Working with teams is always a complicated task and when you are in an organized environment, it is always best to have applications that can help you track, monitor and analyze the process. To aid this, you would need an exclusive project management software to communicate and collaborate with everyone in your team and within teams.
Why do basic tools fail?
Before complex project management software packages were introduced, there were simple tools for the same use, like spreadsheets. However, when it comes to complex work fields where multiple clients communicate and collaborate, the spreadsheets started to become tedious.
Today, people work in a project with no regard for geolocation and, you have to communicate and collaborate with each person. Everyone has to know about the changes made, the output provided and information gathered, each second. In such a scenario, an exclusive project management software is essential to keep everything organized.
Why choose dedicated project management software?
Completing a project is a long task with multiples stages like planning, scheduling, managing the resource, cost controlling and reporting. Each of these steps has to be done effectively and without redundancy. And to do so, you need excellent communication with every single person involved in the entire project. For such a huge task, customized software is mandatory.
A good project management software keeps the managers organized from the beginning to the completion of a project. It helps them to decide the right resource, predict ETA, and alert any deviations. A good project management software would be able to provide one platform for all these features with a simple interface. Choosing some random software might cause confusion, redundancy and even conflicts within the team.
Steps to select the suitable project management software
Every tool can’t be used everywhere as each team, each project and each client is unique. We have created a blueprint to choose the right project management software, customized for your needs.
Step 1: Brainstorm your needs
You should identify your needs for the project in hand. A clear assessment of what your requirements are would help you eliminate the bad choices. For instance, if you need a project with deviation alerts, you can eliminate all the packages, which doesn’t have that feature.
According to a study conducted to Capterra, the five most important features expected in project management software are time tracking, Gantt charts, email integration, file sharing and managing budgets.
a) Sub-step: What do you lack now?
You need to know where and why your current system is failing. If it is getting complicated during the stages of planning and scheduling, you must consider choosing a project management software that helps in allocating resources or creating schedules. If there are issues with tracking, consider software with real-time resource and output tracking. A good project management tool should aid you in the areas where you lack now. If you already have a concrete resource allocation method, do not complicate it by adding new tools to it.
b) Sub-step: What do you aspire to change?
Check out every feature your team members want to change. Rate every feature on a scale of 1 -10 based on the importance of that change for your project. Keep in mind the main reason to get new software, in the first place. Now, analyze the features you and your teammates want in addition. These additive features can be customized with certain packages, depending on the service provider.
c) Sub-step: compatibility with resources and strategy
There are different approaches to deal with a project. The new system
should support your present strategy and methodology, without attempting to transform it, on a large scale. The software you choose should be compatible with those who are utilizing it. For instance, if the software is for your stakeholders to monitor the project, you would need a more professional and user-friendly look. The size of the team also determines the type of software you are looking for. If you want a software package for a huge team, the most recommended one is ERP.
Step 2: Compare and contrast
When you’ve sketched out all the necessities for a project, it is time to start looking for options. Start searching for suppliers that match your requirements. You can request proposals from individual companies, journals, magazines, internet searches and so on. Start with as many options as possible. Do not just take one package and choose it blindly.
After making the long list, you need to weed out some of the options based on technology, additional features, compatibility and other features discussed in the previous stage. This would require a complex brainstorming session as one individual might consider a feature important and another might look for another element.
Some managers do the mistake of only sticking with the top packages in the market. While these have great reviews, there is no harm in finding alternatives. Some of the lower end versions might provide the same level of facilities and services for a considerably lower price.
While weeding out, you need to look for post-purchase elements too like customer service, license period, upgrade cost, ability to scale for a larger team and so on. If you are a growing organization, scalability is a very essential criterion. For instance, you might be buying the package to cover a task involving just five people. Within a year, your team might grow into twenty people. Can the software accommodate that load?
Step 3: Budget matters
It is true that the features and other elements of the software package matter but, it all comes down to budget. A budding company cannot afford to put all its operating capital into one package. It would be suicidal for business development.
The cost of the process is not just the cost of the product. The initial cost of the product might be small but, there could be incurring costs like monthly license payment, additional feature costs and so on. Beyond those, there is a cost of implementation, cost of training and so on.
Get an estimate of the entire cost of the project including the costs of all the above-mentioned factors. Now, compare with other options. You can also get a better price tag by negotiating with the supplier.
Step 4: Trial and error
This is one of the most complicated and time-consuming stages. This is why most companies forego this stage and end up purchasing extremely expensive software, which is of almost no use to them. All the packages provide a trail time. This can run from a few weeks to a couple of months. Allocate a small team to the software for a small project.
Under this stage, you should analyze how the team is performing with the new software and compare it with the team using the traditional methods. ‘n’ number of things could go wrong with new software and you should be prepared for this. You cannot expect your client to be patient with you just because you are trying out new software. If the new software crashes or fails, your team should be able to complete the task within the stipulated time to avoid damage to your reputation.
You cannot afford to trail run tens of software packages. Thus, when you start this stage you should have only one or two software packages in mind. In the case of two software packages, you can allocate one team for each package and compare the output.
Step 5: Implementation analysis
Implementation was discussed in the stage of budget consideration. However, after the trial and error process, you would have a clearer representation of what the entire implementation would demand.
Starting from training sessions to hiring new technicians to handle the new software, this stage can help you decide whether it is profitable to make the complete change. In terms of hiring new technicians for a single software, it is better to stick with freelancers.
Top mistakes committed while choosing the right project management software
Mistake one: failure to match software to business process
Every organization focuses on matching the software with the requirements of the clients but, not with the business process. Each company has a specific method of business practice and the software you choose should comply with that. For instance, if your company has a strict hierarchy structure and the software you purchase can promote lateral hierarchy or de-centralization of the process, it could cause conflict in the workplace, which can lead to poor productivity.
The key to solving this mistake is to understand how the software works and not just what it can do. A list of features and facilities of the package isn’t enough. You need to understand how the software would change the way you would perform a task and how it would affect the work environment.
Mistake two: choosing the one that has everything
It is true that good software would have all the facilities for project management. But, do you need every known tool in the field of project management? Choosing to add numerous features would not only increase the budget but also complicate the process and implementation.
Mistake three: lack of feedback
It is true that every stage is communicated with superiors and subordinates during the planning in almost all organizations. However, these communications are just memos from superiors to his subordinates. Only a few companies stand down to hear what their employees think about the new product. To avoid a huge problem with the business process in later stages, it is best to listen to feedback from every stakeholder involved in the process.
Will these help you choose project management software with zero errors? The answer is not a perfect yes. These steps will help you reduce the problems revolving around choosing the best package. Nevertheless, you would be facing resistance to change, technical problems, confusion in brainstorming and so on. After all, it always comes to trial and error.