Lots of project management tools out there are “force-fit” to help companies manage their design and manufacturing projects.

But can you *TRULY* use project tools like ASANA, BASECAMP, TRELLO or MONDAY to manage your manufacturing supply chain?

Before we answer that question, Lets answer a far more basic question:

Why do Organizations need specialized software for Manufacturing Project Management at all?

Manufacturing is increasingly fragmented, global and distributed. Organizations might be designing products in Hong Kong, ordering raw materials in India, assembling them in Egypt, shipping them to ports in Germany, USA and UK, and delivering them to distributors in Canada, Mexico and France..

All of this project management takes a lot of coordination, a lot of precision, and an integrated approach to people, data and transactions.

Management teams need to be kept updated on production progress, Vendors need to be held accountable and informed, Partners need to be updated and issues / delays need to be unearthed at the earliest.

Average numbers of SKUs in production are going up while average order numbers are going down.

The average vendor in the global supply chain is medium sized, with <200 employees and an average annual revenue of <$20M. These organizations are entrenched in email, whatsapp, wechat, and Excel.

The *RIGHT* project management tool will help a team:

  • Track projects from design to delivery
  • Keep Vendors honest on production and design schedules
  • Send updates and reports on progress to stakeholders
  • Becomes the source of record for all assets, files and accompanying information.

An MPMS (Manufacturing Project Management System) will have project milestones for you to plan your tasks around, associate 3rd party vendors and partners with, and record your data / files / assets for all of those tasks. This will ensure everything throughout your organization is well coordinated and up to date. Not only will it keep things coordinated, a sophisticated MPMS will allow you to pull up forecasts based on historical data. This is a crucial tool to make data backed decision making, whether it be a customer who is always late on payment costing you money or a supplier that rarely meets their delivery dates. With an MPMS you will have all of this information readily available to confirm your beliefs.

So, Can Asana Do All This?

Yes and no. Asana is a very robust and user friendly project management tool that can be applied to a wide variety of tasks with their custom fields feature. It’s one-size-fits-all interface is quite intuitive and flexible.

But can you use it effectively to manage global vendors, a fragmented supply chain and integrate multiple manufacturing projects?

Asana’s custom fields feature allows you to put pretty much any information into their program as you want. This allows for huge flexibility in the program. Ironically, due to this huge flexibility, it will also takes several cycles to wrap your head around how their custom fields feature works and setting up those custom fields for your specific needs. Asana will be able to keep track of all this information only after heavy customization utilizing their custom fields feature.

As your organization grows, and your product assortment, and manufacturing supply chain become increasingly fragmented , Asana will find it tough to keep up with all the collaboration across structured data (form fields input), unstructured data (raw emails, text messages, whatsapp and wechat), files, assets, and users (3rd party partners outside your organization) , especially when it comes to collating the data across projects to remain effective. This will lead to decreased efficiency throughout all of the processes you rely on Asana for.

The other key feature MPMS’ have is being able to pull up reports and forecasts based on historical data to inform decision making. This feature is not very accessible in Asana. You can export your data from Asana into another program to create reports, but it will not be a seamless integration like you would get from an SCMS.

Asana is a great tool for general project management. However, to truly collaborate as a global design and manufacturing organization, your company needs a TRUE Manufacturing Project Management System.

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