Future of work management: What team managers want?
At Troopr, we started our journey trying to understand the unsolved problems in everyday work management specifically around how teams align towards a goal and get things done. We started connecting with relevant people across the US over the past several months. As we progressed in this journey of user interviews we understood there is still a lot of frustration in day to day work management. We spoke primarily to senior team managers, project managers, product managers, entrepreneurs and managers who lead and run teams in a wide variety of organisations. Less than 30% of the managers seemed content with the tools and processes they were using to get things done.
Frustration with current tools and processes
Out of the numerous pain points that were reported to us, many were recurrent across industries. Some relevant snippets from the interviews below:
One of the respondents quoted, “My team has been out rightly reluctant to adopt any new project management tool. They often complain that there is just too much data entry required which eats into their work hours. So much human intervention makes my team prefer in person reporting than using any tool.” One in four managers faced this issue with his/her team members who despised the data entry required.
So much human intervention makes my team prefer in person reporting than using any tool.
Another one responded, “Some tools are too complicated for adoption across the entire team, while the simple ones have very limited functionalities. There are hardly any tools in the market that are user friendly and also provide state of the art features. Also, PM tools at times are so heavily loaded that they fail to even start with speed, let alone function.” One third teams reported the lack of a user friendly interface at the first instance.
There are so many tools to manage different things that managing the tools has become a task in itself.
One project manager voiced his frustration saying, “There are so many tools to manage different things that managing the tools has become a task in itself. As different projects and tasks are communicated over different channels, there is often chaos and confusion within the team and no one is ever on the same page.” Almost half of the individuals interviewed reported using more than one tool to manage their everyday work.
Almost 80% of the respondents agreed that project management tools that they sought to use to manage work become work in themselves. These tools required way too many inputs from the users and did not automatically work on the data input. The significant overhead in setting up and managing these tools is a hurdle to improving organisational productivity.
What managers want?
Following discussion around the pain points, we probed deeper to understand what individuals expect from the PM tools. To our surprise, most of them had a mental picture of their ideal PM tool. Most respondents had the opinion that project management tools need to reduce the amount of human intervention required to function. Additionally, they desired a tool that was intuitive and could automate a few, if not all, routine processes.
I would like to use a tool that could relieve my team members from the pain of repetitively entering data day in and day out. It would be great to have a tool that could automatically update work status of an entire project with just one click.
One of the respondents said, “I would like to use a tool that could relieve my team members from the pain of repetitively entering data day in and day out. It would be great to have a tool that could automatically update work status of an entire project with just one click.”
Others suggested, “A tool that could foster collaboration and spark engagement within the team would be ideal for small and large teams alike. A tool should allow room for team communication to ensure that all members are on the same page.”
Amongst other expectations that came to the table, one particularly talked about the need for the tool to be mobile that could be accessed on the go. While most PM tools in the market today do offer apps, there is only with limited functionality. Thus, project managers and their teams believe a tool that could augment their productivity even when they are not on their desks would definitely be the way forward. Additionally, 100% of respondents demanded effective reporting and visualisations.
The major tone of expectations of all members was the need for a tool which could relax the whole process of project management. While some agreed that it required automating workload management and others believed that automating repetitive tasks was the way to go, all had the opinion that automation was the way forward. Over 75% affirmed that automation of project management tools could definitely increase productivity.
Finally, there was an agreement regarding the need for ‘one stop destination’ form of tool which could take care of all task management, documentation, reporting, work status, communication, etc at a single platform.
What we are learning from this User Research
Based on our study, we can definitely say that despite the advances in work management tools today, there is significant room for improvement. We can broadly categorise these key areas into two buckets
1. Reduce friction and time involved in “managing” real work. Need to automate the mundane/boring repetitive tasks.
2. Unifying collaboration (on tasks) and communication (to keep the team on same page).
We started to look into both aspects above and all the ways to improve everyday work management for teams. It has been a year since we started this journey, we are hopeful that what we are working on is headed in the right direction. We plan to continue the user research and let the learning and interpretations guide us in our work. We are excited to share what we are building and look forward to your continued support and feedback along the way.