Project management has been in existence for nearly as long as there has been a need to get things done. Although the earliest known use of a formal project management system took place during the construction of the pyramids of ancient Egypt, a more typical timeline for the development of the field begins with the industrial revolution. Project management techniques came to the fore as industries and businesses expanded rapidly and automation came online. The Gantt chart, a 1910 invention that afforded graphic display of the start and finish times of project elements, was a notable early disruption.

The Digital Revolution

With the rise of compact, economical computers in the mid-1970s, a mass office technology update took place as medium-sized companies gained access to digital tools. The first project management software companies emerged about this time led by Artemis and Oracle in 1977 and Scitor Corporation in 1979. In the 1980s, personal computers and networks arrived and offered easy access to digital project planning and management capabilities. Project management evolved from an assignment-based endeavor to an independent profession and, as the Internet came online in the mid-1990s, the world got networked and a new era of productivity and efficiency in project management was ushered in.

The unprecedented connectivity that the online environment and Cloud-based software tools offered project managers was a game-changer. Teams scattered across the world could now access the same data in real time, making it simple to stay updated on task status and project progress, and keep ahead of potential delays and problems. Team members and collaborators could maintain near-instant communication links, making decisions and change implementations possible without significant lost time.

Adapt to Succeed

A disruptor is any technology that displaces established technology and changes the way things are done. A disruptive technology can be a tool or resource deployed in production or it may be a product or service; for example, the original iPhone, Uber, or Airbnb. When disruptive technologies come online, successful organizations adapt rapidly to the fresh opportunities and challenges presented. In the realm of project management, new technologies can offer an edge in terms of enhanced efficiency, shortened project timelines, and improved customer experience.

To prove this point, research by the Project Management Institute reveals that innovators, organizations with a mature digital transformation strategy and a priority placed on adopting disruptive technologies, achieve the original goals or business intent in 71% of their projects. In contrast to the innovators, organizations that made up the top 12% in the PMI survey, the laggards in the bottom 14% of companies surveyed attained a 60% success rate on their projects. Laggards are organizations marked by slow adoption of disruptive technologies, an immature or completely lacking digital transformation strategy, and the view that the adoption of disruptive technologies is a low organizational priority.

Look to the Cloud

Cloud computing is revolutionizing the field of project management by providing easy access to shared pools of system resources for data storage along with higher-level tools and functions that can be provisioned far more efficiently and inexpensively in the Cloud than was previously possible. Project managers find that Cloud-based tools support higher levels of collaboration and information access while offering major time savings. IT managers spend less time, labor, and money administering and updating technologies that are hosted in the cloud environment.

Among organizations in the PMI survey, 84% of the innovators reported that the Cloud is giving their organization a competitive advantage. Among laggards, only 57% said the same. Numbers like these seem to indicate that future-oriented project planners will want to consider adopting a Cloud-based approach to deploying their project planning software tools. For one thing, online planning software is essential to supporting the “bring your own device” mobile work style. Another important thing to consider is the fact that running your software in the Cloud will reduce the load on your IT department. For smaller companies, deploying online software may entirely obviate the need for IT support, adding an immediate boost to the bottom line on every project.