Clear vision through cloud

There is a revolution underway in project management. It isn’t about changing what is done, but how it is done, says Stephen Cavanagh, who is a vice president of the Management Consultancies Association


Revolutionary changes in project management are leading to massive improvements in communications and effectiveness – all driven by the cloud.

Cloud is just one area of digital where members of the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) act as advisers to both business and government. But as success in consultancy is the sum of accomplished projects, how is the cloud changing the delivery of project management?

Historically, project management tasks have been performed using a range of tools, the selection of which varies from business to business and often from team to team. Cloud-based project management is not a new way of doing things, but a simple and effective way of starting everybody off on the same page and keeping them on it. The same platform is available to anybody with a laptop or smart device and is managed by a third party, leaving the business to focus on its projects.

Project managers, team members, business leaders, clients and suppliers can share the same workspace, enabling greater interaction and collaboration. This provides visibility of the progress of all stakeholders, allowing the project manager to slice through real-time project information to unprecedented levels.

Cloud-based project management is not a new way of doing things, but a simple and effective way of starting everybody off on the same page and keeping them on it

Platforms are also emerging that extend beyond tools of project management and into project implementation. Team members can select from a range of apps designed for their roles or create their own tailored solutions and share them.

The success of data sharing platforms has demonstrated the potential of hosted environments as key enablers for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to launch into global markets. Such platforms allow projects and project management teams to span international borders, which can create a step-change in the standards employed in other parts of the world, particularly more remote regions and developing nations.

However, when it comes to cloud project management solutions, there is still a reluctance to place mission-critical systems into the hands of another, as there is a reliance on the cloud service provider and local infrastructure. For instance, cloud may not be an option for projects with stakeholders in say sub-Saharan Africa or parts of Latin America, where data access is more difficult and there are restrictions on storing it locally or even moving the data across international borders.

Global engineering consultants Mott MacDonald have interviewed UK businesses to see where they are on the path to cloud service adoption. Trends suggest that large businesses have concerns for data security and are therefore reluctant to sacrifice their investments in proven legacy in-house systems for a jump into “the unknown”. However, significant investment is not required from the outset, and a company has the opportunity to dip its toe into the water and test the temperature.

Increased investment in global infrastructure and regulation combined with cloud-based project management has the potential to bring a new era of collaboration from one-man-bands to large corporations, from the City of London to Machu Picchu. Cloud-based project management platforms can allow project stakeholders to share the same environment, even if the view out of the window is a little different.