Managing projects is a complex business. And many of the project management tools out there don’t help—in part, because they’re just as complex as the projects themselves.
Traditional PM solutions are notoriously difficult to use, inflexible, frustrating, hard to update and expensive. Teams focus on tasks and dates instead of people and priorities. Project plans are separated from the work being done. One or two key people have access to the tool, with the rest of the team left in the dark. Nobody ever knows if the schedule they have is the most updated version or one from last month. Who can you trust here? There’s a reason IT projects are plagued by statistics of running over budget and delivering past deadline! When you think about the legacy tools and spreadsheets used over time to manage large projects, it’s practically a miracle that projects were completed in the first place.
Bottom line: We’re creatures of habit. This means we often put up with the same crappy processes and tools because that’s how it’s been. But we’re in a new era of project management, with tools that are more agile, collaborative and with schedules that can be automatically updated. Do you ever find yourself wondering if the way you manage projects could be better?
Here are nine signs that your project management solution is broken:
1. When a stakeholder asks you for a project update, you panic. Then, you end up spending half the day analyzing the schedule and chasing down various team members for information.
Solution: Use a PM tool that automatically updates your plan and schedule changes in real time.
2. You don’t have a clear idea of who’s working on what. If you don’t have an accurate way to manage resources, you’re dangerously close to managing projects with crossed fingers.
Solution: Find software that is resource-driven. This means you can see how your allocated resources are affecting your schedule and v.v.
3. Your project’s end dates keep changing—and your deliverables are always late. This is not a great way to win friends and gain trust from your customers and stakeholders.
Solution: Try a scheduling tool that employs reliable estimation methods (we like best case/worst case scenarios and ranged estimations), and one that can give you predictive end dates.
4. Your team works in silos. Collaboration = zero. Nobody has any idea of what their colleagues are doing or how each person’s work affects the team and the project at large.
Solution: Find a collaborative project management tool that lets team members make comments in line with tasks and work items.
5. You have to manually update the entire project when something changes. This means that you (or someone on your team) is spending valuable work time on updating the schedule. And there will undoubtedly be changes that occur soon after you’re done with the “latest” version.
Solution: Employ planning software that is used by everyone on the team.
6. Your project management methodology is otherwise known as “winging it.” Your team deserves a more reliable way to plan and execute projects.
Solution: Research project management tools that work for your team’s needs, and can be used by people who don’t consider themselves “project managers”—but they manage projects.
7. Nobody’s clear on the top priorities. Team members might be working on yesterday’s priorities because there’s no quick and flexible way to communicate plan changes and updated priorities.
Solution: Use a PM tool that makes it easy to prioritize tasks (like a drag and drop), and presents those tasks clearly to team members.
8. Nobody logs time. It’s too cumbersome to use, and team members don’t see any value in time tracking for them.
Solution: Try a solution that integrates a time tracking tool that is easy to access and use, and provides useful data to all team members.
9. Your team has lost credibility with stakeholders and customers. When you repeatedly miss deadlines and go over budget, you lost the trust of the people who matter most to your project.
Solution: Invest in a project management platform that gives you realistic end dates and integrates resource management into the schedule. Find a tool that lets you stay on top of all aspects of the project, and helps you sleep at night.
Is it time to make a change? There are a lot of tools that can help technical organizations meet their business goals, deliver high-quality products and win the trust of customers and stakeholders. Start with a list of questions to ask when you’re considering a new PM tool. Trying new software might take some getting used to, but the right solution can transform the way your team manages work and the way your organization does business.
If you liked this article (or saw yourself in it) and would like to learn more about how to improve your project management skills, download our eBook, 5 Practical Habits for Today’s Project Manager.
Tatyana Sussex coaches entrepreneurs and professionals who are launching a business or reinventing their careers–in short, she guides people through the process of creating something new. She specializes in messaging coaching for entrepreneurs who want to develop their brand, voice and professional presence, get their story into the world and connect with the right people.