It seems like the project management software market never rests. New solutions are always entering the field, and existing project management tools release new features constantly. Unlike other mature markets, project management software is an unsettled market: competitors are trying to solve an issue that customers do not see as fixed. This drives innovation, new ideas, and a better environment for individuals and organizations to find the solution best for their needs. Here are the top 5 project management trends that will drive the project management software space active going into next year.
1. Targeted Innovation
Moving into 2019, the world of project management software still suffers from at least two gaps.
- Application chasm – Teams using task management apps for project management are increasingly frustrated with the lack of planning capabilities. Many are looking for an alternative project management solution integrating a timeline and other planning features absent from task management software.
- Environment chasm – Teams that are using modern solutions in other areas, like Slack (communication) and JIRA (software development), are looking for an equivalent project management experience. Such a solution remains elusive until now.
Significant acquisitions made in 2018, as well as large investments in project management apps, indicates these two gaps are still there and are acting as behind the scenes market forces on both the customer side and the investment side.
A significant number of project managers continue to use Excel, eschewing all the options available. As long as this number remains large, more changes are likely to come. As much as there is a lot of innovation in the sphere, an uninterested customer base means these innovations are off target.
2. Data Driven Presentation
In the modern business environment, planning projects and tracking progress is simply not enough. Project managers are searching for tools with advanced data analytics and presentation, which they can use in reports to upper management and managing the project.
In recent years several solutions were built over existing software to provide better data. Such tools are available on top of task management tools like Trello, software management tools like JIRA, and on top of Gantt charts in multiple other solutions. While these tools do provide better data presentation, the presentation layer is not connected to the real data – and can be subject to manipulation.
Look to see more data rich presentation layers in project management solutions moving forward, as this trend is a response to a real need coming from the user level.
3. Enterprise Integration and Coordination
Innovation in organization and work structure, coupled with agile methodology, means many organizations are working with fluid “flow to work” methods. This comes with a set of challenges for management. The ability of information to flow up and down, as well as laterally, is fast becoming a major concern in forward thinking organizations. As McKinsey put it a year ago,
From: “Technology is a supporting capability that delivers specific services, platforms, or tools to the rest of the organization as defined by priorities, resourcing, and budget.”
To: “Technology is seamlessly integrated and core to every aspect of the organization as a means to unlock value and enable quick reactions to business and stakeholder needs.”
In order to unlock value and enable quick reactions, organizations must be integrated – not just vertically, but totally. Departments and silos are fast becoming obsolete, and cross team projects in large organizations are already commonplace.
Look for project management software to make an impact here: platforms that can integrate the entire organization will be adopted over those that are built for project manager use only.
4. Risk Analytics
For years, project management analytics consisted of critical chain analysis and resource management. The risk was measured and defined by the critical chain while the resources loading analysis was supposed to cover analytics.
The rise of agile methodologies has removed focus from the critical chain. In a world of continuous delivery and gradual cyclical progress, the critical chain is no longer relevant. In many cases, it cannot even be calculated. With no critical chain, all that’s left to calculate project confidence analysis is resource management only – and if the resources are available, we can do it, right? Wrong.
Projects require a lot more than resources. Modern projects are complex, and their project structure requires significant coordination and operational effort. Knowledge gaps drive risk, and the project can fall apart due to unexpected changes. These factors are not related to resources, and must be calculated when calculating project confidence analytics. Expect the focus to move in this direction in 2019 and beyond.
5. Born As Cloud-Based SaaS vs. Moved There
Cloud based SaaS is a combination of 2 different trends, Cloud Computing and SaaS.
Amazon released their cloud platform in 2006, Google followed this trend in 2008, and Microsoft entered the space in 2010. We are now around 13 years into “cloud computing.” There are clear differences between solutions that were moved to the cloud, and solutions that were born there: UI and application experience. One has that increasingly familiar ‘online’ nature, while the other mimics local storage (think “save” buttons).
SaaS started before cloud computing (around 2001), and has accelerated aggressively over the past 10 years. This trend has been helped by the introduction of standard web page technologies and protocols, and of course the availability of broadband internet access everywhere.
Specifically, for solution development, these trends are followed by the recent release of front-end application development platforms, which have a very significant impact on the user experience, solution UI, and client-side behavior.
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