Is IT Project Management doing enough to make Tim Berners-Lee proud?
I started to write this on the day that the world's media declared that the "internet turned 30".
OK, without getting nerdy, although the terms are often used interchangeably, March 12, was actually the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web. But hey, semantics – right?! Whatever you want to call it, it has been transformational.
I was listening to the radio and the presenter and callers were having fun remembering how things used to before the web (if you wanted a blouse - you had to visit a High Street store said one - oh the humanity!!!) and they were listing things for which they are grateful.
As the programme went on, it started to dawn on me that the majority of callers were only using the internet for a fraction of its potential. One woman actually said her ABSOLUTE favourite thing about the web was the funny animal videos!!! Also, many were still using the internet the same way they had when they first encountered it, typing Google searches rather than calling for Alexa, for example.
This got me thinking.
Ask anyone who was working in IT in the days before the web, what it was like. They’ll tell you how the internet has been even more transformational for us, but, just like these radio callers, are WE getting maximum gains from it and the IT advancements it has brought?
Sometimes we can forget how much the internet has changed things and how quickly that change has happened. As businesses and organisations, we can be guilty of not updating our perceptions of what's possible, or how we use it, and so get left behind. The available technology and solutions have outpaced a lot of organisations’ ability to keep up.
I asked IT Project friends why they'd like to buy Tim Berners-Lee a drink ..
And this is what they said ...
1 - Knowledge is power
This came up in the radio phone in! The history books are full of how, throughout time, knowledge was restricted to the elite. Not anymore! YouTube has thousands and thousands of hours of educational videos (and plenty that are not quite so educational too) and Wikipedia is a reference library of millions of entries on everything from particle physics to over 5,000 words on the orientation of toilet paper (over or under?) and, closer to home, CIO.com and pmi.org are fabulous resources for IT Project Management. Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee's invention anyone with an internet connection can access the sum total of human knowledge - from a device that they keep in their pocket.
Some of the Project Management forums are a great source of inspiration and information and often it is a great comfort to find someone, maybe on the other side of the planet who has struggled with the exact issue that is keeping you awake at night. There is a whole section coming up on Project Management as a Service but thanks to internet connectivity there is a limitless resource for project management solutions. Which brings us on to ...
2 - Communication!
Do you remember the days when you would coordinate (even) an IT project in your conference room? With the advent of cloud computing, with mobile applications and constantly evolving project management software, you now have a global conference room. IT Project teams can discuss projects around the country and even across the world. Anecdotally, I reckon that four in ten project team members now work remotely, which allows companies to access talent and resources from all over the world through Project Management as a Service (PMaaS).
It means that developers and those tasked with transition into service can communicate effectively at times that historically would often leak value. Clients and stakeholders can have access to better progress updates, fuelling greater transparency and governance.
3 - Access projects anywhere, anytime
And it's not all talk. As well as improved communications teams are now working in real-time on their projects even when team members are spread across multiple offices.
Your project is always live, always to hand and, as updates sync automatically, always the most up-to-date version. This has been a game changer in eliminating time waste and driving greater return on investment (ROI).
Not too far back in the day, cloud-based project management software was prohibitively expensive, many small to medium-sized businesses were priced out of this market. Now, solutions are more affordable allowing companies with any budget, to do more and leverage greater returns.
4 - Easier and better compatibility
Compatibility has always been a headache for IT Project Management teams. Many still struggle with the transferring of data between different software solutions, even with the advent of cloud computing!
It is an improving situation though and software developers are actively now seeking ways to make cloud-based project management software compatible with the likes of Microsoft Office and Outlook, for instance.
5 - The PMaaS (Project Management as a Service) universe has exploded
Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) provides access to project professionals, resources and tools at a flexible and predictable cost. Whether it is a true end to end service, IT Advisory, Programme & Project Delivery or Service Delivery, access to Flexible Resources on demand, as a Service is booming. Thanks to straightforward cost models, businesses have an ever-increasing project management toolset to call upon.
Project, cloud transition and migration planning; vendor and system selection and evaluation; governance; delivery and post-delivery transition into service and stabilisation; cost management are just a few of the reasons that I would like to buy Tim Berners-Lee a pint!!!
So, there you go. Just five ways that the invention of the world wide web has allowed IT Project Management to develop and strive; to deliver greater returns on investment; and to move from a back-office function into a strategic business partner. It’s hard to fully grasp the impact of the Web on IT Project Management, largely because without it, none of us would actually be doing exactly what we do now.
It has been an utterly transformational technology that has reshaped every aspect of modern life but especially ours!
The problem is, that just like the woman whose favourite thing online was those funny animal videos, many businesses are not maximising the potential of these constant advances.
It is our responsibility, as IT Project leaders, to ensure that they do.