6 typical problems in implementing a project management solution
There are two key reasons why companies usually decide on the implementation of a project management service. The first is that a properly selected service can solve both a number of current problems and future ones associated with the growth of a company. The second reason is improving the efficiency of business processes in general. Of course, these reasons are not mutually exclusive - companies often implement a solution to achieve all goals at once.
When an organization makes a decision about implementation, similar patterns are always observed, for example, a pronounced leadership enthusiasm in the early stages. Management expects fast results, improved performance. Of course, things are not so simple, and because of a number of problems that arise, things are not going according to plan. In this article I will examine 6 typical problems, because of which the decision on project management does not bring results. And, of course, I will propose solutions for each of them.
I propose to start by listing the key benefits for the company from using project management solutions:
- Such systems provide transparency of business processes. When each task has an executive and a deadline, each employee understands who is responsible for what and how to prioritize tasks every day.
- The solution serves as a single hub for all communications on the project. It is no longer necessary to collect fragmented data in various tools, such as email, whats app, slack, skype, etc. Everything is centralized, and it’s easy to see the full picture
- Save time. When all project data is always available, it is possible to reduce the number of meetings. And if the solution has the functionality of project templates, new ones can be launched in just a few clicks.
- The solution simplifies strategic and tactical planning. Many project management systems include tools to control and share roadmap and allow users to make changes if necessary. This allows you to see how all parts of the project form a coherent whole and evaluate various factors - from the actions of all the people involved in the project to the workload of the whole team.
The management, as a rule, expects that the company will receive some (and better all) of the above advantages, and the decision will begin to bring results quickly. But there are a number of factors that can lead to a fiasco. In general, we are always talking about two things: the lack of a work plan for managing changes and the impossibility of building and implementing new processes from the very beginning. All the problems listed below somehow relate to either the first or the second category.
Problem # 1: Lack of onboarding or onboarding done wrong
When implementing a solution, management has to take into account many factors. They include transferring existing business processes to the system, conducting training, assigning roles (user, admin) to team members. All this activity in the aggregate is called “onboarding”.
Many managers underestimate the importance of onboarding or generally prefer to skip it. They think that the decision will “take root” and begin to bring benefits. I have bad news for you: this will not happen. In order for the solution to start bringing value, management must invest a significant amount of time during the implementation phase. Unfinished or poorly implemented onboarding is a serious problem. It often turns out that employees are not ready to spend time and make efforts on activities related to onboarding: they do not watch training videos, do not attend sessions on transferring business processes to a new system (where their expertise is certainly required) or simply don’t even understand with basic functionality.
- The decision on what should be spent on the onboarding team should be spent enough time, it is required to take at the stage of choosing a tool for project management. Not later than. The management should take part in all activities related to onboarding and ensure that all employees are involved in them.
- There will be more advantages if the solution provider has an implementation service (unfortunately, today it is not present at all). Professional implementation consultants will save the team a lot of time, since they know exactly what needs to be done at each stage of onboarding.
Problem # 2: Lack of management support
Deciding on the implementation of a project management tool is not easy. As a rule, companies always have a few pro-active, technically savvy employees, who only let them experiment with a new tool. And that's great. But there is a problem: the introduction of the tool always leads to a complete redrawing of the playing field. This is not a simple checklist with tips on increasing productivity. And the enthusiasm of a couple of employees will not be enough for the tool to bring organization value. If management does not provide full support, both at the stage of solution implementation and in the future, it will face the problem of partial (or complete) lack of results.
- Make sure the managers themselves use the tool and set an example to other employees. When management insists on the use of decision-making by members of the team, where they don’t go at all, it is always very demotivating.
- Meet with management and discuss what resources are required for the solution to be successfully implemented. Make sure that on your side all the heads of departments / teams, and they are willing to spend time studying and implementing the solution.
- Ask managers to hold regular (for example, weekly) meetings with their teams to discuss who uses the solution and how. At these meetings, it will be possible to discuss problems if they arise and ask for help.
Problem # 3: the team is not well trained in the product
It is surprising how many companies underestimate the importance of training on the product at the stage of its implementation. In each company, there are 2 categories of employees: those that absorb new technologies like a sponge, and those for whom any technically-complex solution is a big problem. Sometimes, employees can have the basics of using a project management system, but have problems with specific functionality, which, unfortunately, is directly related to their work. The fact that for a particular employee to understand a new product is a question of thirty minutes, does not mean that this can be a standard for all others. Remember that all employees are different.
- Check with the manufacturer of the solution, how long it will take for training, and make sure that each employee who will use the solution will be able to allocate this time.
- Customize training for the needs of the team. Find out what benefits different teams can get from using the solution. Emphasis on a particular functionality during training sessions for different teams can vary greatly.
- If possible, conduct several training sessions. The learning process is usually more effective in smaller groups, as each participant has the opportunity to ask questions
Problem # 4: Employees See Decision as a Waste of Time
When management decides to implement a product for project management, it usually has well-defined expectations about the value that the product should bring. But this statement does not always work for other employees. They may think that the new tool is another IT wunderwatch, which management will force to use for several months, and then everything will come to naught. And this can be a serious problem.
If you open any change management book, you will find the following phrase in one form or another: “in order for a change to take place, people must want to change”. And employees will not want to change unless they see a direct benefit for themselves in the changes. Even the approach of “lowering” decisions from the top down sometimes can not work. Of course, the percentage of employees who use the solution grows every day if management keeps track of it regularly. But at the same time, this means that management inefficiently spends time on imposing the use of a solution, which essentially contradicts the very concept of increasing the efficiency of processes from a solution (and, in particular, that the solution is designed to save time).
- Meet with the management team and consider how the decision can benefit members of different teams. Gather information about the current problems of the teams that they encounter on a regular basis. Make lists of problems that can be solved with the tool and discuss them with the teams.
- Or immediately focus on specific team processes and what they will gain from using the tool. For example, employees of the sales department can say that if they constantly update information about their clients and transactions in the system, everything will be transparent for management, and they, in turn, will not go to most meetings and have more time to call customers
Problem # 5: the team already has negative experiences using another solution in the past
So, the team has already tried a similar product, and the attempt was unsuccessful. There could be a lot of reasons for this. But the main point here is that now the employees will have a negative attitude towards the new solution from the very beginning. For the last decision, probably, a lot of time was spent, and there were no results.
The company may also decide to implement the product at the wrong time. When employees have a sales plan, deadlines are coming, the last thing they want to think about is “urgent transfer of all data to a new super-solution”.
- Start by analyzing the problems that the company faced in implementing the previous solution and approach these problems, taking into account existing experience
- Use the Customer Success help of your solution provider managers, if possible. Qualified CSMs are usually experts in change management and can provide substantial support in the migration process to a new solution.
- If the solution provider provides a paid implementation service, consider purchasing this service. If your team is professional, then all the steps of the initial implementation and “deployment” of the solution in the company will be faster and much less painful.
Problem # 6: There are no necessary integrations in the solution
A number of popular project management solutions on the market, among their advantages, highlight the opportunity to become a central place in which all project communications will take place. But what if there are no native integrations in them (for example, with Slack, Adobe, etc.)? Just offering a customer a good insulated product is no longer enough. Integration can be a key factor.
Even if the solution has native integrations with all possible products and services, it is important that the solution has an open API. This allows, if necessary, to develop additional integrations.
- When choosing a solution, be sure to find out which integrations are already built into it. Prepare a list of products (services) that the team already uses on a regular basis. Then compare, how many items from these lists intersect.
- If the solution is ideal for the team, but there are no number of required integrations, consider the possibility of building them using an API on your own or by paying a third-party integration specialist.
Implementing a project management solution can have a significant impact on business performance. But the positive effect will be only if the company is ready to spend enough time during the implementation phase and after it. We hope that these tips will help you achieve the desired results!