The Futility of Project Management Software Without a Workflow

Manish Nepal

March 8th, 2017 workflow  

project management without workflow

All the cool kids these days use some kind of project management app. Whether it be Zoho Projects, JIRA or any number of other options, if you want to be hip, you’ve got to have your favorite way to manage team tasks.

Take Julianne for example, a young project manager for a fast-growing digital agency in Chicago. She is in awe of how easy it is to visualize tasks on cards in Trello, like pinning notes on her company bulletin board. She also likes scribbling her creative ideas in free-form text on Evernote or taking a pic of a cleverly-designed billboard and sharing it with her copy team for inspiration. Whenever she can, Julianne encourages her team to use these apps to collaborate on projects and look at things as they progress.

It wasn’t until the day when Pat, a new programmer on the team, made a snarky comment about needing ‘one app to rule them all’ just to keep up with Julianne, that she realized things might be getting out of hand. And it wasn’t only her; every other week a new team member wanted to suggest a new app – a new place to store and organize ideas.

But despite the proliferation of productivity apps, production didn’t necessarily increase. Julianne still felt like she was out-of-the-loop on some projects and had to constantly nudge team members to update their cards to make sure everything stayed current.

Apps That Demand Constant Attention Are Not Productive

If you find yourself drowning in productivity apps, you may notice that your communication and sharing has increased, but the actual work completed hasn’t budged much.

The key problem is that project management software is actually a really sloppy way to get regular business processes done.

Project management apps intentionally break tasks into small data-sized packets that can be manually scooted around a dashboard. While this can be enticing to watch, it is really a laborious way to get tasks done that already have a predefined path.The teams are coordinated by the tasks, but nothing binds the apps together in data-speak terms.

The team depends on each other to push the tasks manually to the next person once they are done with their part. There is no mechanism to automatically propel the task forward without a manual nudge.

Fast Apps Run Out of Gas, Faster

Julianne’s company just signed a big deal with a new client that is going to require the team to triple their output. While it’s easy to create new cards in project management software, things still get done at the same pace. And when Julianne adds more people to her team, the platform just gets harder to use and maintain accountability. Project management software has a really hard time scaling.

A lot of workplaces want ready integration with major platforms such as GitHub, Dropbox, or Google Drive to manage their projects there, but they have to route these apps through a third-party integrator platform for the lack of native integration functionality.

Some apps also allow you to do free-form note taking on-the-go, even within a project. This functionality of giving the freedom to input data in whatever form they desire might serve a user’s comfort well, but doesn’t necessarily help a team when it comes to data sanity. Not having a standard medium on how data should be keyed in means that Julianne and her team have to filter through a horde of unstructured data just to dig up a relevant information.

When projects start bundling up, these apps can’t deliver on all fronts equally. They become like a gas-guzzling coupe that is overloaded with more weight than it can haul. They might be faster, but don’t offer good mileage.

A Power Tool To Nail It All

Julianne and her team are under the false impression that they need more task management apps to better manage their to-dos and projects. What they actually need is a way to standardize and scale the consistent processes they already have.

There is a fundamental difference between a workflow solution and a task management app. Workflow management apps like KiSSFLOW let Julianne start by mapping out a workflow that will apply to all of her projects, 99% of the time. She can easily add conditional branches and parallel tracks. Then she standardizes a form to make sure that all the data comes in the same way.

With an automated workflow, Julianne can now scale up her operations quickly. Each person on her team knows the specific task they need to perform in the workflow and can keep everything moving along. While communication is still an important part of her team’s work, she can focus more on getting tasks done in the order they need to be rather than manually pushing bits of data around to different cards.

Workflow management software like KiSSFLOW also gives Julianne the ability to set deadlines, view reports, and reassign tasks quickly. She gets data on how long each project takes and can report back to her boss on their average time and why the big Boston project got delayed. Good luck collating the data on a spreadsheet and feeding it to another app for a comprehensive insight.

Can You Risk Process for Productivity?

Productivity apps are all the rage these days and they can be tempting to try out. But handling regular processes – especially if they involve clients – is a sensitive issue, and you can’t afford to try out something new if it’s not going to result in a better end product.

Before you start with opening up the handful of apps you think your team can’t live without, consider creating some automated, integrated workflows that will streamline your processes and will actually deliver on productivity.

Try KiSSFLOW for free and see what you’ve been missing.