I was talking with a potential client the other day about an issue they were having with projects not delivering on-time and rarely on-budget. They also felt there were too many procedural short-cuts taken by their project teams to achieve project deliverables.

I asked them what actions they were taking to resolve these issues. I was shocked by their answer. It was “we are going to invest in new project management software that should help control project cost and timing, as well as stop the short-cutting”.

Projects are run by people for people. Project management software does not run a project. It reports on project status, provides tracking against key metrics, and generates status reports or visual indicators. To believe that project management software will fix issues with project planning and execution, or lack of project team performance is absurd thinking.

The outputs of using project management software are only as good as the accuracy of the inputs. If the inputs are incorrect or a misrepresentation of actual project status, what you get from it is a false view and comfort level as to how well a project is advancing toward successful closure.

Project Management software never will be a fix for poor project planning and execution. But it sure can hide it until project recovery becomes excessively expensive. It can also be the vehicle to drive a project into complete failure by generating false information.

Look, I am not against to using project management software. There are good project management software programs available on the market. In fact, I encourage their use if they are tailored to the project and how to best track its achievement. But to think they are a primary tool to resolve poor project team performance is not rational thinking.

Project Management is 1/3rd Common Sense, 1/3rd Logic, and 1/3rd Process Discipline. Project management software helps with process discipline but contributes absolutely nothing to common sense and logic.

As for how my conversation ended with the potential client. They are clear on my thinking about their issue and intended solution. They must decide if they want to exacerbate an already out of control issue or resolve it by hiring someone who can fix their issue and provide them a sustainable solution.


Richard Broo

Principal/Founder, True North PMP Consulting, Inc.

Richard has over 40 years of company leadership and project management experience. He delivers commercial, technical and operational efficiencies for companies across different industries helping them improve competitive differentiation, client value and profitability.