Project management software is utilized for project scheduling, planning, resource distribution and change management. It allows project managers (PMs), investors and users to control costs and manage costing, quality management and documentation and also may be used as an administration system.
Project management software should cater the following functions:
- Project Planning
- Work Breakdown Structure and Task management
- Resource Allocation
- Calendar and Contact Sharing
- Time and Cost tracking
- Document Sharing and Collaboration
- Bug and Error Management
This article provides a four step process for choosing the right project management software.
Step 1: Identify the tasks
Implementation of project management software and implementing project management are two different things. You should know what you are trying to accomplish. The best ways to achieve this is to identify two to three key problems that you need to solve and after that, produce a few key business cases that will help you solve these. A good vendor can guide you in creating business cases. You should also build the work plan that you will use to manage the project. Answer these questions for getting right software:
- What is the use of software?
- What problem will this software solve?
- What are the features and functions you require?
- What kind of project and resources you will manage with the tool?
- Whether commercially supported or open source or both options are to be explored?
Step 2: Create a list of products
Project management software can be divided into four main categories. Decide the suitable tool category, and then produce a list of products.
- Individual software: This can be a purchased tool used to manage individual projects
- Existing in-house software: This can be MS Excel which can facilitate project management.
- Medium-sized systems: These are tools used for small to medium sized organizations that have some of the features, but not all of the complexity as found in high-end system
- High-end systems: These are systems that are designed for a large organization for central project management.
Step 3: Implementation assessment
Once you are clear with your list of software tools, you can begin your evaluation process. Evaluate the requirement of your project and then:
- Ask your vendor to share a feature list.
- Communicate your important requirements and aims to the vendor, and find out what the vendor recommends.
- Ask for a personalized demonstration.
- Download a trial version of an individual product and run through the business cases and achieve your own hands-on assessment.
- Ask for a written cost proposal and the features provided.
- Do not forget to evaluate recurring maintenance and support costs.
Step 4: Make a Selection
Make a selection as per your requirements. It is helpful to generate a matrix of the systems with important statistics about each system. In various groups, the project team makes the final recommendation and then redirects it to the purchasing or procurement department who in turn does the contract negotiation and legal detailing.
Choosing correct software to plan your project is very important. Do maximum web research as well as take maximum feedback from people who have already used these or are currently using them.
Procuring and implementing project management software is not impossible, and is a very supportive instrument that can help your organization work in a better way and in a structured manner.