Project Planning, Scheduling & Control–Chapter 21: Trends in Project Management


In this last chapter of his book Project Planning, Scheduling & Control, Dr. James Lewis goes through some recent trends that affect project management.

1.  VIRTUAL PROJECT TEAMS

In 1991, the majority of projects were done by teams that had most members located at least in the same city, if not the same building.   Now there is a market increased in virtual teams whose members only meet through communication channels such as e-mail, conference calls, or file-sharing platforms such as Sharepoint, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

However, despite the appearance of making communication easier, technology increases the burden on people in the following ways:

  • Increases burden for those communicating across large time differences
  • Increases chance of misunderstanding due to language differences (the “lost in translation” phenomenon)
  • Increases chance of misunderstanding due to cultural differences

One book Dr. Lewis recommends regarding overcoming cultural differences is by Terri Morrison and Wayne Conaway called Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands (Holbook, Mass: Adams Media Corporation, 2006).

2.  TECHNOLOGY

One of the problems about technology is that it is, like a hammer, only a tool.   It doesn’t automatically make you smarter because you are wielding a tool it took some smarts to create.   In fact, like any tool, it can cause damage if used incorrectly.   The biggest danger is that senior management sees project management as simply using scheduling software.    Just because you can make a schedule, doesn’t mean you can keep to it.

Sharepoint and other project collaboration tools are useful, and becoming used more and more on projects, so if you want to learn how to use these tools, check out The Social Media Bible by Don Safko and David K. Brake (Hoboken, N.J.; Wiley, 2009).

Just put all this technology in perspective; it’s just a better way to communicate with people, which is the core of what project management is all about!

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