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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

4 Ways to Evolve Your Project Management

These four practices are worth considering if you want to get the most from your project management.

Project management is continually evolving. As business needs change, so do the strategies of project managers. It’s important to keep abreast of the various improvements, adjustments, and disruptions that occur within the project management space lest your company be left behind.

For Further Reading:

Using Methods to Avoid Madness: How Agile Aids Self-Service BI and Analytics

From Waterfall to Agile: Three Lessons Learned

Driving Powerful Partnerships with Agile BI

Here are four important practices in project management your company should be considering or adopting today.

Number 1: Adopt agile principles

Agile is a project management philosophy that emphasizes the importance of continual communication, improvement, and delivery of a working version of the product. Upside has featured many articles that explain how agile can benefit BI and analytics projects (for example, see “For Further Reading” at right). The adoption of agile principles shows no sign of weakening.

Agile is an iterative process that progresses in cycles. Each cycle, the team looks back at the previous one and uses everything they’ve learned from the process to make the next cycle more efficient.

As each cycle comes and goes, the team gets closer to the desired end product. The idea is that added features, improvements, and unexpected changes can be more easily accommodated with the agile approach, making agile project management especially useful for complex projects.

Until recently, agile was the de facto management style of software companies and IT departments. Also, the trend toward DevOps and DataOps is based on agile principles. Now agile encompasses much more than just one industry. Companies across industries are embracing agile project management principles.

Number 2: Emphasize emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is vital for leaders. Empathy can boost team morale, motivate team members, and drive innovation. Modern project managers must encompass more than just the role of arbiter and do more than hand out tasks and track development.

Expert project managers in modern business environments can communicate honestly and concisely what they expect without pushing the team too hard or leaving individuals unchallenged. Additionally, they act as natural mediators and mentors, smoothing over any rough patches that might appear and any bitterness that might occur during development.

Increasingly, the success of a project is being predicted by the happiness of employees. Experienced project managers understand this correlation and understand how to keep employees happy, motivated, and energized.

Number 3: Use Kanban boards to visualize tasks

Kanban boards aren’t a new idea. They were adopted by Japanese manufacturing teams decades ago to promote technical excellence and expedite the completion of essential functions.

Over the past few years, Kanban has become increasingly popular outside of Japan and outside of the context of manufacturing. Initially adopted by agile and tech teams, Kanban now is being used for departments other than IT.

Projects in every department have begun to use the visual project management methodology to help teams assign tasks, track project progress, and collaborate more effectively.

Number 4: Employ fully remote project management teams

Comprehensive project management software applications such as Trello, Jira, and Kanbanize have ameliorated many issues for project managers. These software applications centralize all project management activities into one interface. In addition, these software applications make it possible to share important project information through the cloud.

Business chat applications such as Slack (that easily integrate with project management software applications such as Trello) make asynchronous communication a breeze.

Innovations in software applications such as Trello and Slack have made it easier for teams to collaborate in a fully remote capacity.


The nature of work is undergoing incredible change, transforming the way projects are completed. Emotional intelligence is becoming a more prominent feature for top project managers. As more teams utilize powerful software applications, automation, and online business tools, project management practices become more integrated with data analysis, artificial intelligence, and remote and freelance professionals.

Trends in project management come and go, but some fundamentally alter how project management is done. The widespread adoption of agile principles and the leveraging of Kanban boards are here to stay, making project management iterative, visual, and more collaborative.

About the Author

Tracey Sunderson is a working on her Ph.D. in metaphysics. She's currently exploring ways for emerging technologies to improve our lives and fascinated by new technologies.

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