To paraphrase Dickens, it is the best of times and the worst of times to be a project manager, especially in the tech field. Technology moves at an impressively fast pace and, while not all project managers are technically-inclined, they must always keep up with the newest trends and developments. This keeps them on their toes, always learning new things and always finding creative solutions to new or existing problems. While this is, perhaps, one of the best parts of this job, it’s also the root of most project management challenges.
A whopping 97% of organizations believe that project management is crucial to their success and performance, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study. While the expectations are high, they are rarely met. A study conducted at the Oxford University by McKinsey & Co tells a daunting story about large IT projects. The researchers have gloomily reported that your typical large IT project runs at least 7% over time and 45% over budget. Even more astounding — they deliver 56% less value than initially predicted or demanded of them.
Such gloomy statistics always prompt the question: “Who’s responsible?” Can we throw everything on the shoulders of project managers and expect them to deal with whatever comes their way?
Of course not!
In fact, ironically enough, in most cases, project managers don’t have as much control over the projects as they would need to. So we shouldn’t be so hasty to assign blame.
Instead, we need to take a look at the major project management challenges and come up with ways to overcome them. Here are the top three ones:
1. Lack of Reliability, Ease of Use and Ease of Integration of Project Management Software Tools
According to The Access Group, reliability, ease of use and ease of integration are the top three features project managers look for in the applications they use on a daily basis. Let’s take them one at a time and see why they matter so much.
Reliability: as a project manager, you’re responsible for a lot. A LOT! Centralizing all the information that comes your way in a manner that is both useful and accessible to your team, as well as to senior management is a challenge on its own. When the tool you are using crashes very often, you run the risk of losing all your hard work.
Sometimes, you put hundreds of hours into a project plan just to see them all go to waste when your software malfunctions just before a big presentation. This is one of the biggest nightmares for any project manager. So it’s no wonder that reliability is your top concern when choosing project management software.
Ease of use: bringing in a project manager mid-project happens more often than you may think. When you are not there from the beginning, odds are the project has already fallen behind deadline and gotten past its budget. Obviously, time is of the essence. You’ve got enough on your plate trying to come up with ways to recuperate the delays and to keep costs under control without having to learn how to use a project management software.
However, you will most likely have to. The best thing you can hope for is that said project management software doesn’t have a steep learning curve and that it’s intuitive and user-friendly. This way, you could learn it and leverage it to its full potential within a day.
Ease of integration: have you ever heard of a project manager that uses a single tool for all his/her tasks? Neither have I! With the proper project management software, you don’t have to worry about spending half your day copy-pasting the same information from tools like Microsoft Project or Oracle Primavera into yet another tool. This can be done seamlessly without any human interference, leaving the project manager free to focus on his core, revenue-bringing tasks.
Solution: in order to overcome these project management challenges, you should never buy software before testing it. A reliable vendor will always offer a free trial in which you can see if their solution matches the needs of your organization. Never compromise! You can find software that is easy to use, integrates seamlessly with your other tools and is reliable.
2. Misalignment with the Company’s Business Strategy
98% of project managers don’t know if or how their projects align with the overall company business strategy. It’s no wonder that so many projects fall short of delivering the value that is expected of them.
This project management challenge can be assimilated to a bigger problem: the lack of communication between departments. With 33% of projects failing because of the lack of involvement from upper management, it becomes even clearer that something needs to change.
And, as usual, the change has to come from all the departments: upper management needs to communicate the scope of every project in a clearer manner and keep an eye on its development. At the same time, project managers need to keep upper management in the loop about any blockers that appear at the moment that they appear and about any issue arising within the team they lead.
Solution: it’s no secret that both project managers and upper managers are extremely busy. Keeping everyone in the loop can cost them each at least one hour every day. And as much as all parties recognize the importance of constant communication, it can sometimes be hard to find that hour.
This is where the right project management software comes into play. A versatile solution with affordable licenses can grant access to the project plan for all stakeholders and involved parties. This way, upper management can be kept in the loop with a single click, while project managers don’t need to allot more time for meetings unless absolutely necessary.
3. Lack of Consistent and Thorough Communication with the Team
Ideally, most of a project manager’s day should be spent communicating with the team. A project manager needs to know what his team’s blockers are, how he can help with removing them and how he can render the team more productive and efficient.
However, we know that in practice things don’t always go this way. The project manager is stuck mediating between stakeholders and/or clients and the team, as well as updating the project plan whenever changes occur (and they do occur frequently!).
The problem is that the team rarely finds out about these changes in due time. Calling a meeting whenever something new appears is disruptive for the team. Emailing the team every day with every small change is time consuming for the project manager.
Even more, the team’s productivity can suffer a lot when not all team members are in the loop about the big picture. Of course, they know their tasks, but keeping them informed about how each small tasks fits in the big puzzle that is the project can do wonders for their productivity.
This communication difficulties are, once again, due to overpriced project management software. Your typical software license grants access to a limited number of users. And, since keeping costs under control is a priority for all businesses, the team members are rarely granted access to the project plan.
Solution: find a project management tool that allows unlimited access for all the members of the team. This will ensure seamless communication with very little effort from the project manager. Furthermore, by seeing how their work fits into the project plan firsthand, team members will be more motivated to deliver everything on time, especially if they know some of their colleagues depend on their work.
Project management challenges like these are what inspired us to create Project Reader. We know that ease of use, accessibility and cost control are top priorities for both stakeholders and project managers. And we made it our mission to prove that an application that is both easy to use/integrate with other tools and perfect for keeping the whole team and every stakeholder informed doesn’t have to break the bank.
This is how Project Reader came to life. When you integrate this application with Microsoft Project or Oracle Primavera, you don’t have to do any converting or exporting by hand. The application does everything for you so that you can share your work with everyone who needs to be kept in the loop. Project Reader also features a highly-customizable Gantt chart; it’s incredibly easy to use, even for those with little or no experience in project planning.
Irrespective of the size of your team and the number of clients and/or stakeholders that need to be kept abreast with your progress, Project Reader offers a flexible, scalable and affordable way to make sure communication is seamless and your project gets the best chance to deliver added value on time and on budget.
We know every business is unique, with unique needs, so why not give Project Reader a go and see if it’s a match for your company? You get a 30-day free trial to explore all of its features and leverage all its potential.