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Project Management 101: Top 3 tips to break out of Catch-22

As a project management software vendor we talk to literally hundreds of organizations every month. Quite often the same reason is given to explain why they′re looking for a project management tool:  “We are very busy and constantly putting out fires. So we need to improve the planning and tracking of our projects. Can your product help us?” 

We start talking, show how our product can help and then setup a follow-up call to discuss specific implementation strategies. Unfortunately, too many times we hear the same excuse:  “Sorry, we′ve been so busy, we couldn′t find time to look into this” ¦”  The vicious cycles continues.

People are not able to find time to work on a solution that will help them save time. That′s a Catch-22 in its purest form. So what can you do break out of it?

Here are 3 tips to assist you in this non-trivial task (full disclosure: we really, really want you to follow these tips, so you can find time to talk to us).

Tip #1: Decide on the goals and be specific.
It′s not enough to just say: we need project management software to be more effective. You need to be specific. You need to decide what exactly you′re trying to achieve. Do you want to save time? Too general – be more specific. For example, you might want to spend 50% less time creating project progress reports.
“We want our project managers to be more productive”  – too general. A better goal: “we want to give our clients an ability to view their project status online, so project managers don′t have to email these reports back and forth.” 

Tip #2: Get everyone on your team involved and incentivized.
If you′re the only one pushing for the change – you′re swimming against the current. Get your entire team on board. Explain how the new system will help them and make their life easier (See Tip #1). If needed – talk to your vendor, so they can suggest some best practices to make sure that everyone in the organization benefits from a project management software. Once you have your team′s support – you′ll find that it′s easier to find time, since you can share the responsibilities. Someone might take on product evaluation; others will iron out technical questions, etc.

Tip #3: Calculate the real cost of waiting.
This is the toughest one. Nobody wants to know the bad news. But the reality is that you already know it. You know that you need to improve the planning and tracking of your projects. Remember? You told us that! Now you need to put a value to it to make sure it really gets your attention or the attention of the decisions making powers in your organization.

What will it means in terms of dollars and cents if your team members can save only 15 minutes per day by having a more efficient way to manage their projects and tasks? On average project managers lose at least 30 minutes per day on email and phone communications that can be eliminated by having a central collaborative space for all project-related discussions, files and documents.

Based on our research and client interviews, for a team of 15 people with the average rate of $30/hour, the typical savings are $90/day. That doesn′t seem much, until you start adding it up: $450/week, $1,725/month, $20,700/year.

Think about it: every week you delay making that decision and putting out yet another fire, yet another $450 go down the drain. And the next week, and week after. Of course, your mileage can vary” ¦

Bottom line: follow these steps (which are not easy by the way), break the cycle and finally find that time that eluded you before.

Do you have other tips that worked for your team – share them via the comment box.

This post is a part of our on-going  Project Management 101 series.


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