Why switch from Desktop to Cloud Project Management Software?
Cloud computing is, in essence, using software and documents that are based remotely on a server external to your local device, see Figure 1. This system offers advantages in syncing documents and minimising the requirement for carrying around your USB. However, aside from increase usability and mobility, how can “cloud computing” be used to increase your effectiveness as a project manager?
Desktop Based Project Management applications
A “desktop application” is a program based on your local device. A good example of a standard project management package used in this environment is Microsoft Project. Microsoft Project has good functionality in being able to assign resources, develop Gantt charts and track project progress. However, where this type of environment lacks functionality, is being able to access your file from your laptop that doesn’t have a licence for Microsoft Project, frustrating! If you were on site and wanted to adjust a tasks’ timing you would have to make a note of the change and wait until you get back to your office to update the relevant files on your office computer.
Cloud Project Management model
In a “cloud” environment the project team could update relevant project files during a meeting and get back to their desks and be able to work on the same updated files. The accounts team can update your budget tracker and the changes will be instantaneously reflected in the central files. Most traditional project packages including Microsoft Project and a simple excel template can be easily transitioned to using the “cloud” model.
A summary of key consideration for transitioning to cloud computing are:
Data security – it is worthwhile ensuring that the data provider of your key files has suitable protection. As a project manager you will generally be constrained by the systems in place within your organisation. Increasing organisations are improving their remote access capabilities to central files and transitioning to the “cloud computing” model.
Version control – although cloud computing can provide increased accessibility to files, depending on access levels for the project team a document may be inadvertently changed. Systems should be considered to prevent this by agreeing to when a new version should be created.
Given any traditional project management package can effectively be used in a “cloud environment” the best program to use is one that you are most familiar with and are already getting good results from. While there are several companies promoting their products as “cloud project management tools” consider what additional value this will provide to your project management.
- Future benefits and challenges of using the cloud model.
- Increased access to resources internationally.
- Better transition of data between international teams who are working in their respective time zones to work around the clock.
- Ability to work remotely and from different locations.Challenges managing resources who work remotely, including keeping accountability and project cohesiveness.
- Internet speed and accessibility may impact speed and ability to download and upload files require from and into the cloud.
As a first step look to transition your key project documents to a cloud platform to increase your project teams’ accessibility to these documents and ensure they are up to date.