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5 reasons traditional project management is broken: part 2

Welcome to our wrap up of the 5 reasons your project management process isn’t working. If you haven’t already, check out our first post on this subject to discover reasons 1 and 2 that your project management process is broken.

Feeling the pain of ad hoc requests and low visibility into what you’re team is working on today, tomorrow, and next month? Let’s explore the next three problems with project management today:

3. You may have too many disconnected tools

As we mentioned in part 1 of this series, the average person uses 13 different tools and applications to manage their time and their work. Work requests come in from one angle, reporting is done in a different tool, time tracking in another, and that doesn’t even account for email or file sharing or data management. How can your project management process truly produce if the tools you use to help your process don’t communicate?

Email, unfortunately, is the most common tool used to request new work, reply to status inquiries, and share files with stakeholders. In fact, in a recent Workfront study of UK enterprise teams, email was reported as the most common method of communication. You spend so much time in email that you wind up squandering precious hours searching for that long-lost email thread and looking for contact information that will never be found without the help of your friend in IT. Email is so disconnected from the project management process, and such a time suck, that for every 100 people who are copied on an email unnecessarily, a full workday is lost.

4. You can't mix methodologies

Project management is shifting. Many teams that were once working in Waterfall are now asked to manage projects in Agile. In a group of surveyed project leaders, 44% reported that they must support a mix of Agile and Waterfall methodologies. And with this change come a lot of questions and concerns about how to best manage that transition, how to stay productive, and how to report up the chain with the right metrics. You’re faced with a task that seems insurmountable.

Whether you’re working in Agile yourself or interacting with an Agile team, your project management process doesn’t work if you don’t understand how to communicate between these two methodologies. In reality, 55% of project managers agree that effective communication among project stakeholders is the number one success factor in a successful project. If you don’t understand the jargon between the two work processes, your project management style will likely fail.

5. You are bombarded by status updates / inquiries from your boss

It becomes crystal clear that your project management process isn’t working when you spend an incredible amount of time answering the same questions over and over from project stakeholders and your boss. Workers report they spend an average of 2.5 hours per day, or 30% of the workday, searching for and gathering information. What are they searching for? Answers to “what’s the status of that project?” “When can I see progress on this?” “What’s Jerry working on?” “When can Stacey start on those tasks I sent over yesterday?”

If you don’t have a central location to update everyone’s current progress on work, you become the status chaser, rushing around to gather information and data, which then needs to be pushed into a pretty report you can send up the chain. And what happens next? Another stakeholder needs the data in a different format, and you have to start all over again. And get used to it. This process happens over and over and over again.

You need enterprise work management

Does this chaos sound foreign or all too familiar? It’s clear that project management isn’t working. Today’s workforce deals with different types of work, technology, and even distance between teams that don’t aid the old style of work in any way. It’s time for a new direction, a new approach to work.

Meet enterprise work management

Encompassing all types of work (planned and unplanned), all types of methodologies (Agile and Waterfall), and all types of users (both technical and business), Enterprise Work Management is a culture that, combined with the right tools, will enable you to manage the entire lifecycle of work. EWM isn’t just about managing projects, but focuses on social collaboration, recognition, best practice automation, and results.

To find out more about EWM, download a recent whitepaper on Enterprise Work Management and the Future of Collaboration.

This blog is written and sponsored by Workfront.

3 comments

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  1. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 12 April 2015, 11:57 AM

    This is one of the most ridiculous postings I’ve seen in ages. 1.  Traditional project management works perfectly well if it is applied properly, Cross Rail, T5 (construction), the London Olympics and many other projects worth $billions show what can be achieved2.  All of the so-called ‘broken’ elements listed in these posts are either the result of incompetent management or incompetent managers appointing incompetent or inexperienced project managers. 3.  What the author forgets is incompetent management can destroy and business endeavour - Agile will not fix bad management - see ‘Universal Credit’ for one such example.Picking the best product creation processes, Agile, Waterfall, EPC, D&C or whatever are strategic decisions that have to be made early in the life of every project; not to mention deciding if you are dealing with a project or just business-as-usual maintenance and enhancement work. None of these are ‘silver bullets’ that work on every project every time.  It’s simply another example of bad management not to consider the options and make the appropriate choice.Managing the project once the delivery process has been selected requires the project processes to be adapted to suite the circumstances - doing so is common sense, not doing so is another example of bad management.At a more fundamental level allowing all of this bad management to exist in an organisation, wasting the organisations assets is bad governance.The problem needs to be fixed at the appropriate levels within an organisation - then there may be a management structure in place capable of identifying where Agile may offer advantages and using it effectively in those situations. for more on managin Agile see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P109_Thoughts_on_Agile.pdf 

  2. Shawn Dickerson
    Shawn Dickerson 14 April 2015, 07:44 AM

    Thanks for the comments and insight. I agree that in a very structured environment with well-trained project teams and supportive, seasoned executives many of these challenges don't exist. But that's simply not reality for a great many organizations. Enterprise projects at many of the companies we work with are supported by "accidental project managers," who lack formal training and who are forced to juggle a variety of competing priorities. Is that bad management? Possibly. Is it reality? Definitely.

  3. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 14 April 2015, 10:55 AM

    1. Fix the organisation.2. The alternative is to fail regardless if the methodology. To quote Douglas Adams "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."