Steps For Moving to a New Project Management Tool
Many of us in the Ten Six office started our professional lives managing projects on spreadsheets. As we moved to larger projects, got exposure to government contracts and improved our skills, spreadsheets for task tracking and project management became a thing of the past.
Our non-scientific office poll concluded that for many of us, spreadsheets were the stepping stone to tools like Microsoft Project and Primavera P6. And you know what? None of us would go back. Once you’ve ‘graduated’ to using enterprise project management tools designed for the job, you quickly start to realize the limitations of working with what is effectively a table.
Oracle Primavera P6 Professional or EPPM are tools that are robust, scalable and used by businesses to manage large projects. If your goal as a project leader, or a supplier wanting to land contracts with larger organizations, there comes a time when you have to upgrade your tool suite. Perhaps that time is now?
Here are five simple steps to make the jump to using a more mature product.
1. Make the decision
First, make the decision to level up your tools. It is a big change for the organization. It’s likely to cost more in terms of licencing, and the team will have to dedicate time to learning a new product.
As a management team or a PMO, the decision might seem easy, but others in the organization may need a little more convincing. Set up some demos so colleagues can see what they are getting. Focus on the benefits. That could be compliance with earned value management guidance – enabling you to win more business. It could be centralizing data or improving the transparency of reports. Look at what you expect to get out of the tool and share the expected benefits with stakeholders.
2. Organize training
It’s human nature to feel nervous about a change at work, and changing the tools you use for people to do their jobs is a big shift. Organize training, a mentoring program and ongoing support in a period of ‘hypercare’ so they know they will be supported. There will always be a learning curve, but the right support in place makes it feel a lot smaller.
Testing out the new product in a training environment is one of the best ways to feel confident using it. Our Primavera P6 training classes make use of a sandbox environment, so delegates can learn how the system works on an example project before they return to work.
3. Identify the projects that will use the tool
Next, consider which of your projects will use the tool. Are you going to migrate the data from spreadsheets or other systems and populate a lot of historical data for in-flight projects? Or are you going to start your new contract using the new tool?
There is no right or wrong answer to this; it’s up to you how you want to implement the software on your existing portfolio of projects. However, it is worth making decisions around what the transition plan will look like so that project teams can be aware. If they need to migrate data, automate or outsource that process where possible.
In many cases, it is easier to start a new project (or phase of a project) with a new tool and run off existing projects using the old tool suite.
4. Manage the integrations
A good project management tool will be part of your governance and financial management toolset. If you work, or intend to work, with earned value management metrics, you will also need a tool capable of doing that.
You may have financial management tools, staffing tools, resource planning tools, risk management or modelling software and more that should be integrated with your project management and scheduling system. Integrations reduce the overhead for manual double-data entry, which in turn reduces the likelihood of human error across the systems. It also saves time.
Identify where your new software should integrate with the rest of your tech stack, and work with the vendor or a specialist consultancy to make the integrations seamless.
5. Be prepared to iterate
Finally, your deployment doesn’t stop when you set up the user accounts and give people access. You will no doubt receive feedback about the way the system works. There will be new reports to create, or dashboards to configure.
Start small and build on those foundations. Don’t expect everyone to have amazing skills from Day 1. Roll out new features or reports iteratively so users have time to get used to new functionality. Our Primavera training course, for example, is an easy three-step learning process. Students learn the basics and then are introduced to more advanced skills as they grow in confidence. Make it possible for people to learn at their own pace and then provide coaching for those who need more support.
As well as your own plans for a gradual ramp up of the tool, consider the feedback from users. Seek out feedback and incorporate changes that they suggest where it makes sense to do so.
If this seems like a difficult journey, another option is to outsource project scheduling. Avoid the work of setting up your own installation of the tool and use ours! Our project scheduling services are a good option if it feels like having your own instance of Primavera is too much of an overhead for the handful of projects that require earned value management or the use of a particular tool for contractual reasons. We can create and maintain your schedule. Get in touch and we’ll show you how.