Leading research organisation MarketandMarkets estimated the market for project management tools to have been worth around $2 Billion in 2017, growing to $4.3 Billion by 2023 with an annual growth rate of over 13%.
So why is this?
Digitisation has ramped up the pace of change
The first reason is that companies large and small are trying to rise to the challenges of the rapid pace of change arising from the increasing digitisation of the world. The long lead times associated with developing new hardware products are being replaced by increasingly short timeframes for developing digital products. Threats to a company’s business model can appear at alarming speed and in fact project management tools themselves are a case in point. As little as 5 years ago, Microsoft Project dominated this market, but packages based in the Cloud, using its built in collaboration ability have rapidly shrunk Microsoft’s market share.
Keeping up with this pace of change needs better organisation and co-ordination. Businesses of all sizes have started to see project management and collaboration tools as an important step in this direction.
Businesses are becoming more distributed and employees are working more flexibly
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was becoming increasingly common to find companies with staff located in several countries and others working from home. Staff might also be on the move between these locations with dead time spent on public transport. The pandemic massively accelerated this trend and most companies with large numbers of office staff have now switched to some form of flexible working.
I ran a home-working pilot for a Forbes 50 company around the turn of the millennium. Much of the internet was still working at snail’s pace and the Cloud hadn’t even been imagined, but the trial turned out to be a great success, loved by staff who not only threw the yoke of commuting for a couple of days a week but also increased their productivity.
However it was abandoned by both middle and senior management who felt that they didn’t have sufficient control over what their employees were up to. On-line project management and collaboration tools directly address that issue. The progress of a geographically distributed team becomes much easier to monitor and communication easier to enable and manage. Information becomes easier to share between team members and progress data is available to all levels of management to give them comfort that their team is making progress and not watching daytime TV!
Increase in Outsourcing
The third reason is the increase in outsourcing. Even the smallest companies can now outsource work to the four corners of the earth. Sites like Freelancer, Upwork and Fiverr make it easy to hire individuals and teams on all seven continents.
These teams need managing and these packages offer an excellent way of achieving that. Many packages offer the ability to restrict user permissions, so you don’t need to worry about your contractor on the other side of the world knowing about work that doesn’t concern them.
Better communication with customers
The fourth reason is better communication with your customer. Whether they are an internal customer or an external one, these packages offer the opportunity to share information with your customer and usually an informed customer is a happy one. Again most tools offer the facility to regulate and limit what your customer can see.
Project Managers and Senior Management feel more in control
Finally with team members logging time spent and time to complete and dashboards and reports to help monitor progress and budget, struggling projects can be identified before they become disasters. This allows Project Managers and Senior Management to feel in much better control of their projects.
On-line Project Management and Collaboration tools are here to stay. Any piece of software that allows your staff to plan work, share discussions, documents and progress…and all of this regardless of location, really should be a no brainer.
Want to know more
Gren Gale is a Project Management Consultant, author of Project Management for SMEs (and its sister edition Project Management for SMBs in North America), The Remote Project Manager and Remote Work The New Normal. He has been named as one of the top 19 Key Opinion Leaders globally in Who’s Who in Remote Working?