The best tips and tools for project managers

How artificial intelligence's symbiotic relationship with project managers can generate more revenue, including a new software called Zenkit.

Tips for how to become a project manager In this intro for TechRepublic's how to become a project manager cheat sheet, Alison DeNisco Rayome discusses what the job entails, why it's in demand, skills needed, interview questions, and more.

There was a time when being a project manager was considered a thankless task, i.e. all of the responsibility, none of the benefits. Thankfully for those hard-working PMs, there are more than enough technological advancements to develop, implement, and complete projects to meet the  clients' specifications, yet maintain a collegial working environment. 

Alex Fly, CEO of AI solution provider Quickpath, told TechRepublic in August that AI projects' best practices are what he refers to as the "three Rs" of artificial intelligence: Reward, risk, and readiness.

SEE: Launching and building a startup: A founder's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

"Measure your results against your benchmarks and your expectations," Fly said. "If your first efforts don't achieve what you want, refine those models. Perfecting an AI application is an iterative process of continuous improvement. By incrementally improving your results, you are lowering your risk of producing inaccurate results." Citing transparency, readiness and customer relations, he concluded, "A sound approach with any new AI is one of 'crawl, walk, and then run,'" said Fly, which reveals if the organization is ready for change, if the AI will produce the proper results and "if you have the right data for the AI algorithms to operate on."

There is such a thing as "the right" people

There are aspects to every job, in any industry, which are considered the proverbial "across the board," spanning any work environment. Of course, this area starts with the right people. In other words, while the skill set varies between someone working on developing new software and another selling fragrance at Bloomingdales, you unquestionably need the right people working around you, as well as each other

As a project manager, you're only as good as the last person you brought onto your team. Don't rush through the process. While tech work is not necessarily as personality driven as other jobs, finding a good balance of temperament is critical, especially when working on a tight deadline and with talented people with various areas of expertise. 

SEE: 20 project management books to read now (TechRepublic)

Comfortable culture

Once you've chosen the personnel that makes up your team, the onus lies on you, project manager, to cultivate a company culture conducive to productivity. Luckily, the tech industry wants to help you. Tech Republic's Macy Bayern outlined the types of technology available to PMs, citing the three main types as

  • Robotic process automation

  • Reinforcement learning

  • Machine learning

PMs can always improve the quality of work and these include

As for innovation, the most successful PMs are

  • Always on, always curious

  • Always offer inclusive leadership

  • Always hires a future-proof talent pool (looking to the next thing, skills transferable to the next project)

Agility prize

Most currently active PMs know that Agile PM methodology is practiced throughout the tech industry, offering operational benefits, time management, and quality output. It was developed for projects that require significant flexibility and speed, comprised of sprints or short-delivery cycles.

Agile PM is guided by 12 principles, considered the "Agile Manifesto"

  1. Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

  2. Welcome changing requirements, even in late development.

  3. Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months).

  4. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers.

  5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted.

  6. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location).

  7. Working software is the principal measure of progress.

  8. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace.

  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.

  10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential.

  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

  12. Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective and adjusts accordingly.

Researchers at KPMG said that 70% of enterprise suffered at least one project failure in the last 12 months, with 50% of respondents admitting their project consistently failed to achieve and meet goals. The solution: better organization and planning.

Tools of the trade

All the above said, it would be remiss to not note some of the newest, as well as the "best"/must-have tech to help project managers.

Board mentality

Kanban Boards have been used for decades -- they are basically a work and workflow visualization tool that optimizes work flow -- and began as a white board/cork board with sticky notes/pinned pieces of paper, all communicating status, progress and issues. 

Zenkit

The project management and database building platform, which launched in 2016, has just released Subtasks, Hierarchy view and other filters which the company says will bring clarity and focus to the often overcrowded Kanban board.

"We've always been big fans of Kanban boards but realized their lack of structure can cause overcrowding and confusion," said Zenkit CEO Martin Welker. "By accident, while working on our new subtask features, we found the solution to this problem: hierarchical filters. They're an intuitive way to quickly find related tasks or gain an overview of key tasks." 

Zenkit has also introduced an "Organizations" feature, "which enables large organizations to manage users through their existing identity providers with support for SAML-based SSO and provisioning via SCIM," said a spokesperson. 

Contain yourself with Docker 

A Docker container can simplify the challenges of installing the free open-source tool and network management system Netbox (ideal for busy data center admin). It is designed to make creation, deployment and application runs easier to create. Docker uses OS-level virtualization to "deliver" software in packages called "container."  Containers bundle separate configuration, libraries and software files, yet can "communicate" with each other. 

Crokage

The new tool Crokage is a solution which helps developers "parse through the 27 million answers on the platform to find the one they need to fix their code," noted a recent article on TR.

You Shall Pass

Breathe a sigh of relief that there are a lot of great options for password managers. However TechRepublic's Ed Bott says "two cross-platform tools rise above the rest, thanks to their excellent support for enterprise networks," LastPass and RoboForm

It's important to communicate

The most popular languages, according to the world's largest organization for engineering and applied science: Python is No. 1, but on the fast-rise following comes Julia. Be sure you are hiring staff who are fluent.

Coding language you must consider

RedMonk said that the popularity of JavaScript has led TypeScript to become a more popular coding language.

Also see

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