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Collective Intelligence Builds New Approach to Project Management

~ By Andrew Filev

Three characters create a collective idea

As we all know, the project manager in organisations traditionally has the burden of compiling plans and information for the team's work. The information is then kept in disconnected files, no matter if it is a Microsoft Word file or a Microsoft Project file. The manager is struggling to bring the project plan to life as all the information on the project is concentrated only around a single person - himself. He first has to pull facts out of employees by meetings and emails, then put them into a file, then update the information, then communicate it to upper management and clients. The usual means of getting information from your employees turns out to be time-consuming and effortful. This "bottle-neck" effect creates additional, but unnecessary, duties for project managers.

The new generation of Web-based tools unleashes the power of collective intelligence and changes the pattern of project management. It allows associates to collaborate on project plans.

The working process is co-ordinated not by a single manager, but by other employees, as well. Thus, collective intelligence can influence not only managing projects, but the whole organisation.

Enterprises are now interested in using collective intelligence in two directions: inside the organisation to improve productivity of project work and outside the organisation - that is from organisation to its customers.

An example of the inside influence of collective intelligence would be an organisation with lots of projects developed simultaneously. Some people are involved into different projects at the same time. The new-generation software gives associates an opportunity to create a more efficient working environment. This environment is flexible, easily customised and perceived intuitively by team members. The software enables project participants to contribute to collective work and has details of all the project processes in the company. At the same time, it allows co-ordination by the manager, who can follow all the processes easily. The result is boost of productivity by transferring some of project manager's burden onto the software. Project management 2.0 tools are able to make the communication between co-workers easier and faster, which again means more effectiveness and less bureaucracy for the company.

Diagram Showing the Difference Between a File Centred Approach and Collaborative Approach

The outside effect is that companies gain more advantage from their communication with clients. The operations become more transparent to the customers; they can easily follow the progress of a project and send their feedback. Project management 2.0 is building new customer interactions and thus improving customer satisfaction.

There are many more directions in which collective intelligence brought by project management software can influence business processes. Later I will continue to speculate on what the opportunities and challenges of project management 2.0 are and will give you my ideas about how we can benefit from them.

Since 2001, Andrew Filev has been managing software teams in a global environment. His technical expertise and his management vision are reflected in online and offline articles that have had hundreds of thousands of readers. His ideas on new trends in project management are published in our Outcollaborate Blog. Andrew has given speeches on new trends in project management and deployment of the next-generation, Web-based applications on deferent events, including the PMI Silicon Valley Tools and Techniques Forum and the Office 2.0 Conference (Project Management panel).

Andrew's innovative ideas and passion to improve project management tools are applied in Wrike, a leading online project management solution. Andrew now leads the company as a founder and CEO.

Andrew graduated from St. Petersburg State University and the Stockholm School of Economics. He also received the honoured award of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional.


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