10 tips to get the most out of your project management system

Project management pros share their top tips for getting workers to use project management software more efficiently and effectively – from entering project updates to leveraging more advanced features.

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6. Do an incremental rollout – and make sure people are properly trained. “After over 10 years of rolling out PMO software, one thing that we have learned is that rolling every capability out to every employee on day one is recipe for disaster,” says John Glander, PMO specialist, Level 5 Partners, a provider of project management office solutions. “Incrementally roll out everything to small sets of users or roll out specific capabilities to all users. Never do a big bang deployment.”

And as you roll out the software, make sure people are trained on at least the basic features – and provide advanced training to those who need or desire it.

[ Related: 7 Ways Project Managers Can Anticipate, Avoid and Mitigate Problems ]

7. Define workflows upfront. “You have to spend some time in the beginning in order to set them properly, but [well defined] workflows will make all processes [straightforward] and spare you much time,” says Kartunova.

8. Make sure all team members are using the PM software, not another system, to keep everyone informed. “If you intend to use a project management system as a communication hub, there’s no room for holdouts,” says Mark Nichols, the director of Content at Flow, a project management platform. The purpose of project management software is to “make things clear and eliminate miscommunications,” he says. “And you cannot expect that to happen if certain people are managing tasks and timelines [outside the project management system],” he says. So “get your entire team on the system, and make it the home for everything that's important about your project.”

9. Use your PM system to keep track of costs and productivity. “If the software you’re using provides it, utilize built-in, real-time information and reports like status and margins,” says Ray Grainger, founder & CEO, Mavenlink, a provider of online project management software. “Knowing how these metrics are tracking as you progress in a project makes it easy to make adjustments on the fly, and ensure profitable and on-time delivery.”

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Get tips on best practices or find out how other companies are using the same features by getting in touch with a support or success expert at your software vendor’s company,” Grainger says. “Many companies have dedicated teams built to help their customers use their product to its full potential. These teams often offer beneficial one-on-one training and incredible insight on how others are getting the most from the app.”

You can also hire a third-party consultant who specializes in helping companies in your industry or niche customize the project management software.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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