Project Management

Project Management in the Age of Digital Transformation

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By Marian Haus, PMP

Welcome to the age of digital transformation.

New technologies such as 3-D printing, augmented and virtual reality, and digital currencies are becoming commonplace. Connected and autonomous cars, and holographic displays are on the horizon. This is all on top of the various mobile devices—smartphones, tablets, laptops—that we can’t let go of.

All this has changed consumer expectations and behaviors for good. Services must be fast and easy-to-use (RIP user-manual/guide), fully transparent (in terms of product offering, quality, price), always available (24/7) and multi-device accessible (via desktop, mobile, wearables, etc.).

Fearful of being left behind, businesses look to understand and predict consumer needs through deep and semantic web search, machine learning and big data customer analytics.

The Upshot for Projects

But digital transformation is not only changing our lives and disrupting businesses. It’s also reshaping and speeding up project delivery models. The planning and execution of innovative projects in today’s digital era can no longer be done at the same pace, with the same methodologies and tools. To attain increased time-to-market results, speed and flexibility are key—so project managers must adapt their approaches.

So what’s a project manager to do? Here some thoughts.

1) Remain calm and confident! Remember when agile disrupted the well-established waterfall world? Project managers had to adapt their approach, toolsets and methodologies. We can adapt again.

2) Enable organizational and structural simplicity and dynamism. Foster flexible structures, smaller project teams and increasing collaboration within the project team. (Here are some tips on how to set up your team and organization.)

3) Improve execution speed by tailoring and simplifying your approach and methods. For instance, embark on some rapid prototyping as a proof of concept before implementing the final product. Or breakdown the project into several smaller projects that can move independently faster as together.

4) Foster new and innovative ideas. Encourage open-mindedness and increasing failure tolerance.

5) Focus on results, not process. Plans, Gantt-charts, budgets, forecasts, risk plans and stakeholder lists are important. But while prototyping or going through trial-and-error iterations during product development, don’t let methodology and specific techniques get in the way of the needed results.

6) Adapt your communication approach by providing stakeholders with rapid access to real-time project information. For example, establish an online project community that can easily be updated with the latest information. (Here are more ideas on how to improve communication.)

Finally, enjoy the exciting and intense times we leave in, driven by dynamism, innovation and more networking and collaboration than ever.

I’d like to hear from you on how you are managing projects and embracing change in the modern digital age.

Posted by Marian Haus on: August 03, 2016 04:34 PM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Great comments and observations!

"Remain calm and confident!" Wonderful advice for every project. We as Project Managers and leaders set the tone of a project. Nothing has disrupted my project's flow faster than when leaders become anxious about otherwise minor issues. Thank you for sharing these observations!

In spite of all the technological innovations , the article focuses on the Human Element which is still at the heart of any Project. Which again , reaffirms that even though robots can replace many of the activities that humans do, you still need humans to make the robots succeed !

I find the recent conversations about the need for project (or portfolio, or PMO) management to change in the era of digital business somewhat misleading. While the increase of development and application of digital solutions to business operations has been increasing for the past 50 years, the fact remains that, as project managers, our role, approach, tools and methodology should remain the course. We need to remain steadfast about doing our project management, whether we are managing a business transformation to greater digitization in business operations, or managing an IT project deploying BOTS in ERP and enterprise big data lakes. Our value-add remains organizing resources, facilitating cross functional collaboration, keeping the team focused, managing stakeholder expectations.

thank you. anyway if we don't focus on process, results could obviously be impacted. so i think PM should focus on both process and results. Tailor the approach and methods, that's good; finaly communication is key on project management. Thank you once more.

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