After all the time, research, and money you put into finding the right collaborative work management solution, you and your team should feel a sense of relief — and, after a few months, start seeing some improvements from your new tool. Communications should be smoother, data should be easy to find, and people should be actually using the software. Life should be good!

But what happens when the tool you adopted to improve work management is failing to do so?

In our Work Management Survey, 34% of workers claimed to be unhappy with their company’s process of managing work, citing "missing information" as the number one cause for stress in the workplace. This is often caused by using outdated tools for tasks they weren’t meant for, creating more busy work and inefficiencies.  

It's time to stop making excuses for your work management system and find one that actually improves efficiency, collaboration, and productivity across your team.

Why do I need a work management tool in the first place?

If you're not using work management or project management software, you're most likely relying on email and spreadsheets to get everything done.

If this is the case, you need a new work management tool.

"Prehistoric" tools like email and spreadsheets were developed decades ago to manage work and communication online. With all the new technology being thrown our way, why are we so married to these outdated tools?

Sure, they still work for basic file sharing, communication, and planning, but the problem occurs when we stretch these tools beyond their maximum capabilities and use them for tasks they're not meant to be used for. Email is not a file archive, people.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium ran into a similar problem when they tried tracking their education programs using Excel spreadsheets. “It was hard to stay on track," says Soo Dean, Director of Annual Giving. "We spent a lot of time updating and tracking the flow of the projects on the Excel spreadsheets. For instance, when dates get pushed, our staff was spending hours trying to update the spreadsheet with the rest of the dates for six months of production schedule. It was exhausting."

Start taking note of how much you're using outdated tools like email and spreadsheets for tasks besides what they’re meant to be used for. Make a list of specific features you think you and your team would highly benefit from. That way, you can narrow your search to tools with that functionality already built in.

Not sure if you're ready to invest in a new work management tool? Here's what it'll cost you if you don't.

What's wrong with the work management tool I'm using now?

1. Productivity is lost

If the tool requires a lot of set up, countless webinars, and mandatory training sessions with your team, it can take time away from important projects and hinder productivity. The point is to find a tool that allows your team to hit the ground running as soon as possible, not create more meetings and homework.

A 2013 study conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting discovered that 78% respondents believe achieving digital transformation will become critical to their organizations within the next two years. However, 63% said the pace of technology change in their organization is too slow, citing "lack of urgency" as the most common culprit.

The implementation of the tool should be quick and tailored to how you will use the tool. There’s no need to show you every single hidden feature if you're never planning to use it. Having an easy-to-use tool that requires relatively little training will also make it easy to ramp up new team members so everyone can work in unison right from the start.

2. Time is wasted

If you're actually spending more time trying to stay organized (like constantly updating spreadsheets), then you're just adding another task to your already lengthy to-do list.

Powering Productivity surveyed business leaders on inefficiencies in workplace, stating the primary cause of wasted time during the workday was inefficient processes (44%). The survey also revealed that it’s not just employees, but also customers (48%) who suffer from these inefficiencies.

At Procurify, they struggled with finding a tool that provided them with both communication within the team and across other teams as well. For them, using the wrong work management solution led to lost data, miscommunication, and missed deadlines.

"We tried a lot of different systems — Asana, Basecamp, Jira, and Google Docs," says Eugene Dong, Co-Founder and CTO at Procurify. "The systems worked for the team itself, but if we required cross-team communication, it was really difficult. We needed a tool that could expose the project progress, the timeline, and the deadlines to other teams in order to achieve effective delivery."

3. People won't use it

It's difficult for employees to change their work habits. Work routines can be difficult to mold and shape once team members are stuck in their ways--especially if a tool is complicated to learn and unfamiliar. In fact, implementing a new tool today results in just a 30% adoption rate on average if there aren’t any change management strategies in place.  

A work management tool is meant to enhance collaboration and communication across many people. If only a few people are using it, that value is lost.

The team at F5 Networks faced the harsh reality of adopting a tool no one was using. "One of the major reasons why Workfront wasn't working for us was the low adoption rate," says Patricia Davis, Manager of the PMO at F5 Networks. "Only about 55 out of 400 people were using Workfront, and most of them were just using it as a ticketing system for people who wanted to get their work through the pipeline."

At F5, adoption rates continued to decline because the training was extensive and time consuming. "Their training was probably four hours on each of their features," says Davis. "There was an enormous amount of documentation just to learn their functions. We simply didn't have time."

It's important to check in on your team and request feedback about the new collaborative work management software. Don't force it on them, but ask that they start slowly implementing the tool into their daily routine to see how they like it. If they have trouble using it, then it might be time to try something new.

Find the right work management tool for your team

It's not easy to break up with a work management system (like email and spreadsheets) you've used and loved (and grown to hate) for years, or even a tool you've recently adopted to no avail. However, it would be even more difficult if you were to stick with the tool only to waste more time and energy trying to keep up with incoming projects and ad hoc requests.

Start looking for a tool that meets the needs of your team. And if you keep them in the loop, you're sure to find a work management tool that makes everyone happy.