We’ve all done it…
We fall head over heels in love with “the one”—a project management tool that we believe is perfect for us. And for some time, it is—it does all the right things. It makes us feel good about the work we do. And it’s there for us every day.
However, over time, things change.
Suddenly everything becomes more difficult and things start falling apart. Tasks begin falling through the cracks, rules and automations are “breaking”, and we no longer feel the same way about that tool as we once did.
Is it time to break up and move on?
Is it you… or them?
In this article, we will dive into some signs your project management tool is no longer working for your organization, and how to determine if it’s a platform problem or a process problem.
10 Signs Your Project Management Tool is No Longer Meeting Your Needs
It happens to the best of us.
We fall victim to “bright, shiny object syndrome”, and choose a tool that we “think” will work for the time being.
And it might work. Until one day when it doesn’t.
We choose an application used by some of our competitors or that others have seen success with. And it gets the job done for a while; however, most of the time, we choose tools or use them in a way that is not scalable.
Here are some signs your project management tool is no longer cutting it:
1. Onboarding is difficult.
This could mean the learning curve is steep, it requires IT resources, or it requires substantial setup or installation time.
2. Integration is clunky.
This could mean using the tool in your daily workflow is disjointed with other tools, or the tool lacks direct integration with other applications in your tech stack that would streamline your workflow.
3. User adoption is low.
If team members and stakeholders are working in siloes and using their own tools, and managing their work individually using other applications or programs within their comfort zones, then this could be a sign that there is a problem with the platform and/or process.
4. The system is buggy.
If you notice instances where data isn’t saved properly, slow load and response times, reports don’t populate fully, or you receive frequent error messages, then these are common signs that the platform has bugs.
5. Security is poor.
Organizations today can’t afford to not take security seriously. Although annoying, today’s tools should come equipped with multi-factor authentication, data encryption, and data backup methods. At a minimum.
6. It Lacks automation capabilities.
Today’s five-star applications come with built-in automation capabilities to help teams streamline processes and workflows, especially those that are repeatable, repetitive, and tedious, such as task assignment, task status updates, and updating task due dates. If your project management platform doesn’t have these capabilities, then it might be time to ditch it.
7. It lacks team collaboration features.
This means team members resort to communicating via informal meetings, instant messaging applications, SMS texting, email, and other informal modes of communication.
8. It can’t scale to your growing needs.
Your current application only does a portion of what you need. For example, if you need a project management system that integrates with time tracking, invoicing, or customer issue ticket management, then it may be time to pull the plug.
9. Your project team can only use the system via their work computers.
This means there isn’t a mobile application available for increased remote work, making accessibility and just doing work unnecessarily difficult.
10. Your team constantly misses deadlines.
This is because your current project management tool cannot—or isn’t configured—to alert you about tasks that are currently due, due soon, and the overdue tasks, before they become a real problem.
7 Signs You Have a Process Problem, Not a Platform Problem
- Automation capabilities
- Team collaboration features
- Time tracking features
- Issue management
- Backlog management
- Proper alerts and notifications (preferably before deadlines are missed)
We just identified many signs that a project management tool isn’t the best fit for you and your team. However, in some cases, some of those issues can be solved with a better process.
According to an article published by Forbes, many companies invest in technology to improve their productivity. However, too many companies rely too heavily on technology to fix their problems. Technology is often used as a band-aid fix rather than really diving into the root cause of the problem.
For example, your current project management platform might have built-in capabilities to automate tasks and processes, but they aren’t configured to complement your existing workflows and processes.
In this particular case, this is a process problem, not a platform problem.
Here are some other signs to be on the lookout for:
1. Work siloes are present.
Team members work in siloes using their own applications and following their own processes. Team members continue to work out of email rather than in the tool.
2. There are still quality issues.
Even after investing in highly robust project management tools, quality issues persist.
3. The problem is culture.
The organizational culture doesn’t adjust well to different solutions or change.
4. The technological capabilities are there but aren’t being utilized.
Your current project management tool has all the necessary features and functionality to manage projects and tasks, but they aren’t set up, or no one uses them.
5. Leadership doesn’t use the project management tool either.
The leadership team tells the team and staff to use the project management system, but without any clear direction as to how to use it or a specific process to follow. Then, the next day they send tasks via email instead.
6. There’s a lack of accountability.
It isn’t clear which task is assigned to whom, nor are there any repercussions for not completing a task.
7. You don’t have a project management strategy.
As Allan Dib claimed in The 1-Page Marketing Plan, “tactics without a strategy lead to shiny, bright object syndrome”. So, if you don’t have a strategy for managing and processing projects, then you likely have a process problem.
How to Figure Out if You Have a Process Problem or a Platform Problem
Not sure if you have a process or a platform problem? Here are some steps to take to help you:
1. Perform a root cause analysis.
There are a few different ways you can perform a root cause analysis. This involves diving deep into why and how a problem or an issue occurred. My favorite tactic is the “5 WHYs”. Think of a time recently when a mistake or issue happened internally. Now ask yourself, Why did this happen? And then proceed to ask yourself WHY four more times.
2. Assess enterprise limitations.
In some cases, there might be a legitimate limitation within the company that might prevent a team from fully embracing a particular platform. A common example is IT preventing access to employees or outside contractors and vendors due to the company’s security policies and procedures.
3. Perform an operational assessment.
If there is a gap in your current operations, such as a particular resource or a quality assurance step, performing an operational assessment will help you to determine what is missing and what can be improved, and how. An operational assessment can also reduce organizational risks if there are any.
4. Hire a business analyst.
No time to do any of the steps above? You can always delegate this type of work to a business analyst. Most small businesses and agencies don’t have business analysts in house as they can be expensive resources.
However, you can outsource to a small consulting firm specializing in business analysis or find an independent contractor to do the work for you. It can also be helpful to have a third party look inward at your company’s operations for a fresh, outside perspective.
The Top Project Management Software for 2023
Project management software makes it easy to plan projects, allocate tasks and keep teams organized so that deadlines and goals are met. With so many project management solutions on the market today–all with different pricing, plans, and features—making the right decision for you and your company is no easy task.
The decision on which to choose can be difficult. So we analyzed dozens of the leading providers to find the best project management software for small businesses in 2023.
Once you have identified the problem—whether you have a process problem or a platform problem, or both—it is important to evaluate the best solutions for your team.
Finding the right project management software for your team can make all the difference in the success of your project, and your organization as a whole. Therefore, it is essential to take the time to look for software that is both intuitive and provides features that meet your project management needs, as well as offer value for money.
To make an informed decision, refer to thefollowing list provides critical features to look for when selecting the right project management software:
Need help figuring out the right project management software for your project, team, and organization? We can help. Work with a qualified and professional team of project managers and business analysts today to help you find your best match.