Keeping it simple in project management software

Miree Le Roy - Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I’m sure most of us have heard of the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid. It can be applied to almost every aspect of our lives and jobs and is especially important in project management software.

Software is one of those complicated things where a consultant may show you the latest whiz bang product with all the bells and whistles aimed at helping you manage your project easier. Some features will arguably look impressive, but at the end of the day, you may just need something simple that will help you get your job done and achieve your objectives. And often, the simplest software can be the best.

With project management software in particular, you only get out as much as you put in. What good is a state of the art program if none of your project team members want or know how to use it? We find time and time again that this does happen, companies buy and implement an impressive, state of the art software solution then discover a few months later it is too complicated for their project team to use and hardly any of their staff are using it.

I recently had a comment on a blog entry that said the best software solutions are those adopted by the project team, and I couldn’t agree more. And this is true particularly in the case of project management software, where you are requiring input from all your team members so that everyone can get the most out of the program. It’s no use having team members who send sporadic emails rather than inputting the data into the system, or people who never log into the system to check the progress of RFIs and variations/change orders or changes to the schedule or budget.

With things like IPM’s Outlook integration, that team member who loves to send emails instead of using the project management software still can send emails and they will be stored in the software automatically. Outlook integration also means users can log onto the project management software every time they log into their email. And being based on a Microsoft product, the design of IPM is familiar to people who already use products such as Word, Outlook and Excel, so it is simple and easy to use.

So if there’s one thing we’ve learned in our 20 odd years experience in project management, it’s that the best way to get people to use project management software is to make it simple - KISS. Solutions with a simple design, that are easy to use and easy to maintain will by far win over more users than ones that come with all the bells and whistles, but no one knows how to blow them.


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