October 24, 2014

The Most Innovative Project Management Strategies

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The traditional role of project management is to put a process in place that prevents failure. Such processes are comforting for businesses, and help to ensure predictability. If something goes wrong after establishing set guidelines, either the process wasn’t followed or the process is flawed.

But the rigid nature of traditional PM, and the predictability it seeks to generate, is often at odds with the key to business success: innovation.

That doesn’t mean project management is the enemy though. Ensuring that projects are finished on time, within budget, and within scope is a huge challenge. Nearly half of businesses surveyed by professional services KPMG said they experience at least one project failure in a given year.

The trick is finding a strategy that allows for oversight, but doesn’t suffocate creativity. Below, we highlight three novel ways business are re-imagining project management to suit their unique needs.

1. Adopting PM methodologies from different industries

Agile project management is usually associated with tech professionals. Many programmers and developers use this iterative process because it allows them to test versions of a product and then make changes accordingly.

When NPR began looking for ways to reduce the expense, time, and risk involved in creating new radio programs, they turned to agile project management. Rather than continuing to develop expensive shows in secret and hoping they’d be a success, NPR changed their process.  

“It just kind of happened out of desire to go further, faster, or for less money. I was looking for some inspiration and found it one floor up inside our building (where Digital Media sits),” says Eric Nuzum, NPR’s vice president of programming.

They began releasing live shows in a series of pilot runs instead of permanent offerings. By asking for and incorporating listener feedback along the way, NPR essentially created a public beta test. This agile approach has led to successful NPR programs such as the TED Radio Hour, Ask Me Another, Cabinet of Wonders, and How To Do Everything – all at an estimated third of the usual cost.

2. Encouraging collaboration through gamification

Props To You is a project management tool that incorporates gamification in order to increase productivity and communication. One of the biggest challenges enterprise companies face in project management is encouraging and facilitating internal collaboration.

Drawing on the characteristics we love about games, Props To You keeps track of tasks and assigns points or badges for completed items. This changes the way employees perceive specific activities at work. In fact, companies have seen an 80 percent increase in productivity per worker after the third week of using Props To You.

Props To You was also named as a “Cool Vendor” in Gartner’s 2013 project management report. Robert Handler, Research Vice President of Gartner Technical Research says, “… anyone looking for innovative ways to drive better performance on projects or within resource pools should consider PTY — especially when increased productivity is required.”

3. Taking the management out of project management

You know the old saying: you can take the manager out of the project but you can’t take the project out of the . . . Wait, that’s not right – a project without a project manager? How does this end?

As strange as it may sound, a growing number of companies are eschewing traditional management hierarchies and adopting a flat management structure. But if decision-making is left to everyone equally, how are projects handled?

Though companies like Treehouse may not have managers in the traditional sense, they still benefit from (and use) project management software that helps increase communication and collaboration. These tools empower employees to self-organize projects from start to finish and turn their own innovative ideas into reality.

Complex projects require close planning, tracking, and collaboration in order to be successful. Project management tools can provide the necessary functions to make these endeavors a success – without risking innovation.

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2 Comments

  1. Kseniya

    Good article, Jenna! Agree with you, encouraging and facilitating internal collaboration is the biggest problem for huge part of enterprises. That’s why in our agency we motivate employees, by giving them chance to choose the tool that works best for managing their processes. It simple, but really helpful. For example, the biggest part of our team use https://casual.pm/ (project management tool, that allows you organize task lists the way they look in your mind). This way we cultivate our common productivity.

    • Jenna Puckett

      Thank you very much, Kseniya! Good to hear you and your team found a strategy that works. I love that Casual PM is specifically geared towards providing non-project managers with the tools they need to feel empowered and achieve success– definitely an innovative spin on traditional project management software.