Everything seems to be upgrading to a smarter version these days. Even jackets ! with Google and Levis recently announcing a collaborative effort in the upcoming release of their smart jacket.  Surely the days of losing one’s jumper at 0300 am in various establishments may be finally coming to end, solving one of the first world’s most pressing problems. The notion of such everyday items becoming smarter lead me to ask what new smarts are out there that could be applied to project management.

To make it easier and more efficient for project managers to manage projects and not get lost in a sea of complexity and change, I believe there are many new smart ways to improve project management performance. For this short blog, I have picked some of the PMI knowledge areas to see where “smarts” could be applied.

Project Time Management.

A lot of people still use Excel to manager project schedules. MS Project has been around for a long time and could not be considered new, however the new versions of Project Online certainly does bring a lot to the party regarding smarter scheduling. Ms Project online now allows Enterprise resource management (essential in today’s project matrix organisations), Portfolio Optimization, Anytime and Anywhere access via Browsers, Dashboard reporting as well as integration into Skype for Business and enhanced SharePoint integration. One thing having such new tools, I always advise for anybody working on MS Project to also take the MS Project Certification exam to make the best of such tools and to improve your scheduling skills

Project Quality Management

We all know quality is critical to any project. Many folk again still use Excel to record and managed defects. I would strongly advise using either enterprise quality / defect tracking tools such as IBM Rational Rose, MS TFS or perhaps use one of the many cloud based defect tracking tools to ensure you have a systematic process for dealing with defects and issue resolution. One should also consider the use if automated testing tools such as Selenium / Cucumber / Jenkins to save testing cycle time and to ensure consistent tests where appropriated.

Project Communications Management.

In a previous blog on Project Management and the Self-Destructing Project Update, I noted how the impact of the various social media platforms outside of work are beginning to have an influence on communication within the work environment. Many organisations already have begun to use enterprise-grade social media, although these business-focused tools tend to be a little different to the tools that flourish in the wild. For example, Yammer is deployed as a business-focused alternative to Facebook; various Instant Messaging tools such as Skype for Business take the place of WhatsApp and enterprise tools such as SocialCast are found in organisations as a replacement for micro blogging tools such as Twitter. It is certainly worthwhile to consider the communication channels that one can use these days in a project and perhaps cater better for the new generation of project team members.

Project Risk Management

Sometimes it is not a case of using a shiny new tool. We can become smarter too by learning more about how to deal with certain aspects of project management. Most project managers keep risk registers, but they are often static documents or repositories.  Dealing with risk is one of the most important jobs in any project and to this end I would recommend people taking the PMI-RMP certification in order to best equip one’s self to deal with topics such as risk process facilitation, risk monitoring and control as well as specific risk analysis skills. Learning more about how to deal with risk will make you a much more valuable project manager.

There of course many other new tools and techniques out there to help make our projects smarter and thus delivering increased value and the key is to ensure that you are aware of latest industry trends and products and methodologies that might make sure that you don’t feel “lost” at the end of your project and keep an eye out for smart jumpers coming to a Christmas near you.

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