Most project managers use project management software in the same way: plug in deadlines, plug in hours, compare, adjust, rinse, repeat. That’s perfectly fine—in fact, it’s what project management software is built to do.
But there are other ways you can use project management software that can not only help you manage your project better, but can also improve your team’s performance and smoothen your department’s operations. All it requires is a little out of the box thinking.
Go Beyond the Project
Projects don’t happen in a vacuum. The outside world will intrude on your nice, secluded team environment and wreak havoc on your schedule. Personal commitments. Company operations. Regional events. And while some of these things can take a team by surprise, they’re more often things people can plan ahead for.
Many project management tools feature a project calendar, which is usually used to manage the timing of different projects. But the savvy project manager can also include other events such as vacation schedules, civic holidays, or office renovations—basically anything and everything not directly related to the project, but would still has some bearing on manpower or timing. This way, team members can see at a glance whether or not a particular week is a good time to take a vacation, or if operations will be disrupted by the company’s upcoming 50th anniversary, without leaving their project management software dashboard.
Dissect Your Process
Despite going through a lengthy selection process, not every project management tool you use is going to be a perfect fit. There will be some features that are redundant or unusable, and there are some features you want that are missing entirely.
But have you ever asked yourself why those features are missing or go unused? Have you ever considered your process in relation to the project management tool and wondered, “what if it’s us who needs to change, and not the tool?” What if by ignoring certain features, you’re actually missing out on a chance to streamline your own process? Are you too set in your old ways that it’s actually hurting you?
Try it out, even as an intellectual exercise. Take a look at the unused features on your project management tool. Could you make use of them? Would it actually help? Take a look at the processes not covered by your project management software. Do they really need to be there? What would happen if you took them out? What would you replace them with?
Kind of makes you think, huh?
Find the Hidden Gems
Project management tools are a great place to mine for interesting statistics. If you and your team are updating it consistently, you can glean plenty of useful information that you’d never have been able to see before. You can, for example, compare the performance of two different team members doing the same task. If one is considerably better than the other, it leads to another question: why? How can you use that knowledge to improve the other person so that they’re both excellent performers? Project management software like Easy Projects has flexible yet powerful reporting tools that let you create your own reports, highlighting whatever data you choose to see, in order to find these hidden gems.
Stats like these can serve as a great catalyst for developing your team. The causes may end up highly subjective, and not always actionable, but at least you’ll know.
And knowing is half the battle.
Image credit, crookrw, Flickr