Project Management In The Future Of Work

An abrupt shift in the workplace ecosystem has caused an unprecedented transition in the world of project management. This accelerated development of enterprises heading the route of hybrid or fully remote work has had a critical impact on traditional aspects of business operations. As a result, collaboration in project management and execution is up thanks to the adoption of digital tools.

Companies, too, are switching from legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to more modern integrated project management tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) such as professional services automation (PSA) that offer end-to-end project management capabilities. PSA solutions should have the ability to glean information from digital tools to provide updates in real time and help speed along the decision-making process, resulting in a reshaping of project management as a discipline.

Here are a few.

Teams’ emotional and mental well-being will take center stage.

Remote and hybrid work models pose diverse challenges without in-person interactions due to the difficulty in gauging emotional and mental well-being. Burnout, heavy workload and inefficient resource utilization are a few things that impact teams’ morale and, ultimately, business revenue. Collaboration is inherently tough for dispersed teams, and everyone can have difficulty nurturing healthy working relationships.

Ensuring decision makers have better clarity about their teams’ bandwidth is critical for both executing projects successfully and lowering attrition rates. Besides, enterprises need to make decisions quickly in order to complete projects within the desired time frames. They need quick insights into the best-fit resources to determine whose skills and bandwidths make them most suited for the role. The ability to gain that information quickly can also help improve work-life balance.

Real-time data, analytics and cloud enablement are intrinsic to project management.

Access to real-time actionable data and analytics is non-negotiable for enterprises. Without it, they can’t share relevant information with the right stakeholders in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the onset of remote and hybrid teams has increased the difficulty for enterprises to accomplish this. Employees being spread over various locations and time zones has created bottlenecks and data silos as enterprises struggle to create the complete picture—a single source of truth.

Addressing such challenges requires a tech infusion and upgrading of tools and solutions that are more aligned with the character of modern-day project management. Additionally, enterprises can seek to change their existing solution by revisiting data storage strategies and selecting cloud-based solutions as they are configurable and automated, allowing employees to access them on the go.

Automation is tricky, though.

Organizations across the board are undergoing digital transformation, and a similar process is underway in the project management ecosystem. However, the transition toward “automation” and the future of project management can be time-consuming, reflective and disruptive for enterprises. Businesses must make wholesome changes and employ multipronged strategies to smoothen this shift.

As enterprises digitize their project management processes, automation can help mechanize bandwidth-consuming and monotonous tasks. Activities such as finding the right resources from a global talent pool, getting real-time updates on project progress and tracking time spent on every task for accurate billing can be automated by enterprises in all verticals. Such thoughtful automation of tasks can allow employees to focus more on productive and business-critical activities so that enterprises can optimize precious billable hours.

Many enterprises are first confronting urgent priorities like large-scale and immediate reskilling and upskilling of workforces to enable them to adopt automation and benefit from it. An automation-inclusive approach to hybrid and remote project management can save employees’ time, provide them with a more unified experience and enhance engagement levels while navigating a multi-environment workplace.

Covid-19 has underlined the need to reassess the skills frameworks that empower companies to execute projects successfully. The enforcement of upskilling initiatives may face headwinds as workers globally are dealing with massive tumult, burnout and mental stress. To effectively deploy upskilling and automation, enterprises need to optimize employee workloads and reinforce that these are company-wide efforts, ultimately building in time for such activities while simultaneously increasing engagement. Decentralizing the process of skills acquisition and upgradation could also help, allowing managers and teams to identify critical skills matrices and learn them. A bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down process, should boost participation and yield better dividends.

Automation can also profoundly impact one of the intangibles: organizational culture. It can encourage and mandate openness, inclusivity, agility and collaboration—ingredients necessary for a future-forward workplace. However, cultural changes are challenging to bring about and trickier to sustain, as they require a 180-degree shift in outlook. Ideally, employees will view automation as an enabler and a vehicle for good—one that empowers them to focus on more productive tasks. Automation, however, is often perceived as a means of streamlining workforces. This misplaced belief can be counterproductive for employees’ morale and productivity and breed cynicism.

Enterprises have traditionally used ERP tools, but large-scale customizations have made them increasingly complex, reducing their speed of deployment. Additionally, manual processes can create unique challenges such as the inability to access real-time data and increased demand on resources, ultimately lowering the optimal utilization of billable hours. Switching to PSA is a viable alternative, but organizations must ascertain its deployment speed, interoperability and integration abilities like plug-and-play before onboarding it. Otherwise, switching tools can disrupt day-to-day functioning as well as derail project timelines and, consequently, bottom lines.

Project management will need astute people management and empowerment.

Covid-19 has altered established work dynamics, with employees reassessing their needs. A fulfilling workplace that values balance and helps workers learn new skills is taking precedence over compensation. As enterprises navigate uncertain times by revamping their employee value propositions (EVPs) and allowing for more flexibility, they must seek and deploy long-term technology-driven solutions.

The time for “makeshift” interventions is over. Enterprises must realize that creating a delightful, longer-term, sustainable experience for employees, clients and key stakeholders lies in taking the digital route. To compete and win in the next decade, companies need to develop a unique value proposition to offer more to their employees and clients.

Raj Lakshmi

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raj Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Replicon. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.

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