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Engineering Leaders – It’s time to demand less from your project management platform!

June 2023

In the current macro climate, the mandate to engineering teams is clear, do more with less. Leaders are under significant pressure to maintain, if not increase, performance while simultaneously cutting costs. This leaves them canvassing their tools and teams to identify opportunities for operating leverage. One area that deserves real scrutiny is the bloated engineering project management stack. Teams can no longer afford to waste money and time trying to bandaid over the shortcomings of products that were designed for a different era.

In 2023, a modern project management platform should demand less time/energy from the organization to do its job so the team has more time to do theirs. It should automate all the coordination, alignment, and status update overhead that's built up in your organization so the team can spend more time building and shipping killer products. Stated simply, Less is More.

Concretely, for project owners, project managers, ICs, and leaders, this means a modern project management platform that enables…

Less check-in meetings

Less disruptions to provide status

Less time spent writing status updates

Less tool-induced information silos

Less licenses (needing visibility into what's going on shouldn't require a license to every tool)

Less people to coordinate, manage, update, and communicate all of the above

More time (and money) for building

In a perfect world, project management tools are supposed to efficiently communicate (across various mediums) what's going on with a particular individual, project, or team. The idea is that if everyone can efficiently stay aligned with what's happening and why without slowing down, the collective group can move faster. They quietly wrangle all the information that informs what's going on into some consistent and accessible format that can be updated and shared on-demand. But the current state of engineering project management tools is far from perfect.

How did we end up here?

  • Tool Sprawl. Teams are still suffering indigestion from the SaaS sprawl of the last few years. With so many different tools deployed across the organization, extracting a singular view of what's happening is nearly impossible. Every team has their preferred set of tools. Rarely do tools span departments. If you want to know what's going on outside of your team, you need a person to help chase down status for you or a license to dig in and do it yourself. In the latter case, you probably don't have the time or expertise to efficiently navigate the tool to find what you are looking for. Never mind that provisioning a license to you for this purpose is not a good use of money. Nevertheless, it's faster to provision someone a seat and wish them well than it is to track down the information they really need and convert it to a format they understand. So here we are.
  • Team Sprawl. It's well documented that the pandemic-induced remote work trend has led to globally distributed teams working more asynchronously than ever before. Less well understood is the challenge of keeping an organization coordinated, aligned, and moving fast amidst this transformation. Armed with project management tools designed for a different era, the people responsible for helping everyone stay on top of what was happening were ill-equipped to do so. 

The organizational response to the above dynamics has been to build out teams, acquire more tools, and establish a series of rituals, processes, and meetings to manually close the information gaps. And while everyone now has a project management tool, they still can’t easily answer the most frequently asked question of a project or initiative, “How’s it going?”

The bar is clearly higher these days for which tools make their way into the engineering toolbox, although, given the dynamics above, it seems that it’s not high enough for project management.

Interested in demanding less (overhead) from your project management platform? Sign up to evaluate KATA, and free up your team to get back to building.

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