Choosing a project management software solution will take time and serious thought should be given to each available package. Before committing to a solution, the following points should be considered by any and all companies:
- Decide whether a cloud-based or self-hosted solution is right for your company – If money is tight and/or IT resources are highly limited or non-existent, cloud-based solutions will offer the most flexibility and the highest level of usability. Companies that can dedicate large amounts of cash and resources to deployment and maintenance will be free to choose between both types of solutions.
- Set a budget – Since the cost of a project management solution can range anywhere from $0 to well over $10,000, it is important to determine a preferable purchase price as well as a ceiling price. Use the budget to guide the final decision, but be sure to figure in any ongoing costs, such as monthly or annual fees and maintenance costs, prior to selecting a solution.
- Create a required feature list – Understanding the needs of project managers and team members is vital to making the right purchasing decision. Gather the whole team around for a meeting to discuss current and expected obstacles that hinder the progression of projects and find out what each team member needs in order to address those issues. It will also be useful to make a list of non-required, but desired, features.
- Prioritize your needs – It may not be possible to get all of the required features in an affordable package. Prioritize the required feature list to figure out which features are vital to completing projects successfully and which features can be overlooked for the time being.
- Figure out how many user licenses are needed – Since many software manufacturers offer different packages based upon the number of licenses required, it is important to figure out the maximum number of users required. A common mistake that many companies make when determining this figure is to assume that project members will be able to effectively share the same logins with one another. For maximum efficiency and productivity, each team member should have their own seat.
- Think about how many projects will be running simultaneously – Some solutions will only allow a single project to be tracked, while others may offer the ability to track multiple projects at once. Each solution typically places a limit on the number of active projects, so it’s important to find a product that can accommodate all of your projects.
- Determine the maximum amount of required storage space – Every running and archived project, licensed user, communication, and uploaded document will take up server space. To ensure that the chosen solution is able to accommodate your needs as projects grow, select a package that offers more space than you feel you need.
- Check for compatibility – When choosing a cloud-based solution, ensure that all of its features and functions will display and function correctly in the web browsers used at your offices. For self-hosted solutions, ensure that the software is compatible with your servers and operating systems.
- Opt for advanced reporting – Most project managers need to compile regular progress reports on budgetary and performance data in a variety of formats. Select a solution that makes this easier by providing you with a number of templates and report types to choose from.
- Consider third-party integration – It may be necessary to sync the project management software with other computer applications, such as scheduling and budgeting software. Integration makes this process easier through automation.
In order for a project to be completed successfully and on time, each task and phase of the project life cycle must constantly be tracked and the lines of communication between employees must always remain open. To achieve this, most companies will utilize a number of different digital and analogue tools that may or may not be connected to one another. Additionally, all members of the team may not be using the same tools in order to manage their tasks and timelines