How Many Project Management Tools Is Too Many?

Project management software was one of the first and most important software categories. The advent and adoption of the personal computer in the 80’s and 90’s fueled the initial spark for project management programs, as people began to multitask and take advantage of scheduling and task management tools.

And an even bigger shift occurred in the mid to late 90’s—with the spread of the Internet. The Internet dramatically changed the project management software landscape, enabling:

  • Cloud-based and online project management software
  • Quick installation and lower prices
  • Real-time collaboration and communication within and across tools
  • Distributed teams and workers
  • Remote or always-on project management through mobile technology

The latest evolution of project management tools involves people and companies employing full and connected suites or stacks—a trend that promises to streamline standard operations as dramatically as any single shift in the past.

The Rise of the Project Management Stack

Software is eating the world, and it’s had quite the appetite for project management. These tools continue to sprout in rapid fashion—some looking to improve upon legacy and tired solutions, while new technologies and ideas make new areas of project management ripe for the taking too.

The original tools focused on a single element, like scheduling or basic resource management. Companies would evaluate the merits, costs and learning curve of each tool against their manual process.

This made the adoption of new tools slow, costly and difficult.

As technology improved and the demand for tools increased, more and more project management providers were born, and new markets and niches were born with them.

Today, the typical project-based company employs a number of different project management tools. Construction project management software, for example, includes specific and powerful software for:

  • Project documentation and correspondence
  • Project planning
  • Company and project financials
  • Information management systems and internal reporting and analytics
  • Resource and asset management

Each of these market segments has its own serious set of providers who continue to push the boundaries of form and function in their specific category.

A single construction company may use four or five separate and complimentary project management tools to better manage its projects.

But How Many Project Management Tools Is Too Many?

The simple answer—there is no such thing as “too many.” You should use as many project management tools as can benefit you. An additional tool which adds more value or improves productivity is a net positive.

Some companies still worry about having too many tools and too many logins.

But with smarter web browsers, the increased ubiquity of single sign-on, and faster mobile and web speeds, managing multiple tools is easier and more seamless than ever. People today are used to multiple apps on their phones, navigating between and across devices, and chopping and changing their thoughts too.

Combine these consumer preferences with the power and increasingly off-the-shelf nature of integrations—which enable different tools to speak with one another—and the friction associated with adopting another tool is low.

In most industries, projects are becoming increasingly complex, and are managed and executed by increasingly dispersed and global teams. The need for project management tools is not diminishing; it’s still growing.

No One Stop Shop… At Least Not Yet

As the expectations for software rise, and as more elements of project management become “softwared,”  the likelihood that a single tool will do the entire job declines.

It’s hard to imagine that a single software could replace or match the power of the best individual project management solutions in the world, especially when they can be integrated and connected in seconds anyway.

Each category of software can still be improved and optimized, and each of the tasks they’re focused on is big and important enough to warrant a purpose-specific tool.

While the holy grail of a single project management tool still entices many workers and companies, the idea of that platform’s dashboard and navigation would make anyone feel dizzy.

Compartmentalizing project management software into dedicated and important pieces is a smarter way to do the job—in the same way that segmenting your projects in order to better understand and analyze each component is the more effective approach.

Try Before You Buy

Luckily for buyers, the barriers to investing in a new project management tool continue to shrink.

Free and demo versions are becoming more common, which enable companies to test and identify whether another is necessary and how well it fits into a company’s current workflows and software suite.

While the thought of yet another project management tool might seem like a bridge too far, in a world where there is still a ton of admin and time wasted manually entering and managing information, that next project management tool might just be the one you need to take your productivity or company to the next level.

And you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Author Bio: Lance Hodgson is the Head of Marketing and Growth at Sitemate, a project management solution built for industrial companies. Lance brings awareness to Sitemate, and manages and optimizes the company’s growth projects and operations with the latest project management tools.

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