Today’s project management tools are nearly ideal for market research project managers. And we can prove it.
How Research Rockstar Became Wrikified.
We started the process of evaluating project management tools with a healthy dose of skepticism; we were not even sure if we would find one we would actually adopt. After a few short trials, totaling about three months, we selected Wrike in August 2015. And since then, the Research Rockstar team has experienced notable efficiency gains, especially for process improvement and scalability. For us, the Wrike ROI is a no-brainer. And we are no longer project management skeptics.
What is Wrike?
Wrike is a hosted, subscription-based project management tool, and includes lots of project management features such as interactive Gantt charts, time-tracker, discussion threads, status tracking, real-time updates, and document collaboration via Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. From top to bottom, Wrike uses folders, projects, tasks and sub-tasks; each level can be assigned, tracked, timed, and shared.
Our team likes how easy it to personalize our Wrike experience: every user has a dashboard, which displays a stream (real-time activity updates), overdue tasks, and customized views. The same can be done for reports: pick an item (by date, person and project) and voila there’s a report.
How Research Rockstar Uses Wrike
To be precise, we are not a “market research team”; we use our recently-deployed project management tool to manage many types of projects. This includes market research we conduct to support curriculum development (we also manage training classes, marketing and content development projects using Wrike). Like many of our market research friends, we juggle multiple projects, staff members, suppliers, clients and deadlines.
For research projects specifically, Wrike is nearly perfect. Here are a few examples of how:
- Clear delegation, clear accountability. Many research projects are team-based. With Wrike, the project manager can design the entire project, delegating as appropriate (to one or more individuals), and each team member gets their assignments, with deadlines. There is no question about who has responsibility for what, there is no confusion about dependencies.
- Well-documented, centralized communication. Wrike’s Comments feature is a one stop approach to project-related communication. Instead of having project notes getting spread over chat, email, meeting notes and whatever note taking apps individuals use, all project notes are documented and in one place. No more searching multiple channels for that note you are sure you sent last week. No more wondering if the report feedback you sent was seen and acknowledged.
- Prioritized work. Market researchers routinely manage multiple projects. And that can be stressful. Wrike makes it very easy for each team member to see their priorities, and this is easily customized for personal preferences. Sometimes you might want to simply see all of the tasks you have due this week (across projects), and other times you want to focus by project. Both views are easy in Wrike.
Staff Comments about Wrike
So what do the team members say about it?
For virtual team member Vickie, Wrike “helps me to be more in the loop and able to help on group projects. The Activity Stream allows me to see exactly what updates have been made on all projects since the last time I checked in, and the Dashboard keeps what’s important to me in eyesight. The ability to add task dependencies saves me time by eliminating the need to reschedule all future stages of a project when a preceding stage is not completed on the exact day it’s originally planned for. Wrike also saves me the time of having to draft up ‘pending items lists’ manually.”
An on-site colleague, Lisa, reports “It has been a great way to keep me on track, especially when I am away from the office. While I am in the office and face-to-face with my co-workers I prefer to speak directly with them. Often that is not possible.”
Adds another on-site team member, Nancy, Wrike is “good for multiple people working on the same project to see updates.”
For Debra, “I like Wrike as a documentation tool. I find when I need to solve a problem and there are various solutions, it’s nice to have a running thread of information. I can insert attachments (documents and images). I can look for a task and all the corresponding information reside in that one project or folder.”
And for Kathryn, who runs the show here at Research Rockstar? She is thrilled to now have one place to go to for instant access to task delegation, status updates, and reminders. “It’s called a project management tool, but for me, it’s my air traffic controller—it gives me both the detail and the big picture to keep things progressing while avoiding collisions.”
Wrike, like any other software tool, goes through a development process. New features are released periodically. While we are very happy with Wrike, a few areas for improvement:
- It takes some getting used to not have a button to indicate SAVE or OK. Since the platform is “live”, entries are stored immediately. This does sometimes cause delay as you type. But it’s not an uncommon feature—if you use Google docs you know what we mean. Still, a “saving” or “saved” message would be nice.
- It has a sort by date button, but we’d like it better if you could sort by either task start or due date. The default is by due date, sorted chronologically. Sometimes it would be helpful to sort by start date, and to sort in reverse chronological order.
- Integration with Outlook works—on the email side. We hope to soon see integration on the calendar side.
Calling All Skeptics
If your past project management tool experience was that it took more time to update the tool than to do the work, you are not alone. But a lot has changed in the past few years. Tools are now available that are easy, intuitive, and compatible with existing business processes. Our conclusion? If your team isn’t using a tool like Wrike, it’s time to at least consider a pilot. You too may find yourself finding the ROI a no-brainer.