Confessions of a Project Management System Convert

“It’s so time-consuming to enter everything in!”

“It’s so clunky!”

 “It’s so much easier to manage everything in email.”

“It’ll take too long to catch up.”

Yes, I’ve said every single one of these. These were my excuses to not use Celoxis, our project management software. Even though we implemented the system a year ago, I’ll admit—I’m still adapting.

As a project manager, I have daily task lists that include storyboard and online reviews, internal and client meetings, and troubleshooting within Storyline and Captivate. I love what I do, but sometimes it seems like there’s just not enough time in the day to get it all done…or so I thought! Enter Celoxis! Below are the myths I used as barriers (excuses) to using the system…and the facts that shatter the myths. Whether you are using Celoxis, using a different project management system, or thinking about implementing a system, it’s good to understand the various forces at play.

1. Myth: Project management systems are so time consuming.

Fact: Once you understand what the system can do and the best way to do it, it’s more time consuming to NOT use the system. A project system lets you schedule projects and tasks, manage your (and your team’s) time, budget for the short-term and long-term future, and even invoice clients. Combining all your systems in one place can save you a ton of time! Yes, the learning curve takes time. It’s so worth it!

I’m a believer in using task lists to manage the work flow of my projects. The problem with simple task lists, though, is that they’re sometimes too simple. On paper, “Prepare/Send Script for Recording” and “Review Storyboard First Draft” look about the same. Plug them into a project management system with realistic estimates for production times, and you see a different picture. Sending your script might only take you an hour, but reviewing that storyboard for an hour of content might take more like four hours! Now, apply this story to 50 tasks. What you thought was one week’s worth of work is actually going to take you three weeks!

I wasn’t using our system the way I should have—and I paid the price for that. We met deadlines, and clients were happy, but I worked a lot of nights and weekends to make that happen. Now that I’m a “Celoxis Convert,” I can plan better, work the hours I want to, and still keep our clients happy.

2. Myth: It’s so difficult.

Fact: “Difficult” is a relative term. Some systems are more robust than others, which typically means they will take a little longer to learn.  Some are easier, but may not have as many features.  That’s why it is really important to make sure you pick the right tool.  Make sure your system isn’t any more or less complicated than it has to be in order to meet your needs.

I was involved in selecting our system. Want to see what went into that decision? Check out the recording here.

From there, you need to make the investment of learning how to use the system properly.  Any system is difficult if you don’t understand how it works—from the perspective of features and functions and from the perspective of how the system relates to your business processes.  The more you learn about the system, the less difficult it “magically” becomes.

3. Myth: It’s so much easier to manage everything in email.

Fact: Is it really? I thought this was true. That was my ignorance to the power of a tool that actually works. I’ve since heard the phrase, “Managing projects in email is like trying to bake cookies in a dishwasher.”

Imagine creating a project schedule and you had to look at all your team’s emails to see their availability. Scheduling around non-working days can be difficult, especially as your projects get larger. But with a project management system that has resource load capacity, you can easily plan a schedule around their availability.

The truth is that, yes, it probably is possible to manage everything in email. But wouldn’t it be so much easier to do a good job in a tool that was built for the job.

4. Myth: It’ll take too long to catch up.

Fact: When you’ve already got projects in process, it can be daunting to try to get them all in the systems.  Realize though, that you don’t have to.  When we did our roll-out, we only included projects that were less than 50% done.  For projects more complete than that, it didn’t make sense to switch over.

Even after we switched over, I didn’t really use the system (for all the reasons you see here).  When I finally recognized that I needed to start using it, my new excuse was that it would take too long to enter all the data I had neglected to enter.  Then I realized: “Why do I need to catch up?” The truth is that the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be. Don’t worry about catching up on past projects.

The most important takeaway I hope you get from this blog post is the fact that you’ll never learn the system or get good at it if you don’t put in the effort. Go for it! What do you have to lose?

Nick Elkins

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