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A Collaborative Process for Implementing New Project Management Software

Habitat Project Management Software

The Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity was frustrated with their manual project management workflows, many of which were managed in spreadsheets and required extra steps to complete.

On Clutch, Ali Parrish, the executive director of Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity, said, “We were struggling with keeping up with due dates and communication in general. We were also overwhelmed with the different versions of software that was available. Our goal was to hire a firm that would be able to dig into our unique business model, help us select software that would work for us and help keep us accountable with implementation.”

They worked with Far Reach to review their processes, analyze potential project management software tools, and implement the chosen software across the team. Having an outside 3rd party helped Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity move past analysis paralysis, have accountability for following through, and benefit from an unbiased view of their processes.

Listening and Learning

We started off the Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity project like we do every project—by listening to the client describe the problems they were experiencing and what their ideal outcomes were.

From conversations with their team, we learned their biggest pain points, which ones would be solved by a new project management tool, and other process improvement opportunities. Each Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity team member helped us understand their existing workflows and what they liked and disliked about their project management processes.

We identified three main initiatives to help the Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity work smarter:

  1. Analyzing, choosing, and implementing a new project management system—what the client originally approached us about.
  2. Setting up process automations with Excel macros to combine data from several spreadsheets, making one of the client’s workflows much faster.
  3. Identifying a plugin that helped improve integration between their email client (Outlook) and CRM (NetSuite).

The second and third improvements above were identified by listening and leaving our preconceived notions about the project at the door. If we had focused solely on the project management system, instead of listening to the bigger picture, we would have missed the opportunity to make simple improvements that had a big impact for the client.

On Clutch, Ali said, “They were knowledgeable about software options and selected something that was oddly perfect for us - despite the sea of options that exist. They also cared about us, our team, and our business model. Without that, I don't think this would have been so successful.”

Learning By Doing

Rolling out a new software platform can easily stall if there’s no accountability for making the implementation happen. Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity didn’t want to fall into that trap, so having an outside consultant help set milestones and hold everyone to timelines was vital in making the implementation happen.

Project management systems are often generic. They require companies to set up their processes and workflows in a way that works best for them. Each company uses the same tool slightly differently. This is fodder for analysis paralysis, which makes it easy to quit the implementation project or call it “good enough.” But by having an accountability partner, Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity had a guide the entire way.

One way we helped Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity learn their new project management tool was by having them use the system to learn the system. It sounds meta, but it works. The first project in the new system was actually the setup of and learning about the tool itself. Each team member had lessons to review as well as tasks to complete for the setup process. These items were all tracked in the new tool. 

Diving in helped the team learn quickly and let us work together to iterate on processes and workflows as we were building them out.

Another Successful Project

Our greatest joy is having happy clients. As a team, we love being a part of helping clients solve problems and work better. Both the Far Reach team and the Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity team are happy with the outcomes.

“We have experienced a far higher level of project management across multiple departments and areas of our work,” Ali said on Clutch. “Our projects have been completed in a more timely fashion, communication between staff members is much improved, tasks are completed on time more than ever before, and the stress level of the team has been reduced overall.”

If this resonates with you, view more of our work, and reach out.