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Choosing the right project management software

by Marian Woods

choosing the right project management software

Project management software is becoming a must-have product for organizations by providing its employees with the ability to access up to date information at a click of a button.  Organizations tend to start out with a basic system for managing their projects with the likes of excel sheets; however as a business grows they may need to look into a more functional and structured tool.

Finding the correct balance when choosing the right project management software can bring with it some difficulties.  Currently there are many tools available to organizations big and small; therefore choosing the tool that matches your requirements will take time and patience.

Evaluating Project Management Software

When taking on the task of researching and evaluating the options available it would be worth keeping the following points in mind:

  1. List your requirements: It is important that you have a strong understanding of what it is you want to accomplish by implementing a project management system.  Listing your requirements and needs will give you a strong backbone to work from.  This list should be drawn up by a team rather than being taken up by a sole individual to ensure that everyone’s input is taken into account.
  2. Investigate: The project management solution market is very intense with a vast amount of options available to organizations, however not all tools will match the requirements you have identified. Determine the capacity needed for the management of your projects by breaking the software available into these two categories.
    1. Medium:  Most suited to SMEs. These systems will have the necessary features needed for successful project management of small to medium organizations
    2. High end:  Large organizations will probably need to look into a software tool that is able to deal with the complexity of these organizations projects
  3. Shortlist: Once you have generated a list of tools that will match your requirements you need to begin a full assessment of each tool individually in order to find the best fit for your project management process and needs.  This brings me directly onto the next point.
  4. Online demos/ trials: Most software suppliers now give you the option to get a real feel for the tool by providing you with the opportunity of seeing it up close.  Options available usually include a demonstration of the products by the software team or having a go at it yourself by signing up for a free trial.
    1. Online Demonstrations:  This form of investigation can give you the information you desire quickly and therefore would suit individuals who don’t have the time to sit down and comb through the product themselves and questions can be asked directly to the company representative.
    2. Free Trial:  This form of investigation would be advised to gain an in-depth look into the workings of the software.  Ease of use and navigation can be examined using this format.  Furthermore opportunities can be given to other members of the organization to have a trial of the software in order to gather peoples overall opinions.

Useful Tips when Choosing the Right Project Management Software

A few minor (but still important) tips to remember:

I.            User:  At the end of the day it’s the project manager, project team members that will be using the product and therefore it must be user friendly.  Smooth navigation between menus, pages and information is essential for someone managing projects.

II.            Support:  Investing in a software tool that will support you is important as things can go wrong.  Support such as online tutorials, helpdesk should be on your list of priorities when choosing a project management  tool.

III.            Costs:  With organizations facing financial challenges, the cost of the software should be a real focus point during the decision making process.  Organizations today have the opportunity to invest in a software package at a price that is suited to their business.

IV.            Growing with your business:  Every business wants to expand therefore you should be thinking ahead and make note whether your list of project management tools could grow with your business.  This will ensure that the business doesn’t need to start looking into bigger tools as time goes on.

Last but certainly not least:  Make your decision.  After all this work you will be in a position to choose a project management software tool that meets your requirements and needs, is fully supported and cost effective whilst having the ability to develop into a high end enterprise model if needed.  The final decision should come down to the project management team after all questions and issues have been answered amongst them all.  Now all that’s left to do is to negotiate the contract and the finer details.

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