“If you rely on software alone, chances are your project will fail.”

As the saying goes, you should never bring a knife to a gun fight. So why solely rely on software to do a project manager’s job?

Don’t get me wrong, project management software is a must-have for jobs like document management, time tracking, task delegation and managing costs. But just ask anyone who’s managed a project and they’ll tell you how often their best laid plans went awry.

Flexibility is key, and software can’t always accommodate for major script changes. It’s dangerous to become too attached to a computerised schedule because in some cases it doesn’t reflect reality. Unfortunately, software doesn’t make up for shortages in skills and expertise.

And don’t even get me started on disputes.

Take the construction world for example – when a project is running late, you’ll often see the principal and contractor get into a disagreement. In nearly all cases, the program becomes a commercial storytelling utility.

From my experience, this tends to mean the remaining planned works in the schedule don’t reflect how the project would normally proceed.

When disagreements get serious and litigation becomes a possibility, you can’t rely on the program’s information being available or correct, and it’s generally not comprehensive enough.

Last year, GBA Projects provided services to five clients whose projects were in dispute.

In one dispute, the project team was trying to use their program to drive the works to completion. But on the other hand, they were using the schedule to hold their ground on numerous claims. This added a layer of additional complexity in analysing the progress and performance of the works.

In another case, the program had become so unreliable and unrealistic that the supervisors had to revert to whiteboards to plan the remaining work.

A project control system has numerous sub-systems and interface requirements with other systems, plus the reports generated from these forms of software are only a secondary project measure. Long story short, most implementations we see are far too complicated for the projects they’re supposed to control.

These systems usually fail to protect the contractor because they don’t promote or enforce best practice when it comes to following proper claims submission etiquette. In most cases the contractors, through lack of understanding, fail to adequately follow the claims processes as stipulated in their contracts.

What makes matters worse is that the project control systems in place are unable to provide simple and efficient access to contemporaneous records.

This results in more time wasted in determining what delays have occurred and how they correlate to program, thus leading to a costly dispute resolution process.

Without quick access to adequate documentation, additional effort is required to determine the root cause of why the delays happened and how they affected the contract program.

What this all boils down to is that software programs aren’t flexible enough to accommodate for the unexpected, and they’re not comprehensive enough to cover the level of record-keeping needed in the event of a dispute.

The IT industry has tried for years, but computers haven’t replaced us just yet! Nothing compares to the creative thinking and adaptability of the human mind.

It’s a bold statement, but I’ll go ahead and put it out there: If you rely on software alone, chances are your project will fail.


By Matt Betros

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