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04/06/2011

5 Mistakes You Are Making With Your Project Management Software

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Do you think you are using your project management software tool effectively?  Here are five mistakes that you may be making right now.

1.  You only use it for scheduling.

A LOT of organizations (aka people) look for a tool they can use to create and update a project schedule.  Project management is not all about schedules and project management software tools should not be either.  Think broader.  Start delving into status updates, time tracking, document sharing, comments, resource allocation, and the many other things that add value.

2.  You have not tied any strategic objective to it.

Often times project management software is implemented and is left to go its own way.  Sort of like a drifting sailboat.  It is there to do things with (such as create tasks and schedules), but there is no organizational purpose to it.  Why are you using it?  What is it meant to accomplish?  What are you trying to strategically solve?  Are you trying to get a handle on resource allocation?  Are you trying to deliver to your clients on time?  You must have a clearly defined purpose.

3.  You have no accountability.

People (my teenager included) do not like change.  They will use any possible reason to revert back to the "way we have always done it."  If you are trying to accomplish a specific objective with your project management software tool, you cannot throw the software out there and politely ask people to use it.  It just doesn't happen, except in the rarest of organizations (and no, not yours).  You must implement some accountability and hold people accountable for using the system.  Accountability has a negative connotation, but what is the point of doing this in the first place if you do not expect people to use it properly? 

4.  You do not have anyone overseeing the system.

Unless you have a big organization, you do not need someone whose full-time job it is to oversee your project management software system.  However, you do need someone tasked with overseeing and pushing it as part of their broader responsibilities.  That may be a little bit of time per week, it may be more at first.  Someone needs to help drive it, make sure people are using it, make sure people understand it, help people, hold brown bag lunch sessions, etc.  This could be one of your staff or a vendor's staff (although having someone on your own staff is far more beneficial and cost-effective long-term).  Like it is often said, everything rises and falls with leadership, and this is no exception.

5.  You are not using reports extensively.

Reporting (aka data mining) often times is THE reason for project management software in the first place.  If you have done things right, you have a gold mine of information out there waiting to be mined.  There are a ton of questions you can start to ANSWER, not just ask.  How many tasks are falling behind?  Who tends to be the bottleneck?  What types of tasks tend to be later than others?  Who is the most allocated of our staff?  Who gets the most done?  What type of staff will we need in the future?  How many projects did we complete last year?  On time?  We could go on and on.  The purpose is not just to see interesting information, but to make decisions and take action.  If you are not using this information, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to stop fighting fires and start improving your processes and operations.

 





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