Binfire

10 Myths about Project Management Tools

You are promoted to manage your first project, congratulations! Since you are a serious manager you have decided to improve the team’s productivity by purchasing one of the project management tools available in the market. That is awesome! you are on the right track to becoming a great project manager. But your team is giving you a hard time and is pushing back by telling you that there is no need to purchase Project Management software because it is too complex, expensive, takes a long time to learn and a host of other excuses!

Here are some common arguments that you will hear, and how you may want to respond as a good project manager:

Myth #1 Project Management Tools are waste of time:

Project management software adds an extra layer of bureaucracy to our busy team.  Why add an additional burden to the process which gets in the way of our work.  Everyone will end up spending more time on status reports and busy work instead of doing the actual project work.

Truth:   There is a good chance that if you are discussing purchasing project management software, you or someone on your team has identified issues in running of your projects.  Perhaps the team has a hard time tracking all tasks assigned to them. Or no one knows when a task is due or if a task is done already or not.  There is no way to show task dependencies with whatever tool you use currently. Email is used extensively and information is getting lost in the mountain of emails. People waste lots of time reading emails and responding to useless chatter. If you sit down and check everything you and your team is doing every day you will notice right away that a huge amount of time is wasted on just figuring out where things are and what you need to do next. Email is the worst tool for managing and tracking tasks. It is even an awful tool for communicating on ideas and issues.  Today’s project management tools capture all information generated by the team, store and catalog them and share them seamlessly within the team and other project stakeholders.

In reality, project management software cuts down on wasteful and redundant work and useless email.

Myth #2 Microsoft Excel & Google Docs are good enough:  

Why purchase something new?   With Excel, we can track all  tasks and issues. We can assign tasks and know who is responsible for each task.  With Skype, we can communicate effectively with our team and clients.  Remember email?  That seems to work fine.  We don’t need project management software because we already have all the tools needed to manage projects.

Truth:  Perhaps some of the basic features of project management software are found in other solutions like communication tools and spreadsheet applications. In the case of Excel, it is neither a Project Management or Collaboration tool.  If you have two or three people working on a project, Excel is a good way to keep track of lists, but once you need to identify risks, mark dependencies or share document and get notified when something in the changes, you will outgrow Excel real fast.

There are many ways to collaborate with team members but a good online project management solution will help anchor the collaboration around the goals, tasks and issues in the project.   Specific communication and notes are linked and indexed to specific tasks or issues. This way everyone in the team has quick access to work related information. All documents in the project are in the right place for easy access from anywhere at anytime.

Myth #3:  You need PMI certification to use Project Management tools

Project Management software is based on complex methodologies and is not built for the inexperienced  users like us.   Instead of project management software maybe we should use light weight communication tools or do do lists such as Slack, Basecamp, Trello or Asana?

Truth:  Most Project Managers have never received formal Project Management training and are not certified by PMI.  It is actually another myth that to be a good project manager you have to have PMI certification. Of course a PMI certificate is helpful in some industries but not required in most. Good project management applications are designed to make managing projects easy and let anybody with basic knowledge of management and common sense to use them effectively. These applications are designed to enable you and your team to collaborate on documents, share information and automatically track and update project plans. They send notifications once a task or issue is created or when they are marked as complete.    If you do evaluate Project Management applications such as Binfire, you will find some very powerful yet simple to use features such as the ability to assign a task to one or more team members, chat with people on your team about project related issues in real time and use a virtual whiteboard.

Myth #4: Our work is knowledge work, therefore we can’t plan our projects

You hear this in most software projects or projects which involve research in addition to development. The arguments is that you really can’t plan for projects involving knowledge work. Project planning only works for projects involving manual or mundane tasks like manufacturing or writing a blog or recursive tasks like accounting and customer support.

Truth:

This can’t be any further from truth. Most project management methodologies came from industries that are considered knowledge work. Agile was practiced by software teams long before it became popular. Work breakdown structure, Basic Gantt chart and Hybrid project management are the result of work done by people working in the knowledge work industries. As a project manager you need to find the right PM methodology to use to fit your team and specific project needs.

Myth #5: Project management software is expensive

Project management tools are too expensive to buy and maintain. We really can’t afford them as a small company or startup. We should use the money somewhere else where we get a better return for our money.

Truth:

This myth is clearly Microsoft’s fault. For too long their desktop project management software was sold for large upfront sum and every upgrade cost even more. Today’s project management tools are SaaS products and are changed for a monthly fee. This way they are much more affordable on a startup’s budget . Also all upgrades are done without the need to install new software. This fits much better with the needs of startups and SMBs.

Another secret that you should know. If you are a startup you can ask project management vendors to give you discounts on the prices they charge. Remember it is good for these vendors when startups use their software. They want you as a costumer when you are an established company. So by helping you out now, they will reap good benefits later. At Binfire we have great discounts for startups. Just contact us by requesting a demo. Write  in “Industry” field in the contact form  “Startup”.  Or contact our support team.

Myth #6: Project management processes will slow us down

The argument goes as this; project management tools need to be fed constantly and instead of the software helping us to be productive and doing things faster, we will waste countless hours feeding the beast. We really don’t have time for busy work.

Truth:

Good project management software takes very little time to setup and maintain. In fact if you are one of those who saves their project plan in Excel, it will take much much longer to plan and maintain the Excel page than a good online project planning tool. The illusion of time saving with a tool like Excel is that entering the first few entries does not take that much time. But as the project advances and more tasks and members are added, it takes much more time  to update and maintain the Excel sheet. It also gets extremely hard to track tasks, issues and documents in the project.  What once was perceived as a time saver becomes a huge time burden.

Myth #7: We need an experienced project manager to use PM tools 

Some say to use  project management tools effectively, you need an experience project manager running the project. Otherwise it is better to use what we know and not learn a new software package which we will never use.

Truth:

The new crop of online project management applications help even the first time and novice project managers and those with a little management background to manage projects effectively. If the project manager is experienced of course the result will be better,  but even inexperienced managers will achieve more with the right project management tools. Project management tools don’t replace the project manager, but let either an inexperienced project manager to be more effective, or help the whole team collaboratively manage projects. I strongly recommend option one, it is better to assign someone as project manager even-though she or he has never run a project before . Overtime this individual will learn the secrets of properly managing projects and will be far more effective in managing current and future projects. The collaborative nature of online project management software helps new project managers to do a better job from the get go.

Myth #8: We don’t need planning; we are a startup!

Things change fast and furious in a startup’s life. We need to come up with solutions in real time with little data or previous knowledge. Since we don’t have the luxury of wasting time on anything not related to the product, why we should invest time in a project management tool?  If things changes so fast and so often, then why we should spend precious time on planning which will be outdated & obsolete as soon as the plan is finished?

Truth:

It is true that life in the startups is never clam and things happen fast. Decisions need to made fast and in many cases based on instinct rather than thoughtful process or data. But planning the high level tasks and issue does not take much time and goes a long way in helping the project to go more smoothly over its life span. A new project management methodology which is called Hybrid project management is creating much excitement among project managers. It is the project management tool designed for startups. It mixes Agile and waterfall to create a fast reacting but at the same time through project management methodology. I highly recommend to read more about Hybrid methodology when you have some free time. If you Google “Hybrid project management”, you will see a wealth of great information there.

Myth #9: We all know each other, we don’t need project management tools

Your team will say, we are all friends and have worked together before as a team. We don’t need project management software to do our work, we know what to we need to do by instinct.

Truth:

Even if a project is one man or woman effort, it still needs planning and monitoring. The best draftsmen who work alone, always plan their projects. That is why they are the best! The fact that the team has worked together before is great and helps to run the project smoother and more effectively, but it does not replace planning and monitoring of the work being done. You have an advantage by having a team who has worked together before, now enhance your productivity by using the right project management tool.

Myth #10: Project management tools are a fraud & never proven to be effective

Some say, software vendors are pushing their ware to make money. There is no evidence that project management software helps productivity and reduces time to market and project cost. We have not seen any independent research showing project management software helps to improve productivity and bring the projects to completion faster or cheaper.

Truth:

According to Wellingtone Report  35% of all projects don’t have schedule, cost and scope baseline. There is no way these project can measure progress and success. According to PMI.org $122 millions is lost for every $1 Billion spent on projects due to lack of proper planning. That is a huge cost overhead. In the Software / IT industry up to 75% of all projects either finish late, cost more than planned or fail completely (Source Geneca). In addition unbelievably only 33% of all projects finish on time and on budget (Study done by Standish Group). Do you need any more statistics? The bottom line is this, if you still think for planning & tracking projects you don’t need the right tools, I am sorry to say you don’t know what are you doing!

Try Binfire for free and see how it can help you and your team be more productive and organised and do awesome things faster.

David Robins

CEO

David Robins is the founder and CEO of Binfire. David studied at both Cornell and MIT, and was the Director of Software Engineering at Polaroid for 11 years.

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