SearchOne of the most common requests I get in the project and portfolio mangement software industry is to help find a tool that will be different things for different people.  There is so much of an organization somehow tied to the project management process that this is perhaps not a big surprise.

Executives would love a simple dashboard but not just a dashboard that provides a pretty picture that they are then impotent to do anything about; a dashboard that would have access to direct impact; direct business decisions.  One one hand it would be able to drill down into the data to audit or display why a traffic light is red, on the other, it would give guidance as to what typical actions might rectify the situation and, finally, there would be an ability to instantly and referentially collaborate with other employees, contractors, legal etc. to fix or improve the situation.

Resource managers are constantly asking for a solution that will let them manage their team and overcome or improve the inherent conflict that has come with the matrix management concept.  A single button that would fix everything would be nice, but in its absence, an automated way of doing resource contracts and resource negotiations would be wonderful.

Project managers have plenty of tools for scheduling but few for things like managing contract conditions.  Contract management may be the single most impactful aspect of project management and the tools available to manage it are few and far between.  Primavera at least made something for managing contract milestones but a single tool for bringing the various clauses together with the impact from schedule and the decisions from management along with collaboration with the contractors and internal staff needed to keep a contract on the straight and narrow is yet to make its appearance.  Organizations are stuck instead trying to write their own such tool using platforms for collaboration or document management.

Finally, what about the person actually doing the work.  Remember him (or her)?  Most people at the team lead level or the individual level ignore anything I’ve been talking about so far because it just isn’t targeted at them.  They are using simple lists like the Task lists in Google or Outlook and a simple calendar or Excel spreadsheet.  Is it any wonder that Excel still outsells Microsoft Project as a project management tool?

What the project management software industry could use is a dose of perspective; making tools that can look at the same problem but provide different faces and functionality to different viewpoints.  I’ve been in the industry for 25 years now and that’s what we were asked for 25 years ago that we’re still waiting to deliver today.