Secret Methods for Using Project Management Software Faster
One frequent objection to project management software is that it takes a great deal of time and effort to keep updated. In a stressful, fast-paced environment like project management, this is not a small consideration.
But how can you make it so that you can make updating faster and more convenient—without having to change to a different project management tool?
We’ve got a few secret tips for you:
Which is faster to write, “Module 2 ready for testing” or “Module 2 RFT?”
Agree upon some acronyms and shorthand terms for common project concepts or items and use these to keep task notes short and to the point. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, or else you risk confusing people instead. An even better option would be to set up a project dictionary for people (and clients) to refer to.
Don’t force a feature
Most project management tools are chock full of cool features, and it can feel wasteful not to use it to its utmost. But these tools are supposed to help you fill gaps in the work, not the other way around. It’s okay to use the unique, core features of a project management tool, and ignore the ones that don’t work.
If you find yourself ignoring more features than you’re using, however, then maybe you should start looking for different tools.
If you want your project management software to be effective, you need to police the data on it. Holes and incorrect/misformatted entries slow things down and can make the system unreliable—but you don’t have time to wade through all those entries yourself.
What you can do instead is appoint team members to help. These “moderators” can watch for issues in the system and correct them and instruct others on proper usage.
Nobody really means to mess with a project database and mess things up, but mistakes still happen anyway. A person will post something in the wrong task or project, or gets into the habit of writing notes on the project calendar because it’s faster for him, even though it messes with readability. These issues have nothing to do with sensitive information, but with people doing the right things in the wrong places.
As such, you might want to restrict people’s access to certain areas to preserve data integrity.
Do it immediately
Updating project management software is like walking on a slippery slope. If you procrastinate on one update, it tends to slip lower and lower on your priority list, until finally you think it’s not relevant anymore and you don’t enter it at all. And when you miss one update, others will eventually follow.
Don’t let yourself (or anyone else on the team) fall off the wagon! Update consistently and immediately, until the habit becomes so ingrained that it’s almost effortless.
Do you have any secret ways of using project management software that you like to use? Comment and share them with us!
Image credit, Flickr, Ninja M
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.