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10 tips to get the most out of your project management system

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | May 20, 2015
Project management pros share their top tips for getting workers to use project management software more efficiently and effectively – from entering project updates to leveraging more advanced features.

3. Make sure the software can integrate with other key applications (if applicable). "For most companies, capturing data in dedicated project management software is only part of a total solution," says Replicon's Bales. "Sharing that data with other apps completes the cycle. This can be critical for project costing and expense reimbursement, payroll and other processes," he says. Fortunately, "most cloud-based project tracking software includes out-of-the-box data sharing, typically supplied for applications such as Microsoft Project, QuickBooks and others."

4. Be realistic about expectations. "PM software should support and automate excellent project management processes, not replace them," argues Mike Fisher, managing consultant, Allegient, an IT consulting company. "Many times PM software is perceived to fail in delivery due to false expectations. PM software realistically provides three basic functions: data acquisition and management, decision support, and reporting and graphing."

5. Find someone to champion the software. "The most essential element for achieving high ROI of a project management system is complete adoption by the team," says Tom Treanor, director of marketing, Wrike, which provides project management and collaboration tools for the enterprise and SMBs.

"In order to achieve high levels of adoption, there has to be a strong champion in management who can make sure that team members have the necessary input into the tool selection and that they have access to training or other resources," he says. "The champion also needs to be able to enforce adoption and model the right behavior by using the tool for management reviews or meetings. Without strong adoption, the value of the system will be limited."

6. Do an incremental rollout -- and make sure people are properly trained. "After over 10 years of rolling out PMO software, one thing that we have learned is that rolling every capability out to every employee on day one is recipe for disaster," says John Glander, PMO specialist, Level 5 Partners, a provider of project management office solutions. "Incrementally roll out everything to small sets of users or roll out specific capabilities to all users. Never do a big bang deployment."

And as you roll out the software, make sure people are trained on at least the basic features -- and provide advanced training to those who need or desire it.

7. Define workflows upfront. "You have to spend some time in the beginning in order to set them properly, but [well defined] workflows will make all processes [straightforward] and spare you much time," says Kartunova.

8. Make sure all team members are using the PM software, not another system, to keep everyone informed. "If you intend to use a project management system as a communication hub, there's no room for holdouts," says Mark Nichols, the director of Content at Flow, a project management platform. The purpose of project management software is to "make things clear and eliminate miscommunications," he says. "And you cannot expect that to happen if certain people are managing tasks and timelines [outside the project management system]," he says. So "get your entire team on the system, and make it the home for everything that's important about your project."

 

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