Project Management 2.0

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Monday 26 November 2007

Scrum in marketing: making enterprises adaptive

Every year and even every month, new technologies, markets and competitors spring up, and today’s businesses have to be agile to be able to face the impending challenges. In such an unstable environment, traditional principles of managing product development may lead companies to failure. If the product requirements change drastically from the time the product is designed to the moment when it is released, it can result in the delivery of outdated products. Otherwise, ineffective change management processes may destroy product development, and the product will never be delivered.

Nowadays to be successful, a company has to be fast to adapt. Driven by business priorities, managers use progressive methods of product development aimed to cure the mistakes of traditional approaches. Some of these methods acquired the name of agile project management. These methods originated in R&D departments and now are introduced in marketing as well. Markets change quickly, forcing you to reposition your product. When you introduce an innovative product, it’s not clear how you should promote it and what the customers really need. Very often when innovative products are born, manufacturers and customers may not know how or why the products will be used, so it’s not evident what specific features of a product will or will not be valued. Playing in such markets entails a process of mutual discovery by customers and vendors – and this just takes time. According Clayton M. Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” research has shown that the vast majority of successful new companies abandoned their original business strategies after trying to implement their initial plans and learning what would and would not work in the market. This shows how important it is for a company to quickly evolve its strategy and tactics.

Marketing is often executed in project-based manner. That is why a lot of generic project management principles perfectly apply to marketing and why marketing should also be optimized, similar to project management techniques. Agile approaches to marketing may help to overcome problems experienced by marketing executives. One of these approaches is Scrum, which has originally been developed as an agile software development method for project management. Now Scrum is successfully employed by hundreds of different companies, such as Yahoo.com, Wildcard Systems, H&M, and John Deere, in many different fields, with outstanding results.

Scrum adopts an empirical approach, accepting that the problem cannot be fully understood or successfully defined in a predictable and planned manner. The focus of Scrum is on maximizing the team's ability to deliver quickly and respond to emerging requirements. This method is praised for making the team more productive, reducing risks and maximizing the business value of a developed product and minimizing the period of the development time. Scrum is based on defining sprints - time periods (usually 2 to 4 weeks) during which the prioritized work (sprint backlog) should be done. During a sprint, the team gets together for daily meetings where team members discuss what they have already done, what they are going to do till the next meeting and what prevents them of doing something that they planned to do. In other words, Scrum meetings are supposed to keep teams on track and help members get their work done. At the end of each sprint, there is a brief sprint retrospective at which all team members reflect about the past sprint. According to Ken Schwaber, co-creator of the Scrum meeting method (along with Jeff Sutherland), the purpose of a daily Scrum is to keep teams focused "on their objectives and to help them avoid being thrown off track by less important concerns." Now Scrum is often viewed as an iterative, incremental process for developing any product or managing any work. Indeed, short and regular meetings can be as important for small marketing teams as they are for production teams. Members of a marketing group may be working on a variety of projects, but they're all working toward the same goal – marketing the company and its products or services. Therefore, every member of a team has to know what the others are working on and what direction the whole team is moving in. The Scrum approach to marketing becomes even more efficient when empowered by Enterprise 2.0 technologies. New- generation software, especially tools meant for project management, bring collaboration to marketing and can make it more productive. These applications ( I will call them Project Management 2.0 tools) let team members easily share information on the projects and tasks they are involved in and help every team member see the whole picture of the company’s marketing strategy. Project management 2.0 software makes collaboration and management more transparent, letting everyone know who is accountable for what and by when.

Scrum in marketing makes the possible problems visible at early stages and allows coping with them quicker and with minimal losses. One of the major Scrum principles is “no problems are swept under the carpet.” Every team member is encouraged to describe the difficulties he is experiencing, as this might influence the work of the whole group.

Discussing problems early also helps to reduce financial risk. With the beginning of every sprint period, the business owner can change any of the marketing project parameters without penalty, including increasing investments to enlarge consumers’ quantity, reducing investments until unknowns are mitigated, or financing other initiatives.

A new approach to marketing requires flexible planning, which is possible with the help of collaboration software. In the ever-changing business environment, short-term marketing plans based on sprints can be much more effective. Marketing managers get an opportunity to switch from one promotion method to another, if the first one proved to be unsuccessful during the sprint period. It also becomes easier to clarify due dates of every small, but important task, to each member of a team. For example if a team is getting ready for a fair, it should be clear about who is responsible for preparing handouts, who will make a presentation about a product and who will design the company showcase. With Project Management 2.0 tools, like Wrike for example, it becomes possible for everyone on the team to contribute to the plans, edit and update them. New-generation software brings stakeholders and partners into the collaboration process. Their input and feedback will help shape the marketing agenda along the way.

The clients can be involved, too. In fact, the principal aim of every marketing team is understanding customers’ needs and helping clients achieve their goals. In today’s enterprises, achieving the heightened customer loyalty – what brand marketers refer to as “emotional lock-in” – is especially challenging when an organization is dealing with tens of thousands or even millions of customers. Empowered by the new-generation software, Scrum lets you involve your clients in the marketing process and take advantage of the wisdom of the crowds. Collective intelligence helps to improve the quality of products and services and make them fully satisfy the consumer’s needs. Scrum lets you promote your product not for a client, but together with your client. Customers can be involved in various ways. For example, they can literally participate in the development process by sending their feedback and contributing to the plans.

So, as we can see, innovative management methods brought to marketing make a company more agile and let it respond quicker to the needs of the emerging markets. It makes a company even more successful when empowered with Enterprise 2.0 tools that bring collaboration into organizations. They help improve communication and turn it from one-way (from a company to its customers) to two-way (from a company to its customers and back), helping to improve products and services. Scrum helps a company make its marketing policy nimble and lets it promote its products with lower costs, avoiding unnecessary money and resource spending and helping to reveal possible mistakes in the initial planning. The result is maximization a company’s benefit.

Thursday 8 November 2007

“Open” means “more competitive”

Enterprise 2.0 technologies make companies stronger. This is what we read in almost every analytical blog and in many business publications. More and more companies are announcing the introduction of Enterprise 2.0 technologies to their business. One of the recent examples is IBM’s Lotus Connections. It’s an enterprise-wide IT controlled social networking package, which was presented earlier this year. The company representatives called it one of the features designed to take advantage of "real-time presence and communications capabilities."

Well, even technological giants are opening up to Enterprise 2.0, having realized that it will drive corporate innovation and facilitate communication from the boardroom to employees and back. Previously closed corporations turn open with the help of new-generation software. But what are the advantages of being open? To answer this question it would be useful to examine the key differences of open and closed organizations.

Let me explain what I mean by “open” and “closed” first. I should note that I will depart from the traditional economical definitions.

Closed organizations usually are hierarchical, strongly regulated and not sensitive to their environment. Hierarchy as an organizational system is often criticized due to its multi-level structure; I mentioned this in one of my previous posts. It can be hard to implement innovation in a hierarchical organization, as its structure is not flexible. Innovations require people and groups to communicate and work together in new ways. Hierarchical organizations are limited in communications and knowledge-sharing between different departments. It can be hard to get necessary information due to the superfluous bureaucracy. Let’s take a situation when an employee desperately needs an answer to some question. He is ready to search, but it seems almost impossible for him to find anything in an enterprise’s closed email environments and file systems where so much knowledge resides. The most experienced workers in organizations of the closed type are often burdened with providing the same information over and over again, year after year. Very often they have to go through complex and time-consuming processes to get information collected in series of files, which can be used by newcomers later. A lot of data is just not being collected, which means the precious knowledge is getting lost. Poor information-sharing can prevent enterprises from successfully implementing innovative processes, rapidly developing and immediately responding to market changes.

However, it would be hard to find completely closed organizations nowadays. Apparently, they won’t be able to survive in the ever-changing business environment. It’s much easier, however, to find companies closed in some aspects. A good example here might be market leaders that believe that they are using the most effective technology and producing the products well demanded by the major customers. These companies are confident in their leading positions, and it results in the narrowing of their strategic vision. They don't have to struggle in strong competition; that’s why they stop listening to their consumers. Such organizations are closed for the knowledge coming from outside of the company, and they might miss development ideas produced by consumers. These enterprises support only one-way communication. This one-way communication goes from a company to its customers. This type of communication can result in the slowdown of their evolutionary processes.

Here’s an example: Microsoft Internet Explorer has been a market leader for a long time in the browser market. Microsoft had a great market share and almost no competition. At the same time, users were struggling to get tabbed browsing for years, but Microsoft ignored their requests. It switched to one-way communication. Then Firefox entered the market, taking users from Internet Explorer. This fact made Microsoft finally wake up and listen to customers. However, it was too late, and now there’s real competition between two. Another example is searching within e-mail. Outlook users were crying for years asking Microsoft to implement indexing and fast searching in e-mail. Their cry was heard, but not by Microsoft. New search initiatives came from Google (including Gmail and Google Desktop Search) and Apple. Only after that did Microsoft start to pay attention.

So big companies become closed in some aspects and turn to one-way communication, when they are pretty happy with their market share and current market position. They can be either too lazy to change anything or afraid of changes.

Today top management of many companies realizes that it can be much more profitable for an enterprise to be open. An open organization can be defined as an organization open to anyone who agrees to abide by its purpose and principles, with complete transparency and clearly defined decision making structures, ownership patterns, and exchange mechanisms. Open companies are more flexible and mobile due to their internal organization. Enterprises of this type are democratized and have better communications within a company. Wikis, blogs, social networks and other "weapons of mass collaboration," as Don Trapscott calls them in his Wikinomics, change collaboration patterns in organizations. Now every employee is welcome to participate in an enterprise activity and influence the corporate policy and development of the whole company. This change can be started by the top management, when CEOs in search of the right direction for innovation decide to initiate the creation of social networking systems for collaboration with customers. It can also be started at other levels, for instance, when individuals start using planning or project management software and then involve others into the on-line collaboration process. Mike Sigal, CEO of Guidewire Group, a research firm focused on emerging technologies, said in one of his interviews that more and more companies are getting “ready to enter in a dialog with their market, as opposed to having a one-way conversation.” With the help of Enterprise 2.0 tools, organizations become open in every way: open to customers, open to new markets, open to new technologies and techniques, open to learning. Perhaps one of the most prominent examples here is Procter & Gamble fundamentally changing of its company culture. P&G turned its Research & Develop (R&D) group to Connect & Develop (C&D) after the company went into a crisis. P&G CEO A. G. Lafley decided to broaden the horizon by looking at external sources for innovation. P&G's new strategy, called Connect and Develop, uses technology and networks to seek out new ideas for future products. The corporation discovered that important innovation was increasingly being developed at small and midsize companies. Even individuals were eager to license and sell their intellectual property. University and government labs had become more interested in forming industry partnerships, and they were hungry for ways to monetize their research. The Internet had opened up access to talent markets throughout the world. That’s why P&G decided to experiment with the new concept of open innovation building and exploiting innovation networks of all kinds. So today, more than 35% of P&G’s new products contain elements originally developed outside of the company. Approximately 45% of all initiatives within the product development portfolio possess key elements discovered externally. Procter & Gamble R&D productivity has increased by almost 60%. Introduction of Enterprise 2.0 technologies allowed to double the success rate of innovations and to diminish the costs of innovations. Investments in R&D relative to sales have been reduced from 4.8 % in 2000 to 3.4 % today. Some other examples: companies like Microsoft, IBM, Google, Sun Microsystems and SAP write corporate blogs on a regular basis. The number of non-technology firms that have their own corporate blogs is rapidly growing too. For example, the vice chairman of General Motors, Bob Lutz, maintains one of the most widely read corporate blogs on the Web.

Openness of an enterprise means open communications among employees, partners, customers and shareholders. An open organization is a transparent organization. Enterprise 2.0 software enables customers to closely follow the product development process and to make valuable contributions. That is why one of the global financial services firms, Morgan Stanley, announced its wish to bring the company up to speed with Enterprise 2.0. The announcement was made at the Office 2.0 conference, which took place this September. Adam Carson of Morgan Stanley said that the corporation has 70 to 80 social networking projects underway, many involving creating online communities with clients and wikis. This can be a good example of how vendors and customer relations turn into “peer production” (a term coined by Yochai Benkler), that is when customers and service providers collaborate effectively achieving better results.

Open organizations empowered by Enterprise 2.0 technologies unleash the power of collective intelligence. They involve partners and customers in their collaboration process. Collaboration within such organizations is much more efficient and makes the whole organization stronger in the market. So organizations, that are closed even in just a few aspects will most probably yield to a more flexible and innovative company.

Enterprise 2.0 culture empowers organizations and makes them more competitive. This is proved by hundreds of companies that adopted the new technologies at the early stage. In the course of time, the number of closed enterprises will gradually decrease, influenced by the new technologies and business collaboration patterns. So if you want to be more competitive, you should think of bringing Enterprise 2.0 tools to your business and empowering your enterprise with the vigor of collective intelligence.

Monday 1 October 2007

The Key Difference Between Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0

Surfing the Web, I come across different interpretations of the notion of Enterprise 2.0. Since the initial definition of Web 2.0 refers to a perceived, not an undoubted, second generation of Web-based communities, there is no strict, common definition of Enterprise 2.0. So it’s not surprising that many people get confused and mix up Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0. So I decided to sum up my thoughts on this topic here to make the matter clearer.

I suppose that the key difference between Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 is in which users benefit from the technology utilization. On one hand, there are applications designed for consumers and primarily used by consumers. On the other hand, these applications are sometimes used for a company’s needs.

Web 2.0 technologies were designed for consumers’ everyday use. Let’s take a look at Flickr, MySpace or thousands of other sites made for the personal use of people. These services are mostly free and are made for people to share their photos, thoughts, contacts, interests and what not. People get personal benefit from using such a community and socializing. Therefore, sites like Flickr represent Web 2.0. However, these sites can sometimes be used for business purposes, if a company needs to share files on the Web, for example. This can be a great opportunity to reach its existing and potential customers, get closer to them and therefore keep them more satisfied. If this is the case, you can call it an example of Enterprise 2.0, as the company benefits from using a community site.

If we talk about wikis, there are also different examples of their usage. The biggest wiki used by people all over the world is the well-known Wikipedia. Wikipedia is used by different people who need information for their studies, work or to broaden their mental outlook. This is a clear example of Web 2.0. But can we treat wikis as Enterprise 2.0? We surely can because intranet wikis like socialtext.com were designed as enterprise tools and are mostly used by enterprises.

Blogs were originated for sharing personal ideas and for self-expression. Livejournal.com is an excellent example of an online personal diary. However, if you use a blog as a Web-space to discuss your company's products with customers, then we have an example of Enterprise 2.0.

Some bloggers use terms like Enterprise Web 2.0 and draw a distinct line between this term and Enterprise 2.0. They say that Enterprise 2.0 tools change the organizational structure and relationships inside of a company and that Enterprise Web 2.0 technologies are less powerful and are not able to bring profound shifts in organizational paradigm. I guess if there is a slight difference, then it’s too vague to actually separate these two terms. Both types of technology, that designed especially for enterprises and that brought to organizations by user communities and by employees, influence collaboration patterns within companies. This change in collaboration can affect management standards and the structure of a company. Anyway, I guess it is a good topic for discussion, so I’ll be happy to get your feedback on this post.

Wednesday 29 August 2007

Office 2.0 big expectations

I was invited to give a speech at the Project 2.0 panel of the Office 2.0 Conference, which will take place in San Francisco on September 5-7. The conference is established by Ismael Ghalimi, author of the popular IT|Redix blog. He together with a group of other bloggers managed to make the conference a significant event for the IT world.

This conference will be focused on product demonstrations, adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise and mobile productivity arenas. Presentations, discussions and debates aim to improve companies’ comprehension of how apply Office 2.0 in their activity. Another goal is to make organizations realize the benefits they get even at the early stage of new-generation technologies adoption.

The Office 2.0 conference is announced to be a collective experiment aimed at discovering the future of online productivity and collaboration. That’s why all of the participants are so excited to be there, debate and finally see the results of the event. This conference also will most likely be a source of inspiration for many people connected with the next-generation office productivity tools and enterprise solutions.

I’m definitely looking forward to panel discussions where I will share my point of view on the project management 2.0 approach. Hope to see you there.

Friday 10 August 2007

How does Enterprise 2.0 make companies more agile?

Organizational change experts stress the need to develop agile companies. Major Enterprise 2.0 theorists say that new-generation technologies can turn inflexible companies into agile and efficient organizations. They praise social software for optimizing management and overall company activity.

To start with, why is the word “agility” so popular in management nowadays? Every year, new technologies, markets and competitors emerge at a rapidly ascending pace. Future threats and opportunities become harder to predict, and emerging challenges include increasingly novel elements. Today’s businesses are affected by globalization processes, and enterprises often become bigger, therefore more inflexible and bureaucratic. As organizations grow into huge corporations, it gets more difficult for them to react to constant market changes fast enough. This results in an ongoing agility gap.

So an enterprise needs to be agile to be ahead of competitors; have leading market positions; exploit possibilities enter new markets; respond to new customers, partners and regulatory demands; launch new products successfully.

I’ll explain what I mean by agility here. First, to be agile means to be able to recognize important changes in the business environment or realize the need for changes and innovations in your own business. Second, it means to make decisions rapidly to react to these changes. Third, it means to adjust your company’s goals, strategies and tactics to possible changes faster than your competitors. But prior to taking any actions in response to rapid changes one should possess information. Quick access to information and rapid information exchange are key factors that make companies agile and competitive.

Enterprise 2.0 technologies, such as blogs and wikis, for example, are able to fill in the agility gap for organizations. They can provide quick access to information and improve external and internal communications.

Enterprise in external communications Enterprise 2.0 has great potential impact from an organizational and revenue prospective in the customer-facing areas. Thus, it is making companies agile in their customer relations. The new-generation technologies offer new ways of contacting and engaging new customers. These technologies provide easier communication with present and potential customers in two ways. An enterprise can get ideas for product improvement and new product launches from consumers. Customers’ ideas are likely to be much more successful than any of ideas based on in-house research. In addition, they make organizations more transparent and trustworthy to customers. They also help customer support and satisfaction. For example, many companies now have on-line support services and product discussions on their Web sites. It’s not only easier for a consumer, but also a lot faster. A user’s question can be answered in seconds, and he won’t need to dial any numbers or get annoyed holding on the line.

Enterprise 2.0 in internal communications Enterprise 2.0 has even greater influence on communications inside of a company. Enterprise 2.0 tools give employees a chance to exchange information and collaborate more effectively. People enter new information that can be helpful to their colleagues. Information becomes more accessible. The most important element is that an Enterprise 2.0 application contains the latest information that Andrew McAfee says “employees think other employees should know about.” If we take a corporate blog as an example it gives people freedom of operating information. Employees can search across posts, tag articles, subscribe to blog feeds or link to articles, if they want to extend conversation, prove something, show resource of facts or just highlight information.

Enterprise 2.0 technologies can be a powerful starting-lever for innovations in a company. A company, that introduces these technologies and gives its employees information exchange freedom will take leading positions and leave its competitors far behind.

Example As an example let’s take two competing organizations Company A and Company X. Both of them are important corporations with multi-stepped hierarchical structures. Company A uses Enterprise 2.0 to improve communications among its employees. Company X is too busy to think about the implications of new technologies. Both companies hire two outstanding employees. Both of them come up with billion-dollar ideas for launching new products. Each young man’s idea is advantageous for the company and is able to move it to leading positions in the market sector.

In Company X, the bright employee wants to share his idea and contribute to the company’s development. He goes to his boss, who says: “Yeah, that’s great, but it’s not what our company needs right now” because he is busy at the moment or probably is just too lazy to communicate the idea to the upper management. The excellent idea dies without even a chance to be brought to the CEO of Company X.

The idea-generator in Company A wants to share his thoughts and tell the top-management of the company that there are great up-coming opportunities for the business. He publishes his idea on the corporate blog. This idea gets common attention, and it is supplemented and expanded by other team members. Company A’s top management takes it into consideration and finally brings it to life. The result is Company A is ahead of its main competitor, Company X. It launches a new product and gains more customers. Company A turned out to be more agile and open to changes.

Conclusion The human mind remains the center of a company’s growth and development, each company needs creative staff and innovative managers to move the business ahead. But new-generation technologies can help a great deal. Enterprise 2.0 should be properly applied in the way that allows businesses to best avail themselves of these tools.

My conclusion is that Enterprise 2.0 tools are just tools after all and without the right application they will be useless. But if you know how to apply them, they will enhance your business agility and make the business easily adaptable to impending changes.

Monday 30 July 2007

Changing hierarchy into network?

Before I start digging into project management transformation due to Web 2.0 technologies, I would like to share some thoughts on the basic impacts of Enterprise 2.0 on companies’ structure and corporate culture.

One of the most important impacts of Enterprise 2.0, as I mentioned in my previous post is changing the management pattern inside an organization.

Professor Andrew MacAfee of the Harvard Business School, who coined the term “Enterprise 2.0” in 2006, believes that new generation technologies, while penetrating into companies, will be able to empower employees and decentralize decisions, thus liberalizing management. This means hierarchical structures, employed in many organizations, will eventually be modified into flatter management patterns.

Hierarchy is indeed a long-criticized management pattern. Experts believe, it prevents companies from fast development and rapid response to market changes due to bureaucracy. Another reason - horizontal communication can be poor, which leads to misunderstanding between different departments within a company and causes deterioration of the common work results.

On the contrary, flat organizations are favored for a number of advantages for enterprises. Flat structure makes communication between management and workers more efficient and improves team spirit in the company. At the same time, it reduces bureaucracy and facilitates decision-making. Flat organization structure has fewer levels of management, which also implies benefits, such as lower payroll costs, as managers are generally paid more than workers.

However, flat organizations can turn into chaos without appropriate corporate culture and successful management. Enterprise 2.0 technologies help to control this chaos by applying emergent structures. These structures are based on people’s interactions and are more agile than traditional imposed hierarchies. They are less sluggish and provide a more flexible and productive working environment.

The question is whether Enterprise 2.0 technologies can change hierarchy in organizations into more efficient structure. And what the final result would be?

Analysts agree on the fact that the great changes won’t be immediate. There are several reasons for that. One of them is that a considerable part of the staff in any company is composed of people who prefer to be lead and choose to be given instructions, instead of being proactive. They prefer to “delegate upwards” and are comfortable with hierarchy.

However, some “smaller” changes, brought by Enterprise 2.0 technologies already affect the work of companies. I’ll try to give you an example.

There is a construction company with, say, 5 offices in different countries, so teams are separated by thousands of miles, but they are doing similar job in different environments. Let’s say Team 1 is situated in London and has already tried the new technique of building offices. Team 2 placed in Los Angeles is getting ready to do it. But to avoid possible mistakes while employing the new technique they need to get some information from the Team 1.

There are two ways of doing that:

First, the Team 2 leader goes to his manager and asks for connections in the London office. The manager doesn’t have them, so he has to go to his chief, and ask if he has a peer in the UK. This will go on until they find the right person who will be able to connect them to somebody in London. What happens next? This London representative has to descend the hierarchical stairs to look for the very team the L.A. office needed. The whole process takes a lot of time and effort, and with no direct incentives, good will is always buried in red tape. That means, not everyone will be willing to help; many people will consider the matter to be of low importance.

Another way is the use of Enterprise 2.0 social software, which can to connect two teams separated by huge distances by navigating in tags and user profiles. Two team leaders will quickly find each other, and it will be done in less than 15 minutes. Then London team leader will plug L.A. team leader into his wiki so they can share their knowledge. He will also use a collaborative planning application to share their typical construction plan. There will be no need to scramble through the hierarchical pyramid and bother upper management.

The new-generation technologies are advantageous for the middle management and the company as a whole, as people become more productive thanks to efficient communication. And this is only one of Enterprise 2.0 impacts on an organization.

The reason why more and more organizations embrace Enterprise 2.0 is that it’s capable of increasing productivity and efficiency based on social networking. Toyota is a well-known example of such networking within a huge corporation. Introduction of technologies that improved communication was most certainly one of the reasons Toyota has recently become the No.1 automotive manufacturer in the world. It started to use Enterprise 2.0 in 2002 in both sales and development, and the solution increased the productivity of dealers by nearly 70%, according to InformationWeek.

So, my conclusion would be that hierarchy in organizations is not threatened by Enterprise 2.0. Rather, hierarchy is gradually modified into a more agile structure, with new connections. Collective intelligence empowered by software helps to keep it under control. Collaboration is a key part in this trend. The transformation becomes easy and cheap with Enterprise 2.0.

Friday 27 July 2007

Collective Intelligence Builds New Approach to Project Management

As we all know, the project manager in organizations traditionally has the burden of compiling plans and information for the team’s work. The information is then kept in disconnected files, no matter if it is a Microsoft Word file or a Microsoft Project file. The manager is struggling to bring the project plan to life as all the information on the project is concentrated only around a single person - himself. He first has to pull facts out of employees by meetings and e-mails, then put them into a file, then update the information, then communicate it to upper management and clients. The usual means of getting information from your employees turns out to be time-consuming and effortful. This “bottle-neck” effect creates additional, but unnecessary, duties for project managers.

The new generation of Web-based tools unleashes the power of collective intelligence and changes the pattern of project management. It allows associates to collaborate on project plans. The working process is coordinated not by a single manager, but by other employees, as well. Thus, collective intelligence can influence not only managing projects, but the whole organization.

Enterprises are now interested in using collective intelligence in two directions: inside the organization to improve productivity of project work and outside the organization – that is from organization to its customers.

An example of the inside influence of collective intelligence would be an organization with lots of projects developed simultaneously. Some people are involved into different projects at the same time. The new-generation software gives associates an opportunity to create a more efficient working environment. This environment is flexible, easily customized and perceived intuitively by team members. The software enables project participants to contribute to collective work and has details of all the project processes in the company. At the same time, it allows coordination by the manager, who can follow all the processes easily. The result is boost of productivity by transferring some of project manager’s burden onto the software. Project management 2.0 tools are able to make the communication between co-workers easier and faster, which again means more effectiveness and less bureaucracy for the company.

The outside effect is that companies gain more advantage from their communication with clients. The operations become more transparent to the customers; they can easily follow the progress of a project and send their feedback. Project management 2.0 is building new customer interactions and thus improving customer satisfaction.

There are many more directions in which collective intelligence brought by project management software can influence business processes. Later I will continue to speculate on what the opportunities and challenges of project management 2.0 are and will give you my ideas about how we can benefit from them.

If you want to be interviewed for this blog, let me know how you unleashed collective intelligence in your company and what your gains were. There are several tools on the market that support collective intelligence in the project management sphere. I work for Wrike, which leads the area.

New Technologies Transform the Notion of Project Management

The social network phenomenon has already transformed the consumer Web into so-called “Web 2.0.” Major Web players such as eBay, Yahoo, MySpace, and Amazon have opened their portals to communities, adding social elements that caused great interest and demand. Now organizations that aren’t Web-based imply similar technologies in their working processes. Web 2.0 is affecting business processes by offering incredible communication opportunities for organizations known as “Enterprise 2.0.” So now we are witnessing replacement of traditional corporate applications by these newly developed ones.

Enterprise 2.0 technologies rely on collective intelligence. Advantages are incontestable. These technologies are people-oriented: they develop interpersonal relationships and build long-term social networks. In fact, they are apt to change corporate cultures. Enterprise 2.0 introduces simple, flexible and user-friendly ways to support processes inside and outside of a company. The technologies are believed to result in a rapid development of organizations and improvement of the working environment. “Giving employees the tools to create and continuously tweak automated business processes themselves has enormous potential because of what it enables: the emergent reduction of routine, low-value transactional work and an increase in tacit interactions” Dion Hinchcliffe, a veteran of software development and president of Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 consultancy Hinchcliffe and Company, pointed out in his blog.

This Enterprise 2.0 movement naturally affected and later captivated project management in organizations. I call this new trend project management 2.0, similar to the “Enterprise 2.0″ term.

The problem of innovating project management has become one of the major concerns for management as a whole. Analysts argue whether one has to be talented to be a project manager or whether he just needs to have profound experience and skills. Companies spend great sums on special training for their employees. CEOs complain that certified project managers are extremely expensive. This causes discussions on the question of whether a project is doomed to failure without a project manager or not.

Now new processes brought by project management 2.0 make the topic even hotter. The new technologies modify project management. The transformation takes place not only in instruments that project managers apply. The whole conception of project management is changing with the introduction of collective intelligence into the process. The projects tend to be managed by a group, members of which collaborate and get things done without strong top-down administration. The role of the project manager is changing. My goal in this blog is to analyze the existing changes and speculate on the influence of project management technologies on enterprises. Your feedback is very welcome. Leave your comments below, please. This post is just a start of an ongoing conversation.