Sourcing the right project management software is never easy. You’ve not only got to find a tool that meets your needs, but you’ve also got to achieve the right balance of cost, flexibility and user friendliness as well.
So when you’ve finally chosen a project management solution, you want to be sure that it’ll outlast the first project you use it for – and it continues to be indispensable for many years to come.
It’s easier said than done, but if you ask the right questions before you commit to new software you’ll strongly increase your chances choosing the right package. These are our 6 top topics to consider before you sign on the dotted line.
1) Are you buying from an established seller?
When you source software for business critical applications, it’s usually wise to buy from a company that has an established reputation. If you buy software from a start-up, it may meet your needs but there’s a much higher risk that the firm will go out of business – particularly as the economic climate makes it hard for them to attract investment. By choosing an established company, you not only stand a better chance of forming a long-term relationship and sourcing lasting software, but its staff will be able to draw on years of expertise when you need support.
2) Is the software cloud based?
If you want to choose future-proofed software, opting for the cloud is a wise plan. You avoid having to install software on your servers and on users’ computers and you should benefit from automatic updates at no extra cost. Cloud software also tends to be much more compatible with mobile devices – essential for project collaboration when users are on the move. And by turning your back on hosted software, you can more easily collaborate and manage projects with cloud users in different locations or organisations.
3) How easy is it to add or remove new users?
Different projects require different numbers of users, and once you begin using your software you may want to use it for many different projects at the same time. To make this as painless as possible, always choose a package that allows you to easily add or remove users – and ideally one that charges you on a pay-as-you-go basis so you only pay for the users you need in any given month.
4) Is the software easy to use?
This is an obvious factor, but one that sometimes gets forgotten. The simpler your software is to use, the more your users will put it to work – and the easier it is for new employees to learn how to use it. Look for a package that is intuitive to use, has a familiar interface and requires little or no training to get started – or you’ll quickly find colleagues demanding to switch to a more user-friendly solution.
5) Can the software be used in different contexts?
This is really a question about flexibility. Your software will last you for many more projects if you can adapt the tools and functionality available to users depending on context. For example, instead of sourcing dedicated project management software, online collaboration software could be deployed to manage projects, set up project extranets, create online board rooms, manage stakeholders and benefit from secure file sharing for business – simply by modifying the tools available to users. By choosing a more flexible solution of this kind, you also integrate project management with other collaborative areas of your organisation’s work.
6) Does the software integrate with common desktop and mobile software?
If software is compatible with common desktop and mobile software, including word processing and spreadsheet packages, it allows users to work on documents in a familiar way – and then upload them to the project management workspace. This increases the likelihood of user adoption and will ensure that your online project management software can be used by the widest range of people – increasing the likelihood you will be able to use it for many future projects.
As you can see, these six questions allows to you assess whether your project management software will continue to be used after your initial project. But whichever package you finally choose, ensure you put it through its paces first – it has to last, but it also has to fit your needs.