Next Generation Project Management Market Trends

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Next Generation Project Management
Market Trends

by Faulkner Staff

Docid: 00011552

Publication Date: 1907

Report Type: MARKET


The next generation of project management tools is taking advantage of a
number of converging technologies. Service Oriented Architecture, social
networking, mashups, mobile devices and collaboration, and other primarily
Web-oriented approaches are leading the market toward creating a project
management environment that is both collaborative and portable to a degree
not previously available. In addition, agile project management techniques
continue to make inroads on the “waterfall” approach, while project
management software is increasingly integrated with other business
processes as shorter delivery cycles are emphasized. An expanding variety
of platforms and the rapid development of tools make the next generation
of project management tools a volatile market.

Report Contents:

Executive Summary

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A strong convergence of social forces and Web-based technologies is
pointing toward a next generation of project management software that will
be not a single kind of application. Instead, we will see a collaborative
approach that draws characteristics from a number of sources, including:

  • The continuing rise of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
  • The emergence of mashups as a way to create new applications
  • The goal of platform independence
  • The increasingly tight link of project management to the strategic
    objectives of the organization
  • The requirement for shorter delivery cycles
  • The dominance of social media
  • The impact of mobile devices
  • The increasing dominance of cloud storage


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Contributing to this convergence are further developments in agile
project management and in project portfolio management (PPM), which looks
at the entire range of projects in the enterprise. The result is a growing
number of highly collaborative project management tools that may be
closely integrated with the network or may just as easily be diffuse,
acquired on an ad hoc basis depending on the specific needs of individual
collaborative teams. Furthermore, some enterprises may choose to use
multiple project management software products depending on the work being
done by particular teams.

The largest software vendors have followed the major project management
software trends in recent years, developing project management suites that
include related features for more robust functioning, but they have
difficulty competing in the area of platform independence. As a result,
smaller vendors are leapfrogging companies like Microsoft and IBM in
developing project management tools appropriate to the Web, social media,
and personally owned remote devices.

At the same time, there are signs of disillusion with the role of the
Project Management Office (PMO). Some analysts are even predicting a
return to the decentralization of project management in a significant
number of organizations. If this occurs – and if mobile work teams also
begin to predominate – versatile project management software will become
more, not less, important.

Market Dynamics

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Next generation project management (PM) is not a matter of a single
technology, but the convergence of a number of trends and technologies,
many of them not even specifically related to project management. Among
these are Software as a Service (that is, outsourcing software
development), cloud storage, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA),
collaboration software, systems integration, mashups, and the ever
escalating use of mobile devices for purposes that include social media as
well as strictly business functions.

Among the market dynamics specifically relating to project management are
the increase in agile project management, a continuing emphasis on project
portfolio management (PPM) matched with increased integration into
business functions, the increasing importance of certifications, and the
decision whether or not to centralize operations in a Project Management
Office (PMO).

Software as a Service (SaaS), or software on the “cloud,” is an
increasingly used technology in which an application is run remotely on
the Web and accessed by the enterprise through a browser. SaaS offers
advantages such as version control, remote administration, and outsourced
support, and virtually all applications are currently available as SaaS or
soon will be. Today hundreds of vendors offer project management tools on
a SaaS basis. SaaS itself has become so mainstream that it is no longer
a “next generation” technology, and the same can be said for the
integration of project management tools in a product suite, which also is
no longer “cutting edge.” 

In order to truly become a “Web 2.0” product, project management tools
almost certainly must draw on the social networking features of
collaborative software.

Developments in collaborative project management software have recently
been driven by the social networking features of the Web, leading to a
greater ability to customize software. Although “out of the box” project
management tools are available, businesses may choose to emphasize various
parts of the process and may require the addition of specialized
components for their own environment. Customizable Web-based project
management tools will therefore become increasingly available, often
through “mashups.”

A mashup is a Web application created by combining parts of other
applications for a purpose not inherent in any of the individual
components. A simple example in project management software would be the
combination of a basic scheduling tool, a contact list application, and a
link to the blog of each resource assigned to the task. Mashups can be
remarkably flexible, and their only requirement is that the various parts
be capable of being combined. Mashups also offer the advantage of, in many
cases, being created and customized by individual users rather than passed
down from higher levels. The increasing popularity of mashups makes it
likely that vendors will have to accommodate them in future designs of
project management software. One area where this is likely is in the
confluence of project management and change management.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an approach to infrastructure
design in which the components of the infrastructure are treated as Web
services. SOA encourages and allows for the reusability of these Web parts
on a non-platform specific interoperable basis. The SOA approach is widely
recognized as both far-reaching and useful, but the process of
implementing it can be arduous and it is by no means a universally applied
solution. The degree to which SOA will affect the market for project
management tools will depend on the rate of general adoption of SOA
principles. If momentum for SOA continues to increase, the next generation
of project management software will need to take into account the
architectural requirements of SOA.

A characteristic of project management that for years did not receive
sufficient attention is that most projects involve teams and that the
members of those teams work together. Traditional project management
software either has provided no avenue for input from team members except
through the project manager. The new generation is accustomed to
collaborative software of the kind provided by Facebook and other social
networking sites, Wikis, and shared development environments. The
technology behind those sites is readily available for other uses and is
already playing a major role in next generation project management
software, offering truly collaborative opportunities for members of
project teams.

One of the factors that must be considered in project management today is
the increasing complexity of the systems involved in just a single
project. Even a small change in one area may have a major impact in
another. A project can span platforms, both mainframe and Web-based,
and may involve legacy, new design, and third-party software. Traditional
task-based project management tools are likely to appear increasingly
inadequate for dealing with systems integration issues that continue to
make themselves evident. Next generation project management software will
have to come to grips with the design complexities that are facing the
enterprise, going beyond the traditional linear project schedule. There
may also be a strong linkage of next generation project management
software with workflow applications.

“Agile” product development is an approach frequently contrasted with
“waterfall” or linear product development. Agile product development is
based on the premise that it may not be possible to determine the entire
scope of a project at its inception, and that changes to project scope may
occur daily or perhaps even more frequently. While waterfall product
development remains the tradition, it can be impractical for groups or
organizations that conduct projects with fluid requirements and the need
to respond quickly to changes.

Agile product development requires significant buy-in from management,
which often is uncomfortable with the idea that the goal of the project is
not clear and settled from the beginning. Nevertheless, agile product
development has a significant and steadily growing number of adherents,
some of whom may not even consider their approach “agile” and simply see
it as the natural way of doing business. Some reports indicate a growing
rate of adoption of agile techniques, now perhaps over 40 percent of
project management work. However, this trend is difficult to quantify and
may to some extent be based on wishful thinking since agile product
development is a demanding discipline and can be confused with merely lax

Traditional project management tools do not offer agile developers a
great deal of flexibility. The design of project management software to
support agile product development is a significant development in the next
generation of project management products.

The first generation of project management tools was designed to manage
single projects. Early versions of Microsoft Project were the best known
examples. Such standalone products were of little use in determining the
involvement of the entire enterprise in project work, this problem gave
rise to project portfolio management (PPM), which allows a view of a
business’s projects across the board. Next generation project management
software will certainly emphasize providing executives and managers with a
wide view of the project work being done within the enterprise.

Led by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a drive toward
credentializing the project management field has played a significant role
in hiring practices over the last decades. Employers learned to look for
such credentials as the Project Management Professional (PMP). It may
be noted, however, that the market drivers discussed in this section do
not necessarily lend themselves to the credentializing trend, and there
are signs that the demand for credentials may be weakening next to the
demand for experience as PM software becomes better structured and easier
to use. This possibility suggest a wider spread of project management
knowledge across functional lines. It may be predicted that the project
management credentials that accompany next generation software will be
auxiliary rather than sole or principal credentials for many positions.

The importance of linking operational processes to the strategic
objectives of the organization has not been lost on project managers.
Portfolio and product management leaders should work to coordinate related
groups of projects, making it easier to align projects to objectives. A
side effect of this emphasis will be embedding project management software
in wider-purposed software suites.

The spread of mobile devices as business tools makes it certain that
project management software will be increasingly optimized for mobile
collaboration. Adding to the complexity of this situation is the
burgeoning popularity of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD), in which
employees use their own computing devices for work tasks. There is a
likelihood that project work teams may be made up entirely of remote
workers, many of whom will expect to use social media in some of their
communications. In such situations, flexibility will be of paramount
importance in project management software.

The role of the Project Management Office (PMO) influenced the
development of project management software for several years, but there
are signs of disenchantment with the PMO. Some are predicting a return to
decentralization of project management in a significant number of
organizations. If this occurs, versatile project management software will
become more, not less, important.

Market Leaders

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Because of their size and large market share, the major software
manufacturers such as Microsoft, Oracle, CA, and IBM remain leaders in the
field of project management in terms of systems integration, since they
offer numerous hooks to their software suites. For other aspects of next
generation project management development, however, these advantages can
also be limitations. Therefore, the large vendors are ideally placed for
integrating their project management tools into their own environments but
numerous project management products from smaller vendors are available
for organizations with other information architectures.

Although they cannot match the largest software manufacturers in the
scope of their suites, smaller developers hold an advantage in being able
to react more quickly to market conditions, being platform-nonspecific and
not requiring unrelated products just because they are part of a suite.
However, one possible advantage for the largest software manufacturers is
the ability to handle large amounts of data (“Big Data”) related to

Microsoft Project, including Project 2016 and Microsoft Office 365 in its
many variations, has always been closely aligned to – but not
automatically provided with – the Microsoft Office suite. Like the project
management applications of the other large software vendors, Microsoft’s
solution has been closely tied to the rest of its products, with
SharePoint providing a collaborative space. The 2016 version of Project
uses the new Fluent user interface, or Ribbon.

Microsoft’s insistence on the primacy of desktop client software has
limited its ability to satisfy the trends of next generation project
management software. Its connection to Office 365 advanced this aspect of
the product, and third party vendors like have
increased its flexibility.

There are no current indications that a new version of Project is likely
any time soon. The changing world of mobile communications, combined with
available alternatives to Windows and with other trends mentioned above,
may pose a major challenge to Microsoft’s dominance in the field over the
next few years.

Oracle Primavera P6 Professional Project Management product offers a Web
interface to view and manage project materials, using Oracle’s database on
the back end. Again, it is highly connected to its proprietary main
platform, as is true for Computer Associates’ (CA) project management

IBM includes its Rational project management tool with its product suite,
closely integrating the Rational tools with the rest of its platform. In
the sense of system integration, it corresponds to the description of next
generation project management software. IBM offers substantial support for
agile project management including functionality for distributed teams.
However, the IBM solution is highly IBM-centric and uses the Web as an
enhancement rather than a core platform.

Meanwhile, smaller and more specialized vendors are taking the lead in
next generation project management approaches. PlanView is strongly
portfolio-oriented, while Compuware’s ChangePoint is a strong portfolio
management solution. ChangePoint is closely linked to Microsoft’s
computing platforms. LiquidPlanner’s Web-based project management product
of the same name features “social project networking,” secure access for
both internal and external users, and Wiki-style spaces for collaborative
commenting. It allows ranges for estimates, for example, “1-2 months.”

Huddle, a product primarily aimed at creating collaborative spaces,
includes but does not feature project management, although it offers
attractive interfaces for sharing information including project task
lists, calendars, and automatic reminders. The same is true of Basecamp;
its project management tools are not particularly robust but are simply
and attractively presented, and many third party products are available.
Goplan emphasizes its ability to provide control of multiple projects with
strong collaboration features and includes tools such as document
management, issue tracking, and real-time chat facility.

Some project management software, for example the widely used Zoho
Projects, offer free versions. These products all offer Software as a
Service through the Web and all illustrate the characteristics of next
generation project software suggested here.

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It should be clear that market forces are guiding project management
toward software that is more flexible, more inclusive, easier to use, and
more readily available. This fact presents a challenge to the market
leaders, particularly Microsoft. Although Microsoft acknowledges the trend
toward Web-based products and agile programming, it still looks for
primary revenue from a standalone product sitting on a user’s desk. It
will be interesting to see the degree to which Microsoft embraces the
coming trends in project management software and if it is willing to
change its emphasis. Other major vendors face the same situation.

In addition to considering next generation project management tools, it
is also important to consider the effect of the next generation of
technology on project management. As the work force increasingly skews
toward those who grew up with electronic devices and Web access, project
management will need to become more Web-oriented and portable. This
generation will be accustomed to “mixing and matching” different forms of
technology, which suggests that project management tools will need to
become less platform centered, more adaptable, more mobile, and easier to
connect with other programs. We can already see these changes in the
steady increase of cloud hosting.

The next generation is also showing more interest in agile product
development, as opposed to the traditional linear waterfall-style. Project
management tools will need to adapt to more immediate and flexible
strategies, including the use of multiple scenarios and models. These
traits will be reinforced by a likely move toward less top-down management
and more working from home or remote locations. Another likely development
is an increase in collaboration, which will require PM software that
reinforces group behaviors.

Although the complete next generation project management software package
may still be ahead of us, its components may be seen in products currently
in release. Project portfolio management is increasingly stressed in PM
suites, and tools for agile product development are becoming widely
available. Mashups have increasingly become a familiar part of project
management vocabulary. Software-as-a-Service on the World Wide Web is
widespread. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a standard
consideration for project management software. Collaboration software
exists in various forms, although no model based on social networking
systems has reached breakthrough status yet. Systems integration exists,
but largely in the proprietary platforms of the large software vendors.
Project management products are being folded into larger suites, as was
the case when Serena’s folded its PPM product into its business management

Another trend in next generation project management software will be to
bundle related products in suites. Such software suites may include
products such as file sharing, financial tools including earned value
calculation, capacity planning engines, service ticketing, links to Client
Relationship Management (CRM) products, videoconferencing, billing and
cost accounting software, decision support software, and defect management
programs. At the same time, there may also be an increase in the number of
project management software products used within a single enterprise, as
individual work teams choose products that most closely match their

Project management software is also being designed with users other than
IT professionals in mind. Early approaches involved simplified reporting
such as a PM software-generated table showing the status of all current
projects. However, management may be more willing to use more robust
project management software if it is already easier to use for IT

The ascendancy of smartphones and the prevalence of texting are already
altering the project management picture, as they have changed so much else
in the field of communications.

Clearly the space for next generation project management software has
been well prepared, and many of the component parts are already in
frequent use. Which vendor fully seizes the opportunity to create a fully
robust product in a non-proprietary fashion remains to be seen. One strong
prospect for success is open-source development, as illustrated by
RedMine, Codendi (sponsored by Xerox), ProjectPier, eGroup
Ware, and dozens of other open source project management
applications. At the same time, project management is a mature field and
it is extremely unlikely that major conceptual changes in project
management methodology will occur. Rather, available tools will be
combined in newer and more useful configurations, which in turn will
suggest further development.

Strategic Planning Implications

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The next generation of project management software will involve not just
application software but the entire architectural strategy of the
enterprise, including mobile devices and social media. Nevertheless, as
with any software, consideration of next generation project management
software must start with an analysis of the needs and requirements of the
enterprise, not with the desires of the users. This is particularly true
given the integrative and collaborative nature of the latest project
management software. It is conceivable that the best place to start an
analysis of a business’s project management needs is not specifically with
project management software, but with the overall architecture of the
enterprise, considering in particular the possibilities of implementing
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the immense possibilities offered
by the Internet and by the cascading use of mobile devices in the

In selecting a vendor for project management software, the trends
described in this article should be kept in mind, and the vendor should be
examined for three things: how well it understands the future dimensions
of project management, including increased collaboration tools;
flexibility in styles of project management (including agile programming);
and its use of Web and mobile capability and even social media. Not all
these characteristics, or any list of characteristics, will be needed by
any organization, but the vendor that cannot intelligently address issues
such as mashups and collaboration tools should be considered with

Competing products should be examined with their likely users in mind.
Some questions remain the same despite technological changes. How usable
are the available tools and how adaptable are the interfaces? On the
technical side, what is the vendor’s approach to upgrades and what will be
the level of support? The issue of interfaces is particularly important in
a fragmented market like the present one. Project management software not
only may need to interface smoothly with other systems within the
enterprise but also with systems maintained by other organizations. The
ability of software to connect smoothly with other software must not be
taken for granted. While these are not fashionable questions, they are
essential ones.

The major software vendors offer sophisticated project management
solutions with an increasing number of next generation features. But it is
the enterprise that must decide the extent to which it is willing to be a
sole-vendor shop. Open source project management products are proving
their usefulness. Organizations that wish to remain more or less
exclusively committed to Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, or CA will not hesitate
to include project management features from those vendors as well. Others
may not be willing to commit to a sole proprietor and may find smaller
vendors or open source developers more congenial.

These considerations apply even if the enterprise is considering moving
to project management Software as a Service (SaaS), a trend that is
rapidly increasing in project management software. At the same time, no
outsourcer can take the place of a company’s responsibility for choosing
the right product and managing its use. User testing should make up a
significant part of any evaluation. There are limitations to every project
management product on the market, and this situation can be predicted to
increase as project management software becomes more collaborative,
flexible, and widely distributed. The danger is that it will become so
complex that users will not want to spend time with it, while at the same
time there is a danger that mobile versions of software may not be fully
featured. Careful testing can keep expensive investments from leading to

The enterprise keeping a watchful eye for next generation project
management software will want to evaluate claims cautiously. For example,
an application may claim to be SOA ready. SOA, however, is a broad
architectural concept rather than a specific technology, so not only is
the claim misleading, but it may include assumptions about the enterprise
that are not warranted. Considerable testing must take place in order to
verify a vendor’s claims.

The question raised by SaaS as to whether or not to outsource project
management services is a familiar one to many enterprises. Increasingly
the cloud is considered the obvious choice. Nevertheless the primary
guidance remains the same: do not be deceived by promises of enormous cost
savings. Check vendors carefully, test thoroughly, and understand that
primary management functions can never be outsourced. The enterprise is
always responsible for its actions, even if they are carried out by
others. Project management is a core skill and whether or not a PM tool is
outsourced, the organization must remain in control. Cloud storage is not
a project management solution, just a tool.

As social networking platforms play a bigger role in project management
software, the enterprise will face the decisions that such platforms
present, including issues of security and limitation of access. The same
is true of mobile devices, particularly when they are non-corporate assets
(BYOD or Bring Your Own Device). The security officer of an organization
will have to be closely involved with any product selection.

It may generally be said that project management tools have not yet
reached their optimum state of efficiency and user acceptance, but they
are racing to take advantage of new technologies. It can be predicted that
the developments likely to shape the next generation of project management
software will also lead to products that are more effective and
easier to use. Considering the speed with which changes occur on the Web,
such software may become available at any time, and the wise manager will
stay alert.

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