10 Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing an Online Project Management Tool

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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Implementing an Online Project Management Tool

by Chris Preimesberger

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Mistake No. 1:<br /> Let Team Members Make Updates If They Feel Like It

Instead, hold each person accountable for making frequent updates to their tasks. Let's face it: Businesses move forward only when projects get done. Think the CIO will accept having out-of-date financial information? No. Team productivity is directly proportionate to revenue opportunities. Make sure everyone understands that having reliable project data is critical to running the business. At the same time, offer support and guidance on the fastest and easiest way to make updates.

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Mistake No. 2:<br /> Copy/Paste Data from New Project Management Software into a Microsoft Word Team Meeting Agenda

Instead, display project software on a projector in meetings so everyone's on the same page. Not only does it reinforce the idea that the newly created, "shared workspace" is the central place to go for project information, but it allows updates and decisions to be made in real time.

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Mistake No. 3:<br /> Find One Way to Use Project Management Software and Stick with It

Instead, think of the rollout as an "agile implementation" that gets better over time. This is especially true if moving from a more lightweight tool like Basecamp or Excel to a purpose-built project management application. Experiment with structure and process, and then identify areas for optimization.

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Mistake No. 4:<br /> Use Other or Complementary Systems the Same Old Way

Instead, if the new project management tool includes a microblogging feature, try to encourage team members to use that in lieu of e-mail. Or, get rid of that old-time tracking system and use the one that comes with the new project management software. Do the same thing for document sharing, wikis, bug trackers, client extranet and more. This will keep team members engaged in the tool, ensuring the most accurate project information at any given time.

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Mistake No. 5:<br /> Rely on the Software to Solve Resource Management Problems

Instead, accept that offline processes for resource management and allocation must still take place. At its core, project management is a social process, not a technical one. In a team with shared resources, the tool can't make those critical decisions. However, a great project management tool can facilitate discussions and more informed decisions about priorities and work assignments.

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Mistake No. 6:<br /> Trust No One

Instead, promote values of openness, transparency, communication and, most important of all, ownership. If a project team is the "family," then the project software is "home." Healthy families communicate, share the same dinner table, pick up after themselves and leave generous numbers of Post-it notes for each other. The same holds true for project teams. The more they collaborate, update and respect each other's priorities, the more effective and efficient they, and their managers, become.

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Mistake No.7:<br /> Leave Existing Processes and Workflows Unchanged

Instead, take this opportunity to define up front who has permission to perform different actions in the tool. Audit old (or create new) processes to answer questions such as: Who will add/create new projects and tasks? Who will prioritize within the greater plan? Also, consider having weekly meetings to go over priorities. Use a projector for large meetings to facilitate discussions and dialogue through the tool.

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Mistake No. 8:<br /> Instill a Fear of Messing Things Up in Team Members

Instead, to help team members get the most out of any new tool, nominate a "tool guru" who is tasked with learning the ins and outs of the system. Then the "how-to" questions can be answered internally, speeding up the learning curve for the rest of the team. Encourage trial-and-error learning. Let people click around and see what the tool can do. If they hit a roadblock, they can ping the tool guru or browse the support section.

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Mistake No. 9: <br />Dont Bother Loading Project Data into the System Before Seeking Feedback

Instead, make sure there's no "blank page" problem during team introductions and project startups. In other words, people should see project data that they relate to when they first log in. It sets them up to be able to visualize using the tool every day for their own work, and to ask the most important questions about features they need or want.

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Mistake No. 10:<br />Importing Legacy Data Directly into a New System and Expecting Everything to Magically Improve

Instead, clean house (projectwise and processwise) during implementation. Get rid of old or unnecessary project data. Delete superfluous steps from project templates. Audit, and then put in place best-processes. Now is the time to make a change, if change is needed!

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