5 common project management implementation challenges
So you’ve decided on a project management software you want to introduce to your team. Great! Choosing a project management software is a challenge in and of itself.
But now that you’ve found the perfect one, the real battle begins: implementation.
Implementing a new project management platform
Switching to new software can be a chore: It’s tough to get everyone on board, and no matter how thoughtful the design, there’s always a learning curve. Here’s where to expect some hurdles:
1. Convincing your team
There are many reasons people avoid change. Some of the reasons for pushback include:
Fear of failure when trying to adapt to a new system
Losing the comfort of their established routine
Lack of confidence in the management team’s choice
Bad experiences in the past when workflows change
As a manager, it’s important to acknowledge your team’s doubts. It’s unfair to expect everyone to immediately jump on board without a few questions or comments. Take the time to address each team member’s concerns individually to help them feel more comfortable about the decision.
2. Making the switch
It’s the big day: The team begins the migration from their old system to the new project management software. There are profiles to set up, files to transfer, and new workflows to figure out.
Change creates growing pains, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: Your team will get through this, and when they do, working together will get a lot easier.
Supporting and being patient with one another is the best solution. Remember, the whole purpose project management software is to promote collaboration and communication. Recognize that there will be a few dead ends and missed exits before your team finds its ideal workflow.
Realize, too, that the first few weeks may require extra supervision. Consider expanding your office hours to address questions or concerns that inevitably come up during the transition period.
3. Exploring features and customizations
It probably won’t take your team long to learn how to create a task or workflow board. What might take a while is learning all the different features and customizations available in project management software.
Take templates. Templates automate repeated work, saving time and reducing the risk of errors. But not every template is needed by every team, and even pre-built templates might require some tweaks.
Another area that can take some time to get right is reporting. If your company charges a flat, per-project fee, billable hours might not be that important to you. Perhaps that space on your dashboard is better filled with a chart of team members’ workloads.
Many project management software providers offer instructional blog posts and videos. Share those with your team. If necessary, ask a representative to give you a demo. About two-thirds of people are visual learners, so a live presentation may be the best way to show users the ropes.
4. Learning to operate online
Before switching to project management software, many teams use a mix of on-paper and in-person processes. Moving your project management operations online calls for a culture shift.
Remind everyone that all project notes should be recorded in the project management software. Walking down the hall to ask a question might be easy, but it risks leaving other team members out of the loop. Interface sketches belong on workflow boards, not paper notepads.
This is particularly important if your company works with contractors. Project management software can break down barriers between in-house and external teams. To get them both on the same page:
Assign specific tasks and project roles to freelancers, just as you do your employees.
Block off time on your calendar to respond to contractors’ questions.
Set core hours. Contractors need to know when employees will be available for collaboration.
5. Setting project budgets
Once you’ve switched the team over to project management software, you’re likely to find that project budgets need to shift as well. More efficient workflows may result in fewer billable hours. You might find yourself with time to tackle nice-to-have features you’d previously sidelined.
How that affects your budget depends on your team’s tendencies and your fee structure. If you use a retainer model, increased efficiency may let you lower your rate in order to bring in more business. If you charge per deliverable, you may be able to boost revenue by building out more features.
Project management software can make a big difference to your bottom line, but make no mistake: The implementation challenges can be big as well. Give each other grace, and you’ll get through them just fine.