Managing a team and the projects they work on isn't easy.
Important information needs to be shared, schedules have to be planned and managers need to be updated on project status. This is usually where project management systems come to the rescue, organizing all the various resources and information your employees need to get the job done.
Sometimes a project management system can be more trouble than it's worth, though — slowing down your team and making organization harder than it should be. You need to be prepared to identify when your project management system isn't working.
Here are six signs that can tell you if it's time to switch to a new system.
Your Team Prefers Collaborating Over Email
When it comes time to have important, project-steering discussions about a project, your team tabs out of the system and moves over to Outlook or Gmail. This is true even if the most critical documents and data — the information that outlines the project — are all already hosted on your project management system.
A good system will provide tools that make communication and collaboration both easier and preferable to communicating over email. If your team members are using email for major communication, it's a good sign that your current setup is more of a hassle than anything else.
You Use Other Tools to Keep Yourself Organized
The second you get the new deadline on a big project, you move over to Google Calendar to plug in the date. Perhaps you have a rough collection of to-do lists you use to prioritize work. What you don't do is use your project management system to keep yourself on track.
Your system should include features like spreadsheets, calendars and to-do lists. It should integrate easily with other software so employees can prioritize their schedules and stay organized. If you or your team find yourselves wrestling with the project management system rather than using it to structure your day, it does not fit your team's needs.
Onboarding New Employees Is a Major Stumbling Bock
You might find yourself spending much more time than expected training new employees. You might even be apologizing during onboarding for the complicated or unintuitive workflow your project management system asks for. If so, it may be time for an upgrade.
When onboarding new employees, you should be able to confidently explain how the project management system works. You should also be able to offer tips on how to use the software to boost your own efficiency.
Difficulty adding new hires to the project management system may also be a sign that it isn't scaling to the levels your team needs. Some project management systems aren't built for a large number of employees. As a company grows and more new hires are brought on, you may start to see the limitations of a system that doesn't scale.
You Don't Know What Anyone Is Doing
No one knows what you're doing, either.
Project managers and team members should both be able to tell the status of projects and other team members at a glance. A project management system that makes viewing statuses easy prevents unnecessary communication about what other team members are doing. It also cuts down on the number of manager meetings for update reports. Most workplaces struggle with effective communication — don't let your system be another roadblock.
It should also be easy to loop clients in and quickly give them updates on how far along a given project is.
You're Worried About the Security of Your Data
You wouldn't trust just anyone with important data. Every day, you're uploading confidential information to your project management system — design docs, client info and market research. Is that information secure?
A good project management system should have robust security features that keep your team's data safe. It should include encryption, user roles and password strength requirements. If you can't limit a new hire's access to confidential data about a project they're not assigned to, you're opening yourself up to a major breach if their account is compromised.
Just 4% of data breaches involve information that's been secured with encryption. If your project management system doesn't offer encryption, it's missing one of the strongest defenses against a cyberattack.
No One Is a Power User
In your office, there doesn't seem to be anyone with deep knowledge of the project management system. This may be because the effort you have to put in doesn't match the return on becoming an expert in the software. It could also be because those features just aren't there.
At least one or two team members or managers should be a master of your project management system. They should know how to streamline their workflow with features you may not have even known about. A good setup should encourage people to use it more, experiment with different settings and naturally create team members who know the software extremely well.
Switching to a New Project Management System
A good project management setup should have employees wanting to use it more, not less. If you and your team are treating your system like less of an asset and more of an obstacle, it's a good sign that it's time to change to a new one. The switch will be an adjustment — but if your current situation isn't working for you, it will be worth it.