Garbage In, Garbage Out in Project Management Software Tools
Most of us have heard the adage, "garbage in, garbage out." It refers to the fact that the information you get out of a tool is only as good as the information you put into the tool. If people enter in garbage (bad information), you will get garbage out.
I did some searching and came across reams of sites, information, reports, etc. about data quality. Much of that is focused on IT and how IT can help to ensure data quality in company databases.
I want to talk about data quality in our project management software tools from non-IT folks. If I were to ask you, what is the number one reason that you even use a tool in the first place, what would be your answer? Because it sounded like a good idea? I would dare say it is to get accurate information, anytime, in order to make good decisions and take action. Why else? For example, there is no reason to put a project schedule in a tool, unless you want to pull information out about it to figure out what tasks need to be done, what tasks are falling behind, or to see someone's workload across this and other projects.
If that is true, then this issue of data quality is huge. We have all seen symptoms of this:
- People "don't have time" to enter data into the system.
- People enter the minimum required information.
- People enter information to make themselves look good.
- People simply don't enter anything - they don't use it.
- Managers ask for data input, but never actually use it.
- People enter the wrong data because they don't understand how they are supposed to enter it.
This creates a big question of why you have the tool in the first place? Fortunately, there are ways to improve the situation and achieve the data output that you need (we'll talk about that next).
In the meantime, I am curious. What other "symptoms" have you seen at your organization? Leave a comment, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.