Leading research organisations Gartner and MarketandMarkets both assess on-line project management and collaboration tools as a rapidly growing market.  MarketandMarkets estimated the market to be worth around $2 Billion in 2014, growing to nearly $4Billion by 2019.

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


It is becoming increasingly common to find companies with staff located in several countries and others working from home.  Staff may also be on the move between these locations with dead time spent on public transport.

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.




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.


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Gren Gale is a Project Management Consultant, author of Project Management for SMEs (and its sister edition Project Management for SMBs in North America), an expert on Project Management Software and owner of PM Results

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