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How can Project Managers keep up with technology?

MetaPM speaks to Elizabeth Foley, CEO at the Australian Institute of Project Management about how you can use new technologies to improve the running of your projects.

When I was trained “on the job” to be a Project Manager in the 1980s, I was taught network theory – and hand drew PERT charts, which could take a whole week.

Now, as a result of project management software and collaboration tools, you can set up everything from the planning, budgeting and scheduling online. The technology will then help you to keep your project on track and alert you when a part of the project is at risk of being overrun.

If you’re considering integrating some new technology into the running of your next project, here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Choose the right software for your organisation

There are a range of AI software and project management tools available and each one will work for different teams, organisational sizes, and project management styles. Some of the more well-known project management tools, include Trello, Monday.com and Asana. If in doubt, see if a free trial version is available so you can take it for a test run before committing. You can also get in touch with the provider of the software or online tool you’re interested in using and they can provide you with an overview of how it works, giving you an idea of whether it is best suited to you and your teams’ project management style.

  1. Spend according to your business

Spending on new software and online tools may seem like an expensive venture, however you only need to invest according to your company’s risk appetite. If you have a smaller budget, spend accordingly and only purchase project management software with a price tag that is appropriate to your organisation. Many of the project management tools available have different services and products, so you could select a product with less features at a more affordable price point to start out with.

  1. Focus on your soft skills

In the coming years we will continue to see artificial intelligence integrated into the project management profession. As technology advances what we are seeing is manual tasks, such as planning, analytics and risk management being absorbed by smart technology. With technology taking over these manual tasks, junior roles such as Project Scheduler and Project Controller may become obsolete. To be a successful Project Manager it is imperative to have the leadership and people skills to drive a project successfully, so developing your soft skills is key.

  1. Embrace the new way of working

As we all know the biggest accelerator of technological change in 2020 has been COVID-19 and the mass migration to remote working. While Australians have generally preferred face to face interactions video conferencing is becoming the new normal. As states relax restrictions, you may be considering heading back to the office, however that does not mean you can’t keep the technological learnings from this period. In the future it may mean that you have a mix of face to face meetings, whilst keeping in touch with team members and clients through Zoom and Team meetings as well. There will certainly be a permanent drop in business travelling saving both time and money.

  1. Continue to learn and grow in your profession

As a Project Manager, it is important to have knowledge of your industry, the marketplace and the economy. You should also have an understanding of how technology is disrupting the way we work and affecting the project management profession. To ensure you’re up to date with this information, consider attending online webinars and events, where you will hear from expert guest speakers discussing topics important to Project Managers today.

To run a project well in 2020 and beyond, it is essential for project management professionals to be up to date with the latest technologies. As we have seen time and time again, organisations who fail to keep up with technology have been left in its wake. While new technologies can sometimes seem overwhelming, once you have the right technology in place, you will be left wondering why you didn’t take advantage of these new technologies sooner.

Elizabeth Foley joined the Australian Institute of Project Management as Chief Executive Officer in July 2019. She has over 20 years’ experience in senior executive roles and is an experienced CEO and director. Elizabeth has a passion to promote project management in industry and government and to deliver exceptional value to AIPM members.

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