A project manager works on complex and detailed plan every day and has to manage both people and resources. Fortunately there are tools and softwares that can ease project planning, scheduling and resource allocation.
But let’s go deep and see why IT tools and softwares are so important for a project manager.
Why is it so important today to deploy IT tools and softwares in project management?
By definition, project management involves planning, organizing and managing work and activities, and in particular the management of various operations, often different from each other, including: communication, time, economic and human resources, meetings.
Before the IT revolution and the internet, the management of all these aspects was entrusted to the use of paper, calculators and telephone and postal services. Nowadays the world is much more dynamic and the project manager needs to manage all the cited aspects more quickly, often remotely, and in the most efficient possible way.
In the software market, many IT tools are available that make project management more effective and efficient. Such tools allow PMs to manage every aspect of project management: activities planning, task management and assignment, budget and resource management, monitoring of timelines and results achieved, risk management, report of activities, coordination of partners and project teams, sharing of data and information and all internal and external communication activities and dissemination of results.
Today, there are platforms practically accessible to everyone, with different and extremely customizable services and costs: it is just about adopting the best solution that fits the needs of your team. Choosing the right software package can make the difference to get there in time.
Which characteristics are necessary for an efficient project management?
A project management application is the main IT tool among the softwares to have in the portfolio. Such tool is able to guarantee a full project management control in all its aspects, especially with regard to the control of the project progress: GANTT chart, timeline, WBS and critical path, the resource management, and a direct and simple task assignment and monitoring by sharing details of the activities with the other team members, are among the main characteristics that the tool should provide.
The system guarantees to project managers and PMOs a global control of the project, but above all it allows to work in synergybetween PMs and human resources that work on the project, making the updating of activities and the check of tasks and milestone dynamic and immediate.
The continuous and real-time control guaranteed by certain platforms does not remove the necessity to prepare personally the reports which are always fundamental for work reporting, but can simplify reporting operations. Furthermore, the mechanism greatly simplifies internal monitoring and coordination between the project staff.
For their easy-to-use aspect and the peculiarity of being tools always available, such softwares, usually available also in mobile app version, are very effective: the location of data and information on a server, and not on a single desktop machine, allows PMs to manage and update project aspects at any time and from all over the world.
Another advantage of project management tools is to be synchronized with external and third-party softwares, simplifying the handling of other aspects such as communication and project document management, as well as the synchronization of the project calendar with your own agenda. Google, Apple and Microsoft are classic examples of providers which offer the compatibility of their products with the most popular IT tools for project management. Of course, there are also other providers.
Especially with regard to communication systems, project management platforms often contain internal communication tools and chat services. In some cases, the big software houses produce project management softwares that integrate with all communication, file editing and cloud management systems of the same brand, providing all-inclusive packages.
Whether you decide to use all-inclusive solutions or choose to create your own software package with your favorite tools for PM, communication and file sharing/editing, in my opinion it is essential to adopt solutions that are always able to synchronize with each other and be accessed remotely.
Which IT tools should be part of a PMO software portfolio?
To explain these concepts is Toti Urso, Project Manager and speaker of the first edition of ISPM, about the new IT solutions in the field of Project Management.
For sure, the portfolio of a Project Management Office should include: a dedicated project management software for the management of activities and teams, some useful communication tools (in addition to the emails, a teleconference systems for meetings between partners and an internal chat system which is very useful for speeding up discussions and interacting simultaneously with whole teams), systems for document editing, but above all a shared system for storage and sharing of project data and documents, which is unique and syncable for the whole team. The latter in particular, I think is fundamental.
The real transition to a modern project management is not only the use of IT tools but the exploitation of the latest technologies to their full potential. We are talking about managing routine operations, such as the group review of a document, which if approached in the right way can save days or even weeks of time.
One of the greatest advantages of IT solutions for project management available today is the ease of access to documents and information remotely and simultaneously, even for editing. It is obvious how much more practical is to manage computer files than stacks of paper documents and accounting sheets, but real advantage of using ITs is the synchronization and data sharing that networks make possible, putting aside the outdated concept of exchanging documents via email and of sending and duplicating files repeatedly renamed with the strangest names: who has never had a file like FILE_edit_last_Final.ext? No matters, in this case, if you operate in a traditional Waterfall or Agile context. Improvements are across-the-board.
Don’t get me wrong about a no-stop synchronization and availability, I am a supporter of the right to disconnect.
Local files and tables (as the excels) will always be useful, but let’s try to have only one synced folder with the latest version of the file always updated, eventually with the possibility to track the edit history without looking among hundreds of emails, or try to edit in real time a file together with the rest of the team without the needs of notifying every single edit…. you will never go back!
This paper was elaborated by Toti Urso, Project Manager and speaker of the first edition of ISPM, about the new IT solutions in the field of Project Management.
After the Master’s degree in Geophysics, Toti Urso started designing and managing research projects for research teams of the University of Catania. Thanks to a decennial experience as CEO and consultant of web companies, he developed strong IT and technological skills, becoming an expert consultant in R&I and project management. Today he’s project manager for the University of Catania.