Wednesday, 30 January 2019 08:14

The Internet of Things and the Future of Project Management

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The Internet of Things, or IoT has evolved from its rudimentary purposes into an invaluable mechanism. It has found application in a host of industries.

Construction, engineering, and software development, among others, are areas where IoT is proving to be an indispensable asset. In its infancy, IoT was more of a novelty mechanism. With IoT, your refrigerator could notify your grocer when you run out of milk. Which is all well and great, but there had to be something beyond that. And there was.

Today, devices and systems are an integral part of any project. Everyone, from team members to managers, has come to rely heavily upon a plethora of devices and software in order to perform their job effectively.

Projects managers in all these sectors continue to delight in IoT's capacity for increasing the connectivity of their systems and in turn, the efficiency of the processes involved. Here’s a widely quoted number: 20.4 billion. According to Gartner, this is the number of connected devices which will be in use by 2020.

Let’s delve further into how the Internet of Things will shape the future of project management.

  1. Reduced Workload for the Project Manager
    Starting with the most obvious effect of IoT enabled devices to project managers: it reduces their workload. Especially when it comes to gathering and organizing data.
    Before, the project manager had to manually gather data, status reports and more from each element involved. Say, you’re an IT Project Manager. You would be stuck collecting data and subsequently the reports for each system. It could take days, maybe even weeks, to compile reports for a single department.
    When the systems are connected via IoT, project managers will not be wasting their time collecting crash logs, maintenance reports and the like just in order to assess the situation. They would be getting steady updates from the very devices they are supposed to keep track of.
  2. A Real-Time, All-Encompassing View
    When combined with other technologies such as project management software, IoT can enable project managers to coordinate the various phases of the project. IoT gives project managers greater visibility into specific elements of each phase. It also increases foresight. Before, it would be impossible to predict exactly how a project would turn out. But IoT makes processes more agile, and with the increased scope of observation there is an opportunity to detect problem areas and glitches before they turn the whole project into a failure.
    For projects which have anything to do with construction, manufacturing, maintenance, and the like, this is a vital function being performed by IoT sensors.
    The smallest detail is made visible when IoT devices are empowered to access relevant areas. This makes it easier for various stakeholders to collaborate or take decisions in real time.
  3. Making Data More Accessible and Actionable
    As previously mentioned, IoT enables faster collection of data. It’s a hallmark of what makes projects truly agile, despite there being a greater number of touchpoints to collect data from. It provides a steady stream of relevant updates from the relevant system to the appropriate team members. The data is made instantly actionable, as the trends are made visible accordingly. This can be true whether you’re integrating your IoT devices with a simple task management software or with big data analytics tools. There is no longer a need to wait for a phase of the project to be completed before the team can gain insights into what needs to be corrected or improved.

    Data regarding the smallest element can be accessed by team members easily. It can also be cross-referenced against data from previous projects involving the same subject. This makes for more accurate predictions, and allows the team to avoid the pitfalls that were encountered in the previous iteration of the project.
    The speed with which updates are made available ensures that the right decision can be taken faster, avoiding project failure.

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  5. Project Execution Made Seamless
    Yes, IoT makes communication between systems lightning quick. It certainly goes a long way towards making project execution faster and more accurate. However, it also has another effect. It improves the speed and quality of the communication between the human elements of the project, namely the team members and the project manager. Due to hyper speed reporting, IoT gives team members the opportunity for better monitoring and control as well. And it’s not just team members, but other stakeholders as well. Management and other stakeholders can just as easily receive relevant updates on any project, removing the need for unnecessary meetings for minor updates or changes. It saves everyone’s time, but keeps all relevant stakeholders in the loop at all times.
    It makes collaboration between various stakeholders more effective and less time-consuming.
    Thus, project execution is made seamless by virtue of improved communication between all elements of the project, including the human elements.
  6. Evolution of the role of the Project Manager
    Owing to the changes in the very ecosystem of projects, there will be a significant shift in the role of the managers handling these projects. There will be a shift in the kind of maintenance plans that managers will have to develop for their projects. Because of IoT sensors are always “on”, the focus shifts to preparing long-term plans for monitoring and management of the project elements. This is what the project manager has to worry about now. There will also be greater need than ever before to be on top of security with IoT devices. These devices hold tons of valuable data, more of which is being generated every other minute. Moreover the connectedness to other systems such as document management software or CMS, makes IoT insecurity a real threat. Therefore, security will also be a bigger priority for project managers who want to avoid DDoS attacks that are caused by IoT insecurity.
    Project managers will function as the integrators of IoT with various organizational heads. Again, as things become more connected, the onus for ensuring that such a development yields better results, rather than the investment going to waste. He has to make sure that the connectedness is reflected within the workforce as well.

Conclusion

The Internet of Things is here to stay, there is no doubt about it. The applications of this technology are endless, be it in business, science, manufacturing or construction. It’s the reason why the global IoT market is expected to reach a $1.1 trillion valuation by 2025. Project managers across all relevant segments would do well to re-examine their role as well as the changing dynamics of projects before IoT inevitably becomes commonplace. The points mentioned in this article give a comprehensive view of the changes that they can expect in the future, how it will benefit their teams, and the pitfalls they should avoid so that IoT investment actually pays off.

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Parth Mavani

Parth Mavani is nurturing his future at SoftwareSuggest as Software Analyst. He has a keen interest in project management software, payroll software, and many more.

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