The 2011 movie “Moneyball” tells the story of how the Oakland Athletics shifted their approach to the sport of baseball, achieving much success in the process. Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the teams general manager, who decides to shift his traditional approach to recruitment and team management to adapt sabermetric methods at the prompting of his new assistant general manager Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill. The sabermetric approach to scouting and analyzing players relies on the use of statistics and various data (similar to project management) to help determine plays, strategy and even recruitment.
“There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. And this leads people who run Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams,” Brand says in the film. He adds, “Baseball thinking is medieval. They are asking all the wrong questions.”
The film, while about sports, illustrates the importance of data, statistics, and project management tools. Even in an industry that is primarily driven by physical and athletic skill, as well as the instinct and experience of its players and management, these things — data, statistics, and project management tools — managed to change the way the game was played forever. While the Oakland A’s did not win the World Series, the Boston Red Sox did, two years later, building on model the Athletics initiated.
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Tapping into the possibilities opened by project management
If it makes sense in sports, project management tools even make more sense in business. Statistics and data can spell the success or failure of a project or task. Things like budgets, metrics and key performance indicators, and turnover times and deadlines — they determine the kind of strategy and direction and organization takes. And given the immensity and importance of these things, it would be irresponsible, to say the least, to not have the right project management tools and software to oversee and operate these things. And oversight is a complex and complicated task to tackle, albeit a necessary one.
The purpose of project management tools is to help decision-makers plan, implement and control all of the cogs and gears that make the project management process move. The right tools mean increased efficiency and productivity for the companies that utilize them. Even the simplest projects can benefit from the right project management tools; project management tools are a must for larger undertakings.
The right project management tools help managers and leaders anticipate and prevent mistakes and slip ups. It can help them come up with more informed decisions that shape both the smaller and larger initiatives that propel an organization forward. And in a business environment and market where customers are more discerning, unpredictable, and competition fiercer and more innovative than ever, it’s important for managers and decision-makers to have the right tools at their disposal to help them remain on top of things — project management tools allow them to do that.
Another thing is that project management tools also potentially open up other avenues for growth and profitability that were previously untapped and unrealized. Like the way in Moneyball where the tools they had allowed the team, who had a significantly lower budget, to compete with larger, richer teams, project management tools help define not only points of improvement, but completely new directions and strategies.
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The need for good project management
After all that, you’d think that the benefits of project management tools in business is obvious, and it’s use would be widespread. Unfortunately, it’s not. According to business intelligence firm Wellingtone, in the United Kingdom, only 37% of teams reported completing projects on time more often than not.
Furthermore, fairly recent data from LiquidPlanner showed that manufacturing project managers’ top problem was managing expenses, followed closely by meeting target dates and sharing information across teams.
Professional services network firm PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that “73% of U.S. workers think that technology can never replace the human mind.” Not only is the premise behind that belief flawed and misinformed, it is also regardless of the fact that A.I. has and will continue to have a profound effect on the way companies around the world will do business going forward. Gartner goes even further, saying that A.I. will be a necessary and integral factor of workforces around the world by 2021.
But the effect of having good project management tools is undisputed. Professional services firm PM Solutions released 2016 research that showed top performing companies reporting a 5% jump in the use of a project management office. Traditional thinking would see such a function, and naturally the tools it needs, as luxury. The current and present state of doing business though, dictate that project management tools are a necessary component in any successful operation.
Things to look for in a good project management
Not all tools and software are created equal. There are a lot of offerings out there, but not everyone will work for you. But there are certain characteristics and factors that should be considered when we talk about good project management tools.
1. Enables collaboration
Good project management tools don’t just work for one team, or even two. Especially when it comes to huge projects where multiple teams and departments need to coordinate and cooperate, it is imperative that the project management tool you use can make that happen. It will be difficult, to say the least, for a project to meet things like deadlines and budgets without the whole machine — built and run by many different moving parts — functioning smoothly. Functions like file sharing, individual and group communication applications, annotation, and online meetings should be only some of the basic things you should look for.
2. Makes resource management easy and efficient
Remember that statistic awhile ago about expense and cost management being the most difficult thing for managers to handle? There’s a reason for that, and it only goes without saying that any project management tool should be able to make that process not only simple, but efficient as well. Budgets and other resources are the lifeblood of not only any project, but any firm or company as well. Seemingly minute mistakes can have significant negative repercussions in both the short and long term. It is important for the project management software you use to be able to identify, organize, and track resources at every stage and level of the business. A sample of some resource management features that every good project management tool should have are scheduling, inventory, time tracking, and attendance.
3. Compatible with both long-term and short-term plans
Some project management tools are, to put plainly, outdated. It is important to look for tools and software that align with the technological direction the company is taking. This will help managers and other users of the project management tools experts in using the software. This not only also saves money over time, since you don’t need to keep switching software, but developing expertise helps with more efficient use, which also translates to more efficiency in operations.
4. Good, intuitive user interface
Regardless of how good the actual tool is, the whole purpose of using it is defeated if it’s hard to use. Not just in project management tools, but many other otherwise excellent software and applications have seen quick lifespans because they were too complicated to use. The whole purpose of project management tools is to make managing multiple operational fronts simpler and more efficient, and that is only achieved if the tool has a good intuitive user interface that does not have a steep learning curve at least for basic and intermediate use.
5. Provides other resources
We’re talking about other information, data, trends, and whatnot. Good project management tools and software take things to the next level. They deliver more than what is expected; they go the extra mile (or even two and beyond!). This includes looking at existing trends in the industry or in doing business in general. Anything that helps its users make more informed decisions and add context to the bigger picture — these are welcome features that put and add value in a good project management tool.
Any business operation NEEDS not only a reliable system for project management, but one that is customizable and fits its specific needs and requirements. It is important for companies to realize that a significant part of what it takes to continue to become relevant and retain (and obtain) market share is to utilize the latest business technology and tools — and project management tools are a part of that.
Having the right mindset going into these things maximizes all the resources you have — money, time, personnel. When you think about it in the long run, project management tools help create a well-oiled machine that is efficient, productive, cost-efficient, and capable of weathering any storm or challenge that operating market can throw at it.
Tools like the ones Runrun.it offers are and can be indispensable for any organization that are serious in looking to make project management an integral part of their operations. Its Dashboard feature, for example, can play a defining and important role in operations since users have access to a cornucopia of data that can be viewed and pulled in real time.
It’s pioneering Smart Time Tracking not only makes basic timekeeping fast and efficient, it is also an important resource management tool that can help track how time is used — like how much time, on average, a particular team takes to complete a project, or how much time has already been spent on an assigned task. The possibilities are endless. To see how Runrun.it can help your particular organization, you can check the free trial here.