A Brief Comparison of Traditional and Contemporary Project Management Tools

The tendency of businesses to undertake projects as a form of doing business has been around for quite some time. Over the last few decades however, due to factors such as global economical instability and increased international competition in basically every market, projects have become an increasingly popular way of operating. Midler (1995) named this trend toward project utilization ‘projectification’.

Concepts in Project Management Tools

What is currently recognized as a project however is extremely different from the traditional concept of a project. The traditional design of a project was a relatively simple, domestically orientated undertaking, which was tightly managed by a generally ever-present local project manager. This manager was responsible for tracking the project progress; controlling personnel, resources and the budget; and making sure that the project results were delivered on time. Quite often, this was carried out via the utilization of task lists and spreadsheets, which were sometimes filed in shoeboxes.

Not surprisingly, the ever increasing utilization of projects, or ‘projectification’ within many businesses means that project managers are now being required to control numerous simultaneous projects. These projects are often extremely complex; may be spread over a broad array of different locations; use a number of project management tools entail multinational collaborators; and involve tight budgets and deadlines.

Project Management Tools and Software

It can immediately be distinguished that managing such undertakings via the traditional task list and spreadsheet method would be next to impossible, especially when a manager has numerous concurrent issues from different projects to address. The solution to this issue has been the implementation of various project management tools.

Project management software packages allow modern project managers to undertake all of the tasks that were previously carried out via traditional methods however, the main advantage for many managers is the fact that they can view and control various aspects of different concurrent projects from one software platform. Many current software packages are extremely complex allowing for the management of project aspects such as: personnel, resources, risk mitigation, budgets and deadlines.

Project Facets

Each of the previously mentioned project facets can also be firmly managed, often in real-time, from the conception and planning phase of the project until completion, allowing for optimal efficiency. An example of this is the ability of some project management tools (software packages) to store data on potential collaborators, such as education, experience and interests.

This consequently allows a manager to quickly and efficiently decide upon a team during the conception phase of the project, or to find an appropriate team member for a specific task during the life of the project. The same basic functions are also available regarding the management of other project sectors such as resources.

In conclusion, it can be seen that project management software is the contemporary solution to numerous different issues which have come to light due to the increased utilization of copious complex projects by many modern businesses. As it is assumed that this trend will only continue to grow, it is believed that management software will become an ever-present part of contemporary project management.