A New Modest Proposal

confused manThese days, it seems that comedians have an ever increasing role in social commentary, bringing a voice and attention to important issues that are otherwise often ignored. YouTube commentary by John Oliver typically gets more than 4 million views—an interesting contrast to the less than 100,000 typical views for YouTube content from Rachel Maddow with MSNBC.

But in reality, this is not a novel trend at all! According to Wikipedia, satire and irony are among the oldest tools with which to understand a society and can be found in the comic plays of Aristophanes (circa 400BC!) My favorite example: back in High School (already nearly ancient history), we read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”, penned (slightly further) back in 1729. Now that’s brilliantly biting social commentary!  (Pun! 😉 )

One of the popular segments in John Oliver’s rotation is “How is this Still a Thing?”  The segment has tackled topics from Christopher Columbus to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. So, I have a modest proposal of my own: follow John Oliver’s example and periodically ask yourself “How is this still a thing?” in doing your job. It is best if you apply this broadly because there are many arcane procedures that may have been devised a decade ago that no longer serve a purpose.  Here are some of my favorites:

Email for file collaboration

Why do people still use email to pass around important files that can be changed by multiple recipients, multiple times?  Why do they think anyone will be able to find the right version of the file at a critical moment? How is this still a thing when there are better options that won’t lead to mistakes and confusion?

For example, companies that use the Spitfire Project Management System for file management can easily know who got what file and when, who made changes to those files, and which is the one latest version of the file at any point. Files are organized and can be found through a number of filters including project, vendor, date, and responsible party.

Standalone spreadsheets

Why do people still use several Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to keep track of project information and budgets? Why do they think it makes sense to scatter these files among various computers, laptops or servers? Why do they keep struggling to keep all files up-to-date? How is this still a thing when there are better ways to gather, hold and retrieve project data, including data on spreadsheets?

For example, the Spitfire Project Management System uses Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for schedule of value (SOV) billing and for budget, forecast and project analysis, but incorporates all these related spreadsheets into project documents that update the spreadsheets automatically throughout the life of the projects. In this way, information on any particular spreadsheet can be trusted to be accurate and up-do-date.

Nonintegrated Project Management

Why do people use project management systems that have nothing to do with their accounting software? Why do they think that copying data (often by hand) won’t lead to some numeric error at some point? Why don’t they want current actuals at all times? How is this still a thing when there are project management systems that do integrate with accounting systems?

For example, the Spitfire Project Management System can integrate with popular accounting and ERP systems so that financial data on projects (including true actuals) can flow to and from the accounting side of the business. Less financial mistakes generally lead to a better bottom line.

Too often, participants in a large project become like the blind men and the elephant — each having their own perspective of what is true because they see only a small part. Old practices allow information to become too segmented.

If questioning your current practices leads to researching new solutions, contact us for your free demo of the Spitfire Project Management System so you can see an integrated and comprehensive system for yourself.