Project Management Software 101: Five Questions to Answer Before Buying
Alright, so you have finally decided enough is enough—you want to trade in your documentation mess of emails, sticky notes and Excel sheets for a professional project management software tool. That’s great!
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you buy to ensure you get a project management software tool that fits you and your team’s needs:
1. What do I need the software to do?
There are lots of project management software tools on the market, but they are not all made the same. Avoid the mistake of picking a tool and then working backwards to make the tool perform the functions you need, by first identifying the features your project management software should perform.
Write a list of what you need the PM software to be able to accomplish, i.e. track time, produce client-friendly reports, and notify team members of upcoming deadlines. Then, with those software features in mind, search for the corresponding software.
If you settle with the first one you find, there is a high chance that you will be working with a tool that only has some of the functional you need. Since you presumably want project management software to make your life easier, don’t make extra work for yourself by choosing a tool that doesn’t fit your needs.
2. What are my goals for the software?
Furthermore ask yourself not only what you want the software to perform, but what affect you want the software to have in your organization.
For example, it’s great if you find a project management software tool that can handle billing. But, I’m guessing you want software to be able to perform that task because doing it manually, or on Excel, takes too much time and proves inaccurate.
Therefore, you want a project management software that will not only be able to produce billing reports, but a project management software that will cut down on 5 hours’ worth of work a week involved in doing billing, for example.
3. How comfortable with technology is my team?
Who will use the tool is another crucial element when considering project management software. Does the team have extensive technical backgrounds or do they feel a little hesitant around technology? Will they have a lot of time to learn new software or do you wish to implement something they will be able to figure out on day one?
Even if you’ve found what you think is the Holy Grail of project management software, if your team isn’t on board with it, it will never be used. However, if you provide your team with easy-to-use software with an intuitive interface and great user-experience, your team will be more likely to embrace the tool.
4. What licensing model would be best?
Consider the benefits of cloud software vs. the benefits of on-premise project management software. Cloud software can be accessed anywhere there is Internet and saves you money on technology infrastructure. However, on-premise software allows you complete control over the security of your data and ability to customize code in-house.
Analyze your company needs and determine which licensing model would work best for you and your team.
5. Do I need any specific customizations?
Finally, if there are any business specific needs you want fulfilled by your project management software, ask PM vendors if they can customize the software to your unique company needs.
Inquiring about customizations not only gives you insight on how easy it will be to work with that vendor if you buy that particular software, also a good project management vendor will take the time to individualize your PM software so you can benefit from its use the moment it is implemented.
By answering these five questions, you will get a clear outline of what you need in your ideal project management software for your distinct project goals. If you would like more assistance on getting project management software that will fit your needs, check out our buyer’s guide or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credit, jintae kim’s photography, Flickr
Vanessa Fiorido watches a lot of YouTube at work. Sometimes she blogs about project management.