5 ways enterprise mobility & BYOD influence project management platforms

Enterprise mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are amongst the developments influencing enterprises to move project management applications from inside the firewall to third-party hosted cloud solutions. Mobile devices are democratizing project management for the entire team, opening up project schedules and tasks to wider understanding and discussion by project teams.

1. Take project management to the cloud, outside the firewall

When I was a young technical writer, the whole practice of project management was too cloistered for my tastes. The schedule was hard to read. Licenses for desktop project management software were scarce. Interactions between the PMO and the developers had their communications challenges.

Moving to the cloud means freemium options and better overall licensing than what desktop application licensing could ever offer project teams back when I was getting my start. Going outside the firewall saves on IT resources because mobile security around the platform is outsourced to the platform provider.

This new cloud-first/mobile-first approach means that project managers, project leads, and teams can access project information from a mobile device regardless of their geographic location.

2. Offer robust mobile apps on parity with the web

When I wrote about the latest version of Clarizen’s mobile app for TechRepublic, it represented a new level of feature parity with the web interface. The same is going on throughout the cloud project management and collaboration market in response to customers who expect more from their mobile apps. See when I started in this job at TechRepublic, it was enough to be able to view project schedules from your mobile device. Now the expectations for mobile project management include:

  • Full user interaction with project data
  • Push notifications
  • Social collaboration

With mobile apps, project team members don’t have to come back to the office to update their project status and some enlightened organizations out there can certainly change or even eliminate the time-honored tradition of weekly and monthly status reports because mobile apps can stimulate ongoing updates from project team members.

Along with the growing feature parity comes customization options. Today’s mobile apps can be made to fit team requirements for project information. Mobile apps also give you the flexibility with project management workflows that you just can’t get with desktop project management applications.

3.Provide anytime/anywhere visualization

I learned my first project management application and how to read Gantt charts because nobody else on the development team wanted the task. At the time, Gantt charts only spoke the cryptic language of project managers.

Agile programming software development and more self-directed teams have led to the need for more visual representations of project management information that every stakeholder and team member can understand.

This consumerization of project management applications is an offshoot of the consumerization of IT. The growing roster of robust mobile clients for cloud-based project management platforms has opened up what was once cryptic project management information to a wider audience.

Obscure Gantt charts from Microsoft Project give way to easy to navigate project management apps that have many of the same (if not all) of the features of the project management platform’s cloud front end. Many mobile project management apps now let any project team member or stakeholder view their schedule in a format that’s best for their needs.

4. Provide anytime/anywhere collaboration and interaction

While we’ve covered mobile collaboration here on TechRepublic, enterprise mobility and BYOD are even pushing project management platforms into anytime/anywhere collaboration. In a world of telework, remote teams, and flexible work schedules, team collaboration happens around the clock.

Another benefit of keeping it all in the project management platform is the current generation of mobile apps have integrated search tools.

5. Improve security and identity management

The utilitarian nature of project management applications in the cloud means user access needs to be secure yet device agnostic. Take, for example, the project team member that uses a smartphone, tablet, and then a Mac. Identity management solutions are an ideal solution to permit this sort of access. The growth of mixed employee/contractor project teams in some industries should push identity management as the solution of choice just for securing access to cloud-based project management platforms.

Project management and the mobile future

Enterprise mobility and BYOD influence over project management platforms is consistent with other application categories. It’s also welcome as project delivery organizations of all sizes seek the right apps to manage projects cost effectively. No longer can project managers hide in the PMO. No longer can developers and other project team members not be able to understand project scheduling. Today’s business demands that project teams must interact with project scheduling in real time, anyplace/anywhere.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

Image by timothy muza via Unsplash.com.

Sync your way to BYOD

When formulating a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy, an often-missed step is reviewing your existing enterprise infrastructure for solutions before branching out.

One important technology to examine is enterprise synchronization. While more commonly thought of as a tool for keeping servers in synchronization, support for BYOD and mobile devices in general is starting to happen.

Alfresco is best known as a secure enterprise file management solution. The company recently released Alfresco Mobile, and I had a chance to speak with Marc Dubresson, who heads up its mobile initiatives. My experience with Alfresco up to that point was with synchronization of massive document libraries, so I had a hard time envisioning them in terms of BYOD. Dubresson told me, however, that Alfresco is building upon its open-source and business workflow foundations to make Alfresco Mobile into a “BYOD enabler.”

Alfresco’s intent is to provide tools for organizations to customize their own solutions. Dubresson pointed out that while Alfresco and Alfresco Mobile can be run out of the box, a segment of its customers use it to build their own custom solutions. Alfresco Mobile is certainly going to find a home in Alfresco shops with BYOD users, but the company is also opening itself up to new customers.

Peer Software, a provider of data management solutions, is beginning to see its customers look to enterprise syncing solutions to support BYOD as well. Claus Schroeder, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, explained why enterprise-syncing solutions and mobile users mesh. “It seems like a lot of sync-related solutions are just adaptations of traditional backup software originally conceived where most or all users were in a headquarters or branch office with good quality network connections to the backup server,” he told me in an interview. He emphasized that enterprise syncing solutions excel with mobile workers who can be located just about anywhere in the world, connected in different ways, each with differing levels of performance.

Schroeder also noted that mobile users require a combination of real-time and push synchronization because they have different connectivity states, including:

  • On net when in the corporate office
  • Off net but connected remotely when at home or in a hotel
  • Temporarily disconnected when working while on a flight, in a car, or at a job site

Schroeder defined enterprise syncing by saying:

As soon as the laptop is connected it can also collect data which was deposited for it on the central storage server. The ability to define several jobs makes it easy to centrally control the pre-loading of data onto a new laptop or to distribute new files/directories to a group of mobile users.

His description includes horsepower that traditional mobile devices and syncing solutions may not have.

“With mobile users, bandwidth utilization must be as efficient as possible,” Schroeder added. Peer Software’s products use byte-level replication, which only syncs part of the changed file over the wire. It also incorporates bandwidth throttling to manage the percentage of bandwidth used, along with blackout schedules for avoiding peak periods, and the ability to detect if a cellular model is roaming and could rack up high expenses. This type of intelligence is seen in enterprise syncing solutions, rather than traditional syncing solutions.

Alfresco and Peer Software show how traditional enterprise solutions are being extended to mobile users and the ample reasons why a mobile file syncing solution for BYOD users may already be in-house.

This post previously appeared on The Mobility Hub on February 20, 2013.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

Image by Luke Chesser via Unsplash.com