Even manufacturer Microsoft has recognized this and offers its own project management software that is detached from Excel. Anyone who misuses Excel for project management purposes complicates the administration and increases the susceptibility to errors in the project. Cause:
1. Excel contains too little information
Of course, you can maintain just about anything in Excel. But if you use Excel to manage the entire project, it is a tedious task to extract the relevant information for the relevant stakeholder from the document and prepare it in an appealing report. Excel itself does not automatically provide information about the progress of the project, possible delays and the effects of the project (positive or negative). This information must be manually compiled and calculated using more or less complex reference formulas in the document before it can be processed in the report or in the project evaluation. And the indication of when and by whom information was last updated is not recognizable at any point.
In addition, if certain resources are used in different places across projects, this means that several Excel files with different formats may be linked together. Provided that those involved are even aware of the use in several projects. If there is no effective communication between the project managers, Excel as a management tool can also lead to the unnoticed multiple planning of a person. For colleagues working on more than one project, manually creating a To Do list in the project file also means maintaining multiple To Do lists in different locations. An unnecessary and time-consuming effort, if a suitable solution would be a cross-project listing of all pending tasks as well as their urgency.
But on the flip side of the information medal, there is another reason why project management with Excel does not run optimally:
2. Excel contains too much information
In many extensive projects, especially in sensitive areas such as restructuring, M&As or other transformation projects, a project also includes many planning steps, measures, effects and forecasts that should not be visible to every project employee. Targeted control of who can access which information is not possible without time-consuming versioning of files.
This versioning not only causes a rapidly growing volume of data that has to be tracked in the company and creates chaotic archives, but can also lead to serious synchronization errors. You know this scenario for sure and might find some conflicting copies on your drives, right?
And last but not least, not every worker is an Excel expert. The program contains many functions designed for its original use as an analysis tools and can be complicated to use. Especially when a lot of information is maintained in different forms by colleagues of different Excel levels across several spreadsheets. In the event of unexpected errors or problems during operation, Microsoft does not provide an Excel contact person who can answer specific questions about the application.
Take a closer look at targeted project management software. Many solutions have been developed as alternatives to Excel or pen and paper to automate large parts of project management. After the introduction of a project management solution, you also have the advantage that the automated and accompanying processes that have established themselves in the company can easily be transferred to the next project.
However, project management software is often designed for a specific industry or to solve a specific problem. Therefore, you should be aware of what is the decisive criterion for your company and your projects before searching. If you want to avoid synchronization errors due to locally stored files and versioning, a web-based solution such as our digital project assistant Falcon is ideal. The templates in Falcon are particularly suitable for transformation projects such as post-merger integrations, growth projects or carve-outs. Falcon was specifically designed for initiatives such as restructuring and turnaround projects that involve not only the company but also several parties, such as consultants and investors. Other providers have focused on other niches (e.g. software development or simple to do lists).
If you are testing project management tools, you can use this checklist to ensure that the software of your choice really meets your needs:
- Is the solution aligned to your type of project management?
- Are there suitable project templates or is it possible to create your own?
- Is there a dashboard for project overview or reporting at the push of a button?
- Is the product suitable for my team size?
- Can all project participants work on the project simultaneously without creating different files?
- Can the tasks and responsibilities of individual team members be recognized at a glance?
- Is the technical support provided to the extent that my team needs?
- Can the structure of the read and write rights be adapted to my needs and, if necessary, changed during the course of the project?
- Is the software suitable for the company's standard operating system?
- Are delays in individual project steps automatically detected?
- Can you measure the effects of your project with the software?
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