5 reasons your project management process isn't working

reasons your project management process isn't working

Are you working or scrambling?

Your team is working overtime. You can't keep up with the steady stream of ad hoc requests. Your supervisor is constantly requesting another status update or progress report.

If this sounds familiar, your project management process might be broken.

More than ever, how we work matters more than just getting work done. When our processes aren’t optimized and streamlined, workers burn out. Their productivity drops, they show up late, or they don’t come in at all. All this adds up for an organization. Organizations with highly engaged teams have 41% less absenteeism and 59% less turnover. And they are 21% more profitable.

How can teams and leaders make sense of vast information and data, communicate effectively and efficiently, and collaborate smoothly to get work done on time? This post identifies the top 5 problems that arise with broken project management processes, and offers practical solutions and approaches to keep you on track.

Problem 1: You can’t keep up with all the ad hoc requests.

Mid-project and last-minute requests come from everywhere: unexpected reports, updates, reviews, emails. Some IT organizations claim they spend up to half of their time on unplanned work. Our 2020 State of Work report reveals that we spend a mere 43% of our time on our primary job duties, and experience more than 13 work interruptions per day. It can take 20 minutes after each interruption to get back to the task at hand.

Get a handle on ad hoc work.

Modern work management requires being prepared for every kind of work—both planned and unplanned. Being ready for the unexpected is crucial, especially knowing that, even with strong project planning, work hardly ever goes exactly according to plan.

And just because you receive a request doesn’t mean you have to comply with every single one. Tracking ad hoc projects is a key way to gain work visibility, set clear boundaries, and standardize your request management process. Getting organized and staying that way as work comes up can take homing in on a few specific areas like your calendar and inbox.

Problem 2: You can't see what your team is working on.

About three-quarters of American workers wish they had a centralized place to see work across their organization. Over half say that finding information as a consumer is easier than finding information at work.

Little to no work visibility is one of the leading causes of unplanned work and overwork. When you don’t know where your time is going, or where it needs to go, you can’t manage priorities. And without clear priorities, everything is going to feel urgent, even when it’s not. Effective time management, a core project management knowledge area, can’t happen without work visibility.

Low visibility is also a big contributor to inflexibility—lacking the ability to adapt quickly to project changes or pivot in response to shifting conditions.

Not only that, but lack of visibility makes it nearly impossible to evaluate people’s work. While employees should learn how to enhance their own visibility, especially ahead of a performance review, managers need consistent visibility into their team’s work so they can provide useful and transparent feedback, and plan well for future projects.

We’re already swamped with emails and messages, so don’t let a lack of visibility create unneeded update requests and derail your communication management plan. In fact, it's reported that we waste over 21 hours per week on unnecessary tasks, low-value communications, and wasteful meetings.

Start seeing clearly.

A centralized place for work management and a streamlined process will mean that managers can always access the updates they need rather than overloading their teams with status requests. Reducing needless communication saves everyone time and energy, as does continuous awareness of tasks, priorities, people, and progress.

Read more about strategies and tips for improving work visibility, some as simple as going paperless and knowing when to use and when to avoid email. Wondering what you do once you actually gain the visibility you’ve always needed?

Problem 3: You have too many disconnected tools.

Nearly half of workers say the number of apps and programs they need to perform their work gets in the way of their productivity. Additionally, 39% say that the number of communication options available negatively impacts their ability to get work done.

Email is a major culprit. Even with more synchronous tools available, email remains the most common form of file sharing, and for every 100 people who are copied on an email unnecessarily, a full workday is lost.

But communication tools are just one problem. We are also overloaded with ways to file share, network, track time, log work, and manage data.

Know when to connect tools, and when to cut them.

The first step to organizing and streamlining your set of tools is to merge and connect when you can. You can choose from many platforms with API capabilities to transfer data, and you can centralize your operational system of record (OSR), CRM, HRM, or ERP.

But watch for redundancies and cut out non-essential tools to reduce the clutter. Avoid adding apps just because they’re new, budget-friendly, or popular. Be choosy when it comes to settling on your main digital collaboration tool, and drop the outdated tools and their unfunctional uses (like using email as a scheduling tool).

Problem 4: You can't mix methodologies.

Modern project management isn’t just about one methodology anymore. Teams that were once using the Waterfall method are now asked to manage projects in Agile, or mix the two. Transitioning from one methodology to another, or finding a productive way to blend two or more, requires some preparation and research. Not knowing how to do this at all will certainly get in the way of project success, as well as stymie your management style.

Find the best mix for your organization.

When you mix methodologies, you aren’t forcing one to become something it’s not. Nor are you demanding that any team to use a process that doesn’t work for them. 44% of project managers say Waterfall and Agile need to coexist. A leader’s job is to find tools that translate between the two, roll up data, report on everyone’s progress, and incorporate teams into a different methodology.

You should also know the pros and cons of each methodology. When mixing methodologies, it’s crucial to have training, buy-in, and clear translation.

For more details, check out our latest eBook with secrets on balancing agile and waterfall from 20 industry experts.

Problem 5: You don’t have a single platform for work.

You can’t afford for chaos to be any part of your processes or work day. Too much is at stake and there’s too little time to take our eyes off progress and productivity. It's time for a new direction and a new approach to work: enterprise work management.

Encompassing all types of work (planned and unplanned), methodologies (Agile and Waterfall), and users (technical and business), enterprise work management is a holistic, enterprise-wide system that manages the entire lifecycle of work.

Enterprise work management focuses on visibility from initial request to delivery and measurement of tasks, issues, projects, you name it. It's a single place to manage work requests, track work progress, manage resources, plan capacity, gather project data, and provide visibility that can be easily customized to any audience.