Why Your PM Tools Is Letting You Down

Gartner recently published research that concluded that standard PPM tools aren’t cutting it. Their findings validated much of what we’ve learned in the last 8+ years from our customers. We’ve found that traditional project management tools just aren’t keeping up.

They aren’t keeping up with the speed of innovation; they aren’t keeping up with the needs of project teams who are working faster than ever; and they aren’t keeping up with rising customer expectations about speed and quality.

The right project management solution is fundamental for the efficacy of technology teams. If your tool is letting you down, it’s akin to going to battle with a hand tied behind your back.

Technology Teams Face Mounting Pressures

Technology teams are continually being asked to do more work with either the same or fewer resources. From creating and integrating new business applications and helping the company make more data-informed decisions, to enabling new revenue streams, technology teams are being stretched to the limit. They often have to take on these challenges while dealing with a skills gap, resource limitations and budget constraints.

Furthermore, as technology teams scramble to meet these high expectations, demands keep changing at an ever-increasing pace. And unfortunately, traditional project management systems have failed to evolve with this dynamic nature of work. Teams can’t afford to have one person driving the plan—one person manually updating every change, an increasingly arcane practice that renders schedules out of date almost the second they’re updated.

Dysfunction and Delusion in Project Management

Another problem with traditional project management tools is that they struggle to deal with uncertainty, unknowns and unforeseen circumstances that famously plague projects despite our best efforts or intentions. In other words, old-style PM software doesn’t reflect reality; these tools don’t easily adapt with change and reflect shifting priorities as they occur.

Furthermore—and this is one of the most problematic characteristics of traditional tool—project plans are set to deterministic, single-point deadlines that are often built on guesstimates and best-case scenarios (or handed down from a customer who doesn’t get it). Consequently, teams are working toward deadlines and finish dates that aren’t a realistic calculation of the work that needs to be done based on the resources available. Finish dates are made without considering a range of best and worst case scenarios.

The Problem With Priorities

How many times has a team member worked on a task only to find out later that it’s either yesterday’s news, or put on hold while a higher-priority task has zoomed in its place. Traditional tools can’t update fast enough to catch these priority shifts. And, with the inherent lack of visibility, there’s no way for team members to see what’s going on. When there’s no collective way to see and updated project plan at all times, and by all project team members, there’s no guaranteed way to know that every person on the project is working on the top priority work item to drive the project forward.

Being able to manage priorities and resource allocation are two big drivers of project success, and keeping pace with fast-moving and ever-changing project work. Static conventional tools have no way to automatically update the schedule based on priorities and availability, rendering them effectively dead on arrival. They’re nothing more than snapshots consigned to storage shelves as soon as they’re done. Consequently, teams resort to the siloes of spreadsheets and email.

The consequences aren’t pretty: trouble managing stakeholder expectations, a lack of visibility into project status, missed deadlines, and lost credibility. No wonder project teams have come to either loath or distrust their PM tool.

Not Just a Pretty Face

It’s not as if these conventional tools haven’t tried hard to be valuable for teams and organizations. Unfortunately, most of the innovation focuses on improving the user experience (UX) layer without addressing the core underlying issue. Even the most well-designed UX cannot account for the fact that the project plan and schedule is dislocated from reality. Design can’t cover up the fact that your plan has no way to adapt to the changing reality of your business, and that updating the project plans loses time and money because most teams have come to disregard them.

UX innovation in project management tools is a necessary but insufficient solution to the most common project management problems. Instead, what’s needed is a system that’s based on an adaptable and agile methodology—and a process that helps implement this methodology.

Dynamic Project Management is a fluid, supportive and responsive way of managing projects that works with the needs of teams rather than against them. It’s a way to improve on static, unreliable work management tools (or a lack thereof), and helps teams thrive in competitive industries and fast-moving environments.

Dynamic Project Management isn’t just a trend to keep an eye on for the future, it’s a way to get ahead right now.

Traditional project management tools might be undermining your productivity, efficiency and efficacy as you’re reading this. Our new project management diagnostic will audit your project management system and diagnose what you could do better.

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The Hard Truth Behind Why Your Project Management Tool Is Letting You Down was last modified: April 5th, 2016 by Aashish Dhamdhere