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  • Kevin Cape

The Worst Mistake You Can Make When Choosing Project Management Software

I remember when I first set out to find the right project management software to manage the growing HR team I’d been entrusted with at the startup private airline where I started my career.

We settled on Asana (the new kid on the block at the time), but I realized shortly thereafter that I’d made a mistake when I discovered Trello, which organized tasks visually and tangibly, like cards on a board, so we switched.

Later, (for reasons I won’t bore you with) we switched to Wrike, and a few months later to SmartSheets.

From there, it was the same old story: someone in the organization would end up getting the right exposure to the right marketing for what was, ultimately, the wrong software.

Asana, Trllo, Wrike, Smartsheets, Monday.com. All of them, the wrong software.

Not because any one platform was wrong on its own, but because the software doesn't really matter if the CEO isn’t an unrelenting zealot about the standards of how we use it.

Ultimately, any project management solution works as long as every commitment on the platform honors these three standards:

1. A single owner

Period, non-negotiable, the end. The buck has to stop somewhere. If Vicky and I each “own” a commitment, then neither of us is going to go the extra mile to figure it out when crunch time hits. That’s human nature. Sorry.

2. Clear definition of tangible, observable results that will be produced

This is huge in a thousand different ways, but you and I both know these tasks all too well:

- Monthly rollup report
- Training
- New business

The problems here go much deeper (like, for instance, the person committed to them and the person evaluating their performance are guaranteed not to be on the same page about what success looks like) but for now we’ll focus on the fact that it shows we don’t have clarity on what “done” looks like.

3. Delivery day & time (or frequency, for recurring commitments)

Fine, time is a little extreme, but it does communicate a certain standard of precision in your organization, which I’m actually evolving to be against, but more on that in a future post. If you’re going to take nothing else from these suggestions, please take this one. Even if your definitions of “done” are bad, even if you have multiple owners, at least you’ll be looking at whether or not somebody did what you thought they were going to do on defined interval, Simply, you’ll iterate and make improvements much more quickly than if you didn’t time-bind commitments.

The value of a clear standard of how your team works with regards to producing results and delivering commitments (and your strict demands that they deliver on them) cannot be overstated.

Don't waste any more time and energy. Draft and publish a short policy requiring that every commitment meet the standard of The Big 3 above today. Or click here to find out if you qualify for a free consultation to get some help in dreaming up what other improvements you might want to make to your org this year.

Project management tools can't save you. But with the right approach, you can make any system work for you.




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