The Challenges of PM Software

As technology evolves and the process behind building products shifts, so does project management software. Management software must continually evolve as projects become more complex and diverse. Regardless of the industry, managing a project is an intricate endeavor, and there are many challenges PMs face with their software.

Cloud computing, global project teams, and flexible working have reshaped the project manager role. Additionally, there’s an increasing need for accountability and transparency, for this reason, agile and leaner methods are more prevalent than ever. While these factors all shape the project management landscape for the better, the growth of the industry has also presented several challenges for project managers and project management software.

Expertise

Tedious Implementation: New projects and features can lead to very tedious processes. Businesses often have trouble finding project managers that are proficient in this area. One of the major issues with new implementations is the inability to anticipate the risks. Other reasons implementations fail include:  

  • Poor methodology and requirements
  • Inadequate resources
  • Improper communication
  • Unrealistic budgets
  • Overly optimistic expectations

On the plus side, there are best practices PMs can adopt for successful implementations, including establishing a clear understanding of expectations across all stakeholders, and setting realistic schedules. Addressing potential organization issues ensures that there are no barriers between the development and business teams or third-party vendors. Project management software allows for real-time monitoring of project implementation progress, giving PMs the opportunity to identify risk triggers before they can affect work packages.

Technical Knowhow: Project managers are now required to have increased technical knowhow. Collaboration is no longer limited to sharing platforms like Google Drive. Technology has evolved to a point where management is more streamlined and management-savvy than ever, but learning curves are just as high and have a much bigger impact on project results.

For example, within the IT industry, experience and technical knowhow is now playing a different role in development. Senior professionals are more often tasked to take on supporting roles while junior developers are asked to take charge on application development. The idea is that junior developers are often more knowledgeable of shifting technologies and practices. However, these junior team members typically lack formal practice and are pigeonholed into refining their own technical knowledge by working through learning curves and gaining field experience.

Poorly Suited Features: With countless software management options, it’s difficult for PMs to fully understand all of the features that come with each until they’ve already dedicated time and resources to learn the software. Poorly suited features can also become a hindrance when PM software is equipped with unnecessary features. Unfortunately, the industry standard is to force features onto users, regardless of their usefulness, and there is more emphasis on one-size-fits-all project solutions. Platforms like ClickUp and Asana emphasize user-friendly software and offer project managers the ability to pick and choose features relevant to the project.

Increasing Need for Third-Party Integration: The evolution of project management software has led to an increasing need for third-party integrations with software like GitHub, Slack, and JIRA. Software vendors simply can no longer sustain the growth and act as a one-stop-shop; now, project managers are expected to understand how to navigate and leverage multiple solutions at once.

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, project management software comes with more of a learning curve today than the standalone software solutions of yesterday. PMs need a tool that is functional, while also allowing beginners to quickly acclimate to an intuitive interface. With more reliance on third-party integrations, the base solution should be fairly simple. With an intuitive software program that allows the PM to tailor to the solution to the project, adding those integrations is a much simpler process.

Communication

PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2013 report found that communication is the most crucial success factor in project management. Communicating with the client is pivotal to project success. Project managers are tasked with simultaneously handling operations and managing end-to-end relationships. This can be a tough balancing act for PMs, who have to know when their input is needed and when the best strategy is to take the backseat. After all, there’s a fine line between defending your project and team, and making the client happy.

The first step is establishing a clear idea of how the client prefers communication. Every client is different, and PMs should research and ask questions to determine the best communication practices. Creating a tailored communication strategy will help avoid miscommunications down the line and build a solid project foundation.

During any project, communication is key — not just with stakeholders, but with your project team, too. Many projects will consist of team members who have never worked together before. The diversity of this project team is also challenging for the PM. How the project manager communicates with team members and sets up internal communication processes will determine whether the team is on the same page throughout the duration of the project. Additionally, project managers and the IT team don’t always speak the same language. Taking the time to ensure that all parties understand the tasks and means of achieving them ensures a much smoother ride.

Communication Features

Even the best project managers who demonstrate exceptional communication and leadership skills, will falter in this area without the proper tools to streamline that communication. Project management communication tools vary from software to software, but picking the right ones ensure success. These are just a few features that address PM software challenges:

One example of this is Clickup’s Assigned Comments. As a project progresses and tasks evolve, it’s common practice to alter and add new assignments. Assigned Comments allow you to instantly create action items and assign them to others or yourselves. The ability to simultaneously communicate with other team members and create assignments is a nifty, game-changing feature.

Multiple Board Views, available in platforms like JIRA, Asana, and Clickup allow teams to have a high-level overview of where they’re at in a particular project, or across multiple projects. These board views allow project managers to forecast realist roadmaps, use real-time planning to track progress, and manage team resources.

Another handy communication enabler is Custom Task Statuses. Task statuses are used to  communicate the progression level of a particular task. In addition to the standard default statuses, like “In Progress” and “Completed”, custom task status are unique to the project. For example, if you’re working on a software project, custom statuses might say “In QA” or “Rejected.” There are endless custom task status options, and simple filtering can produce a list of rejected or in progress task, closing the bridge between communication and organization.

SaaS Takeover

Using SaaS for project management is an appropriate alternative to on-premise management tools, which present hurdles for remote clients and stakeholders. This is why SaaS is in such commonplace today. Large ERP and legacy systems are being phased out, and SaaS offerings are taking over.

Now, unique management SaaS options enable businesses to access better features at a much lower rate and shift additional resources to other areas. At the end of the day, these offerings are much more flexible and scalable, and makes it easier to hire third-party vendors to manage service-related requests and maintenance. In many cases, outsourced vendors are extremely knowledgeable with implementations, easing pressure off of leadership.

The adoption of SaaS means there are even more software options for project managers, and like many scenarios where there are too many eggs in the basket, picking the right one is challenging. This is where field research is important. Project managers should explore different options, take the time to reach out to different companies and ask how software can benefit their specific projects, download trial versions and take them for a test run, and speak to other companies about their experiences with management tools.

Mobile Apps

A solid mobile project management app provides team members with real-time access to a repository of information and project assets. Unfortunately, in today’s mobile-focused economy, project management software is lagging.

Work doesn’t always end with the work day, nor is it restricted to a desktop devices. The constraints of a project call for on-demand attention, and a great mobile app provides it. Your project management mobile app should allow you to add and update task statuses, assign tasks, communicate with other team members, and share documents.

These mobile features allow PMs to carry a pocket-sized version of the project wherever they go, and is necessary in today’s on-the-go economy. More employers, particularly in startup culture, are allowing employers to work remotely, whether from home or another country. Your project management software should be adaptable to shifting workflows and workplace culture.

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