Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Are you sure that a project management software will solve all your problems?

Probably you won't guess it in these days but, centuries ago, I was a long hair guitar player, 70s rock estimator, Texas blues lover, Delta blues listener and guitar magazines reader.
Well...Not that much has changed over the years...except for the length of the hair and the time I devote to playing. 

Once, while reading an issue of one of my favourite guitar magazines, I came across an interview released by Joe Satriani, one very famous guitar hero back in those years. The interviewer asked him which of his guitars he would have saved, if given the opportunity, in case his studio would have been put on fire.
Joe, in a colorful way that only a rock guitar player would be allowed to, answered that he would have left all of its guitars to burn. He would have instead run for his hard disks, scores and notes. He said that every good luthier could build you a new guitar, what is unique and really precious, are your ideas.
I was astonished by this answer. 
Partly because, at that time, I silly believed that part of a guitarist’s skill was in his/her guitars (well...I could not be that bad...there must have been a kind of trick hidden somewhere...in a better guitar maybe...) and partly because I didn’t have enough money to buy myself the instruments I longed for.   

Getting older and (I hope) wiser, I now fully understand Joe’s words...and I have learned that they fit also in project management. 

That is, what is unique and really precious are your processes, your methodologies and your project management’s team skills, not the tools you use to enforce them.

Many time I have heard or I have been reported the sentence “We need a good project management software. We are experiencing troubles in our projects because we do not have an adequate instrument in place”. Well, the truth is that in many of those cases, problems would have been experienced even if the best possible project management software would have been provided. 

Do not fool yourself believing that part of a project manager’s skills are in the software he uses.
Any project management software worths just the methodology it helps to enforce.
There is no secret. If you have sound processes in place and an adequate project management methodology, you can manage a project even with a pencil and a notepad (obviously is an hyperbole...but I think it render the idea). At the contrary, if you have lousy processes and a poor methodology you would have trouble managing even the simplest of the projects, no matter what.

Having said that, obviously the presence of a project management software can noticeably speed up the management work...but just if the work to be done is crystal clear...and that is a consequence to have a well trained and expert project management team.
Let’s see it this way. Suppose we want to cultivate wheat on a 10 acres field. We could do a better and more efficient job using a modern piece of agricultural machinery, rather than an old plow towed by two oxen. This provided that we know how to properly plow the field, how to sow the wheat and when to harvest.

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