One challenge that project managers have is that many work in organizations that have a matrix structure. This means that many of the project team members report to department heads and not the project managers running the projects and programs. This can result in the project managers feeling ‘powerless’ in terms of getting team members to update tasks and projects in a project management solution.

What can be done?

First, you can try a top-down approach. The project manager should look for a sponsor of the project software solution. Best case scenario, the sponsor is backing the entire effort out of the gate, but that does not always happen. If you are looking for a sponsor after the fact, then find an ally that is not technology averse. In other words, if you start with the executive whose secretary prints out his email, then you are probably in for a long haul. Find someone in your organization with influence that is software savvy. Schedule time to meet with that person and educate them on your tool or solution.

Find out what that person values in the way of data or information. Then, provide that in the form of a report from your solution…..repeatedly. That is, keep showing him/her in a meeting your real-time data, or export it to Excel or MS Project. Most executives are either not getting any project data, or they are receiving it late, it is stale or being put together manually. The idea here is to make them used to receiving decent data without a hassle. Winning friends over to your side.

Next, you can try the bottom-up approach. In other words….WIIFM? What’s in it for me….the team member asks. Lots of things…..for example:

No more midnight fire drills as you are going to learn how long tasks actually take, not everyone’s guess-timate of how long they take. The benefit for the team member is that the better information the project manager receives, the better the estimated hours, duration and schedules are going to be moving forward. For example, often times team members think entering time or updating tasks is micro-managing them. Instead, try a communication plan that tells them FREQUENTLY and CLEARLY, that the solution benefits them.

Again, start with an early adopter group of people and get them to perform the updates. Reward them FREQUENTLY and PUBLICLY. I know what you are going to say, they don’t report to me, I cannot give them more money or anything. WRONG! Studies show that employees want RECOGNITION for their efforts. Public recognition in group meetings or company settings will help, especially if you have selected the right team. That is, the folks that want to do a good job.

These ideas do take time, depending on your corporate culture. I will not try to minimize the effort here. However, a good plan, well communicated, backed up with repeated messaging, will work in the long term.

Related posts:
5 Software Implementation Mistakes
Training Ideas

Online 3/28/2016
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