Can Project Management Tools and Email Mix?


In most large organizations, email is the communication tool of choice. It provides a virtual “paper trail,” doesn’t require the recipient to pick up the phone and is accessible in most places. For some organizations, though, that reliance on email can be problematic. If your organization has a project management tool in place that allows stakeholders and team members to communicate and stay up-to-date on what’s happening with the project, having some communications made via that project management tool and some via email has the potential to be an issue.

Keeping Your Project in One Place

Whenever project communications happen outside of the tool you use for project management, there’s a risk that decisions and changes won’t get recorded and the team won’t act on them. It’s a danger of in-person meetings, as well. You may say that you’ll remember to update your project management tool with the information contained in the email, but eliminating potential problems seems like a better choice than trying to keep up with them.

There’s a temptation to justify moving from the project management tools you rely on to email with the idea that there are some decisions that the entire organization shouldn’t be party to. There is some truth to that, but most project management tools have a direct messaging capability built-in.

Email’s Value

There are reasons, though, why many companies rely so heavily on email. If you need information quickly, your team may be more likely to check their email rather than your project management tool. And if you’re working with people outside of your organization, there’s a certain level of hassle associated with getting them set up on your project management tool; it may not be worth the effort, while you can generally expect a contact to have an email account.

Integrating Email and PM Tools

At the end of the day, it seems preferable to have all communication related to a given project in one place. It’s important to realize that email isn’t going away any time soon, though — especially for project management,. That makes it necessary to make sure that, however you handle your projects, there’s a plan in place for making sure that email can be integrated into your system. Although it’s not ideal, even copying and pasting emails into your PM system may help.

How does your team handle project communications?

Image courtesy Flickr user Bruno Girin

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