Taming the Chaos with Integrated PM Tools [Case study]

It can be difficult to choose the right collaboration tool for your group. My co-presentation at PMI EMEA is on this topic. My fellow panellists shared some very interesting research as they put together our presentation. Maria Cristina Barbero from Nexen Consultants is on the panel. She and her team have thoroughly researched collaboration tools for project mangers.
Paraphrasing, they conclude that although there are many options, project managers still struggle to find the right solution for them. This is contrary to the organisation’s need to deliver more projects, do more with less, and provide better management and data information.
It’s a difficult problem.
You may end up with many different systems that do a great job but don’t communicate well. Once you recognize that this is your problem, you have taken the first step towards solving it.
Rebecca Angelos was a perfect example of this. I love stories about project teams taking ownership to make themselves more efficient. Accelo was a great source of information about Rebecca’s company. Let me tell ya what happened…
Same problems, new company
Companies and staff who come together after an acquisition can be difficult. Rebecca Angelos witnessed this firsthand when Harris D. McKinney purchased Zoomedia, the digital agency she was working at.
Rebecca gained insight into the challenges faced by the HDM team in Chicago after the acquisition. She says, “There were many systems.” “They were using Basecamp and they were using Clients & Profits for time entry, but nothing was talking to one another.”
Rebecca had already solved the problem for the newly formed HDMZ. She says, “It was the exact same thing that I walked into in Zoomedia 2011.” It was chaotic and organized when I first walked in. There were many systems, and people used different things. No one liked the systems that were in place.
Failure of Interoperability
Rebecca and her team faced a collaboration problem as their first challenge. Rebecca says that “nothing was talking to one another.” The project management system was not helping people do client work. And then there was the sales team stuck in Salesforce. They weren’t communicating downstream. You didn’t know what was coming down your pipeline. Quickbooks separated billing and finance again. However, each role felt organized. But when you looked at the business, chaos was all around.
This mix of systems caused management headaches, but it was worse for staff who were trying to provide customer service. There were many failures in internal communication. Rebecca says that even though one project manager used Basecamp to manage their work they would still need to use another system to enter the time. It was inefficient and it hurt the most when trying get things done. High-value clients with tight deadlines are not easy to ignore. Clients can’t afford to have so much friction, waste, and frustration.
Increasing the Learning Curve
The Zoomedia team struggled to bring new members on board, not only did it disrupt projects, but also the team. Rebecca speaks from personal experience: “When my team came on board, I had to be trained in these different systems and it was like I couldn’t keep them straight,” she says. Do I go to Basecamp?” Do I go AtTask? Do I go to the Wiki page? This page was used to enter time, management, and sales. It was overwhelming.”
Rebecca, VP of Operations was able to make a difference. The solution was an integrated system.
Fixing the Disconnects
The email capture functionality in Accelo revolutionized the way Rebecca and her team worked when they first started using it. “The number one feature of Accelo is the email capture functionality.