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Managing Projects Shouldn’t Be Like Herding Cats

Managing a project is like herding a bunch of cats. Sure its starts out looking great, and you think “ya, this won’t be difficult” but almost just as quickly it balloons out of control and you’re struggling to keep track of who’s doing what. It becomes a major headache.

We’ve all been there before, managing a project can be an extremely challenging process. See “in the recent past, project management software best practice was a matter of sitting down with MS Project and creating a plan through all the stages and that was the key,” says Senior Project Manager, Sebastian Shaw in a recent post. However, over the past several years it seems that this may be changing. We’re witnessing a boom in new-age project management tools that strive to make project management easier. According to Shaw, “Collaborative tools are the social media of the workplace. Generally presenting as a central dashboard of workspace that everyone has access to and has access to use, they increase the team’s buy-in to the project rather than just their work package.” These new, next generation tools that we’re seeing come to market help to make life easier in three major areas:

  • Knowledge management: Keeping you entire team on track, on scope, and informed is never easy. “When it came to managing the project, it was a manual task; using the project plan and logging progress, and using several key documents like the risk register and status report to track progress and ensure everything is happening when it should,” says Shaw. Having a central location that is searchable and collaborative is extremely important for teams. It not only helps cut down on time spent searching for important documents, but also helps speed up tasks as team members instinctively know where to go to find important project specific information.
  • Issue management/running daily operations: Progress tracking is typically a major pain. The millions of emails flooding inboxes sent back and forth requesting status updates, is not only disruptive but also slows down the entire project process. “Progress tracking required the PM to ask every member (or team lead) about their progress and enter that information into the project and then come back to the team members if there was an issue caused by that information when the plan was updated. Updating status interrupted everyone’s day,” says Shaw. This is one of the biggest areas that have seen a range of developments. Today’s tools give each team member the ability to update their task status in a transparent manner. According to Shaw, “By handing the day to day of the task information to the team, the Project Manager is in the enviable situation where progress is fed to them without effort and records are kept for future reference for everyone rather than in an individual’s notebook.” These tools help reduce cost/time by cutting back on the daily interruptions of the project manager requesting project updates, while at the same time enabling the team to work on what is needed and provide updates almost instinctively.
  • Risk Reporting: Again the old “traditional” approach was to set up a central document saved on a project management server somewhere. They were typically seldom updated, or even used by the team unless there is a real mandate to use it at the company. With these new collaborative project management tools make it a whole lot easier. They automatically insert possible roadblocks helping show project managers possible areas to be aware of. They also allow “automatic creation of burn-down charts, or other reporting; again facilitating the project manager’s role and allowing them to quickly understand if items are running late,” says Shaw.

So stop making project management harder than it needs to be. Stop herding cats. Instead, check out some of the new collaborative project management tools out there – you’ll be happy you gave them a look.

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