Successful project management isn’t just about keeping your resources and tasks organized. In order to really stay ahead of the curve, you’ve got to know about the latest tools and techniques coming up in the industry. That’s why we spoke to several experts to get their thoughts on the project management software trends we’ll see in 2019 and the years to come.
- Timekeeping tools will become more advanced to tackle the $7.4 billion lost every day due to ineffective documentation.
- Over 70 percent of companies use Agile at least some of the time, making tools that support this method especially important in the coming years.
- With nearly 60 percent of projects consisting of dispersed teams, collaborative workspaces will increase in project management suites.
- AI will enhance predictive analytics to provide stronger data for project managers to use.
Advances in Timekeeping and Resource Management
One of the great things about PM software and similar systems like professional services management solutions is the ability to track time. This allows companies that don’t produce a tangible good to still track their output. However, as anyone who’s used project management software can tell you, timekeeping is still a considerable chore even with digital tools.
In fact, a recent study calculated that a single worker loses $50,000 each year in revenue by inaccurately tracking their time spent emailing. When you apply this loss to the entire professional services industry, we’re looking at a loss of $7.4 billion each day in the U.S. alone. But this might change in the next few years. Shane Anastasi, CEO of PS Principles, elaborates for us.
He says, “I think PSAs will introduce more advanced timekeeping that integrates new technologies. Time recording is a real pain for all consultants and making something that can either capture time from spoken commands, desktop monitoring, calendar schedules and so on.”
He continues with how a new timekeeping system could affect resource management. He says, “I anticipate that technology will be able to present the consultant with a fairly accurate picture of his or her week now that these kinds of data collections are possible. It might even reverse the model such that consultants are no longer ‘asked’ what hours they worked and instead help guide the consultant to utilize their time during the week by scheduling the time a consultant needs to be working on a specific project.”
But resource management will be getting a boost in its own right, according to Anastasi. He states, “Customers need better, more detailed resource analysis, scenario building and assignment. Currently, vendors provide resource assignment that simply allows the company to generate a revenue forecast. Customers, however, want to play with the forecast in real time and at a granular level of this month or quarter. They have to hit a revenue number using the resources and skills they currently have and many vendors don’t have an easy way to play with this quarter’s forecast to determine the most optimal use of skills available.”
Widespread Agile and the Tools You Need
There are several project management principles a business can put into effect, but one seems to be rising above the rest. Founding Principal of Project Management Essentials, Alan Zucker, shared his thoughts with us. He says, “One of the biggest trends is the dramatic shift to Agile. We have reached a tipping point with over 70 percent of organizations (based on PMI’s Pulse of the Profession survey) using Agile at least part of the time.” But what does this mean for the future of project management software?
Zucker predicts, “With the rise of Agile, tools that integrate Kanban or task board interfaces into the project management ecosystem will become more prevalent. There are many vendors that have Kanban interfaces, but most of them are not integrated into a broader ecosystem that includes traditional views such as the Gantt chart.” So instead of having to choose one visualization tool over another, project managers are now going to have more options when it comes to managing their resources in an Agile environment.
More Collaborative Workspaces
For many companies, project management software is a tool used to keep track of their processes and teams. However, many businesses find themselves working inside other systems such as Google Drive or Dropbox and using their project management system as a sophisticated to-do list.
But Zucker expects more working space inside project management solutions when he says, “Another major trend is the shift to collaboration workspace management tools, which allow teams to work and collaborate online. These tools make it possible for remote or distributed teams to create information radiators that are available to all team members.” According to Planview, 59 percent of all projects are made up of dispersed teams. This makes centralized collaboration even more important.
For example, let’s say your account manager received your graphic designer’s first draft of a logo. Instead of accessing the file back and forth in Dropbox, users could simply upload and access the various logos right within the project management software. That way they could track which logo was the newest version and see all past iterations in chronological order.
Not only is this true for project management, but it’s also true for professionals services management software. This type of solution is created specifically for services professionals such as lawyers, consultants, etc. While PSA software puts a greater emphasis on things like accounting and customer relationship management, it’s built upon project management principles as well.
Anastasi predicts, “I also think the PSAs are going to be forced to start to consider the handling of more project-specific information so that members of the project can share information. PSAs have tried to avoid getting bogged down in project communications, but as the market heats up, especially on the Salesforce platform, my guess is that they are going to be forced to start collecting this information. That means they will become more a project workspace by default than the current project financial repository.”
Data and Artificial Intelligence
While many project management features are already very much data-driven, all of our experts still see analytics as a major focus in this industry’s future. Dr. Sapan Desai, CEO of Surgisphere Corporation, spoke with us on the specific needs of project managers in a healthcare environment. He says, “Project managers are required to keep track of numerous financial metrics. As projects become more complex and involve stakeholders are multiple levels, there is an increased need to also have built-in performance improvement tools and integrated access to data.”
Dr. Desai says that many businesses will need to turn to solutions that leverage project management features, performance improvement tools and a sophisticated healthcare data analytics solution.
We’ll also see an emphasis on data in the professional services realm. Anastasi predicts that, “PSA vendors are going to turn to AI to start to guide project managers to better decisions. Currently, many PSAs have a sort of recommendation approach that is very data-driven, but the demand for improved project outcomes will move them to attempting to predict project success. This might manifest itself by attempting to track more data around earned value (comparison of budget consumed versus progress made) for similar projects of size and complexity. This kind of comparison can give a ‘best in class’ type recommendation that might help keep the project from getting off track.”
And lastly, in line with his earlier predictions surrounding the Agile principle, Zucker also believes data’s presence in project management will increase:
“As teams mature in their workflow based Agile practices, the use of predictive analytics that help estimate the time and effort required to deliver stories will also increase. Using these predictive analytics may prove to be the best way of estimating project cost and duration.”
To Sum It Up
In short, project managers can look forward to several major changes to their field in the coming years. First, is enhanced timekeeping tools to make tracking more efficient and accurate. On that same note, resource management will become more robust as timekeeping and analytics improve thanks to artificial intelligence. We’re also going to see a shift in project management tools to support the ever-growing Agile principle.
But what does any of this really mean for project managers and businesses? Well, it’s always important to consider the future before making any investment, especially if your company is considering a new project management software solution. Make sure to check out our free requirements template to help your business determine which features it needs to succeed in the new year and beyond.
What other project management trends do you think we’ll see in the coming year? Let us know by leaving a message below!
Contributing Thought Leaders
Shane has 20 years experience in the delivery of enterprise professional services and founded PS Principles in 2014 after publishing his groundbreaking book, The Seven Principles of Professional Services, which has become the standard orientation guide for customer-facing consultants. The goal of PS Principles was to help customer-facing project teams deliver their projects more successfully. Shortly after founding the company, he put the theories to the ultimate test by becoming the CEO of CirrusOne, a CPQ implementation start-up.
Alan Zucker has over 25 years of experience working in Fortune 100 companies leading projects and large organizations. He has delivered thousands of successful projects and managed major strategic initiatives. Alan has led large organizations and managed multi-million-dollar programs with hundreds of resources. In 2016, he founded Project Management Essentials to provide training and advisory services. His areas of expertise are project management, Agile, and leadership. He is a keynote speaker and provides customized training. He is also an Adjunct College Instructor.
Sapan Desai, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS
Dr. Sapan Desai, a board-certified vascular surgeon and lean six sigma master black belt, has received international recognition for his work in healthcare quality, machine learning and data analytics. He is the visionary behind QuartzClinical, a cloud-based healthcare data analytics platform that helps hospitals rethink how they operate. In addition to his role as the CEO of the Surgisphere Corporation, Dr. Desai’s experience as a healthcare executive includes performance excellence, quality improvement, innovation in healthcare delivery, healthcare leadership and strategic management.