6 Reasons Email is Not a Project Management Tool

26 October 2015
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It’s no mystery why people can’t seem to get away from using their inboxes as their personal project & task management tool; and why companies still attempt to collaborate via long over-drawn email chains. Email is well ingrained into our personal and work lives, and many of our “to-dos” arrive in the form of email – it’s a popular (and effective) way of communicating. But that’s where the line should be drawn – at communication.

Using a more sophisticated task management tool can save you a lot of time sifting through your inbox, leaving a lot more time to get important work done. Email’s not going anywhere, and that’s probably a good thing. But we must draw the line somewhere by learning how to manage it effectively – and that doesn’t include managing tasks or projects.

Here’s why:

1. It’s an uphill battle

I have no doubt anyone reading this is familiar with the struggle of trying to keep their inboxes at zero, or at least something close to it. But the hard truth is that emails are constantly flowing in and for every step taken forward, two steps are taken back.

2. Time wasted in task switching

Most would agree that they check their emails WAY too often. Imagine the time it takes to check an email, process it, respond to it and then attempt to get back to what you were doing before. Ultimately, emails take people out of the zone and prevent them from getting into a flow.

3. Emails are difficult to search

It can take a lot of time to sift through emails to find that certain piece of information that now seems to elude you. Keeping track of documents and tasks in your email is a pretty good way to get mixed up and lose information. Much of what is sent out in emails gets lost into a seemingly black hole. The great thing about taking these kinds of communications to a project management tool, is that exchanges are documented and can easily be found.

4. Stakeholders in the dark

Sending documents and updates over email tends to leave most project stakeholders in the dark. All those who weren’t included in the email thread won’t be kept in the loop on pertinent matters. On the contrary, updating project details in a proper system makes it easy and time effective to keep stakeholders up to speed.

5. Taking time to develop the context

Emails often take a lot of time to write, just to simply set the context and provide all the background info. In a PM tool, the trails of information are all there and the system does all that “background” work for you.

6. Version control

Keeping track of the most recent version of documents in an email chain is time-consuming and ripe for failure. Needless to say, collaborating over email is not the ideal setup, it can be a major distraction and a hindrance to your overall productivity. 

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