top tier of the project, and are subdivided as tasks are passed down, leaving little room for creative contributions. Standard PM practices however rarely appreciate this fact and fail to realise that in a structurally rigid system, popular PM practices like the PERT and Gantt chart are proving to be over-detailed and guilty of inciting excessive control over people. Excel spreadsheets are another prime example of a technology that:

  1. Makes it difficult to access real-time data
  2. Lacks the ability to facilitate collaboration and to share data

What’s required in the modern workplace is an automated resource management tool, that centres itself around your people as well as your assets. Dedicated resource management software does just this, providing organizations with a more powerful, intelligent, and accurate solution to resource visibility, project planning and collaboration.

Project management, still sticking to U.S Navy methods from the 1950s

What tends to happen with well-established companies is that they become too rooted in old ways of management. When new, younger hires come on-board they’ll expect a fully-fledged digital company, rather than be crushed underneath a mechanistic, outdated management model from a time where workers were no more than disposable cogs in a machine. The PERT chart is a project management tool used to schedule, organize, and co-ordinate tasks within a project. It was originally used to manage the Polaris submarine missile program in the 1950s, which is worlds apart from say, an advertising project or housing re-development project. But we continue to apply these old management techniques, without ever wondering if we’re getting as much value from our resources as we perhaps could be if we switched to more modern techniques or technologies.

If the objective of a project is simply reduced to task allocation, then the potential of a person is essentially ignored, meaning they won’t be able to contribute to the total business objective.

A human is more than a resource

The fact that a human, under the appropriate conditions, can expand their contributions tremendously is what distinguishes them from other quantifiable resources like money and time. What technology should give us is a breakthrough in understanding how our resources are being used, rather than relying on guesswork, intuition, or past experiences. It should grant us insights into how human resources and tasks within processes are performing, which goes way beyond basic task allocation. Instead, traditional PPM software standardizes human resources to nothing more than the parts that make up the project whole.


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Don’t make decisions in the dark

While we can use an array of abstract models to break down our tasks for us, this is only part of the equation. Resource management software allows you to shift and shape your models any way you like, and the resource optimization gives you even clearer visibility over your resources, to plan a strategy that saves you time and money. It’s a giant stride forwards for project managers.

You could say that project visibility is one of the most important factors in the success of any project. During the life of a project, the work assigned to a position or person can change, depending on unforeseen changes to budgets, priorities or employee availability. But there are new technologies that help provide greater planning and foresight in project planning, such as ‘what-if’ analysis.

‘What-if’ analysis provides end-users with a blank canvas to re-design project processes in a risk-free environment, letting you test out different scenarios to optimize resource allocation. So, while you may have previously relied on guesswork, past experiences or pure instinct, ‘what-if’ analysis gives you data-driven insights to help you better allocate resources for risk-free decision making.

Collaboration is a celebration you should always attend

In project management, the benefits of collaboration are often overlooked in favour of delegating lots of minute tasks to individuals – assuming it creates more efficiency. In fact, dedicated resource management software lets project managers chop and change resources, scale budgets, and streamline processes, all in real-time – even when there’s no internet connection. So project managers can now be free to confer and decide on the next course of action, any-time and any-place, for better clarity and intelligence. With these capabilities it is much easier for them to co-ordinate and collaborate on projects. Everyone knows that they are all driving the organization forward together in the right direction.

The right technology can revitalize your project planning in ways that were only dreamt of in the past. Budgets can be tracked, employee performance can be assessed, workloads can be managed, and processes can be tweaked – all with a few clicks. Project managers are no longer burdened with having to understand complex formulas in Excel spreadsheets, nor are they limited by the files saved on their desktop. Instead resource management software provides a central platform, familiar to each of your project management teams around the world.

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Greg Bailey

Greg Bailey is Vice President World Wide Sales at ProSymmetry, the company behind the state-of-the-art resource management tool, Tempus Resource. With over 25 years’ experience in the PPM field, Greg was previously the Founder and CEO of Microsoft’s 2012 Worldwide Project and Portfolio Management Partner of the Year, SharkPro Software.

For more of Greg's views on resource management, you can visit the ProSymmetry blog or follow the company on Twitter - @ProSymmetry.

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