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Collaborative project management predictions for 2013

Charles Seybold
January 2, 2013

If the famous French seer, Nostradamus, was still alive, I wonder what trends he’d predict for project management in 2013. I’ll admit that if he was around, I’d probably ask him for his next multimillion lottery ticket prediction before asking about project management trends. However, in lieu of having a fortune teller on my team or a winning lottery ticket, I’ve listed two major project management trends for 2013 below.

The task list will be the new inbox
With the advent of texting and instant messaging, people have been switching to online tools to replace email for communication and instant feedback. The influx of email, instant messages, voicemails and texts creates information overload for the entire project organisation as each team member checks different communication channels and responds accordingly. Project team members can also use these channels as excuses for avoiding work. If I sent you an email, then I’ve transferred the responsibility to you before I can continue with my work. This is all done under the guise of collaboration, yet a procrastinator is secretly hoping the email will be buried with all the other email messages in your inbox.

In the future, collaborative work solutions will consolidate communications into one channel that provides data-driven informed accountability. Instead of sending an email, team members will create new tasks for each other in their online tool. As each team member works their individual task list, work will be completed while keeping other team members informed. Accountability is maintained because visibility to the tasks is made transparent to the project organisation. Team members cannot claim they haven’t been informed if the request was entered as a task that everyone views.

With online task collaboration tools, team members can assign work, subscribe to other team member’s updates and follow each other as work progresses. These tools foster informed accountability that allow team members to determine their level of engagement while ensuring task communications are organised around the task list rather than the inbox. Instead of working a project team member’s email inbox, their individual task list will be the new inbox.

Collaboration will drive creativity and innovation
In 2012, creativity and collaboration was accelerated by the low overhead cost of sharing information on the web. In the social media domain, people actively engaged in sharing ideas and creative concepts as often as they could, using Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. House decorating ideas, witty one-sentence status updates and Polaroid-like pictures flooded all of our social media channels across a variety of devices. People continue to share their thoughts, passions and creative works seeking feedback, affirmation and social commentary. Everyone has the capacity for creativity and these platforms cultivate creativity and collaboration because it is built into their daily activities.

In 2013, we will continue to see this trend at work with more people wanting to collaborate and share information within the workplace. Organisations seeking innovation need to tap into their employees’ creativity with collaborative tools to remain competitive. Once the overhead for creativity is lowered, creativity can become a driver for change because people can to see the big picture, share their artistic vision and turn their ideas into actionable items.

Contemporary social business platforms will make it easy for employees to quickly express and share ideas without feeling awkward or feeling they are wasting time. Project management tools will evolve to become key publishing systems where project managers can adjust tasks and schedules in real-time while seamlessly communicating to the broader organisation. In 2013, we will see the desire to collaborate online accelerate as people realise this work style catalyses project success.

The coming year holds a lot of promise and excitement for the project management profession. The way we work will improve and our customers will see more project management successes using these collaborative work management platforms. We will spend less time in our inbox and more time working the requests in our task list. We will enthusiastically share our ideas and collaborate across more productive and adaptable platforms. Our project artefacts will be intelligently linked to the tasks we are completing, rather than hunting for them on a shared drive.

You don’t need to be Nostradamus to see the emerging trends: 2013 will be a year where everyone is focused on productivity and adapting to a quickly changing world.

Charles Seybold
Charles Seybold co-founded LiquidPlanner with Jason Carlson in March 2006. For more than 25 years he has built software tools in one form or another. He has a Bachelor of Computer Science (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and was a frontline software engineer for more than a decade before moving into program management and executive management. Seybold gained internet experience as part of the core Expedia development team. Watching some of the smartest people in the world struggle with managing process and projects led Charles to realise that better tools were needed to address today’s projects: LiquidPlanner was born.
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