How to Prevent App Fatigue When Shopping for PM Software
Have you been trying out project management software but can’t seem to settle on one? Do you currently have one (or two, or three) but still try out others just to see if they’re different? Then you may be suffering from app fatigue.
The term “app fatigue” actually applies to mobile devices and tablets, but the logic behind it is the same for PM software: Too many project management tools to try out and too little time to use them properly.
The problem with this, as opposed to actual app fatigue, is that you can’t afford to waste time tinkering with a dozen PM tools. You’ve got deadlines to meet, and while you might say that searching for a PM tool will pay off in the long run, you have to know when to rein it in. Here are some strategies that will help you do just that:
Figure Out Your Needs
Before you even open Google, figure out what you need your PM tool to do. Don’t be general and say, “save me time” or “organize my team”. Make a list of trouble spots in your workflow and see what features would help attenuate them. Then when you start your search, you can compare the items on your list to a PM tool’s feature set and see what matches up best.
Don’t Get Dazzled
If you see a project management tool with a unique feature, don’t go “ooh, shiny!” and immediately click the “free trial” button. Instead, take a step back and ask yourself, “Will my team actually be able to make use of that?” If the answer is no, then walk away (after you’ve checked the other features, of course).
Stick to Your Workflow
As you shop around, you eventually WILL have to download and try out a project management tool or three. Chances are, it’s not going to be a perfect fit. Either it will have too few features, in which case you’ll have to keep on searching, or it will have too many features. The latter is an annoyance, but remember that you don’t have to alter your workflow to fit the PM software’s features. It’s supposed to work for you, not the other way around.
What you should do instead is base your final decision off the features that you can actually incorporate into your workflow. Do they improve your process significantly? Are the unused features cluttering up the virtual workspace and impeding progress? Or do they just sit there, unobtrusive, waiting for a chance to be used? Or does the new feature actually open up new possibilities for productivity?
Make Pricing Work for You
Project management software comes in many shapes and forms, and you are bound to find one that fits your budget. See if you can take advantage of the appropriate discounts to make the most promising PM software work within your financial constraints. The best vendors will offer academic, non-profit, volume or commitment discounts, so take advantage of as many as you can. If you don’t immediately see the discounts you expect, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give the company a call if you believe that product is right for you.
If you can discipline yourself and narrow your search to a few likely candidates, you’ll be able to maximize the time by actually testing the software and determining if it can help your team. Be smart when shopping for software. It’s not just the final decision that matters—it’s how you reach it as well.
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.