Most business enterprises across the globe have understood the utility provided by competent project management tools. However, many of them struggle to acquire appropriate project management software and often feel overwhelmed by the exhaustive range of products offered in the market. However, if some critical questions can be answered, this process becomes much easier.
What Kind of Project Management Solutions are you Looking for?
It is important to establish your requirement in terms of the kind of project management solutions that you think will be needed — in terms of operational demands and the price factor. The basic categorization of project management offerings include:
1. Low-end or basic functionality project management solutions
These are suited for small organizations that have a limited number of employees and perform their tasks using restricted number of organizational resources. This is usually recommended for small-scale enterprises that need a budgeted management software with limited functionalities.
2. Mid-range project management solutions
These are suited to the mid-sized organizations that may not be big in the current scenario, but are on the verge of expanding and need dependable project management solutions to support expected growth. From this stage onwards, the choice of using installed or hosted software solutions is offered.
3. High-end portfolio management solutions
They are sought after by organizations having large-scale, global operations and constantly need to monitor and manage the performance of thousands of employees/team members. These are the most comprehensive and somewhat expensive solutions that are more focused on creation and implementation of strategic management objectives.
Do you Have Specific Project Management Requirements?
Every organization has a different set of objectives and management styles. Thus, the expectations regarding the kind of features project management software should include varies with every organization and sometimes across teams within the same enterprise. Project managers need to define the kind of functionalities they deem necessary that should be a part of any project management software. The most commonly-demanded functions include any single, combination, or all of the following functions that are performed by project management software:
Some business managers deem the planning aspect of a project to be the most vital. For them, a well laid-out project plan should define the various tasks/assignments that need to be completed along the project’s entire lifecycle. Essential parts of project planning are:
- Assignment of tasks based on well-defined criteria
- Establishing responsibility and time limit for each of these tasks
- Defining the level of inter-dependency between team members to complete these tasks
Once the tasks have been delegated, it is important to maintain a certain degree of monitoring over their execution across various teams. This is one of the most common demand from project managers. For them, a software should be able to:
- Ensure completion of tasks in compatibility with organization’s guidelines.
- Complete that tasks within the set deadlines and track any delays.
- Monitor individual performances across various teams and report them.
- Provide time-based management, such as tracking time spent on each activity through provision of timesheets.
For many teams, the biggest hurdle in completing assignments is the lack of a single resource that can provide all the project-related information (documents) across various teams in an easy-to-use manner. This is a basic necessity to raise team productivity, particularly for remotely-located teams. Such collaborative functionalities are provided by softwares that also serve as a warehouse of project information and provide access to the same to every team member.
Managing Team Issues
For some teams, periodic problems in the form of contradictory opinions regarding assignment of criticality to various tasks or defining deadlines are a major issue. There are project management tools that can establish a protocol to resolve such issues along with handling frequent complaints related to solving technical difficulties that are often the bane of teams working in computerized environments. Further, teams can use project-related FAQs, preferred working styles/guidelines, and working regulations that can be accessed by each team member.
Other Usual Features Demanded by Project Managers
Project Scheduling — intelligent scheduling that can create time-based strategy and calculate task relationships.
Microsoft Project Features — the most commonly-demanded one include Microsoft import/export of documents.
Multi-role Identification — the project management software should be capable of identifying and classifying various individuals related to the project including vendors, sub-contractors, clients, managers, team members, external (contracted) personnel, and partners.
Daily working tools — there are some tools that are often demanded by team members to complete the tasks faster. These include:
- Personalized navigation options in the software
- Creation and storage of multiple templates
- Option of creating customized performance reports
Customization — the Final Factor
However, there is one factor common to most project management demands, i.e. the level of customization that is offered. This becomes significant across all team sizes and organization types as business demands and working patterns are bound to change over a period of time. The process of customization should be undemanding, cost-effective, and supported by the project management vendor. The provision to upgrade or customize the software should be applicable throughout the software’s lifecycle. Compromising on the customization option could severely reduce the long-term relevancy of any project management software that you plan to purchase.