Important Considerations When Choosing Project Management Software

Project management software can improve project management efficiency and optimize resource utilization. Its selection, however, requires care. Below are a number of factors that should be considered when determining which software to select and deploy.

  1. Understand your needs: Speak to the stakeholders who will be using the project management software to extract their requirements. The stakeholders include everyone who will use, update, view or just review the outputs of the application. Each user group will have their own unique set of requirements. The project management software should meet the requirements of the multiple user groups. It may not be possible to find an application that exactly meets every requirement. Bearing this in mind a good technique is to set up a table or matrix of the requirements and grade or prioritize them. The software with the highest score or the one that meets the higher prioritization is probably the one that best meets the needs of your organization.
  2. Know the maturity level: The selection of Project Management Software represents a significant investment. It is an investment in software, training and perhaps additional hardware. Prior to finalizing that level of commitment it is helpful to know that the potential users of the application are ready to use it. A measure of readiness is the organization’s maturity level. Maturity level refers to how companies do things such as complete processes. Are the processes ad hoc or repeatable, are they documented, are they being optimized, are there metrics associated with them? The answers to these questions effectively define the maturity level. If the maturity level is, for example, 0 (ad hoc ways of getting things done) it may be prudent to wait a bit before finalizing the commitment. If, on the other hand, the organization has defined and documented processes, the acquisition of this type of software can help advance the maturity level even further.
  3. Understand staff capabilities: Project management software is powerful. It can provide tools and help an organization define methodologies and techniques to more efficiently manage projects and programs. Like any powerful tool it is only as useful as the capability of its user. It has the ability to show the critical path, vital information, but it is only useful if the user fully understands what the critical path is and how it can be managed. The application can provide insights into where, how and when resources are deployed. The resource insights, however, will only be gleaned if the user knows how to interpret the data. User capabilities should be aligned with the software’s level of sophistication. The gap between the software’s level and that of the user’s capability can be bridged, when needed, by training.
  4. Know your customer: Good communication with customers is essential in helping to manage expectations. In the course of completing a project, project managers typically share schedule, issues and risk information with the customer on a regular basis. In some industries, such as construction, customers prefer direct visibility into the project management software so it should have that capability. In other cases customers prefer to receive certain types of files, knowing this the selected application should be able to output compatible or convertible file types.