How to Choose a Project Management Software
By Alberto Dominguez
To choose the right software is not a simple process, and to choose the right project management software is then an even more complicated process and decision. Below you will find few tips and proposed procedure to reduce the risk inherit to this decision.
To choose and implement a PM software tool is not the same of implementing a PM process. Many organizations try to implement a software tool expecting a nonexistent-unnatural process improvement. If you do not have a formal process, or even if your process is not working you have to stop thinking that automation will fix/improve/solve your problems. Automation should be used to reinforce a process and minimize the weaknesses.
Every software implementation process includes at least the following steps -of course every company has its own natural process. Public companies have also additional restriction and evaluation/validation processes that will extend the suggested process:
- Identify needs
- Define selection criteria
- Create a list of options
- Create the request for information
- Evaluate responses
- Reduce the list of options
- Ask for demonstrations or pilot programs
- Choose one
Try to isolate your needs by using the following dimensions to measure the products you are considering:
- Scale – how big the change will be?
- Simple: are you going to organize your projects?
- Personal: are you going to automate estimation and planning on you projects
- Collaborative: are you going to support a team? are you going to share information? do you need to centralize team communications?
- Enterprise: are you affecting the whole company? are you going to bill to your clients using your projects’ data? do you have virtual teams all around the globe?
- Management Paradigm – do you and your team follow a traditional or agile approach to project management?
- Process Maturity – how formal/strong is your process?
- Chaotic: No evidence of documented processes or best practices
- Active: Documented processes carried out, but not formalized
- Efficient: Consistent discipline started
- Responsive: Ubiquitous and measured
- Business driven: Provides data and information to drive business decisions
- Implementation model – are you going to buy the product and support it by yourself? are you going to adopt the SaaS model?
- Budget - How much is your company willing to pay for the software?
Set your goals – do not expect to do everything better and to include any improvement during the first phase (or the initial implementation cycle). Prioritize to get faster results. Below you will find a list of possible goals that you could address with a PM software tool
- Improve project reporting and tracking
- Improve estimating and scheduling
- Reduce cost or speed process up by automating workflows
- Improve resource assignments
- Improve project communication
- Improve project team collaboration
- Improve overall project process
Every goal will impact different functional areas within an organization. You should plan your implementation to impact those areas and improve those process that will add the most value.
Alberto Dominguez is an experienced developer who has worked for several SW development companies and digital agencies as developer, system designer, user experience (UX) consultant, project manager and account manager. You can check his profile at LinkedIn or check his Twitter updates. Alberto’s blog can be found here.