Limitations of PM Software

No one can doubt that project management software is a great tool to help PMs save a significant amount of time. However, “the tremendous power of project management software can lull young project manager into a false sense of security” (Heerkens, 2002, p 138). As every other software, applications like MS Project are just tools; they do not execute the entire job for the PMs. It is unacceptable to expect a computer to manage the project, it just manages the vast amount of data that large projects require to store (Verzuh, 2003, p 104). Project management software is incapable of “establishing project objectives, define project tasks or dependencies, determine and manage project constraints” (Richman, 2002, p 93). As the significance of having a proper Statement of Requirement becomes more and more apparent, project management software should consciously take a secondary role in a project system since their power can only be exploited when the project is defined correctly. Computers can only help producing wrong plans faster, instead of helping the PM understand the essence of project management: satisfying the stakeholder’s needs.

Another important issue is the learning curve required to understand how sophisticated project management software works. Here lies the hidden cost behind any software that PMs use because the average investment of £350 to buy the software licence can not compare with the additional hundreds of pounds required for training on how to actually use it (Hallows, 2002, p 46). The way that these training courses are set up makes things worse as trainees have to attend a series of ‘off the shelf’ courses without taking into consideration the different level of familiarization that each trainee has. Even though they are designed to be as user-friendly as possible, untrained PMs spend a lot of their working time trying to insert all the data into the software, ultimately leading to serious PM’s productivity issues (Hall, 2006). For this reason, Russel (2000, p 47) suggests to “limit your time on the computer so you don’t end up doing project management software work instead of project work”.

Project management software makes life easier for smart PMs that want to save time using the processing power of a modern computer. Project administrators, instead of PMs, can be used to insert all project data into the software and keep them updated in order to produce fast and insightful analysis or reports when needed. However, software does not replace the delicate skills of an experienced PM which can use his experience and talent to lead a project towards a successful closure.