2016 PM Community LinkedIn Survey Results: Project Tool Use is Changing

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Data collected by ProjectManager.com Research has found that a majority of project leaders surveyed are not satisfied with their current project management tool and that project tool use is changing as a result. The survey, conducted through the ProjectManager.com LinkedIn group, noted that lack of integration with other software was a major criticism, collaboration was not as utilized as expected and that there is a need to simplify the tools for easier use.

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Members of the 300,000-plus community of professional project managers in the ProjectManager.com LinkedIn group were invited to participate in the survey over a month period in the summer of 2015. The survey received a total of 517 participants. To offer some context, the LinkedIn group is mainly made up of professionals who work in Internet Technology, 44%, in a clear project management role, 67%.

Key Finding 1: Nearly Half of all PMs are Unhappy With Current PM Tools

Research noted that an overwhelming number of participants in the survey were frustrated by the tools they use and often have to supplement them with one or more other software programs. Over 23% reported using three or more project tools, while 72% said they used more than one tool regularly.

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The problem is that all-in-one products, such as Microsoft Project, Wrike and Smartsheet are overly complex and send users to more lean alternatives, which have become available over the last few years, such as single-purpose tools like Trello. Most surveyed, 75%, use Excel software as the foundation of their project with other Microsoft projects or competitors’ products.

“I tried a lot of products but I can’t find something all-in-one. I built convenient tools for me via ECM (EIM) systems but it’s not perfect. And for planning I am forced to use MS Project (for example), for analytics Qlik or another products, for project management Axapta, etc. It’s not a big problem but those manipulations takes a lot of time,” was the opinion of one of those surveyed.

Key Finding 2: Lack of Integration Is Frustrating

Almost half of those surveyed, 48%, said that the lack of integration with other project tools was their main complaint about project management software. The second most logged objection with project tools was that they take too long to do what’s needed.

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One participant said, “Integration issues with other tools the company uses causes frustrations when the management team needs project status reports. Our projects are kept in a non-traditional system that has to be exported then imported to another tool to be used as a dashboard. A dashboard works but some management members prefer Excel pivots versus true reporting tools.”

Other issues participants have with the project software they use included that it wasn’t being used by their teams, 25%, that it was too complicated, 14% and that it required too much training, 12%. A smaller percentage, only 5%, thought that their tools were too simple.

Key Finding 3: Collaboration Features Are Not Being Used

Considering the collaborative nature of project work it was surprising to discover that only 26% of professionals who took the survey used the collaborative features in their software, while even less, 13%, use a mobile app. The latter reveals a behind-the-curve mentality in the industry as mobile and collaborative tools from document sharing to social platforms have dominated the marketplace over the last several years.

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The features on project tools that get the most use, according to participants in the survey, are task management, 68%, reporting, 58%, risk issues and changes, 44%, dashboards, 44%, timesheets, 40% and expense management, 20%. While this is interesting, it’s not conclusive. Further study on collaboration is needed to get a full picture.

Key Finding 4: Growing Demand for Simpler Tools

The call for simplicity touches on the user-unfriendliness of tools such as those offered by Microsoft—Excel and MS Project suite—as participants predominantly use these software applications. Of those who participated in the survey 33% said their tool takes too much time to use, 26% said their team won’t use it, 13% said their tool was too complicated and 12% said the tool required too much training.

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It is easy to conclude that a tool that streamlines its functionality to make it more user-friendly and fosters team engagement, in general one that can simplify the complexity of the overall tool, would be in high demand. One participant noted the industry “really needs a simplified version of PM tools, collaborative site and metrics together.”

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Conclusion

There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the Microsoft Project suite for reasons that range from its complexity of use to its lack of integration, collaboration and adoption by others team members. This has lead to a new crop of simpler tools on the marketplace that have addressed these issues and have gained traction with project managers even if they mostly offer piecemeal solutions rather than a holistic one.

There are workarounds in terms of integration, and it’s likely that users are working with new collaborative programs like Slack to fill the holes in their current project tools. While some of these patchwork solutions aren’t exactly elegant, the survey showed that there is a strong feeling of satisfaction with the emerging tools. The rise in alternatives to the monolithic use of Microsoft products appears, according to the ProjectManager.com Research survey, to come from a desire for better and easier integration, more flexibility and collaborative ways to work.

About the LinkedIn Survey

ProjectManager.com invited members of its PM Community on LinkedIn to participate in the survey. The PM Community is one of the largest professional groups on  LinkedIn with over 320,000 project management professionals as members. The survey was created using a Google Form that opened on July 27, 2015 and officially closed August 24, 2015. The survey received a total of 517 participants.

LinkedIn Survey Participant Roles

About ProjectManager.com

ProjectManager.com is an online project management software, enabling Project Managers, PMOs and teams across industries to manage their projects completely online. ProjectManager.com is also a leading platform for project management articles, videos and research enabling project management pros and business leaders to gain valuable insights and access to leading data on project management and productivity, tools and processes. Find more at www. projectmanager.com/resources.

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