Over the past two years Our Social Times has hosted social CRM conferences in London, New York and Paris. It's a fast-growing industry with many specialist themes, but the first question the speakers always get asked is: "How does social CRM differ from traditional CRM?"
When CompTIA technology analyst Seth Robinson was researching his new report on the state of cloud computing in July some of the results were puzzling. The 500 business and IT executives who participated reported that their use of SaaS applications had declined since the last time CompTIA completed the survey in 2014. The data ran contrary to claims from every consultant, research firm and tech pundit.
The head-scratching stat: 45 percent of CompTIA respondents said they used cloud productivity software, down from 63 percent in 2014; 51 percent consumed cloud email, compared to 51 percent in 2014; and only 35 percent consumed cloud analytics/business intelligence software, a decline from 53 percent two years ago. In all, 12 of the 14 applications CompTIA listed posted declines.
The proliferation of robots completing manual tasks traditionally done by humans suggests we have entered the machine automation age. And while nothing captures the imagination like self-directing machines shuttling merchandise around warehouses, most automation today comes courtesy of software bots that perform clerical tasks such as data entry.
Here’s the good news: Far from a frontal assault on cubicle inhabitants, these software agents may eventually net more jobs than they consume, as they pave the way for companies to create new knowledge domain and customer-facing positons for employees, analysts say.
The approach, known as robotic process automation (RPA), automates tasks that office workers would normally conduct with the assistance of a computer, says Deloitte LLP Managing Director David Schatsky, who recently published research on the topic. RPA's potential will grow as it is combined with cognitive technologies to make bots more intelligent, ideally increasing their value to businesses. Globally, the RPA market will grow to $5 billion by 2020 from just $183 million in 2013, predicts Transparency Market Research.
In "How to pick a project management methodology (PMM)," I covered the some of the most recognized methodologies, as well as a few high-level factors, that may impact selection decisions. These methodologies are repeatable, effective and efficient processes that help organizations streamline project activities. Because these processes, once developed, can be documented and repeated, they help organizations to spend less time focusing on how to execute the project itself, and more time on the project objectives and deliverables.
The process required to fully assess, document, and finally select the right methodologies for each project is much more detailed, time-consuming and complex initially, but worth it in the end (assuming the most appropriate PMMs have been selected).
Key considerations when determining the best methodology
PMMs are definitely not one-size-fits all, even within the same company, project type or industry. In one situation a specific methodology may work best, and in others it may be more suitable to have another one, or even a hybrid methodology. The same methodology is unlikely to work in the same organization on all projects; a best practice is to develop and implement a streamlined methodology assessment process (MAP) to determine the best approach for each project. Keep in mind, this process itself may require reassessment and modifications as business factors change.
In organizational development, as well as within projects, this list of relevant assessment criteria applies. When it comes to selecting a methodology this same criterion should also factor in. These can be broken down in internal and external criteria, as well as subcategories of each.
Once the assessment criteria have been factored into the decision, develop a process to identify the best option for a PMM for specific projects. As mentioned previously, this process will need to be revisited and modified from time to time to keep up with the overall business and stakeholder needs. Here are some general steps:
First determine project drivers, identify and weigh primary goals and priorities of the project.
After determining the business drivers/project requirements and goals, identify all the criteria that a methodology will impact and vice versa.
Identify all available/possible methodologies that are most relevant for the project.
Spend some time comparing and contrasting each PMM in relation to the project.
Consider which methodology will yield the best results and offer the least risk.
Gain feedback and buy-in.
Document the methodology and rationale.
Implement the methodology.
Monitor and modify as required.
Although the biggest risk factors are likely to fall within organizational capabilities and preparedness, any other criteria mentioned previously can create significant problems if they are in breach of a key project requirement.
Some methodologies are also geared towards specific types of projects, but may not always work in every instance. This is where hybrid options (combining more than one methodology) should be considered at various stages of a project.
Examples of PMMs
Agile is commonly used in software development projects, it makes it easy to identify issues quickly and make modifications early in the development process versus waiting until testing. Agile offers repeatable processes, reduces risk, allows for immediate feedback, provides fast turnaround and reduces complexity.
Waterfall offers a more formal planning stage that may increase the chances of capturing all project requirements up front, reducing the loss of any key information and requirements in the initial stages.
The benefits of both can create a case for a hybrid methodology solution.
Recognizing what the priorities are, what the methodologies are, and when, where and how each methodology creates the greatest positive impact is a key to project success. This is where project managers are able to assist organizations in improving how they implement projects in the most effective and efficient way while reducing risks.
It's important to note there is no one solution in all cases, even within the same organization. PM experience comes into play, and this is where a project manager's knowledge of the pros and cons of each methodology can greatly assist organizations in successfully navigating projects in ways that allow them to maximize the potential for stakeholders.