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Input versus Output, the Paradox of many tools we rely on (One of many SaaS Principles)

Open your project management tool. (If you didn’t have it open already, and in a spare window as needed.)

First thing to notice, is that the only project management tool you use? Even smaller companies are likely to use more than one project management tool.

Next, of all the tasks, notes, and project details, how much did you need to enter into this tool? How much time does it take to set up each project, research, and adjust? Are the tools that inform the project connected or does it take time to collect information?

77% of companies use project management software and the primary use is “Portfolio tracking & performance monitoring – 75%.”

Considering the time and effort that goes into entering all of that information what if the only return for all the information entered is a timesheet.

Of all of the statistics one sticks out: 80% of project management executives don't know how their projects align with their company's business strategy.

 

Just how much input is needed before any tool is useful, much less a project management tool

That so many projects are unaligned is no surprise. All project management tools reflect what is put in them and rarely add more than structure.

Structure is important but, again, even when building the structure, most tools only provide templates or basic frameworks rather than contextual feedback. As a very basic example, when starting a new project, results from previous projects could inform set up.

With a project added, milestones set, tasks assigned, and due dates set, the project tool now provides guidance through content creation and inbound development correct? Well not exactly, you'll get back only a little more data than you put in.

 

Usage data, the most common output, is readily available but what else could these tools provide?

Whether you are the manager or the practitioner, the main value add of project tools are what they tell you about your team, not what they tell you about your projects.

Other SaaS tools are starting to build in learning, collected statistics, but project management tools still need constant updating to stay relevant. Collaboration is a strong value add but many other tools provide this without necessarily needing a separate tool.

76% of respondents said they are either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their PM software. And yet only 64% of projects meet their goals, goals which may not even be aligned to business goals.

What if, in addition to statistics from prior projects helping in new project creation, education is readily available for common tasks, or tasks even are marked off automatically.

 

Right now, we determine how much to input for the best output from our Project tools (and that needs to change)

Any, all, of these ideas are meant to help managers and practitioners balance how much they should create in a tool before the returns from the tool diminish.

Even beyond project management tools, consider the sheer amount of time, research, and plain data entry are needed before a tool yields more information back you started with. Add your thoughts to the survey below!

 

 

Resources for reference: 

The 20 Most Popular Project Management Software Products Infographic - Capterra Blog

Complete Collection of Project Management Statistics 2015