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25% of organizations state they do not have the right technology for collaborative project work. This is a telling insight that informs why some find project management software more of a puzzle than a solution and seek the answer to what project management software does.

Why are tools designed with the functionality to streamline project management and support team members often complicating it? 

5 Reasons Why Using PM Software Properly Is So Difficult

5 Reasons Why it's difficult to use PM Software well
Here are some factors that making using project management software difficult.

Project management software streamlines project planning, execution, and tracking. There are many benefits to using project management software.

However, many need help using these tools effectively and thoroughly. Common issues include a steep learning curve, unfriendly user experience, as well as a lack of group selection process and buy-in.

1. A Steep Learning Curve

A significant hurdle is sometimes the software itself—a true paradox. This shiny new tool must solve all our problems.

Despite thorough research in tool selection, the software is sometimes too overwhelming due to a steep learning curve (and forces teams to leave the relative comfort of their Excel spreadsheets). 

If the tool has many features that take a long time (and guidance) to master, team members will feel discouraged without the right onboarding plan. 

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2. Lack of Group Selection Process 

Decision makers should include project managers in the selection process for project management tools; otherwise, it can lead to significant waste and resistance to adoption.

Project managers and project team members can provide valuable insights during the decision-making process, especially regarding task management, user-friendly interfaces, and essential management features. 

Consequently, securing buy-in during onboarding will be challenging. Decision-makers may prioritize differently, not fully considering the necessary capabilities to compare the date, assignee, overlap, and order of tasks visually. 

Some project managers visually compare tasks through Gantt charts or Kanban boards, and others miss the opportunity for visual comparison analysis completely. This oversight can misallocate the tool's functionality and the team's needs.

3. A Lack of Systems Integration

One of the key challenges in using project management software effectively is systems integration. When team members are using multiple tools or spaces to gain visibility into essential documents, manage tasks, and visually compare timelines, misalignments occur between these silos. 

The ability to centralize information on one platform is of extraordinary value. It is now crucial for teams managing complex projects to have the ability to streamline critical features of project management tools within existing systems. A lack of systems integration leads to fragmented workflows, reduced efficiency, and poor project ROI. 

The ideal project management software should offer user-friendly functionality and collaboration tools that can easily connect with the company's ecosystem of tools.

4. Limits on Customization

Another significant barrier is the customization limits of project management software. While these tools come with a range of key features, they often need to be adapted to the unique processes of different teams. 

The ability to customize deliverables and tailor workflows to fit the specific needs of stakeholders or the unique project is essential for a tool to be truly user-friendly. With this flexibility, teams can utilize software functionality to manage projects effectively and comprehensively.

These reasons highlight the importance of involving all stakeholders in the selection process and ensuring that the chosen PM software aligns with the team's needs and the company's workflow.

These challenges require a strategic approach to training, customization, and change management to ensure that team members use the tool to its highest potential.

5. Unfriendly User Experience

When project management software is in early product launch interations or is poorly designed, it can lead to a frustrating experience.

Feature overload, difficult data upload, lack of systems integration, poor interface design, lack of intuitive controls and confusing navigation, and missing key features—all of these factors contribute to a crummy user experience, leading to tool misuse and avoidance.

How Do You Know Which Project Management Software to Choose?

Selecting the best project management software is a critical decision that hinges on various factors.

Choosing the right project management software involves research, and knowing the essential features that matter will make the decision simpler. Below is a comprehensive guide to choosing the right project management software.

  • Pinpoint challenges and constraints: Identify the real-time challenges your team encounters. Consider constraints like budget, timelines, and resources. Defining the problem will help you understand the functionality and management features necessary for successful projects.
  • Evaluate software usability: Assess the software's user-friendliness. Can your team navigate its interface with ease? Is the onboarding process straightforward and uncomplicated? The right software should offer an intuitive experience that aligns with your workflow.
  • Task management analysis: Scrutinize the software's task management capabilities. Does it support Gantt charts, Scrum methodologies, or Kanban boards? Ensure the software's task assignment, scheduling, and management features mesh well with your team's operational style.
  • Tool assessment: Examine the software's collaboration tools. It should promote real-time sharing of updates and information among stakeholders. Look for features that streamline communication and foster teamwork.
  • Customization and flexibility: Check the software's customization options. Can it be tailored to accommodate your methodologies or frameworks? Does it effectively track milestones, manage deliverables, and reflect dependencies? The right tool should adapt to your project management approach.
  • Dashboard and reporting insights: Analyze the software's dashboards and reporting functions. Are they conducive to informed decision-making? The software should provide reporting features with actionable insights that align with your timelines and goals.
  • Testing: Implement a trial run with your team. Gather feedback on the software's automation features, task management efficiency, and overall usability. This step is crucial for gauging the tool's practicality and long-term fit. 
  • Cost-benefit analysis: Weigh the software's pricing against its benefits. Does it offer real-time advantages that justify the investment? Consider both immediate and long-term impacts on your organization's productivity. The right tool saves money, and increases project velocity and overall success rates.

By considering these stringent evaluation criteria, you can select a project management software that is easy to use, meets your current demands, and has the potential to scale with your organization's growth and evolving needs.

6 Pro Tips For Getting More Out Of Your PM Software

To enhance the utilization of your PM software and ensure your team is getting the most out of its functionality, consider these expert insights:

  • Conduct a thorough needs analysis: Initiate your journey with a comprehensive needs analysis. A needs analysis will clarify the methodology and deliverables your project demands, aligning the PM software's key features with your team's requirements and preventing scope creep.
  • Opt for cloud-based solutions: Cloud-based PM software simplifies onboarding and offers a user-friendly experience with a minimal learning curve. Its real-time updates and accessibility enhance team members' productivity.
  • Prioritize intuitive use: Choose an intuitive PM tool that complements your workflow. Customization should be straightforward, with management features like custom fields that adapt to your timelines and decision-making processes.
  • Focus on scalability: Select a PM solution that scales with your business growth and can handle an expanding scope of projects and stakeholders and has the resource management and resource allocation capabilities to keep up.
  • Embrace mobility: A mobile-responsive PM platform empowers your team to collaborate effectively using messaging and file sharing on various devices.
  • Seamless application integration: Ensure your PM software integrates effortlessly with other collaboration tools you use, creating a cohesive ecosystem for your projects.

By implementing these strategies, teams can overcome the barriers of hard-to-use project management solutions and fully leverage the right project management software's benefits to enhance productivity and project outcomes.

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Stephanie Best
By Stephanie Best

Stephanie is a project manager and value delivery expert. She has 15 years of experience in project management and business strategy. She has led cross-functional, multi-local project teams to successfully launch complex SaaS and IT infrastructure projects, focusing on building high-performing teams and optimizing project value delivery. Stephanie is the principal consultant at Greannmhar Consulting. She is passionate about building strong connections, project management, and unlocking growth opportunities through value delivery optimization.