There is currently a wealth of Project Management tools available to the Project Manager. From the usual stalwarts of PRINCE II and MS Project to less well known, but still useful ones, like Basecamp, 5pm and newbies like Asana. However, Project Managers ignore at their peril the fact that these, albeit sophisticated, software programs are just tools to help them perform their jobs and will not, of themselves, secure project success.
PM tools analyze data.
The first thing to remember here is that Project Management tools merely analyze data that’s entered into them. They do not, or at least not yet, gather that data and, so, are reliant on the data being input to it. If the data being input is incomplete, out of date or just plain wrong – then any analysis the Project Management tool announces will be at best inaccurate if not downright wrong – meaning your project could be seriously out of synchronization with your overall project plan. So, tiresome as it may seem you do need to exert some control and checking over the data being input. Depending on the size of the team you’re leading this might require you to personally oversee the data entry or to at least randomly check data entries – all the way up to having a dual entry system. Just remember the old computing adage – GIGO, Garbage In Garbage Out!
You’re the problem solver!
Another potentially fatal trap that Project Managers can fall into is thinking that Project Management software can solve problems for them. Unfortunately we don’t yet live in a world where software is so clever as to solve problems by itself, despite what you might read in Robert Harris’s excellent “The fear index”. When an unexpected situation arises you need to get out there and determine the solution yourself, sitting in an office staring at a computer screen will not offer you any help. Finally here, don’t be over reliant on using the Project Management software for all of your communications. Keeping people informed of meetings or formal decisions through the software is fine but, by and large, everyone prefers the personal touch when it comes to being asked questions or discussing their work – so get out there and use your interpersonal skills every bit as much as your software ones.