Categories: collaboration tools
Disruptive technologies such as big data are hitting businesses across all functional areas, not just project management. And with the recent uptake of collaboration tools for virtual teams because we haven’t been able to get into offices in the way we could before, it’s even more important to understand what that tech might mean for us.
Companies have to come up with practical ways to incorporate this massive amount of change and to sift through the trends that are worth adopting while ditching those that are not relevant at this time. This is starting to come to the fore in the form of the chief digital officer or other digital leadership position at the very top of businesses. We are also seeing digital PMOs—divisions supporting the project structure in the way a traditional PMO would, but with a leaning toward paperless, integrated, and online ways of working, along with the culture changes that brings.
Shadow IT – a challenge
Shadow IT is another challenge for the person or team taking on digital leadership within their organization. This is where employees have downloaded their own apps or software for work purposes.
I think it’s common in businesses where IT processes are slow and bureaucratic. When individuals don’t want to have to wait for software to be formally approved and installed, the Internet makes it possible for them to download pretty much anything they want and get started immediately. This forces business leaders to look for adaptable, speedy, and flexible models and processes while also giving them the headache of managing data security and unapproved software.
It’s not all about the tech. Part of the challenge facing the digital leader, be that a project manager or a PMO director, is managing flatter teams, both across business teams and within projects.
Employees create their own internal networks outside of the traditional hierarchy, which potentially makes many of the formal line management structures redundant and forces the organization to become flatter. The digital divide—those employees who are familiar with digital working practices and those who are not—is a further team-related problem that digital leaders have to face up to and proactively manage.
Successful collaboration and teamwork comes from a culture that supports those ways of working. If virtual teams are to be successful, and if collaboration tools are to be fully embedded in the working practices of the team, then it’s important for businesses to invest in collaboration offline as well.
I think as we move forward, we’ll see greater investment in building corporate culture, fostering employee engagement, and creating the environment to deliver successful change. All of this underpins the use of any technology and supports the business objective of getting the right people to do the right things the first time, which cuts down on overall project costs.
It also supports the urgent need for knowledge sharing in a global economy that is facing significant talent gaps. As the Baby Boomer generation leaves the workplace, taking with them an incredible amount of organizational knowledge, companies need to find alternative ways to capture and maintain their knowledge assets. Technology (like wikis) has a part to play, as well as collaborative work environments where knowledge is freely shared.
This article includes a few points that were made in my PMI book: Collaboration Tools for Project Managers. Given what we’ve been going through and seeing so far this year, it felt appropriate to try to pick out some comments on tech for teams and where that might be taking us – because it seems to me that virtual working is here to stay.
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