Cloud-based Project Management Software
An Empirical Research of Project Management Software among Saudi SMEs
Saudi Arabia’s government views the successful development of country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as an important factor in facilitating the growth of the national economy. The Agency of the Department for Economic Development in Dubai is mandated to develop the Saudi SME sector. Recently, Department for Economic Development in Dubai in collaboration with Microsoft organized a joint seminar on how SMEs can enhance and improve their businesses by embracing Cloud Computing, which can empower enterprises to improve their productivity and efficiency. For small and medium businesses, engaging in Cloud Computing means adopting state-of-the-art information technology (IT) solutions and creating the potential for far-reaching business growth and innovation. Clouding gives company of any size access to services and capabilities that previously were available only to bigger enterprises. Cloud technology can help enhance SMEs competitiveness and enhance their growth. In Dubai, only 21% of SMEs surveyed reported that they deployed advanced IT systems, such as Enterprise Recourse Planning (ERP) and/or Customer Relationship Management (CRM)) for managing their business operations. Although 70% of SMEs use advanced or basic (software for specific purposes) IT systems, only one-third budget IT costs in their annual expenses. The report also showed that only 6% of surveyed SMEs had online ordering capabilities. SMEs can upgrade their operations by enhancing their Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for better performance. Leveraging the Cloud will be the major strategic solution for SMEs in order to improve their ICT capabilities, groom SMEs into bigger and more sustainable enterprises and support them through their growth into larger, internationally-oriented companies. It is observed that tech-savvy SMEs drive more revenue gains and create more new jobs than SMEs that use little technology. The 2013 report by Boston Consulting Group has shown that SMEs that deployed Microsoft Cloud services developed more rapidly than SMEs that did not use any Cloud-based products.
Nowduri, argues that one of the main obstacles to successfully adoption and implementation of IT solutions are difficulties in making them more adaptable to the enterprise’s needs and business’ lack of expertise in monitoring, operating and evaluating IT. Considering that Saudi government’s policies already support SMEs in adopting advanced Project Management Cloud Software, national SMEs should pay focused attention to choosing and adopting appropriate Cloud-based project management packages. The purpose of the research paper is to investigate and compare currently available Cloud-based Project Management Software options. Research, evaluation and comparison will have practical implications for Saudi SMEs via developing recommendations for small and medium businesses as to what Cloud-based options would be optimal for addressing their business’ development needs.
Following are questions that research will thoroughly investigate and address:
- What kinds of Cloud-based Project Management Software currently exist?
- How can existing Cloud-based Project Management Software address the needs of Saudi SMEs and be deployed efficiently and effectively?
- What suggestions can be made in regards to Cloud-based Project Management Software’s efficacy, as a result of a comparison between various types of software options.
- What recommendations can be made for Saudi SMEs in regard to adopting Cloud-based Project Management Software for the maximal benefit of the enterprise?
Current empirical research on Cloud-based Project Management Software and practical application of Cloud computing among Saudi SMEs will aim at achieving three primary objectives. Firstly, the research will collect relevant data and identify currently existing Cloud-based Project Management Software that SMEs can deploy for managing their projects. Such a step will include identifying Project Management Software that possesses parameters suitable for SMEs and match Saudi SMEs’ needs and requirements. The second objective will be to conduct a critical comparison and analysis of available and applicable Cloud-based Project Management Software packages. The third objective will be to develop practical recommendations for Saudi SMEs that will articulate advantages of employment of Cloud-based Project Management Software options and recommend particular Project Management Software options. Saudi SMEs will be able to benefit from recommendations by utilizing suggested software in order to successfully manage their business operations, enhance ICT capabilities and facilitate SMEs’ growth into bigger and more sustainable enterprises through improving their performance.
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According to Yamin and Tsaramirsis, the employment of Cloud Computing in Saudi Arabia is going to significantly increase. The authors conducted a survey of Cloud Computing awareness among Saudi businesses and corporations. The survey revealed that Saudi small and medium businesses show increased interest in Cloud computing, since it allows simplifying data storage management, reduce dramatically operational costs and time of administering storage data. Saudi SMEs become increasingly aware of improved quality of services and higher level of IT agility that the Cloud offers. Significant economic savings that Cloud Computing offers motivate SMEs to closely look into available Cloud software options and actively employ Cloud-based Project Management Software. Considering that the Saudi economy is becoming increasingly integrated into the global market, rapidly growing number of connected enterprises demand complex software solutions, including Cloud-based Project Management Software.
Kshetri studied the state of Cloud computing in developing economies in order to help businesses exploit the opportunities offered by Cloud computing while minimising the associated risks. Author argues that Cloud reduces infrastructure costs for SMEs and is likely to develop primarily in healthcare, banking and educational sectors. Another major application of the Cloud in Saudi Arabia may become e-commerce and supply chain management. According to Kshetri (2010), Cloud offers such opportunities as access to IT infrastructure and applications, productivity gains, Cloud related entrepreneurial activities, building application on established Cloud platforms and developing new products and services. Additionally, author draws attention to Cloud risks and challenges in the form of cybercrimes, spying and criminal-controlled Clouds.
Kuo explored opportunities of a Cloud computing model for improving health care services. Author claims that when a health care organizations consider moving their services into the Cloud, they need to start with strategic planning of adopting Cloud computing. Firstly, strategic planning includes identification and evaluation of Cloud-based Project Management Software. Next step is determining whether to adopt Cloud service or not. This stage requires determining Cloud service and deployment model, comparison of different Cloud providers, obtaining assurance from selected Cloud provider, considering future data migration and launch of a pilot implementation. The last step is a follow up when SMEs deploy Cloud computing infrastructure and develop a plan to measure improvements. Kuo also states that when healthcare organization moves to Cloud computing, it has to examine its organisational culture, staffing, technologies, budget, government regulations, privacy issues, data jurisdiction, intellectual property rights and contract law.
According to Middle East and North Africa Report, Saudi Arabia, as a leading market in MENA region, accounts for nearly 50% of all IT spending in the MENA market. There is a trend among Saudi SMEs to incorporate Clouding computing into their IT infrastructure. Clouding Services are becoming more prominent in Saudi Arabia as a result of their effectiveness in significantly decreasing overall costs of an organization. The benefits of Cloud-based services, such as cost-effectiveness and scalability, have motivated significant number of SMEs to integrate their IT infrastructures with Cloud-based services.
Ahuja, Mani, and Zambrano investigated the state of Cloud computing in healthcare. Authors concluded that Cloud computing will be a defining trend of the coming decade and will impact wide range of medical business practices. One task of Clouding computing in healthcare is to address the problem of rising costs of healthcare solutions and improve quality and clinical patient outcomes. The benefits of Cloud computing in healthcare are improved quality of service, reduction in IT costs in healthcare companies and collaboration between healthcare organisations.
Huang, Li, Yin, and Zhao studied the application of new emerging technologies (such as Cloud computing) in addressing the needs of SMEs involved in manufacturing. Authors argue that employment of manufacturing-tailored Cloud computing services can help solve such challenges as the deficiency of the capabilities of operating management and development and research, as well as coordination of the industrial chain. Building of a resource-sharing platform helps launch large-scale cooperative manufacturing and solve complicated manufacturing problems. Gradual turnaround of manufacturing industry from traditional product-oriented operation to service-oriented operation calls for SME-oriented capability transaction platform and Cloud manufacturing service. Authors propose SME-oriented cloud manufacturing service platform consisting of 12 layers: manufacturing resource, platform integrated operation environment, basic support, persistent service, engine, tool, service component, service module, business model, transaction, enterprise service and user. However, authors acknowledge that Cloud manufacturing service and ability transaction platform are still at the initial stage of development and will be further perfected during the application stage.
Michael et al. (2013), from the Boston Consulting Group, corroborated findings of Cloud computing advantages and articulated how SMEs can benefit from the Cloud. Firstly, Cloud computing drastically increases data accessibility, flexibility and mobility. SME owners and managers can engage in virtual management and real-time team coordination from anywhere in the world. Clouding computing prevents SMEs from incurring high technology expenses via providing possibility of placing data on an easily accessible single resource location. Besides providing lower technology expenses, Cloud computing enables SMEs managers to concentrate on their core functions and increase management efficiency.
Hossain and Muhammad, scientists from King Saud University in Riyadh, offered a Cloud-based collaborative media service framework for health care. The key components of the offered framework are collaborative users, cloud manager, resource allocation manager, media content server, sensing server and monitoring. The framework allows employing collaborative service for voice pathology detection, where patients, caregivers and doctors collaborate with each other through multimedia communication technologies such as a discussion board, voice mail, web conferencing and video conferencing.
Considering the high interest of Saudi SMEs to the topic of Cloud-based Project Management Software, current research will aim at providing scientific and practical solutions and recommendations for Saudi SMEs in regard to their engagement in Cloud computing. The research is going to adhere to following documentation style: introduction, literature review, applying appropriate methodology, data analysis and comparison, formulating results, discussing results of research, making recommendation, analysing implication of the research and drawing conclusions.
In order for research to achieve credible results and obtain reliable data, it will evaluate existing scholarly and empirical findings, as well as opinions of experts and professionals related to the research topics. Collected data about the deployment of Cloud-based software applications in similar and different industries will be compared. Comparative evaluation will be performed with the goal of articulating practical recommendations for Saudi SMEs in regards to the perspective and benefits of adopting and effectiveness of deploying Cloud in particular industries. Research results and possible implications will be formulated into scientific conclusions with making recommendations for further research. Related issues that may arise are (a) current trends in the adoption of Cloud computing among SMEs; (b) guidelines for the adoption of Cloud-based software; and (c) demands for user training in the context of features accessibility and assistive technology development.