Project management in the age of Web 2.0

They already managed ages ago! So why don’t we manage to realize something as simple as a web application? That’s more or less how I started my yesterday evening’s presentation at the 3Camp meeting in Gdańsk. Ages ago people managed to fulfill miraculous projects with hardly any tools. Today we can choose from a wide range of tools, but still we do not manage to run a project according to the client’s needs. What goes wrong?

A quick poll showed that fortunately most of the developers, I guess about 60%, claimed to use at least some procedures or ways of working that could be called “project management”. On the other hand this still means that we can gain a lot. In my opinion you shouldn’t start any project without a minimum amount of project management rules and tools involved.

Usage of basic project management rules will directly improve your project

Defining your project, dividing tasks and preparing a time line make that you continuously will be aware whether the project is going well and when a release can be expected. It enables you to answer questions of clients and management and if somebody interupts you and will try to add some functionality at least you will be able to show the impact of this change for the deadline, budget, scope or quality of the project. Because what ever change will be introduced, this will always have to influence something. As we all know clients and managers will always try the opposite. In general more needs to be delivered cheaper and quicker and the quality level should be the same. It might be clear that in my opinion this is a mission impossible.

Choose the best of both worlds

To be honest that above is not new and far from “Web 2.0”. This is common sense that we also learned ages ago. A lot of this common sense is grouped in “best practices” like the Prince2 project management approach. But knowing Prince2 doesn’t mean that you are a good project manager. Managing projects is something you need to learn by doing. And while doing you need to find out what best practices are the most applicable to your situation. For sure an approach like Prince2 can support today’s projects. The main disadvantage might be the rather static and control focused approach. Therefore, I advice to combine Prince2 with a more Agile approach, by combining the best of both worlds.

The business case within Prince2 is f.e. something I really would like everybody to use. Because too often people want to build or realize something without really knowing and understanding why. Recently I found out that a simple question: “How are you going to earn money with it?” very often couldn’t be answered. In such a case you have to think twice before you start the project.

Use the best of both project management worlds

Tooling has increased dramatically

The main difference in between “old” and “new”  ways of managing projects is probably the amount of tools available today to support you in managing your projects. Some years ago one of the main tools was Microsoft Project. Probably this is still a widely accepted standard, but today a lot more online services are available that support collaboration in between the team and the client.

Especially these tools make that today a lot more people are working together in a dramatically different way than we did several years ago. Working remotely is a lot easier. Teams spread over the whole world manage to cooperate by means of these tools.

Relatively cheap or even free ways of communication like VoIP and Skype make that people can easily discuss with each other on a daily basis to make that everything is clear. All kind of web based ticketing systems enable people to work on the right things and it shares the needed information with the whole team. Integration servers build the new release enabling daily releases if needed. Information can easily be shared through f.e. blogs or Twitter accounts and documents can be shared through a central document sharing platform. In fact you are able to work where ever you like.

Project management and team collaboration tools

For sure this new collaboration approach demands another type of project manager. The project manager 2.0! Feel free to check my presentation at Slideshare. In case of any questions feel free to contact me. Please share your opinion below or discuss online on Twitter: @PetersOpinion

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