Why Project Management Software Is Like Joining A Health Club
After a year of gorging, we often make resolutions to get in shape. You know you need help, but it’s the getting started that’s the difficult part, right?
No one joins a gym while they are super fit. And the same can be said for a project management system. Most organizations turn to project management software when current processes aren’t working well, and a change is needed to dramatically improve organizational effectiveness.
And while you may want a cheat sheet of productivity tips, you cannot cheat going to the gym.
The three most popular resolutions in 2020 are eating healthier, getting more exercise, and saving more money. Here are simple lessons I’ve learned over the past eighteen years of starting and running a successful software company (and being an active health club member!).
No pain, no gain
No, I’m not suggesting that the process needs to be painful. But rather, you’ve already been experiencing pain that is driving your search for project management software. Before you undertake a new process that will take considerable focus and effort (from your personal life or organization), you should take the time to clearly understand and articulate the current pain that makes the upcoming effort worth it.
Why are we doing this?
The actual mechanics of implementing a project management system aren’t (usually) that difficult. It’s the resolve to actually do them.
The first step is the most difficult step in the process
Signing up for the health club is a great first step. It takes a level of focus and financial commitment. It’s a necessary first step, but on its own, does little to get you healthy if you never go to the club and work out.
In the same way, making the psychological and financial commitment to purchase a project management system is a great, necessary first step. But by itself, this first step doesn’t make your organization more efficient.
Before you go through the necessary steps to actually gain the results you’re looking for, take the time to build the foundation of organizational resolve that will get you through the inevitable tough stretches when you don’t feel like exercising. For example, your goals with a project management system may be to:
- Reduce frustration and stress caused by senior management (and the entire team) not knowing where key deliverables stand
- Get work done more efficiently with existing resources leading to more throughput/higher profits, happier management, less-stress/overworked employees
- Meet customer/internal deadlines more consistently
- Save time and money wasted by,duplicated effort and over-communication caused by lack of transparency
You need to find which pain points capture the true opportunity for your organization that makes the effort non-negotiable, especially when your team’s resolve weakens under workload and stress.
Choosing the right tool
Congratulations! You’ve got the resolve that it will take to implement a project management tool. Now you need to find the right one and put it in place.
Just like when you look into choosing the right health club, you need to weigh a number of factors when choosing a project management system. You’ll need to weight the capabilities of various systems, their ease of use and compatibility with your budget.
Use cloud-based software
There’s been a dramatic shift in recent years toward cloud-based software, where instead of having a copy of the software on each local computer, the software sits on a server on the web and is accessed by each user with a web browser. With cloud-based software, the whole team gets simultaneous visibility to view and update projects in real-time, rather than relying on passing around a single, offline file.
Project management software has migrated to the web, as well, and is well worth considering as your organization looks to upgrade its project management processes.
Which software should you choose?
There are many high-quality web-based project management tools but, the right tool for a specific organization typically depends on:
- The volume and type of projects an organization needs to manage (this determines the functionality/capabilities the tool needs)
- The experience/technical skills of the team (how intuitive and user-friendly does the tool need to be?)
- The level of support/hand-holding needed
- The available budget
Use it or lose it
You have found the right tool – Great job!
This tool has the potential to help you and your business work smarter. However, just like a health club membership, it will only work if you use it – it cannot be optional. If you don’t show up to the health club, you won’t get in better shape. The same can be said for project management software – if you don’t use it, it won’t change anything.
A project management system is only as good as its data. If people don’t update their tasks when they are completed (or delayed), all tasks will eventually appear late, making it impossible to determine which tasks truly need attention. Updating tasks needs to be a requirement, clearly directed from top management.
If you don’t keep it up to date, it won’t be successful
This is the single biggest reason why teams fail with project management software after buying it; between 70-80% of all failures. You had an initial commitment, saw the opportunity, but then didn’t marshal the resources and resolve to make it happen.
Again, just like joining a gym, more than 70% of people who sign up (initial commitment) don’t follow through with their goals and give up.
When you first get your health club membership, you may go 3-4 times per week but, by week 4, you go down to once per week and by week 6, you start making excuses.
Here’s a hard truth: The health club is not the problem, it’s you.
Project manage your project management process
Set up a project plan for the implementation of the project management process and hold yourself accountable to it.
Workzone uses Success Managers to coach our clients through the process towards success, just like a personal trainer would help you through your workout program.
Keep it simple
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you start your first session at the health club. You have a running machine, weight lifting, cycling, rowing, etc. You might think you know what you’re doing, but really, you don’t. One wrong lift or pull and you risk straining a muscle.
Keep it simple in the beginning, before moving to advanced exercises
Start off with the basics. Create a project, manage a project and successfully complete a project on time and on budget. Once you have the basics in place and your team has started using the software, you can roll out more advanced functionality.
Layout the basic milestones for all of your current projects, so that the entire team gets visibility to where projects stand, at least at a high-level. As your team gains muscle and comfort in maintaining simple project plans, add in the additional details that will give greater clarity.
Lather, rinse, repeat
You won’t get healthy just by simply signing up and joining a gym. You need to work out and continue to work out. Your regimen will improve over time. You may start out lifting 50 lbs; you’re soon up to lifting 100 lbs.
You cannot expect a project management system to run itself. Set benchmarks to assess how you are doing, and make necessary adjustments to your projects.
It’s not rocket science. The harder you work, the bigger the gain. You will need to work hard to succeed, but the good news is that it is you who has control. If you want to succeed, you can. You just have to push yourself.
Notice people who are committed to being healthy, those that consistently exercise multiple times per week. They are happy, they are confident, they have a great work/ life balance. Good things happen to them.
Has your organization gotten too sluggish to keep up with the pace needed to reach your business goals?. Get started with a project management system today and become a happier, healthier new you.