Until the mid-2000s, it was very difficult to hear about agile project management methods. The most modern IT teams in more flexible companies were probably testing these methods in software design and maintenance. After over ten years, we can only hear of agile methods. If you do not have agile principles in managing your projects, you have become anachronistic. However, is this true? Alternatively, we are facing a wave created to sell consultancies and courses to the new generations?
There are several complex projects in relevant industries such as aviation, construction, navigation, financial consulting, among many others, which still rely on more traditional methods of project management, following strict guidelines such as the PMBOK. And nothing is wrong with that. These make use of long cycles of planning, construction and implementation. They require engineers, specialists, designers, top-level managers, so nothing goes wrong.
However, the great revolution in project management came with what we call the projectization of the work environment. Evolutionarily, managers in all areas concluded that creating small projects for everything that is produced, whether in an industry or a service company, would be more productive, counted and traceable, if it were a project. Imagine how small decisions get lost day-to-day because they were not important enough to pool resources around a project. Multiply this by hundreds or thousands of small decisions, and you have a tremendous waste of resources. That’s when IT departments started to be benchmarked. Its more agile methods began to be implemented in teams of marketing, administration, shared services, financial, etc. They took over the corporations.
All this exponential growth of project management at any scale was only possible because of the creation and low-cost availability of online tools. Several startups, with the same motivators as most traditional companies, to manage more effectively and measurably, began to see their hybrid agile project management solutions could, by themselves, be products to be sold as Software as a Service (SaaS). As the marginal cost to serve thousands of companies is low, the world has faced a new revolution: the projectization of every task.
Today, we easily see digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, consultancies and of course, technology companies, professionally managed in any size of business. It is very simple to measure the time invested in clients, in projects, in task types. Know which are the most productive employees and those who deserve the attention of their managers. Easily, the decisions made in the morning are focused on a small project that, even without all the overheads of traditional methodologies, can show every company how long it will take, what the impact is on the tasks already assigned and a realistic expectation of delivery.
A new revolution comes: the massive use of artificial intelligence in project management. In a short time, we will see this same software making complex people-allocation decisions and other resources for the best outcome. The efficiency of companies will reach a new level with these technologies. We can say that various experiences in this sense already exist in the world. In Runrun.it, for example, which provides time-invested measurement and time allocation software, algorithms can already predict whether a project can delay in advance given the productivity history of the allocated teams.
However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We will see many other gains that will make project management itself go invisible, fluid and imperceptible to employees. Imagine getting to work and the software already knowing what the most annoying tasks are, in my opinion, and pass them me to be done as soon as possible. Great! The rest of the day, through the sentiment analysis of my last tasks, the bot directs me the tasks that bring me the most pleasure. Is this an automatic way to keep teams motivated? If a particular employee expresses at some point they are seeking for projects more connected to a particular product or service and have the capabilities to perform the tasks, why not allocate him/her in these projects — even temporarily?
We see the revolution in project management can lead us to the revolution in people management. We can even make traditional company teams a thing of the past. Some experiments like the squads, popularized by the company Spotify, already show there is a trend of more modern teams to participate in different domains over the course of time. Even the immediacy of the new generations and their anxiety about constant novelties may help in this trend. Today, you really want to do something, but not tomorrow. And it’s all right! Let’s face it, fresh challenges every Monday would not be a bad idea.
In the past, in the future or the present, project management has been and will always be present in companies’ lives. Be it in a more structured and robust way, or invisible. If you have not yet projectized your activities, start by taking baby steps. Download a simple, free task-list application and mature the idea. You will see this is not a passing trend and you will feel the real value of your time. Then, bring this to your professional environment.