Project management software is bestowed with promises of higher productivity, better efficiency, and a host of other benefits. And rightly so - there is a lot of benefit to the right system being installed in the right away for the right organization. Like any organizational tool however, it does not always live up to expectations for a variety of reasons. Here are four ways that you can get more out of your project management software today.
1. Hold Brown Bag Lunch Sessions
A common issue is that no one has (or takes) the time to talk about how the organization is using the software tool, much less do any type of training on it. The solution? Hold brown bag lunch sessions. These are great ways to informally communicate, discuss the use of the system, and even do some training in bite size pieces. It does not matter if you are using spreadsheets, a complicated enterprise-wide tool, or a middle of the road tool (like EnterPlicity), there is always value in this. You may very well find that not everyone has the same perception of how the software should be used, and that everyone is not using the software the same way. You will come away with insight into some not-too-difficult things you can do to increase value, and the participants will come away with more knowledge and understanding of the how's and why's of the system.
2. Put Together Cheat Sheets
Organizations use project management software differently to implement different processes for meet different needs and objectives. A lot of focus is put on how to use software features. Instead, create cheat sheets on how to accomplish key processes within the software. For example, create a cheat sheet for creating a new project noting the information required, the specific steps in the tool, and even any steps outside of the tool (i.e. job numbers to be created in the accounting system, or documents to be created for customers). In other words, what are the expectations and process for people to do their job? These are not vendor documents - those will be focused on features. These are your internally generated cheat sheets focused on your processes. People will appreciate the clarity and the focus on what they need to do (and not unneeded feature information).
3. Eliminate a Manual Process
It is not difficult to find a process being performed manually now that could be done with your software tool. Perhaps someone is manually entering information into spreadsheets and someone else is spending hours compiling information from various spreadsheets for a weekly status report. I almost always find ways to streamline and even eliminate manual steps. It may take some technical work, but sometimes it may be as simple as streamlining how people are entering the data. You would be surprised at what you can find to streamline when you put a laser focus on that objective.
4. Create an Internal Help Resource
I recommend putting in place an internal webpage, blog, or similar resource that everyone can go to for all information on your software system. This sounds more complicated than it has to be. It could simply be a page that contains all of your cheat sheets and links to vendor training documents. It could be expanded with information on upcoming updates, brown bag lunch sessions, how-to's, faq's, etc. The internal aspect is because this is not focused on how to use the tool, but how your organization uses the tool to accomplish its objectives.
What other ways have you gotten "more" out of project management software for your organization?