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4 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Project Management Tool

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How long have you been using your current project management tool? Months? Years? You’re probably so used to it that it fits like a well-worn shoe. Comfy and easy to navigate.

But what happens when it feels tight at the edges? When you start feeling constrained? So much that it’s getting harder to work? When it starts become less of a helper and more of an obstacle?

It might be a sign that your needs have changed; that you’ve outgrown your project management tool. But how can you tell for sure?

1. Your Data Isn’t Granular Enough

“Light” project management software tools excel at basic data capturing and reporting. Things like task lists, timeline management, and the like. These are perfectly fine for small teams or simple projects, and sometimes that’s all you need.

But what if you need to get into the harder stuff, like risk management, expense tracking, and EVA? What about hourly billing and resource management? Light project management tools might not get you the kind of detailed information that more robust software can.

2. It’s Harder to Search for Information

Most project management tools can store a large amount of data, but managing them is another challenge entirely. Project teams accumulate data at a rapid rate, and there’s a big risk of things getting cluttered and unwieldy. A low-end project management tool can make browsing—or even searching—for information very painful and time-consuming.

3. Many Cooks, Small Kitchen

Some project management tools work great with small teams. Graphic interfaces and streaming updates offer a fast and instantly accessible flow of information. But how is that same stream going to look when ten or twenty people post updates multiple times a day? You’re going to be drowning in status updates. So much that you might miss something important. Instead of saving time, you’ll be wasting time sifting for the most relevant entries. You need to upgrade to a project management tool better-equipped to handle large teams.

4. You Start Using More Workarounds

Do you know what happens when you need to record important information that doesn’t have an appropriate field in your project management tool? It gets dumped into the “notes” or “comments” section. This is a black hole, because most reporting tools can’t generate reports from “notes” fields.

You need to find yourself a project management tool that captures all of the important information you need right out of the box (or that can be customized to fit your needs). No workarounds, no “tricks”. Workarounds might save you money on upgrades, but they cost much more in terms of time and project intelligence.

Once again, there’s no harm in having a simple, uncomplicated project management tool to manage your project. It’s cost effective and convenient for your team. But beware of the moment your tool’s simplicity starts becoming an obstacle.

Image credit, Flickr, Linda Tanner

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