People define project management differently, typically based upon their immediate needs. Also, they use project management software in different ways as per their requirements. There is an interesting study on that you should know about. Let’s take a minute to review it.
According to survey where Project Managers evaluate ‘which of’ – 40 different tools that fit within the project management umbrella, ‘which ones’ they used the most and least. One should also note that 55% of the Project Managers who were surveyed, worked in organizations of 1,000 or more, 70% worked in organizations of 200 or more. So, this was a study focusing on utilization in large organizations. Also 65% of the projects had a duration of 3-12 months.
Of all the different things you can do with or demand from project management software, what do you think was included in the top five most used lists? It was not tracking Earned Value. It was not creating a project web site or resource allocation, being able to simulate various if-then scenarios did not make it to the top either.
In fact, the number one feature is fascinating. It was getting a progress report. In case you are wondering, here is the top five tools/features Project Managers most frequently used Project Management software for:
|Sr. No.||Small Projects – Under $1m||Large Projects – Over $1m
|1||Progress report||Progress report|
|2||Kick-off meeting||Task scheduling|
|3||Task scheduling||Gantt chart|
|4||Gantt chart||Kick-off meeting|
|5||Scope statemen||Change request|
Back to the no.1 feature – progress updates. It is interesting, but if you look around, you will find that the process of generating and retrieving progress updates consume vast amounts of time at most work sites. They are responsible for a high percentage of time spent in meetings, lots of emails back and forth, and numerous phone calls. In fact, most of us spend a significant part of our day chasing down progress updates, and we do not use project management software as the primary resource.
But, it gets even more interesting when I look at all the organizations we work with. Getting people to input progress updates into the system is usually the biggest omission and downfall in using project management software. It quickly reduces the value of all the previous planning and documentation effort spent while constructing the project plan, holding the kick-off meeting and assigning tasks.
If progress updates are the biggest stated usage need in project management software, why do so many people find themselves reluctant to input progress updates in project management software?
Maybe I should write that this way, “Why do so many people find themselves reluctant to spend the time to type a progress update, but will spend lot of time generating progress updates – on the phone, by typing emails, and in meetings?”, partly it is a problem related with people, partly with design. Most project management software programs do not incorporate a design that supports the level of context provided by verbal interchange and emails, as they are narrowly focused on a specific area of feedback, typically percentage complete or number of hours or dollars used.
- It seems that we are all, whether formal project managers or not, drowning in information, but starved for timely, informative feedback at our finger tips.
- I believe the answer to the question has to do with the brain task involved in creating progress updates, the process called “flow” and a lack of “working smart” that saturates our culture.