Straight Talk on Project Management

Quarter of 2021

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Last quarter of 2021! IT Project Trends so far and how to leverage them

As I’m writing this, the Autumn Equinox has just passed, we’re moving into the last quarter of 2021, and my news feed is full of how this particular equinox is traditionally the time to be setting new intentions. What better time to reflect on the IT Project Management trends of the year and reset and refocus our intentions as we move forward?

Especially, as Stoneseed will be exhibiting at Project Challenge Expo on October 19th – there’s never been a more apt time to consider how to embrace these trends and challenges. 

Three IT Project Management Trends of 2021

1 – More hybrid approaches to Project Management

This is the age of the project that won’t be put in a box! More than ever, teams are finding that, not only can they not depend on a single methodology for each project in their portfolio, they now often mix methodologies within the execution of a single project.

Many Project Managers and Scrum masters are looking at this trend with bewildered eyes – they’ve been operating this way for years! This last year has forced a rethink among many who weren’t, perhaps a hybrid way of physically working (ie, working from home / traditional office) has opened their eyes to how a mix and match approach can deliver better outcomes, perhaps it’s the more reactive nature of many post pandemic IT Projects that has demanded a more agile response, or maybe it’s just a trend that was gathering a critical mass anyway and the need to ‘build back better’ has accelerated the tipping point. Whatever the reason, day by day, throughout 2021 project teams have been telling us that they’re adopting hybrid approaches and enjoying the results.

The key benefit they’re reporting is flexibility, pardon the pun but response to inevitable challenges more agile using a hybrid approach. They’re also finding greater engagement among their teams, teams that are made up of members who lean into more agile methodologies are reporting more job satisfaction from being able to apply their natural skills – rather than quietly accepting organisational norms like “Waterfall is the way”.   

Simply put, hybrid project management brings together approaches from the traditional Project Management tool kit and the agile environment. It’s the very illustration of “the best of both worlds” and it’s here to stay, so understand which methodology works best for each specific project and each specific part of that project. A broad-brush overview seems to point to teams getting the best results using a more traditional approach for simple, straightforward tasks and agile for the more complex elements, but we’ve also seen great results from teams using waterfall to manage the overall project and the most suitable agile approach to manage the contributing elements – or as one Project Leader put it, “Waterfall runs the machine agile turns the cogs.”

2 – AI is here to stay

Early adopters of artificial intelligence in IT Project Management report more accurate estimation of their project’s duration, better control and forecasting of costs, and a more reliable measurement of progress helping them predict realistic and achievable project timelines. There’s a willingness to push the technology beyond the substitution of humans on mundane tasks, freeing up talent to do the more complex cerebral stuff – asking more of AI is yielding unexpected returns.

“Work smarter, not harder” would be the perfect tagline to sell AI to IT Project Managers and while it is true, as with most industries, AI is delivering greater efficiencies by automating those simple or ‘mundane’ tasks, in IT Project Management especially it is the extra insight that AI can give you that is really making a difference. More complex tasks like scheduling, more intuitive functionality like data visualisation, and asking ‘what else can we make it do?’ – these are the areas where AI is delivering the greatest benefits.

As with most technology, from your Alexa to your iPhone, we only leverage a small percentage of its actual potential (I just blew a tech savvy friend’s mind by showing him how he could voice activate Siri to make a phone call – it’s 2021!). When you open your mind to the reality that AI could be doing much more for your projects, you open up a world of untapped potential.

AI is the future of Project Management, it’s here to stay. Push it! Demand more from it! Embrace it!

3 – Best Project Management tools and solutions – EVER!!!

One of the best things to come out of the challenging times of the last 18 months, for me, has been the proliferation of advanced project management tools and solutions. OK, the truth is that many pre-dated the pandemic, we just hadn’t been given the nudge to go and find them.

A friend has a PM in his team who, before lockdown, was managing complex IT projects partly with post-it notes on his office wall. The paradox of using such an ‘analogue’ method to keep track of delivery of cutting-edge digital always amused me. When Boris Johnson announced we’d all have to work from home this guy was forced to rethink – the office wall wasn’t going to be within reach! They still wanted him to have the tangible sense of control that the post-it notes gave him and so they investigated a more digital equivalent, eventually selecting “Online Sticky Notes” which is part of Lucidspark, a virtual whiteboard that helps teams collaborate remotely.

This is a very simplistic illustration to make the point, according to PWC, 77% of high performing projects use project management software, and yet it also discovered that 44% of project managers did not believe in the use of software to manage projects – that’s a lot of post-it notes on walls.

The same PWC report emphasized how digital project management software improves performance and, as there’s so much available and more joining the market all the time, there is one out there that will fit how you work.

Most readers will be familiar with Kanban boards and Gantt charts, the challenge, like with AI is push, push, push IT Project management tools and solutions to deliver game-changing outcomes.

Stoneseed will be exhibiting at Project Challenge Expo on October 19th (Stand 50
QE11 Centre, London), let’s talk about these trends and challenges and the great solutions, old and new, that exist to help leverage the trends and overcome the challenges. 

Stoneseed’s Head of Client Engagement, Dale Beeton, will be on hand to answer all your questions about our popular PMaaS (Project Management as a Service) model along with BAaaS (Business Analysis as a Service) and our PMO Services. Entry is FREE and doors open at 9:15am. We look forward to seeing you there!


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