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Project management tools bad at tracking
December 21, 2018

Why Are Most Project Management Tools So Bad At Project Tracking?

By Simon Gorman

Almost every type of project management tool makes the same claims. That they make it easier for project managers to track the status and progression of how teammates are performing. All while allowing project tracking to be convenient with real-time collaboration.

In reality, any project manager can tell you that most of these tools fall short. The end result may not be a total project failure, but you may find it difficult (or nearly impossible) to get a clear read on how your projects are going. Whether or not they’re profitable, and whether your team is working as efficiently as possible.

So why do so many project management tools fall short here?

Focusing on Individual Tasks

One of the biggest problems is that most project management tools focus almost exclusively on the task-level view of project tracking. They view the importance of project management software from a ground-up perspective. Funneling resources and designing the tool around employees being able to create, read, manage, and complete tasks one at a time.

This can be useful from a productivity standpoint. Projects are much easier to understand and complete when they’re broken up into sub-tasks. However, when the entire focus is with this in mind, it makes it nearly impossible to get a high-level reading for how a project is going. And crucially, how profitable that project is, or whether the project is worth continuing. It’s hard to indicate how important a task is to the overall project, and there’s no way to visualize the high-level data.

The best analogy here is “missing the forest for the trees”. You and your employees are so focused on individual tasks—the “trees” in this equation, you’re unable to contemplate the shape or condition of the entire forest.

Collaboration Obstacles

This problem is complicated by the fact that most platforms aren’t especially friendly to collaboration.

  • UI intuitiveness

    The user interfaces of most project management tools demands hours of practice before it becomes intuitive. Features like creating a new task, assigning or editing a task, or digging through previously closed tasks are hard to find. It’s easy for two users to adopt radically different approaches—which makes it hard to do a true apples-to-apples comparison of two different projects. Generally, project management tools are far too complicated, with more features than you’ll ever use. Which, simply bog down your experience and make it harder to access what you truly need.

  • Report generation

    Generating reports is vital if you want to view your project portfolio and communicate your results to your stakeholders or supervisors. Yet in most project management tools, reports are bulky, hard to generate, and even harder to read. They tend to cluster together too many different sources of information into a single report. Or rely on a single, bland template for all companies to use the same way—no matter how different their operations truly are.

  • Easy integrations

    Today’s project managers need their project data for multiple discrete purposes, which demands integration with other apps and systems. If your project management tool makes it difficult to make those integrations, you won’t be able to get your data where you need it most.

The Alternative

So what would the alternative look like?

  • High-level project completion

    Clearly, you’ll need a tool that enables your team to work on tasks and component responsibilities within a bigger project. You just need a platform that doesn’t make that its sole focus. The ideal tool would be one that allows for task creation and completion, but as a sub-component of bigger, overarching projects. That way, project managers can, at a glance, see where each project stands, and take action if need be to ensure it gets completed on time.

  • Profitability and efficiency

    Analyzing projects retroactively is also important. A skilled project manager should be able to use the tool to calculate any completed project’s profitability, or analyze individual team members’ efficiencies while completing those projects. For example, you should be able to see how much time a project has taken, how many tasks it took to get there, the timeline for completion, and the total value of that project to your company. Then use that information to determine whether to take on projects like this in the future.

  • Portfolio management

    Project portfolio management (PPM) can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Most PPM platforms are overwhelmed by the sheer number of trackable variables, reports, and options available to each manager. A better tool would allow you to simply and efficiently allocate the best resources for each project. All while tracking and visualizing only the metrics you deem to be most important.

  • Easy adoption

    Finally, you need a platform that’s easy to adopt. That means it’s easy for a newcomer to learn the ropes. It’s capable of integrating with other tools with minimal resistance, and it offers enough customization that it could feasibly suit any organization’s needs. After all, every business has different needs, and no single platform can meet all of them without being adjusted.

How Project Central Is Different

Project Central is a different kind of project management tool. It allows you to visualize your projects high-level, as simply and intuitively as possible. Agile project cards let you know how much progress each project has seen, whether it’s on track for completion, and its current overall status. You can set up new projects almost instantly, with a handful of simple variables. Enabling collaboration in a way that’s friendly to new and experienced users alike.

Project Central offers a distinctive middle ground between tools that are too simple to give you the high-level data you need. Or too complicated to use in a consistent, convenient way. And you can sign up for free today, and see what sets us apart!