Podcast interview: Is your project management chaos?

Projectplace’s Tobias Andersson was recently a guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share his insight on project management. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

Andersson joined Buckner to discuss a recent study that exposed “the chaos theory” related to project management, and how project managers can use technology to counter the challenges that come with it.

Here are a few of the highlights from the conversation:

TA:  You recently commissioned an independent research study on project managers and their process. What issues were identified that need to be addressed?

TOBIAS:  We went out to over 1,200 project managers across six or seven countries in Europe to ask them about their daily life and how they experience being project managers and working with their team. We named the study ‘The Chaos Theory” because that’s what we found — it is chaos out there for a lot of project managers.

What we saw was that the rapid evolution of technology combined with your working habits and the global nature of business is actually changing how people work together on projects. That has put a lot of project managers in situations with a lot of stress and really tight deadlines. Over 63 percent said that a lack of communication between the team members is one of the biggest challenges. Over 60 percent also said they worked on their days off, yet their employer expected more from them. Over half of them said that their personal life is affected by work-related stress. So, they are not in an ideal situation.

There are several tools out there that can actually help these guys with all this, but they also say that in several cases or half of them, their IT department would not actually help them get needed tools to solve these issues.

Tobias Andersson, Projectplace

Tobias Andersson, Projectplace

TA: The best part of technology is that when it’s designed well, it can help alleviate some of that stress. What are some of the biggest challenges these project managers face that the tools you mentioned can help overcome?

TOBIAS:  Today, very seldom are projects handled only by internal employees. They often involve third parties. So very seldom we are all located in the same office or even in the same state or country. So how can we do that? Email can be something that connects people, but we really don’t see what’s happening. It’s usually one too many communications, and it’s not collaborative. The focus is really to make sure that everybody’s on the same page, with a collaborative way of working, and also full transparency with some modern visual tools that can get teams more organized so they can see what needs to be done.

It’s very easy then to connect with others and get out and get things done, and that’s what it is all about — getting things done and moving closer to your goal. This is also where we are seeing some mega trends around lean and agile people who don’t want to spend time on things that are wasteful. There’s always that big project kick-off meeting when somebody comes in and puts up a big chart over the mega project that is more than a year long, and that plan is detailed for every single day. Everybody in that room knows that plan will change. That’s one thing that is certain. So people are actually looking to lean and other methodologies that want to remove the waste and not spend time planning on things that we know will change.

technologyadvice-logoTA: What suggestions do you have for people trying to find the best project management software for their company or their team?

TOBIAS: Obviously it depends on what kind of work you might be doing and the scale of your organization, but what we usually run into is interest in the user interface. Since we are in the cloud, security is also always one of the top of things, though I think that concern is starting to fade out as people are now using cloud solutions more than a couple of years ago. But security questions are still important. How to know they are certified? Can I trust that my information is stored here? Also, can it scale? Can we go from the little team just in my department to a company-wide solution if we need to? And do we have that type of licence? Am I stuck with this now, or is it easy to jump on and jump off as well?

And of course, support. Can I get help? Nowadays, there are so many different vendors out there that have a solution, it might look very easy to get going. But you need to ask, can I get some online training? Do I have somebody to call? It’s all super important stuff because otherwise you have invested in a solution that you actually will not start to use and you will not see the value of it. We have seen that across not only around project management, but with Salesforce automation and marketing automation tools. They are all user-friendly and super good solutions, but without getting expertise and best practices, we would not have seen the value as far as what we have done when we ourself implement solutions like that. The same is true for project management software, as well.

To learn more about Projectplace, visit https://www.projectplace.com/

Follow Tobias on Twitter at @tobiasa or on Linkedin at https://se.linkedin.com/in/andersson.

To hear more of Tobias Andersson’s thoughts on the evolution of project management, you can listen to the entire interview above. It’s also available on Soundcloud, where you can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series to get alerts about new episodes, or you can sign up for just the project management category.

This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.

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