Over the course of developing Taskworld, in the past 3 years we studied project management inside out. Apart from the obvious resistance to technology, the most challenging aspect of introducing a new project management software was existence of workaround methods.
We were surprised to learn that project management methodology in even large enterprises is so deeply flawed that people have made peace with its repercussions. That’s exactly why -
- Only 1/3 of all projects were successfully completed on time and within budget over the past year.
- 1/3 of all projects fail because of a lack of involvement from senior management.
- 44% of all project managers use no software, even though PWC found that the use of PM software increases performance and satisfaction.
Source - Standish Group, University of Ottawa and Pricewaterhouse Coopers)
Look at the world around you, see how much it has changed from 20 years ago. But what if I tell you that the way most companies manage projects hasn’t changed one bit in all these years. Thanks to these two tools that aren’t even meant for project management.
- MS Excel
I don’t want to undermine the importance of both these tools. Both have been real game changers and continue to help businesses around the world. However, none of them were designed for project management. They are great at what they are meant for, not exactly at organizing work.
So How Does An Average Company Manage Projects?
Imagine there’s an apparel company called Thailand Duck Co (TD). Now TD has to deliver 10,000 t-shirts to Walmart in three months. Let’s see how TD uses a combination of Excel, Email and Online docs to get work done.
This sheet consists of all the tasks involved in the project along with important details such as assignee, department, start date, due date, status and comments. The PM manager manually changes the status to the desired color to indicate whether the task is to do, doing, done or overdue.
If you feel this is overwhelming, I’d just like to add that this is how a really simple project looks in Excel. We saw some Excel sheets of enterprises that had hundreds of tasks and a lot of complexity in workflow. Three words sum up how they looked - carefully crafted mess.
Limitations Of Excel
It’s not that Excel just looks unpleasant, it lacks some critical features that are important for every project manager.
- No Business Rules/Best Practices
Excel doesn’t offer a methodology. Neither does it suggest any workflow. It just leaves the spreadsheet to the whims of the project manager. Without a structured process, projects are more likely to lead to cost overruns and time delays.
- No Reminders/Notifications
You can organize all you want on Excel but you don’t receive notifications if it is updated. You always need to open the spreadsheet to know the current status of the project. This is quite annoying for people who just want to be informed about the projects’s progress.
- No Overview/Analytics
Project management isn’t just about organizing things, it’s also involves receiving insights and business intelligence to make decisions. Excel doesn’t provide that. Managers find it hard to measure performance and take proactive decisions without actionable insights.
- No Place to Manage Files
Work involves sharing a lot of files and documents. Absence of a file management system is a critical limitation of Excel. Team members have to find their to dos in a spreadsheet and then share files on a different platform. This causes significant loss of time and energy.
- No Place to Communicate
You can add comments in Excel but there’s no way to notify people about that. In order to compensate for that, you end up sending..
Emails, Tons And Tons Of Emails!
Did you know that approximately 205 billion emails are sent everyday. More than twice the stars in Milky Way!
Employees on an average spend 28% of their time sorting and sending emails. That’s because emails lack a centralized file management system. They scatter files all over the place. This makes it hard to find what you’re searching for because of lack of context.
Let’s recreate TD’s project in a project management app like Taskworld and see if it offers any improvement over the existing process.
This little box right here holds all the contents of the project inside it. Literally everything, all files, tasks, comments and messages. Let’s click on it to see what’s inside.
What makes this task different from a cell in spreadsheet is that it is completely dynamic. It’s not just a string of text. When you assign properties to this task, they get reflected in every aspect of the app.
Assigning the task to Ben makes him accountable to finish it before Jan 26. This will affect his personal to dos, calendar and performance metrics. The task is created by Nathan who has added Jennifer as a follower. Once Ben completes the task, Nathan can review and provide feedback in the Comments & Activity section. All the people involved in the task will be notified about any changes/updates related to it.
Quintessential Management Dashboard
You’re the manager of your team and have organized everything perfectly - created all the right projects, assigned tasks to the right people. So, what’s next?
While we love to organize things, we don’t necessarily enjoy going through all the details again to follow up. Managers need an easy to process dashboard that gives them insights to make decisions on time, before things get messy. Since that’s impossible to do in a spreadsheet, PM tools like Taskworld look to bridge the gap.
Managers use Taskworld’s dashboard to track the progress of all the tasks in their team. The filters allow them to dig deeper into specific areas and uncover problems before they arise. This allows them to assess the workload and performance of each member of the team and support them accordingly.
You might take the best baseball bat in the world but if you try to play cricket with it, that won’t work out too well. Same can be said for using Excel for project management.
Experience a better way to manage your team, sign up for a free trial of Taskworld.