Project Management? There’s an App for That.

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Project Management Is For Everyone

Project Management? There’s an App for That.



By Conrado Morlan

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” - Abraham Maslow

Over the last two decades, the project management profession has rapidly evolved. The number of professionals has grown worldwide, organizations have adopted, adapted or created frameworks and methodologies to support their projects, and technology has flooded the market with a plethora of mobile, desktop, server and cloud tools.

These tools are big players in establishing the ideal project management environment for organizations that want to track project metrics, performance, pipeline optimization, resource management, time, cost and budget—and the list can go on and on. These versatile apps also support an endless range of frameworks and approaches, from waterfall to agile to Kanban.

Organizations may go thru a selection process to choose the right tool for their environment. Many support their decision-making process with external sources from consulting companies that had reviewed several tools and classified them based on different criteria.

Once a tool is selected, the next step is to put together the various pieces of the puzzle—the project, practitioners and tool. They don’t always naturally match up—and that’s to be expected. That means training.

However, I’ve recently noticed a disturbing trend. I’ve seen several job postings in which the most important trait is the years of experience using a particular project management tool. Some of the job seekers told me that they did not get the job because of their lack of experience in a particular tool.

It makes me wonder: Are organizations “toolizing” project management? Are they boxing themselves into a tool environment? Why is a tool more important than a discipline?

Experienced project professionals exposed to different frameworks or project management methodologies may apply their knowledge to the tool and manage the portfolio, program or project. A tool expert does not make a project management professional.

Remember, at the end of the day, a fool with a tool is still a fool.

Do you think organizations are becoming “tool-centric”? If so, what’s driving this trend?

Posted by Conrado Morlan on: November 27, 2017 09:10 PM | Permalink

Comments (14)

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Depends on the tool. I imagine many job ads would ask for experience with say MS Project for example. What specific tools are you referring to Conrado?

Dear Conrado Morlan,

I strongly agreed with your point. Nowadays mostly companies are hiring fool with a tool not a project management professional.

Project management tools have really supported project management discipline by making project manager work easier, reducing error rates and providing connectivity like never before. In our organization project managers have adapted TaskQue in order to manage their team while being at their home or at some other place through using their cell phones.

I have seen this trend and not just in the area of PM but in lean/ six sigma too. I think it's because it is "easier" to post a job or build a resume with tools listed out whereas it takes a considerable amount of effort and thought to do so based on skills. Tools are definitely helpful but the primary focus should be on the skill set.
/sd

I agree with the author, and that's something that you can see on different areas not just PM but also design and development. I understand there's a learning curve, and companies invest a lot of time and money on implementing some tools for their workflow, but discarding applicants based merely on those skills could leave behind people with better and valuable skills.

I had a good experience in one case, where the company I was applying for asked me if I used a particular tool (ArchiCAD), I didn't, but I was given the opportunity to get on board. Long story short, months later not only I was using the tool smoothly, but also taking more advantage on its capabilities and teaching the team on how to use it better.

Professionals are able to adapt when necessary. Not all organizations use the same tools. But just like a carpenter can use a different type of hammer, a PM will have the ability to adapt. If one does not have the exact tool experience, they can explain the various tools used over the past years and the rapid time to competency for each. That said, it is also the responsibility of the organization to have a proper onboarding program.

That has been the reality for software developers for decades. Nobody hires someone with five year of software development. They all hire someone with five year of insert programming langage development,

This is true Andrew. I always bring my hammer to work.

I completely agree with Andrew!
But unfortunately I have seen that organizations and recruiters ask for specific tool experience and decide if your profile is suitable for the organization or not.

I'm a software engineer and that is true on software development for decades. When you need (and can afford) a programmer with two years experience, you want to be productive from the first day, and so you choose a person already familiar with the tech stack of your project (languages, tools, etc.) When you require a project leader with ten or more years experience, then what matters more is experience and know how. Tools are mandatory in big organizations, they don't want every project run on a different toolset.
The reality is that you hire a project leader and let him decide the architecture, language, and tools for the project, then he chooses the environment he is more familiar/experienced with.
On my actual venture, we have integrated the best tools and languages for a robust, fast and secure architecture, both client and server, and we have designed it configurable. So actually we are able to take the specs from a client for a new software project, and with the JSON config file, we can show the client the finished interface to test at the very moment. ¿Sound agile enough?

The PM's brain is the greatest tool.

Conrado, yes I broadly agree. However we shouldn't be too black and white on this. We have a customer who has identified a major benefit of using PROJECT in a box to get consistency into their project documentation, process and reporting. Like most organisations they have a cadre of PMs some are more experienced and capable than others, inevitably meaning some were always in demand.
What they found was that with consistency established they could move PMs while projects were in flight enabling experienced PMs to be dropped in to assist projects facing challenges or to start them off on the right foot. And to help develop their less experienced PMs by giving them trials on more complex projects knowing that better mentoring was possible and a switch could be comfortably made if required.
Such an arrangement is good for the PMs and clearly good for the organisation.
Hope that insight is helpful. Makes me think I should expand it into a blog posting of my own :)
Malc

Tools helps the PM efficiently implement the established project management processes which is based on business policies. Without business policies and processes the organization will have difficulty identifying the right tool to help the PMs.

I agree companies are becoming too focused on tools. I believe this is the result of western-style paradigms. Westerners are typically short-term thinkers and we like simple answers to (even complex) problems. We have a tendency to believe if we have a problem, we just need to find the right tool (or technique) to fix it. Also, we are typically mechanistic thinkers--we want something we can just plug and play.

I believe companies are wanting people they hire to have specific tool knowledge because many companies are not investing in proper training for their people to learn a certain tool (short-term thinking), so their preference is to have someone to come in who already knows it and can start working immediately (i.e. mechanistic thinking). Its also possible, if the person knows the tool, the company may be hoping the new employee can come in and help them better use the tool or at least add to their knowledge base.

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