All About Processes
This is another post in our series on Strategies for Successful Project Management Software Implementations. The following were previous posts in this series:
Take It In Phases
Planning: Another Key Strategy
Tackling Project Management Skills
Project Management Skills and Project Management Software
Implementing Project Management Software: Common Strategies
Here's another strategy: focus on processes, not product features.
Project management software in and of itself does not solve anything. It is just a tool. Anyone can eventually learn how to mark a task as complete, enter time in a timesheet, or upload a document. But the point is not to use project management software, but to get real value out of it by being more competitive, more efficient, making better decisions, or whatever your objectives are.
By combining the software with the proper processes you achieve just that. When talking about implementing project management software, this is key. Here are some tips on how to accomplish this:
Document your Key Processes
What are the key processes that will support your primary objectives? Document these. What is the process to create a new project? To schedule a project? To update status? Running reports? For example, let's say that you are an engineering organization. Your process to create and schedule a project may be something like this:
- Create the project and fill out the project name, engineer, product type, and sales person fields.
- Use the template that corresponds to the product type.
- Reset the project start date to the approved start date.
- Designate which people will fill which roles.
That is simple but fulfills a potential objective: standardizing the project process for new products, and creating a central repository of key project information (i.e. the engineer, product type, etc.).
If you are a professional services organization, you would have a different process, and so on.
Train on Processes not Product Features
The tendency when implementing new project management software (or any software for that matter) is to train people on the use of the software. What features does the software have? How do you use those features?
The problem with that is that most of your users will not use all of those features, and the focus is on using the software instead of getting business value out of the software.
Instead, train people on how to implement the business processes within the software. That does a few things. It simplifies the process. People get trained on what they need to know instead on a lot of stuff that is unnecessary. It focuses everyone on the key objectives (instead of focusing on the software). And it produces results right away that are more inline with the primary objectives.
Do some people need to learn the software well? Sure. But I'll bet you anything that is a far smaller number of people than you think.
Use Templates Wherever Possible
Utilize project templates and other "template-like" capabilities wherever possible. This will help to instill your processes and provide some standardization so that information is valuable and not "messy". It helps to instill your processes because people are following templates and not making things up as they go along. It prevents them from doing things the way they feel like doing it.
There is a lot more that we could discuss about this, but I think you get the point. Focus on your processes and you will accomplish a lot more in a lot less time than if you focus solely on the software.