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How Project Management Software Can Replace Email Communication

Category: B2B News
What are the advantages of project management software over email?

There are five major benefits that your team will reap at once when you shift from sending emails to working inside a project management interface:

  1. Handle individual and group communication in one place.
  2. Avoid missing messages.
  3. Project data and conversations are centralized.
  4. On-demand reporting, insightful analytics.
  5. Collaboration workspace.

How Project Management Software Can Replace Email Communication

Are you still using email to manage projects? If yes, you are doing yourself and your team a huge disservice. Email has a poor track record of keeping everyone in the loop that it has become a workplace meme when someone fails to act on or anticipate something: “I didn’t get the memo.”

We are not saying email is bad for communicating; many had benefited from email based project management, indeed. It’s just that there’s a better and more efficient platform now: project management software. The arrival of more powerful and integrated project management programs will see the last days of email as the main communication and collaboration tool for projects.

There are simply a lot of disadvantages with email for business in general,  and, specifically, with an email project management approach:

  1. Email increases stress; scouring the inbox takes away time, putting more pressure on deadlines
  2. Email derails projects; one missed message and the conversation stalls.
  3. Email is one-to-one or one-to-group, never a true team conversation
  4. Email creates communication silos, isolating the team from individual conversations.
  5. Email eats a lot of time.

Just take a look at this IDC data on how much employees spend in a week for just reading and answer emails: more than a quarter of their time lost!

How Project Management Software Replaces Email Communication

1. Group Communication

Think of project management software as a communication hub for teams as opposed to email’s one-to-one design. It features a diverse set of communication tools for group conversations, such as project conversations, comments, conference calls and group video calls and may even feature a unified or team inbox.

You can create group chat for team-wide conversations. You need not email everyone with the same message. The group chat lets you broadcast the message at once, keeps everyone attuned with each other’s feedback or ideas and captures the thread for record-keeping.

It saves you time from switching emails, while it keeps everyone in the loop by tagging members. A good example how project management enables group communication is the activity feed in the Wrike dashboard. You can @mention any team member to directly get his or her attention, or post a comment for everyone to see. You can even attach files and post links, so all related data are placed in one location. Try the activity feed for yourself and you will realize how old school email is now, simply sign up for a Wrike free trial here.

Meanwhile, tasks can also be commented on allowing you to clear up instructions or point out details in near real time. Each comment notifies all parties involved so there’s no room for missed messages, unlike in emails where a missed message puts the conversation to a halt.

For more intimate messaging there’s a conference or video call option. Many robust project management software have pre-built video calls or allow you to use your favorite IM chat app inside their interface. You can read our top 20 project management software guide here to see which ones have this feature.

The use of @mention in a project workspace makes group communication fast and simple.

2. Individual Communication

What if you need to message a specific team member only? You don’t need to leave the project management software interface. You can create a private message, chat or call for confidential conversations. Otherwise, you can use @mention or tag someone to call the person’s attention while keeping others in the loop. It’s difficult to match this flexibility with emails.

It is also a standard feature to allow one-to-one chat in project management platforms while a group video or conference call is ongoing. This helps you solicit opinion or feedback from someone regarding what is being discussed at hand.

3. No Missed Messages

How often did you miss an email because your inbox is swamped? Or because you forgot to open your email one day? Real-time notification in project management software prevents you from missing a message or activity. You can be notified as a direct party or as a follower or observer.

In many solutions, notifications are delivered to a built-in inbox. You simply open this to check all recent activities or messages to you. The notification leads you directly to the message where you can see the details and respond or comment. That means the exchange of conversation is fast, perhaps within minutes, greatly accelerating the movement of messages.

4. Project Data are Centralized

If you have had sent file attachments in email you know how easy things can get problematic. If you have had emailed versions of a file, you know the peril of this approach: team members using older or unrevised versions. Even as email clients have advanced search filters now, what if you can’t even remember the filename?

In this aspect, project management software truly outperforms email. All file attachments, messages, conversations, tasks and other data are stored in a single database. Data are easy to retrieve with smart search filters, but the main difference with emails is you use keywords and tags to index files. That means you get context where to search files. Suppose you tag a website wireframe design document under “design;” even if you forget the filename, it’s easy to remember the index category (wireframe being about design) and a subject query in it quickly reveals the file. Project management software doesn’t only centralize all your project data, it organizes them in a meaningful way. The same intuitive approach can be applied to messages, conversations, tasks and other data. In fact, you can search by type of message, file types, project stage and in any other way that makes sense to your team.

5. Reporting and Updates

Project management software also beats email when it comes to reporting. The old school is to send emails for updates and status reports. This often results in you receiving dozens to hundreds of spreadsheets and doc files, depending on project size.

In project management software, reports can be generated fast and on demand. Analytics consolidates project data into insightful and interactive chunks, which can be displayed on a dashboard as charts, graphs or tables. Standard reports like completion rate, progress report and timeline are generated in real time or set for daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly outputs. It helps you to stay on top of your project, while teams are free to focus on their deliverables instead of completing time-consuming reports.  

It is also easy to spot laggers or pending tasks when you have access to updated reports. Unlike in email where you have to dig up these data points by comparing reports, project management software unearths this information in visual data and fast, presenting a clear picture of missed deadlines, undelivered tasks and other outliers right on your dashboard with a few clicks.

In Monday.com, a dashboard gives you a quick summary of who is doing what and the status.

6. Collaboration Workspace

Of course project management software is designed for collaboration. You can make a presentation via a video call, conference call or chat within the project management software interface; or send your file to the group for feedback via comments.

You can also create a workspace for brainstorming and invite members from various teams. Teams can share ideas, notes, files and messages inside this workspace. Likewise, you can call for meetings; the conversation highlights stand as the meeting minutes, so there’s no need to recapture in a separate document what has been discussed.

These activities are simply difficult, if not impossible, in email.

A sample Wrike workspace.

How to Make the Transition from Email to Project Management Software

So you’re convinced that it’s time to do away with email, but how to make the transition? Email is such a pervasive tool in our daily lives that convincing people to ditch it may take some time. Have patience. You can follow these tips to make the transition smoother:

  1. Standardize communication. Be clear on how to use the software for communication. For examples: @mention means the message is directed to specific member or members; a link or file attachment should always be accompanied by a message what it is for; commenting on completion should reiterate the task requested; and so on. Little things like these, when standardized, make it easy to digest conversations fast and with clarity.
  2. Have the right tool. The most advanced project management software may not be the best for your team. What you want is something that they can easily learn, don’t find intimidating and are familiar with the interface. The use of inbox, @mentions, tags and comments are familiar tools, so go for solutions that feature them. The interface must be simple to understand with less onboarding requirements.
    For example, Wrike’s 3-Pane Display is easy to grasp. On the left are the folders and groups for organization, in the middle is a newsfeed of activities that keeps you updated in real time and on the right are the details of tasks. With little learning curve required, your team is expected to start using the software at once.
  3. Respond to emails in project management software. It is inevitable that a team member or two will still send you email. It’s force of habit. The way to counter it and wean these slow adopters is to respond to them in the project management software. That forces them to continue the conversation in the system.
  4. Create an email autoresponder. One that reminds email stragglers to use the project management system instead of email.
  5. Keep tab of user adoption. Not everyone has the same learning curve. Find out the issues with slow adopters. They may have unasked questions for fear of looking awkward with the team. A one-to-one conversation can quickly address this problem. It is also a good idea to have team members share best practices or ideas on how to optimize the project management program. The ideas can be shared in a group chat or common workspace.

Conclusion

Email has done a good job fast tracking communication in the workplace. But its days are numbered. Today’s workplace requires more solid collaboration, quicker exchange of ideas, clearer communication lines to stay on top of project deliverables amid continuous market, if not industry, disruptions. Project management software ensures you don’t get left behind.

If you’re ready to make the transition from email to project management, we highly recommend getting a solution that is easy to learn and set up, yet it packs in powerful features. Your team will likely be quick to adopt Wrike; see for yourself when you sign up for a Wrike free trial here.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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