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Can software deliver both consistency and flexibility?

In today’s busy highly competitive marketplace not only is the role of project manager key to the success of any project undertaken but project management software plays a huge part. It provides the busy project manager with the vital tools to help keep everyone working on the project organised and make sure that everything is progressing according to any plans that have been laid down.

There are a variety of project management software solutions available on the market. Many of them also include web-based applications that are accessible from any location. Each software package has it own special set of features which might be beneficial. However, they all share the same common benefits that any business requires.

Whilst small, and even medium companies, might only be working on one project at a time, larger companies are far more likely to be working on several projects at any given time. They have bigger teams of people working on their projects and fewer projects managers who are responsible for making sure that a project is successful. If no software is used, then as more people join a team it can be harder to keep track of what is going on, making it difficult to know whether you are on target or not. The problem is that sometimes it is necessary to be flexible with your project plans, especially if things are not progressing as you would like, whilst still maintaining a degree of consistency. Is this something that project management software can deliver?

IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FLEXIBLE?

Project planning training reminds the project manager that there is a need to be flexible. Typically, by the time you get a project underway there will already be a firm plan in place and everyone will know exactly what they are doing. The details that have already been put in place include such things as project scope, exact budget and any financial constraints attached to it, any resources that might need to be acquisitioned, the relevant staff found, and any permissions sought. There are already parameters that have been put in place, yet any project manager will be able to tell you that the unexpected can, and often will, happen and that there is always a requirement to make changes to the plans at any point in the project to accommodate these issues.

Just as the project manager knows to anticipate these changes, in fact they usually have plans in place for just such an eventuality and are flexible enough to adapt them then so must the software that they use. This is covered in the APM project fundamentals qualification. If the project manager is not able to move elements of a project plan around on the software, then it just isn’t going to work for many projects. You can plan for things to go wrong, but you won’t know exactly what is going to cause you an issue until you get to it. Project managers rely more and more on the software that can help them do their job effectively so if it isn’t flexible then it isn’t worth having.

IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE CONSISTENT?

Just as flexibility is important in the field of project management, so too is the importance of being consistent. It is true that these two things are completely at odds -however, to some extent they can also be complementary of each other, and this is especially true when you need them to be. In any given project it is important for the project manager to remain consistent. It is something that the members of a project team expect; they need you to stick to the plans that have been put in place and this is what helps to build up trust within the team. Obviously, they also accept that there will be times that you may need to be flexible to your plans, because things rarely move as smoothly as you want.

Project management can certainly help with this consistency. The same types of information from one project to another can be found in the same place. This makes it easier for the members of the team to know exactly what they are looking for and where to find it. Humans are creatures of habit and we like to know that once we have learnt the location of something, we can easily find it again.

SO, CAN SOFTWARE BE BOTH?

The simple answer is that if project management software cannot deliver both flexibility and consistency then it will only have limited uses to any project manager.

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