The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how important it is for businesses to adopt digital processes. Many companies closed largely because they didn’t digitize, but for other firms, the pandemic accelerated their digital transformation.
In the midst of this massive change, project management’s role has shifted but remains crucial to helping improve overall efficiency and business performance, says Denise Brinkmeyer, president of Jump Technology Services® and author of Project Orienteering: A Field Guide For Project Leadership.
“Digital transformation, properly done, involves integrating digital tools in every aspect of a company, fundamentally changing how a business operates and brings value to customers,” Brinkmeyer says. “Digitization has become imperative in the post-COVID-19 era as the pandemic has disrupted traditional business processes.”
Modern digital tools have taken project management to a new level, she says, making collaboration easier and allowing managers to focus more on the big picture and results, rather than on a tedious array of nuts and bolts that make up the processes.
These are some ways Brinkmeyer says digital transformation is changing how project management is done today:
- Prompting managers to uncover fear, build trust. Employees sometimes push back on change due to the fear of learning something new, which some assume will be complicated when it comes to digital transformation or certain projects. Brinkmeyer says such a response gives project managers an opportunity to be a calming influence and build trust that is critical to project success. “Quite honestly, a lot of people’s nonacceptance is due to some degree to being afraid of failing or of being exposed as not good enough,” she says. “A manager can’t alleviate the fear or work toward doing so until they discover what it is. This leads to a trusting relationship. By focusing on uncovering people’s fears, you’ll be heading off two of fear’s greatest consequences: gossip and withholding information.”
- Creating immediate and thorough communication. Communication often used to take place via sporadic in-office meetings and email, but digital tools such as Slack and Chanty have created a virtual, real-time space where much of the productive interaction among project team members takes place. “This shift increases the velocity of communication and moves it to an organized model where team members give updates frequently instead of just in infrequent in-person meetings,” Brinkmeyer says. “And cloud-based video conferencing has made a project manager’s life easier in the post-COVID era. Overall, you have a whole new level of collaboration.”
- Lessening the management minutiae. Siloed project work is no longer in vogue, Brinkmeyer says, and with more digital tools available for project management, managers are more like facilitators or coordinators. “This enables project managers to do more big-picture thinking and not have to be obsessed with scheduling and other tasks. They can focus more on core objectives like strategy optimization and project delivery.”
- Increasing the role of analytics. All-digital workflows allow project managers to have more data to track and quantify the work their team is doing. “Artificial intelligence and business intelligence built into software make it easier for project managers to use this data in new and creative ways,” Brinkmeyer says.
“Despite the importance and value of digital transformation, the human element is still the most important part of the project management equation,” Brinkmeyer says. “The beauty of the technology and embracing it is how it can enhance the communication, collaboration and team chemistry necessary for a successful project.”
Denise Brinkmeyer is the author of Project Orienteering: A Field Guide For Project Leadership and president of Jump Technology Services®. She has over 20 years of diverse business experience with various-sized companies and develops business consulting service strategies. Brinkmeyer focuses on the development and implementation of software project management and software design methodologies that dramatically increase both customer satisfaction and department performance.