There’s an important, but not apparent, set of factors effecting successful use of project management software which can trip you up if you’re not aware of them.
Let’s take a look at the hidden Design factor today in this blog.
Before we get started on design, a brief baseline. Project management software represents both a promise and a challenge. The promise looks something like, “if you use this tool, you’ll be on track, on time, within budget, complete what you set out to do, etc.”
But it turns out that the (reality) challenge of completing the project is bigger than the promise, given all the failed or over-run projects that occur – that presumably were to be avoided by using project management software.
I’m sure you’re aware of that – and if not, it’s easy to research via Google.
So, here’s the first thing to get about project management software design – this directly effects your time and dollars.
Project management software comes in all sorts of design configurations, from simple to complex. Theoretically you should choose no more complexity than is required to complete your job, as increasing complexity always requires more time, effort and cost to use.
If project management software was equivalent to tools for digging in the dirt, you would probably agree that they range in complexity from shovels to large earth moving equipment. So, common sense would suggest that you pick the tool that’s right for the job… and only spend as much money as you need to. Right?
But, here’s what most people don’t think about. What does your project mix look like on the job? What’s the % of time spent working simple vs complex projects? E.g. if only 5% of your time or resources is spent on complex projects, you wouldn’t buy a complex software with all sorts of bells
and whistles… just because it was the biggest or market leader… or would you?
Take one more look at this. What if you looked at the needs of the people using the project management software. What % of your people working on projects need something simple,
versus complex or high powered? I’m betting the % on both is a 10/90 split or higher – with 10% or less going to high powered requirements.
Well, it turns out actually lots of people/organizations buy more than they need, or worse… can sustain. This is an easy one to trip over, but why?
Why? Because it has an immediate sense of comfort. A protection against the distressing discovery that they have purchased something that will “let them down” or that other people can criticize as under performing. It avoids the dreaded, “Why did you buy that software?” challenge.
Design factor, as it effects the simplicity vs complex dimension, can trip you up in two ways.
1. Over Buy: You can protect yourself against not being sure about how much you need and just over-buy, get something bigger than you need… just in case (and then struggle with a low % of people mastering it’s complexity).
2. Under Buy: You can also buy something “simple.” But again, if you don’t accurately assess your needs, it’s easy to trip and inaccurately determine if its simple design has enough flexibility and capacity
built into it to avoid limiting you and your team going forward.
Here’s the bottom line:
Most of us need a customized project management software. In fact, we need it much more than we realize – not only to match up well against the range of projects we are managing, but also given the range of people’s need working on the project.