The End of Excel: Digital Transformation Enters Project Management

Image: Orla/
Image: Orla/

Have you ever heard of project teams that have completely renounced Excel? No? Nor did we. Spreadsheets are a natural part of the day-to-day project work and have proven to be helpful for project planning and status reporting for many years. However, times are changing: The digital transformation promotes deeper networking and collaboration. New tools to increase productivity and transparency are not only more fun than Excel & Co. – they also save time and money. McKinsey found out that we spend around two and a half hours per day searching for information rather than working on tasks that will contribute directly to the project goal. Companies could increase the productivity of their employees with the help of new technologies by up to 25 percent.

Generation Z Brings New Momentum into the Project World

An interesting development is taking place almost unnoticed. While older generations are gradually leaving the working world, the dominance of younger generations is steadily increasing. According to a PwC study, Millennials will account for around 50 percent of the global workforce in 2020 and will give a further push to digital transformation. In addition, by the end of this decade, Gen Z will represent the first generation to enter the workplace having grown up in a fully networked world.

In a recent study on the workplace in 2020, Google indicates that digital natives, who grew up with digital technologies, and digital immigrants, who still have to deal with digital transformation, will have to work together for a relatively long period. Realistically, however, this harmony can only be achieved through the uncompromising use of new technologies, since representatives of the Millennial generation and Generation Z are unlikely to play a part in seemingly backward and ancient software applications. The explosive growth of online collaboration platforms such as Slack and Cloud-based project management tools such as Trello and Wrike are no coincidence, but rather a reliable indication of the emergence of a new working and project world in which digital transformation is in full swing.


New tools for project management such as Slack benefit from the growing need for networking and collaboration

Image: TechCrunch


Increase Productivity Through Networking and Collaboration

From our own project experience, we know that younger generations are no control freaks – their priorities at work revolve around the aspect of productivity. In fact, Microsoft found out that productivity is the key to happiness for 93 percent of Millennials. We have a rather definitive view about what this means for future project management approaches which you’ve probably already guessed: Traditional organizational structures and hierarchical approaches to leadership are a thing of the past. The future challenge for project management will be to enable virtual teams to achieve project goals rather independently – you can find more about the mechanics of modern teamwork in our latest blog post.

With regards to project planning and reporting, Excel and similar tools suggest a semblance of precision and a sense of control. The openness and transparency of an organization created by digital transformation, on the other hand, requires an approach based on common goals and collaboration. We are dealing with a new phenomenon for which traditional applications are no longer suitable. At the same time, however, digitalization also offers new solutions – we had already mentioned three helpful tools for the day-to-day running of a project. The focus of these three tools is to promote productivity through better networking and collaboration. We would complement this through frequent online surveys in the project team in order to keep the progress of your projects transparent at all times and to enable quick reactions to potential obstacles and risks.

Summary: In principle, we have nothing against Excel & Co., but digital transformation offers new possibilities to manage projects more efficiently using modern tools. The key to happiness, especially for younger generations, lies in the question of productivity – and this can only be sustainably improved by more openness, collaboration and transparency. Which new tools do you use in your project work? We look forward to your feedback – request a free live demo of Surwayne today and don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

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