Are you delivering change projects with software that’s older than you are? Sharktower’s CEO Craig Mackay took a walk down memory lane to look at the vintage tools it’s time to retire.
But first, LEGO.
As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I’m a big LEGO fan. (With two kids now in their teens, we’ve amassed tons of the stuff.) But a few weeks ago, LEGO announced the set of all sets – the 2,600-piece Nintendo Entertainment System.
This set hasn’t been created for kids of today (it costs £200 for a start). In fact, few people under 35 will recognise the console at all. No, it’s for 80s kids like me.
First launched in 1986, the NES was the literal game-changer, and yes, you better believe this LEGO version is at the top of this year’s Christmas list.
Lego’s 2600-piece Nintendo NES set. Image source: thenextweb.com
But all this nostalgia got me thinking about more than Super Mario Bros. As someone who’s worked in project management-related roles for the past 20 years, I started to think about all the vintage tech we’re STILL using to deliver projects in 2020.
So partly for fun, but partly for “Why the hell are we still using this?!” reasons, here’s a run-down of old-school tools that too many businesses are still using today.
The first spreadsheet software was created for the Apple II computer by a Harvard MBA student in 1979, but by 1986, Microsoft had launched its first version of Excel.
Sure, Excel has far more functions than it did 34 years ago, and the introduction of Google Sheets (its more collaborative counterpart) have spurred developments on, but we’re essentially still looking at software that’s older than Take That’s first album.
Look familiar? Microsoft Excel V2.0 – image source: versionmuseum.com
The problem with spreadsheets is they’re independent entities, disconnected from business outcomes and blissfully ignorant of what’s really going on. As billionaire businessman and co-founder of Intuit Scott D. Cook said: “For every one of our failures, we had spreadsheets that looked awesome”.
MS Project was first used as an internal tool to help manage the huge number of software projects being developed in the company at the time. It must have worked, because the first commercial Windows version was launched in 1990.
The software has evolved massively, but it’s spreadsheet-style look is still fairly familiar to anyone who was using it in the 90s. It’s still one of the most expensive per-user license options out there, despite its commonly-accepted flaws – particularly the poor progress visualisation and lack of features required for agile project management.
As one plain-talking Sharktower user put it: “The problem with MS Project is it becomes someone’s whole job to sit around updating the bloody file. I’ve done that job, and it’s shit.”
The first Windows version of MS Project (1990) – image source: winworldpc.com
A special mention here for the Post-it note, which – despite dating back to the late 70s – still crams the stationary cupboards of offices everywhere.
The Post-it was never intended to be used for anything other than phone messages and shopping lists, yet now it finds itself gracing the walls (and then usually the floors) of huge corporations running £multi-million projects. In offices that many employees aren’t even working in right now.
Post-it note ad from 1987, when the ‘fast lane’ was a bit, well, slower.
Don’t get me wrong. At Sharktower, we know we stand on the shoulders of giants. But those giants are tired now, and they definitely don’t belong in complex change-management projects that can make or break a business.
I’ve seen what can go wrong when faith, time and money are invested in outdated processes, and innovation will never be delivered that way.
It’s time to replace tried and tested (or ‘tired’ and tested) processes with things that propel you, your teams and your projects out of the comfort zone and into the future.
Created in 2015 (and updated just about every week since), Sharktower intelligent project planning and portfolio management software brings planning, project management and measurement into a single, AI-driven platform.
Sharktower’s interactive visual planner, 2020.
Under the surface, Sharktower’s machine learning models analyse data to spot problems before they happen, showing project health, slippage and team sentiment.
Show me a spreadsheet that can do that, and I’ll buy you a LEGO NES for Christmas.