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Determining the Total Cost of Ownership of Project Management Software

July 25th , 2016

Determining the total cost of ownership of Project Management Software reminds me of a time, many years ago, when I decided to purchase my first car.

I looked in the paper and went by local dealerships to see what they had on their lot. I stopped and looked at the cars that were for sale on the side of the road and kept my ears open for any deals that could come my way.

After many weeks I finally found the car that I wanted. It was at a dealership about 30 minutes from the house. I could afford the payments and the gas mileage was pretty decent. I made the arrangements for financing with the dealership and picked up the car.

I couldn’t be happier. I called the insurance company and let them know I had purchased this car and would need to have it insured. “How much did you say?” I asked after I heard them quote a rate for insurance on the other side of the line. “Are you sure it’s that much?” I asked again. Unfortunately, insurance on the car was astronomical. I could afford the payment, I could afford the gas, but I couldn’t afford the insurance. I missed the obvious when it came to the total cost of ownership for the vehicle.

The car sat for a few weeks with the minimal amount of insurance until I could sell it and find something a bit more affordable. This was a big lesson learned early on about the total cost of ownership. Sometimes you need to dig below the surface in order to find out how much something is really going to cost you to own and/or to operate.

Buying Project Management Software

Do your research first. When you look to buy project planning software don’t make the mistake I made with my first car and make a purchasing decision without first understanding the total cost of ownership. The purchase price of the planning software is a good place to start as a means of comparing your options however it is only one of several factors you should take into account to determine the total cost of ownership of the software.

• Software simplicity and ease of use: the hidden cost of down-time

Your time and the project teams time is a valuable resource. Time invested in training and implementing the new project planning software is an important consideration of the total cost of ownership. You can look for a product that has a low “off-the-shelf” price such as freeware or shareware, however as project planning software goes, these inexpensive options can ultimately prove costly in terms of time, due to their lack of usability and/or intuitive workflow. Project planning software that is difficult to use can lead to considerable down-time as you and your team figure out how to get from point A to point B. Subsequently, investing more up-front on project planning software with a user friendly interface means minimal training time and ensures everyone is up and running within minutes, not weeks.

• Adoption rate: what’s the point if nobody is using the planning software

An extension of the simplicity of use mentioned above is the adoption rate of the new project planning software. Project planning software could be free or close-to-free but if nobody uses it because it’s not intuitive or easy enough the cost could be incalculable. The time that it takes to do project planning activities manually or the potential for mistakes that could be made can add up very quickly. You need to make sure that the project planning software you choose is something that will be accepted and used by your organization.

• Software support: can either cost you or save you time

Is there a dedicated person you can call within normal business hours or outside normal business hours for that matter that can help you if you face an unknown? Or, do you have to submit a ticket to an anonymous help@you-will-never-hear-from-us-again.com email address and just hope that somebody gets back with you? It’s important to factor this intangible expense into any buying decision when you are looking to purchase project planning software. Time is money. Looking, waiting…hoping for support that is not readily available can and will cost you time. Supported project planning software on the other hand ensures that you have the support of the software experts if and when you need it.

• Software adaptability and flexibility

One final area that you should consider when purchasing project planning software is the adaptability and flexibility of the software. Do you have the ability to add custom fields, generate your own user reports, and generally configure things the way you would like them to be? The other scenario is that you don’t have this flexibility and it means that you either have to live with what the software offers or you have to pay someone to configure it to work as you need it to. There is cost involved in both scenarios therefore worth considering before making your final decision.



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