10 Signs You Desperately Need a New Project Management Tool

The main purpose to using a project management tool is to improve productivity, communication, and organization between those who manage projects, those who are responsible for tasks within the projects, and the clients those projects are for. But what if your project management tool isn’t helping you in all of those areas?

Here are 10 signs you are in desperate need of a new project management tool – stat!

1. No support when you run into problems.

With any tool, software, application, etc., you are likely to run into some kind of problem. It happens with the best of them. Unfortunately, you may not have the kind of support you need when problems arise.

Businesses that run into support issues for their project management tool generally fit in the following categories.

  • Businesses that developed their own, in-house project management tool, after which the developer left the company.

  • Businesses that purchased project management software from a company that has since gone out of business, and therefore offer no support.

  • Businesses that purchased project management software that never has offered support, or has very unresponsive support ticket system.

  • Businesses that purchased project management software, but did not purchase support due to extra fees beyond the price of the software itself.

Support can be crucial when it comes to using your project management tool effectively. If yours doesn’t offer phone and online support, then you could be dealing with unnecessarily frustrating and time consuming issues.

2. You use a ton of tools.

Do you feel like you are in tool overload? Are you using a separate time tracking tool to get your exact time spent on a project, then transferring those numbers to your project management tool? Or are you using a separate to-do list tool to keep your tasks organized the way you want them because you don’t like the one provided by your project management tool?

The more tools you have to use, the more time you are spending on the management of your projects instead of the revenue-generating tasks for the projects themselves.  Finding a project management tool that incorporates all of the functionality you need to streamline the management process or integrate with other tools you use will result in more time spent towards the project, and less in non-revenue generating admin work.

3. On-boarding new employees is a job unto itself.

Training new employees can be a significant investment. Especially if you have to spend more time training them on how to use your project management tool than you have to spend on training them to do their actual job function.

Your project management tool should be easy to use, and include proper documentation so that you don’t have to explain all of the ins and outs of their functionality. At the very minimum, you should have a recently updated user’s manual that new employees can follow to start tracking their time and managing their tasks.

4. You rely mostly on spreadsheets for your project management.

Many small businesses start out managing their projects in spreadsheets. These can be a hassle in many areas, especially if you have to share them with others in order to keep up to date on specific project tasks. Or worse, you have to print their content before regular meetings, fill in statuses, and then update them later.

Your project management tool should eliminate the need for the use of spreadsheets. If you still find it’s easier to use spreadsheets to keep up with your projects, then you might want to re-consider your options.

5. People who need to use your project management tool can’t.

If you have employees spread out across the globe, employees who use Mac and others who use PC, employees who prefer Google Chrome over Firefox, and employees that upgrade computers more often than he average computer user, then you could run into issues with accessibility with your project management tool. Some tools only work on a specific operating system, and others that are web-based only work on a specific browser.

This is why you need a web-based project management tool that is secure and accessible from any browser. It will ensure that all of your employees, contractors, and even clients have access to project statuses 24/7 from any location imaginable (so long as there is internet access, of course).

6. Useless notifications.

When you use a project management tool that offers too few (or no) email alerts, you run the risk of missing deadlines. When you use one that offers too many email alerts, you run the risk of missing notifications because you’ll eventually filter them out of your main inbox.

And regardless of whether your project management tool sends too few or too many notifications, you’ll still be in the dark if the notifications are generic. There’s nothing worse than getting emails that say, “Your project has been updated. Please login to get the latest information.”

This is why you need the right frequency of email alerts that are detailed to the point that when opened, the right people know when a change has been made that affects them. Not only that, but they are directed to the exact link to get those changes.

The more specific the email alert, the more effective the notification will be to everyone on the team.

7. No one knows what anyone else is doing.

Have you ever assigned someone a task, only to have him or her come into your office an hour later to let you know they are overloaded? Or have you ever found out that some of your team members have been playing Candy Crush to pass the time because they had nothing to do?

Being able to quickly glance at workloads can make assigning tasks a much simpler process. Not only will it be easier for project managers to make sure that work is being distributed as equally as possible, but it can also let them know when a new team member needs to be hired (and give them something to show the boss as proof). In addition, it can prevent your top team members from getting burnt out and resentful of those who don’t have to work overtime every day.

8. Project managers have to ask a lot of status-related questions.

Not all meetings are necessary, and for the most part, they can actually lower the amount of time per day that your staff has to work on revenue-generating projects. If your project managers have to hold recurring meetings just to check on the status of the project, then you’re not getting what you need from your project management tool.

Project managers, as well as other members of our team, should be able to quickly look at the current statuses for projects to see who is responsible and where they stand. Being able to check this on a regular basis saves you from having mundane meetings and enables you only have to schedule meetings to find out how to get projects that are running late back on track.

9. Your clients have to ask a lot of status-related questions.

Phone calls, like meetings, can be time consuming. Especially when those phone calls can be avoided. Clients love to stay on top of how a project is progressing. While some are good with a weekly or even monthly update, others are chomping at the bit to find out what progress has been made on a daily basis. This usually results in the project manager receiving a lot of phone calls.

When you have a project management tool that not only is accessible by your team, but also by your clients, you can cut those calls down significantly. You can further reduce time spent on the phone by having a project management tool where clients and employees within your business can discuss project details within the tool itself. It will not only reduce calls from clients, but it will make the calls that do come in more efficient as the client and the project manager won’t be starting a conversation about project status from scratch!

10. You worry (or are worrying!) about scalability.

The growth of your business is a good thing for your bottom line, but not always for the tools you use. Most businesses start out with tools made for small businesses, and then have to look elsewhere when their business expands. And anyone who has had to start using a new project management system knows that the transition can be challenging.

This is why you need to have a project management tool that is scalable. You don’t want to look for something that starts out for enterprises in the beginning, but you also don’t want something that is limited to only small businesses.  Instead, you want something that is used by both small to large businesses, that way you know that when the day comes to expand, your project management tool can grow with you.

This article originally appeared in Workzone Blog.

This post was written by Kristi Hines.