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An Essential Checklist for Choosing Project Management Software

In recent years businesses have grown to be more dynamic and diverse. Operations have gone mobile – and work teams are now scattered around the globe and are working on the go.

ISV’s have responded with a new generation of Project Management software trying to offer a higher functional sophistication while minimizing complexity.

Project Managers and team members now have a wide array of PM solutions to choose from – starting with simplistic Task Management and down to fully professional suites.

Here are three key tips to consider before selecting a Project Management application.

1) Accidental vs. Professional Project Management

First thing to ask yourself is how complete and functionally broad does the PM solution need to be for your specific business case?

Use the A-B-C scale.

“A” stands for simple task management and is suited for individual activities planning. The purpose here is to keep track of specific tasks or to-do lists.

“B” covers group-based tools that include task assignment, progress tracking, and reporting. These tools work for automating small Marketing, HR, and Administrative projects – projects that require group communication but that are not business-critical.

“C” includes all the full-fledged project management suites for professional and business-critical PM activities (like system integration services or consulting). These offerings have broad functionality including task assignment, resource allocation, budget planning, invoicing, and can often include the portfolio management scope required for PMO support. Depending on the industry—let’s say for example construction—the functional scope can also be heavily focused on resource and asset management, and integrations with ERP and requisitioning systems.

2) Implementation barriers

The second point to consider before selecting a project management system is the hurdles you may have to clear once you purchase.

For instance, you’ll have to plan around the expected level of resistance from your team if they have to adopt another piece of software in their day-to-day work. Or you’ll need to anticipate another significant impediment like data migration issues.

Software adoption can result in the need for multiple time-consuming and costly training sessions and, more worryingly, a decline in overall productivity. If your team isn’t fully onboard with a new system you may find yourself with a complicated mess that is simply added on top of, instead of replacing, current manual processes.

Data migration can be a significant issue for the “C” scenario – with project data stored in huge volumes and multiple external systems you should budget plenty of time for this step. Of course, in the “A” and “B” scenarios you may not even have to worry about data synchronization at all.

3) Collaboration

There are two primary deployment options: on-premise installation or SaaS (Software as a Service).

In the “A” and “B” scenarios above—with low data volumes and few high-priority security issues—a cloud/SaaS version makes the most sense. This way you avoid the trouble of hardware maintenance, and the hassle of upgrades and infrastructure costs.

On the other hand, for business-critical project management scenarios (as in “C”) your priorities will be data security and availability. On-premise solutions provide companies with much higher security standards and you can access (and keep) your data onsite.

What other considerations would you add before choosing project management software?  Include them in the comments!

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