Project Management & Cloud Computing: Your Strategic Weapon for Success

December 11, 2015
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We are nearing that time when all our works will take place in the cloud. In fact, cloud computing has already become so ubiquitous that a lot of businesses are now trusting the technology to store, access and aggregate their data, IT systems, apps and other activities. On reason behind the popularity of cloud services is its ability to produce on demand information in record time that too without adding a huge cost, otherwise associated with on-site deployment.

We are nearing that time when all our works will take place in the cloud. In fact, cloud computing has already become so ubiquitous that a lot of businesses are now trusting the technology to store, access and aggregate their data, IT systems, apps and other activities. On reason behind the popularity of cloud services is its ability to produce on demand information in record time that too without adding a huge cost, otherwise associated with on-site deployment.

The opportunities for cloud are huge. According to Gartner, “Cloud computing will become the bulk of new IT spend by 2016.” Moreover, the global revenues for SaaS are predicted to reach around $106 billion in 2016. In fact, a Goldman Sachs study published early this year finds that the spending on cloud platforms and infrastructure is likely to grow at a 30 percent CAGR between 2013 and 2018, indicating a 5 percent growth for the enterprise IT.

We are therefore not far away from that day when IT professionals will solely depend on cloud for improved productivity and ROI. And it is not just IT professionals, project managers too have already started leveraging the benefits of a cloud-based efficiency upgrade.

Cloud Computing and Project Management

Cloud-based project delivery has changed out traditional notion and approach to project management. It has made the process more robust and agile, while providing ultimate flexibility which was lacking for the previous generations of project managers. The sequence is a bit more jumbled, although cloud computing projects include the same elements as any other project management process. That said, cloud-based project management often places higher focus on certain areas compared to others.

One major advantage of cloud-based project management solution is the instant availability of resources, which solves many of the problems associated with traditional project management. It also helps project managers to better understand the scopes and challenges of a project, based on which they can define timelines, build charts, identify milestones and assign work and resources. While it is true that traditional project management solution too supports some of these functions, being on the cloud do have certain added advantages. Project managers, for example, can segregate the work into tiny pieces of task and assign them respected team members, who in turn will be accounted for the deliverables and successful completion of the project.

But what cloud computing really means for project management? Let’s take a look.

It means implementing a web-based project management tool that:

  • Provides instant access to dashboard to overview project portfolio.
  • Remote project management.
  • Meetings and collaboration using web-based tools, sometimes directly from the dashboard.
  • Lower costs and greener project management.
  • Data accessible from anywhere, anytime.

As cloud project management allows more remote workers to work on a single project at a time, it therefore brings more emphasis on collaboration. It makes communication easy with chats and discussions right from the project management dashboard, eliminating silos of information in your inbox. Better yet, remote teams can even collaborate on task and documents, anytime and anywhere, thanks to the cloud technology.

Moreover, it takes the status meeting madness out of project management with real-time updates, insights and collaboration, providing greater project visibility to each team member. This also allows teams to better respond to client’s requirements in record time. Here are the collaboration features cloud project management brings in:

  • Email collaboration, team members can attach email communications to tasks/projects directly.
  • Forster seamless internal and external collaboration between co-workers, clients and other collaborators.
  • Social collaboration between remote workers via discussions and chats to provide team members the required information in real-time to get work done faster.

The Benefits of Cloud

Since most cloud-based project management solutions allow for customizable task management functions, project managers can better control them to remain true to the promised project deliverables and deadlines. Teams too can see how their activities contribute to the broader project outcomes, thanks to task mapping functions.

But these are not really the benefits of cloud-based project management. You can call them the features and functionalities that cloud computing brings into project management. This is where most businesses go wrong; they view the advantages of this technology from a narrow point of view and therefore often fail to realize whether or not to move into the cloud. The real benefits of cloud-based project management are as follows:

  • It provides on-demand, ready to use services for project managers, team members (even those working from remote locations) clients and other stakeholders.
  • You can scale the need and turn on/off the cloud depending on your organizational demand.
  • It is measurable as you know exactly what you are getting in exchange of your money.

Implementing Cloud-Based Project Management – The Challenges

More often than not, it is a major challenge to migrate your data and applications to a remote server. A single mistake can lead to dire consequences. Organizations that fail to plan, execute and monitor the cloud transformation carefully are more likely to get into deeper trouble than they were previously. Some of the key challenges include:

  • Assessing risk associated with cloud migration.
  • Instituting both virtual and physical data security.
  • Failure to have recovery plans.
  • Not measuring and communicating the ROI for cloud-based project management.

It takes a strong project management strategy, adhering to the best practices, to actually reap the benefits of the cloud. The role of project managers and their experience in cloud computing plays a vital role in such a paradigm shift.

The Solution

As mentioned, the solution lies in having a proper strategy. The following are some factors you should consider having before implementing a cloud-based project management solution:

  • A strategic vision taking your organizational benefits into consideration, be it improved flexibility, advanced capabilities or cost savings.
  • Clear understanding of the risk associated with moving into the clouds. Begin with low security risk projects to prioritize the right kind of projects to migrate into the cloud.
  • A detailed execution plan backed by proper testing, a schedule for cloud migration, data management plan and a backup plan, should anything happen during the transfer process.
  • Proper communication within the organization prior to the change so that everyone in the team has a proper knowledge of the newly implemented, cloud-based project management tool, in terms of its benefits, usage and how it impacts their jobs.
  • Consider the privacy and security regulatory concerns associated with cloud-based project management and have a proper risk management plan, especially related to data storage and data protection.
  • Have appropriate metrics to measure the ROI

Last but not the least, you need to be diligent when it comes to selecting the right vendor for your cloud-based project management services. Don’t settle for a tool based on its cost, there are other more important factors you need to consider, such as the vendor’s IT processes, data centers security, regulatory compliance, interface usability and backup strategies. In addition, take the customer satisfaction into consideration to gauge the reliability and quality of the tool.

Conclusion

Cloud computing is indeed the future. But to reap its benefits, especially in terms of project management you need to first define strategic goals while addressing the associated risks. That said, new risks might emerge with cloud-based project management as in the case of any new technology and you need to be prepared for them.

You can, however, minimize the risks and at the same time achieve greater ROI by following vital project management steps with due diligence and proper communication within the organization. And if you try to migrate to a cloud-based project management without following its best practices, you risk failing perilously. Not something you really want to experience.

Featured image source: George Thomas, Flickr (CC license)