You’ve invested a significant amount of your valuable time and money into researching, purchasing, and installing the best project management software. Unfortunately, it will all be for nothing if your team doesn’t use it.

Poor adoption means your team fails to gain the advantages of the software, such as:

  • Ease of creating & modifying projects
  • Creation of a knowledge database
  • Improved communications & reporting
  • Enhanced change & process control
  • Greater workflow & resource management
  • Better risk management & forecasting

Poor user adoption also means you won't capture enough data inside your tool. This lack of accurate, valuable data will result in the failure to gain valuable organizational insights.

We’ve researched the top reasons that companies fail to adopt even the best program management software and gathered 5 of the best tips to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

5 Reasons Why Companies Failed to Adopt Their Project Management Software

Reason #1: Lack of employee buy-in

For your employees to adopt any change, they first need to understand, agree, and commit to the proposed change.

When implementing a new project management software, you could experience a lack of buy-in for one of two reasons:

  • The employees aren’t convinced a project management tool is necessary or beneficial.
  • The employees aren’t convinced that the one you’ve chosen is the best project management software.

How to fix this: Manage change on an individual level

There are 7 different personality types that you may encounter when implementing any change. Understanding these personalities, and adapting your approach to each of them, will increase the level of buy-in you receive.

For example, a skeptic is likely to dislike any proposed change; this type of person wants things to remain the way they are. To get them to buy in, involve them in the process of selecting the best enterprise project management software.

A technophobe, on the other hand, would dislike being involved in the selection process as it could easily become overwhelming to them. Instead, offering individual training sessions on the final tool of choice will help increase their buy-in. Providing one-on-one support, patience, and positive support is important for this personality type.

Reason #2: A lack of training and education

Even the best apps for project management will fail if your employees are unable to use them confidently and comfortably. Your team needs proper information and training to adequately adapt to your new project management software.

Some of the best free project management software solutions come with no support — this means no training or onboarding is provided by the software vendors. You’re left on your own to ensure that your employees have sufficient knowledge and skill to feel comfortable using the new tool. Until they reach that level of comfort, they will not fully adopt your new software.

How to fix this: Invest in on-boarding

You can provide the training and onboarding in-house or you can ask the vendor to provide an experienced trainer. Either way, on-boarding will require an upfront investment to ensure your team successfully adopts the new tool.

Often, vendor-provided training is more efficient, as they have the knowledge, experience, and materials already on hand. Whichever path you choose, you should incorporate the following methods into your training plan:

  • Only provide the level of training needed. You don’t want to overwhelm people with a bunch of information that they’ll never need to know.
  • Create super users. Select a few people who will become the in-house experts on the system. These people will likely be the administrators, with the greatest level of access. They will be the ones that others know they can turn to for support when problems come up. Make sure you have more than one, and choose people who are eager to learn and help.
  • Offer bite-sized training. Focus on providing small training sessions where people can learn a chunk of information and then go try it out. Large, lengthy training sessions can make it difficult to remember everything that was covered.
  • Follow-up. Check in with employees to confirm they’ve understood the training and can implement it successfully. It’s also important to seek out feedback and address any concerns.

Reason #3: It’s just another tool they have to use

Today’s digital marketplace offers employees a tool for everything, from shortening URLs to generating email signatures. It’s been reported that Facebook offers employees 175 different tools.

Everybody loves options, but there is such a thing as application overload. Having to learn and switch between dozens of tools each day is more of a hindrance than a help. Not to mention important information is isolated, or siloed, when these tools don’t “talk” to each other, requiring employees to waste valuable time navigating and copying/pasting text across browser tabs or other interfaces.

How to fix this: Integrate with existing tools

The best tools for project management are designed to integrate with many other systems. This is because even the best project management software won’t be used if it’s just one more stand-alone tool that your team is expected to deal with.

For the greatest level of adoption, make sure you integrate the software with tools that your team already use daily and cannot live without. Integrating with their daily communication tools, such as Gmail and Slack, is a great method for encouraging regular use.

Connecting to tools like Adobe Creative Suite will allow people to keep working in the tools they love while staying connected to the project management software. This helps ensure that the project management software is the new "single source of truth," which people will rely on and adopt.

Reason #4: One size doesn’t fit all

Another downfall of free project management software is that it’s often designed only to fit one type of project or methodology. It may lack the adaptability and customization required to be useful throughout the organization.

Different stakeholders will wish to use the tool in different ways. Different sponsors and customers may wish to see different reports. The bottom line is that people are different, and if the chosen tool does not support these differences, the likelihood of it being adopted decreases.

How to fix this: Keep customization in mind

It’s important to choose a tool that is flexible enough to support different project requirements and people's unique work styles.

Let’s say you currently embrace the agile methodology of project management, so you’ve selected the best agile project management software. What happens if 6 months from now, a new project is proposed that is much better suited for PRINCE2 methodology?

You’ll be forced to do one of the following:

  • Switch tools.
  • Work outside of the tool.
  • Try to force the project to fit the tool.

None of those options are ideal for the success of your project, and they can create frustration and resistance among your team.

Allowing users to customize their own experiences within the tool also helps improve adoption. For instance, if they can create individual views and reports that reflect their working style, they will become more comfortable with the software. Some people who are more visual may prefer to work with a timeline, while others may prefer a table view.

Reason #5: There’s a lack of advocacy

Research shows that people have a natural tendency to comply with requests when they know and understand the rationale behind it. If people are not eagerly adopting a new change, it’s an indication that they don’t understand the reason for the change.

This may be due to any of the following:

  • There isn’t a strong advocate for the change in a position of power. Someone with influence and respect, often a senior leader, should be sponsoring and advocating for the new software.
  • There has been a lack of transparency and communication. Any successful change requires transparency around why it is occurring, when, and how. People don’t want to feel like information is being withheld from them.  
  • The communication has been vague or ineffective. Even frequent communication isn’t enough if you’re not sharing the right information, in the right way, through the right channels.  

How to fix this: Focus on "the why"

As with any project, it’s important to have a strong sponsor or advocate and to build and promote excellent communication.

To ensure people hear what they need to understand and adopt the tool, emphasize “the why.” It’s important not to focus solely on how to use the new project management software or on what simple yet great features it offers. You don’t want to just tell your team they have to use the new tool.

Make sure that they understand why it’s important for the company and what's in it for them. Will it make their job easier, or save them time? Will it free them up to do more valuable work? Make sure you highlight the benefits they’ll experience from using the tools. Whenever possible, use data to illustrate these points. Try identifying criteria with these questions when evaluating the best project management software for your needs. 

This can be data from other companies and how they experienced greater efficiency and effectiveness from using the same tool. Or it can be your internal data as you implement the new software and start to experience wins of your own.

Here are some reasons you can share with your team why they should want to use the best project management software:

  • They will spend less time chasing down project details.
  • They will be able to complete projects in less time.
  • They will be better able to showcase the value of their work to key stakeholders.

Successful Adoption of the Best Project Management Software

The key to any successful change is to make sure your employees are engaged. Focus on involving them in ways that match their personalities, and communicate throughout the entire process. Highlight the benefits they will experience, and support them as they adapt. Looking to try out new project management software? Check out our picks for the best project management software review sites

Wrike provides onboarding and training support to help your team members feel comfortable and confident with one of the best online project management tools. If you’re looking for software that can integrate with your team’s favorites and is highly customizable to their preferences, why not start a free trial today?