People have a lot of expectations when it comes to project management software, so it can be a major disappointment if things dont work out. Especially when the hefty investment you fought tooth and nail for ends up sucking up more time than it saves.
It can be easy to blame it on poorly built project management software; but lets take a step back and try to examine the real reason its not working for you:
Needs Dont Match Features
When you first go shopping for project management software, its good practice to ask yourself a few key questions to define what you need. There are many project management tools out there, and while they all build off the same basic concepts and tools (productivity, charts, etc) they all handle it in different ways. One may be a better fit than the other, even though their features are very similar. Its easy to pick a product loaded with features, but only actually use half. If thats the case, you may not need software at all.
Updating is a Pain
Does it take a long time to post updates on the project management tool? Are your team members resorting to cheats and shorthand because doing it properly takes too long? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you may have to look for another solution.
Project management software is supposed to save you time by creating reports and tracking tasks, but also by making it painless for people to enter and organize data. If you cant have the one, then the other doesnt work either. The ideal project management tool is supposed to save time all around, and allow easy and visible updates for the entire team.
Your Data is Garbage
This point builds off of the previous one. If people dont post proper updates, then your entire project management tool becomes useless. Now, it may not actually be the programs fault. There may be resistance to change or difficulty adapting. But the end result is the same: a project management tool that doesnt save you time or money, because nobody is entering information correctly.
You need to set some firm policies and procedures and make sure your team members follow them. Provide incentives or set penalties, whichever you think will work best. Only when you have complete and accurate data will you be able to make full use of your project management softwares potential.
Project management tools are specifically built to make a project teams life easier. But you have to make sure that its the right fit for your organization. Take it for a test drive. Get feedback from your team. Use up a trial period. That way, you dont have to be stuck for years with a PM tool that you hate.
Photo credit: Mrlins, Flickr