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12/13/2010

Should Everyone Be Required to Use Project Management Software?

I had an interesting discussion this morning with one of our project management software clients.  We were talking about their history with us and what has worked for them.  The conversation turned to the adoption of the tool by their users.

In the past, they did not require the use of their project management software system by all of their users, and they did not enter in all of their projects.  Some departments did, others did not.  What was the result?  There was no central visibility into all of the projects so the value of the tool to the organization was low.  Once they started implementing some accountability, and had all of their projects in the system, the value of the tool to the organization, and everyone, skyrocketed.  Why? 

There are two reasons that I see:

1.  They could then wrap a good process around the tool.  The tool in and of itself is of no great value without a good process around it.  The tool should support the process.  If you are only doing a half-hearted job at the tool, you can do a half-hearted job at the process.  Or you have one process for certain projects, and another process for other projects.  This is very inefficient.

2.  They have immediate visibility into everything.  This opens the doors to new things, such as being able to tell a customer the current status of a project, and even more importantly identifying constraints and problem areas.  This particular client does a lot of engineering.  They have a very constrained resource, namely a testing station that everything has to go through.  By identifying the workload for the testing station, they can schedule that work, flow out the rest of their projects, and thus accurately predict when projects will really be done.  They simply couldn't do this if the projects were not all in the system.

This brought up the question in my mind, should everyone be required to use project management software?  It is an important question because not everyone will use it if they are not required to do so.  As much as we would like to think that everyone will jump on board if the software is good and intuitive, that just is not the case.  Some people simply will do things the same way they have always done them.  No matter what.

Let me make a distinction that I am specifically referring to an organizational project management tool, such as a web-based tool.

I do believe the answer to this question depends somewhat on the organization, its culture, and its goals.  In the case of our client above, they have a fairly formalized process and scheduling is very important.  In their case, I believe that everyone should be required to use the system, otherwise they simply cannot accomplish their objectives.  I suppose there is a case to be made for an organization that is more informal and not as schedule-driven.  In that case, perhaps it would not make as much of a difference.  But even then, why use the software in the first place?  If your goal is to increase collaboration, what good is it if everyone does not collaborate?  Why get a tool to collaborate and not implement the process and discipline of collaboration?

What do you think?  When should everyone not be required to use a system?

 





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In this day and age, project management software has become really easy to use. Just look at these - http://creately.com/blog/experience/5-best-tool-for-distributed-project-team/

Thanks ForzaRP, I have no doubt about Zendesk -http://www.zendesk.com/ and Creately - http://creately.com. But, going to try out the others now!!

Thanks again for this.

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