A guest post by Claire Dumbleton, Director of Accentive Training - providers of PRINCE2 project management e-learning at www.accentive.org.
I’ll be honest: I love my tech. Part of the pleasure for me in running a successful project is using technology to make everybody's life easier. And that’s what I look for in any project management app I use: will it make the project easier for the project team and other stakeholders? I’ve described below what I think are the most important attributes for a project management application to achieve this.
No steep learning curve
While I can quite happily spend hours discovering the joys of a new piece of software, I understand not everyone is like that. So, I need a project management app that is intuitive and requires no end-user training. Ideally it will use standard functionality that feels familiar to users from other applications they use. That way I can be confident all team members will be happy to use it. I’ve seen too many people have a difficult first experience with an app and then avoid it at all costs in the future.
I don’t want to be tied to one way of doing things. The project management method I use (PRINCE2) requires tailoring to each individual project. For small projects I might keep a record of risks in my online daily log, while for larger projects I keep a separate formal risk register database. So the project management software I use must be flexible enough to let me set up each project differently, while re-using some templates from previous projects to save time.
It should be easy for everyone involved in the project to participate. Discussion forums with email notifications are useful methods of keeping everyone informed and involved. Being able to contribute by simply replying to an email notification, rather than having to open the app, is handy. Profiles for all project team members with their project roles and contact details encourages communication. Ideally all data is stored in the cloud so users can access it from any device at a time that suits them.
Secure and reliable
Finally, I need to be able to rely on the software. I want to be able to allocate different user rights on an item-by-item basis. So, the project executive may be able to update the business case document, but not the baselined project plan. A supplier may be able to add test results to the quality register, but can’t change the communication management strategy. There also has to be an audit record of who did what when, and a record of previous versions. I look for server redundancy, frequent back ups and high levels of protection from hackers. And if anything goes wrong I expect excellent, prompt support.
These are the main qualities I look for in a project management app. Have I missed anything important? Join the conversation on Twitter. #PerfectPMApp