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19 de junio de 2016

Project Management in the Digital Society

Author: Hugo Ascacíbar 
Change Manager at Grupo Santander, PMP®

The current trend in project management is the adoption of new ways of working with the goal of helping the project teams, co-operate and communicate, especially on projects that are ever more geographically dispersed on the global landscape.

This tendency is assisted by the technological scene by devices and applications that facilitate communication, co-operation and access to high volumes of data.

These days with tighter control of budgets and “do more with less”, efficiency and efficacy are the key factors of success, a direction indicated by Michael Hanford, vice-president of Gartner Research in his seminar Project Management in 2020 in which it stood out the development of the function of IT project management was moving from the software delivery to the transformation of the business.

One inevitable consequence of any project is change, so that good management of the impact and expectations of the business and of all the interested parties is key to increasing in a significant way the perceived value. Once more, it makes sense that all the managers of the business form part of the change, and who better to drive this than the Project Manager.

The success of the project depends on the talents of the team and the Project Manager, as shown by the analysis of the data by PMI Pulse that shows that the high performance organizations that have developed practice in project, schedule and budget management have achieved a more than two and a half fold increase in met business goals (89% against 34%), whilst at the same time investing 13 times less [i].


The Project Manager, with specific management skills like linear thinking and cascade planning is evolving towards a model of dynamic value creation through the transformation of the business and the reduction of complexity, where “I have some new software [SW])” moves on to the next level and the solution is based on significant changes in the business model [ii].

The Digital Society is introducing new ways of working, based on co-operation, using the intelligence of the network and sharing information thanks to the evolution of technology and a world where every day more and more devices are connected and by which it is expected in 2020 there will be 25 million objects connected [iii].

In the New Digital Society a significant acceleration of the project delivery cycle has been produced due to the reduction of the time-scale for the validation of the functional requirements of the business, changing from years to months causing project management to veer towards a dual model.

In this new scenario, depending on the characteristics of the project and the organization, the paradigm of traditional waterfall planning will co-exist with new models of “agile” management, focused on productivity and results, with rapid delivery and cyclic interactions with the client [iv].

In this way the traditional methodologies are evolving and adapting themselves towards a new ecosytem, for example Project Management Institute is already offering a methodology adapted to agile settings with the Agile Certified Practitioner PMI-ACP®.

This adaptation implies the evolution of the traditional processes and mechanisms of project management of settings where the variables scope, cost and time-scale stop being static conditions and evolve dynamically with the project. For example in the agile management style the schedule and burn rate is established by the team at the beginning of the project and the variable that can be modified during the project is the scope.

In the Banking field, projects are being worked on that use agile management styles (Agile/ Scrum) together with the methodologies of new product design (Design Thinking), of change management (HCMBOK) and of continuous deployment of the aforementioned products  (DevOpsthat have in common the agility, adaptability and speed as a basic necessity.

The digital world has introduced new ways of communication and co-operation like serious games, the dynamics of high performance collaboration and innovation games.

As new ways of working at a tactical level the agile style introduces the concept of “stability” of the multi-disciplinary project teams in contrast to the concept of “temporariness” in the project teams.

The new agile style brings important changes to the way of working, like for example when the work teams move to being directed  the product owner , who represents the voice of the client, the interests of the business, together with the Scrum master, who has a role more like facilitator than Director or Driver of the project.

Organizations are beginning to consider the advantages of using various tools in an integrated way for the management of projects that make the most of new ways of working which are less structured and more oriented to collaboration and participation using multiple web and mobile devices.

These management tools, such as Asana, one of the top 10 software management tools by market share and user satisfaction according to G2 Crowd Grid for Project Management Software, whose motto reflects an innovative way of working “The modern way to work together”, allows synchronized, task sharing team-work in which each team member can capture, organize, control and communicate that on which they are working with a common aim.

Instead of organizing the projects by the usual and ineffective e-mails and meetings in which more time is dedicated to how to work together than to their own work, teams use these tools to advance and shape their projects faster and easier.

Other tools like Slack to promote debate and communication within the team, Trello to trace the life cycle, Google Forms to perform surveys and gather requirements, or Google Calendar to organize the team meetings are steadily replacing the costly custom-made project management systems.

Artificial intelligence will free project managers from administrative tasks and offer them tools to improve decision making. For example the risk management methodology proposed by Dr. Schwarz de la Universität der Bundeswehr München, uses artificial intelligence to imitate the human brain through Support Vector Machines (SVM) and supervised associated learning models with algorithms.

Currently it is possible to simulate these machines combining neural networks with the Montecarlo analysis, in which the neural networks make predictions after receiving a broad variety of data, and the Montecarlo simulation allows the visualization of possible scenarios based on the decisions and evaluate the impact and the risks, which allows better decision making in the face of uncertainty.


Diagram 5. The application of Artificial intelligence in risk management for decision making. Source: Universität der Bundeswehr München


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[i] The High Cost of Low Performance - How will you improve business results? – PMI Pulse 2016 https://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/learning/pulse-of-the-profession-2016.ashx

[ii] 12 Ways Project Management is Evolving According to Gartner – The Fast Track http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/12-ways-project-management-is-evolving-according-to-gartner

[iii]  Orange despliega una red para Internet de las Cosas - http://www.ebizlatam.com/news/131/ARTICLE/24393/2015-10-15.html

[iv] CHAOS MANIFESTO 2013 - Think Big, Act Small  - https://www.versionone.com/assets/img/files/CHAOSManifesto2013.pdf