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Through rapid forecasting, live reporting, and automated logistics planning, smart technology is transforming the way project teams operate. Emerging software solutions support a range of critical business functions—from budgeting to resource allocation—and can help teams become more responsive to shifting market demands.

In general, project managers are optimistic about their companies' investments in smart PM tools, with 93% noting positive ROIs. But the implementation of any new technology comes with challenges (and risks), particularly when the technology in question is highly complex and rapidly evolving.

As project managers incorporate more smart tools into their teams' daily processes, many face the challenge of balancing the risks with the rewards. AI-powered tools, for example, can aid project prioritization and decision-making, but may provide biased or ineffective recommendations if they aren't trained properly. Leaders that take a people-centric approach to emerging technology are well-positioned to avoid the pitfalls of implementation, while ensuring their smart PM tools are supporting, rather than detracting from, their teams' core goals.

Preparing teams for technology adoption

When implemented effectively, emerging technology can accelerate productivity and free up employee time for high-level innovation. But to maximize the results of the implementation, project managers must ensure that their teams possess the skills and expertise necessary to take full advantage of smart PM tools.

When designing a strategy for implementation, project managers should meet with their teams to discuss any concerns, points of confusion, or skill gaps that may impact software adoption. A granular exploration of new tools and their capabilities can add substantial value to these conversations. It is one thing to understand, hypothetically, that a new solution supports logistics planning, and quite another to be capable of deploying the solution for relevant tasks, like scheduling and resource allocation.

Open discussions about new project management tools can also help managers determine whether their team members would benefit from a reskilling or upskilling program. When the full team is confident and capable of working with a range of solutions in their technology toolkit, they are not only well-prepared for successful adoption, but also empowered to identify biases, glitches, and other issues that may impact project outcomes.

Engaging teams during project selection

Machine learning models can have a profound impact on project selection, guiding managers toward high-impact, high-value initiatives. In addition to analyzing the project portfolio to ensure balance, these tools can help identify the projects most likely to yield positive results. However, when it comes to project selection, it is important to treat software solutions as advisors—not authorities.

While software may be able to account for team member availability when selecting a project, for example, it lacks the ability to determine whether key stakeholders have the mental bandwidth to take on a given assignment. That will often be determined by factors that generate no visible data, but could easily be recognized by an engaged manager in regular communication with their team.

By balancing data with team member perspectives, concerns, and ideas, managers can more easily encourage high-level engagement with the projects they assign. Teams that are passionate about their projects, or at least confident in their outcomes, are often more eager to innovate and develop solutions to critical problems.

Educating teams on technology limitations

AI bias, data corruption, and other tech-related challenges can slow project progress and detract from an initiative's core goals. Teams that understand the limitations of their smart PM tools are more capable of acting quickly and thoughtfully to prevent issues from escalating. By promoting team-wide education on technology vulnerabilities, managers take a crucial step toward risk mitigation, while ensuring compliance with legal regulations and industry standards.

When adopting new technology, it is always important to develop strategies for identifying and responding to system vulnerabilities—and many managers will benefit from making this a collaborative process. In doing so, they can encourage a greater sense of team ownership over technology-related processes, and highlight the roles each individual will play in their success.

Involving teams directly in risk management efforts, rather than asking them to trust the technology blindly, may also improve employee confidence in the deployment. In the long term, this can lead to more widespread adoption and higher returns on technology investments.

Promoting long-term success through ongoing feedback collection

Technology is constantly evolving—and most managers will need to adapt their tech strategies over time. As project managers move forward with new implementations, it is important to communicate with team members and gather a range of perspectives on the implementation's efficacy.

In taking their insights into account, project managers can ensure not only that their teams are getting as much as possible from the resources they've been given, but that those resources are providing the support necessary to move projects across the finish line with efficiency, security, and flexibility.

Zoho offers a suite of intelligent enterprise business software, including an award-winning CRM suite, the industry's only comprehensive analytics and BI platform, and a powerful low-code development ecosystem.