Entrepreneurs are very busy setting up their companies and developing their products. Perhaps dominated by visions of the wild success of Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma, project management is rarely top-of-mind. Yet David Taylor, a mentor at business incubator Virgin StartUp, says nothing is more important to getting startups off the ground.
In April PM Network®, writer Sarah Fister Gale takes you into the world of startups and shows how business incubators and accelerators can help these busy leaders integrate project management into their activities. Experts say that founders are often trying to do too many things at once and can lose control when complexity comes in, even in the form of adding a second project to the mix.
Helping startup leaders think about where risks might arise within their strategy is one way project management experts can help. Another is controlling vendors that might not want to do things the way the startup needs them to be done. Discipline is key for these entrepreneurs: They need to set goals, prioritize tasks and identify risks. Incubators need to assist their fledgling companies by instilling the need for project management from the very start.
Have you had experience managing projects for a startup? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of cold weather, especially in April. If you live in the northern part of the United States, chances are that as I am writing this, you’ve experienced snow in the last few days. Yes, in April.
There are some parts of the world where cold is an everyday reality. A project that took place in such cold is the cover story of this month’s PM Network®. The Arctic region is one of increasing economic importance, as oil and gas development start to ramp up. The only way to get supplies to the Canadian Arctic port of Tuktoyaktuk (aside from flying) was via an ice road only open four months per year.
The Canadian government has had a permanent road in mind for 50 years. Recently, the 137-kilometer road linking the Arctic with Inuvik, Northwest Territories, was completed. Challenges for the project team were many: equipment had to run 24 hours a day because of the cold; the road had to be built without destroying the natural landscape that is the cultural heritage of indigenous communities; the impact on wildlife had to be taken into account; and the road couldn’t damage the permafrost, lest it become a boggy mess each spring. Early thaws of the permafrost forced the project team to cut eight weeks from the four-year project timeline.
The project should reduce the cost of living for Tuktoyaktuk residents and save the government the annual cost of building and maintaining a winter road. The government will monitor environmental impacts to help it optimize future infrastructure projects in the Arctic.
Have you been involved in projects taking place in extreme climates? Please let us know in the comments.
Her latest column looks at what project managers can expect their role to look like in the year 2033, just 15 years away. If you think that digital disruption will change that role—you are right.
Priya covers three areas in her gaze into the crystal: automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Automation, she says, will take tedious drudgery of documentation out of project managers’ lives and allow them to focus on more creative tasks. Bots will collect and distribute information and will actually join teams, alongside humans, that project professionals will manage.
AI will take things a step forward and attune project managers to the social and emotional well-being of their teams. This will mean project managers’ people skills will be even more essential.
Priya doesn’t want you to be frightened of the future, but rather celebrate it. The world will still need project managers, even if their role appears different than today. And that is true no matter where technology is taking us to—and how fast it is getting there.
It’s not just private-sector organizations that have to hustle to stay on top of massive changes. Cities also need to keep up with the disruptive digital landscape. It’s smart to do so. March PM Network® takes a look at some smart cities and the projects that are helping them keep up and get ahead of the curve.
For example, in Toronto, Sidewalk Labs, a division of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), is a partner in creating a brand-new waterfront district that will be very connected. Sensors will collect data on traffic flow, energy usage and air quality. Autonomous vehicles will take people from place to place; private cars will not be allowed.
Smart city programs have gone beyond just free Wi-Fi. They are strategic, with multiple stakeholders and measurable outcomes. Experts say the more collaboration there is, the more citizen benefits will be produced and the more likely the cities will become “future-proof.”
As with any connected project, security is a necessary consideration to prevent cyberattacks. And as with any taxpayer-supported project, frugality is a necessity.
The article includes a case study detailing a pilot project to improve trash collection in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, that was easily scalable to the entire city. Another case study reports on the use of an intelligent transportation system by Copenhagen, Denmark, to help the city meet its goal to be carbon neutral by 2025.
If you know of other stories of city “intelligence,” please use the comments to describe or provide a link.
This month’s PM Network takes a long look at a sector that is transforming fast—the grocery industry. Project teams are trying to deliver an experience craved by the public. Many of their initiatives are tied to predictions that online grocery shopping will grow dramatically. One report states 30 percent of shoppers are open in the immediate future to ordering groceries online, compared to 14 percent today.
There are other impressive numbers. In 2016, global online grocery sales added up to US$48 billion, 15 percent more than the previous year. By 2025, online grocery sales are projected to total US$150 billion, or 9 percent of the market.
One more appetizing figure: 65 tech startups raised US$1.5 billion in the last five years. Projects funded weren’t just for online shopping—they leveraged artificial intelligence, chatbots, virtual reality and interactive displays.
The next frontier for grocers is implementing delivery methods. Some day the makings for your weeks’ meals will arrive by drone and/or robot. Right now, some store chains offer refrigerated lockers where people shopping online can pick up their orders. Smart kitchens may soon do the ordering for you, and pilots are being launched for secure in-home delivery even when the customer is not home. Behind the scenes, tech initiatives monitor customer traffic, call up more cashiers and efficiently manage inventory.
Grocery projects offer a cornucopia of opportunities for innovative project professionals. If you have experience in this sector, please share in the comments.