Categories: collaboration tools
We’re using more and more tools now – companies that didn’t previously have online collaboration tools are now signed up to an annual subscription, so even if you can now get into your workplace, a lot of project management teams are still working virtually.
There are changes that come when you add more tech tools into the estate.
You have to invest in keeping your collaboration tools relevant and up-to-date. You should also keep an eye on the future so that if you need to switch systems or link them together, you can. This is interoperability—the ability to use different tools together to provide a single, streamlined technology platform for your company that does not rely on manual rekeying of data.
In my experience, a single platform is better for enterprise data mining, as the fewer interfaces you have to deal with, the easier that exercise is. But it’s also unrealistic, especially if your business strategy has been to invest in best-in-class tools for each area instead of a single, “do everything” enterprise product. If you do have multiple systems, interoperability will help you get the data out.
Traditionally, linking systems together has been through data integrators or other pieces of software that built connections and interfaces between various tools, matching up the records and allowing you to transfer data between them. Increasingly in the online space, interoperability is being provided by third-party tools that handle the feeds for you, allowing smaller businesses to get their systems talking to each other without the need for bespoke developments.
Products like Zapier do this. It lets you build “zaps” which effectively work on a “if this happens, do this” basis. For example, if you upload a file to Dropbox, you can automatically sync it to your project management system.
More tools today are offering application program interfaces (APIs) as well, which are effectively the data standard for that product. By making these standards available, they have done half the integration for you. They let developers build the other half of the integration and match them up, then you can push data into project management tools from other systems and vice versa.
Interoperability is something we need to consider in the broadest possible sense, as well as the impact on tech. We need to do more to understand interoperability between ways of working, blending virtual and on-premise teams and the approaches they use to manage projects.
Businesses don’t limit themselves to managing projects using agile or waterfall approaches. The same company can have project managers using PRINCE2®, Scrum, and A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Project collaboration tools need to be flexible enough to deal with all of those methodologies, and to be tailored to support internal processes as well.
The marketplace today is not full of tools that only support one method, but it is something that decision makers should be aware of—choose a product that supports your future methodology and process needs and not just the approaches you use today.
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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