Project management is a practice that has proven to be highly beneficial to the companies that apply them well. But not all companies are successful in implementing the right project management systems. One of the key challenges most institutions fail is figuring out how to choose a project management tool in the first place.
Studies show that only 35% of stakeholders are somewhat or very satisfied with their project management maturity. That doesn’t mean that project management as a practice is failing. No doubt, it works for a large number of companies. It shows that there is still much room for improvement in implementing and running project management systems. And that all starts with choosing the right project management software for the job.
What is Project Management and Why Do You Need It?
The simplest way to define project management is to think of it as a system that ensures that any project within a business or organization succeeds. It’s the process of planning, monitoring, and launching projects of all shapes and sizes, such as marketing campaigns, product launches, systems upgrades, logistics, operations activities, HR training, and so on. Project management’s goal is to ensure plans move forward.
To date, only 46% of companies value systematic project management. There needs to be a greater value for project management.
Why is this part of a company’s operation so important?
Here are a few reasons why:
Project management and time management tools put more structure and organization to a company’s operation. By using these tools, leaders and stakeholders can properly assign tasks to teams, place monitoring structures, keep track of deadlines, and heavily monitor any roadblocks that cause project delays. By using a project management system, leaders and their teams have a more systematic way of working on whatever projects the company sets out to do.
With a project management system, there can also be better collaboration within a team. Everyone on an ad hoc team or company’s operations should access a project management system. When they do, they can see all the moving parts in a project and see if they can lend assistance or ask for help from other members of the team. Project management systems have been known to build cohesion amongst larger teams and smaller teams alike.
With better systems, companies and organizations can achieve more of their goals and grow faster, whatever that growth may be defined as. Proper project management can bring all kinds of positive results to an organization. For instance, we can keep costs low and increase net revenue when we properly manage projects. Some revenue-generating projects such as marketing campaigns and product development ones can also help drive more sales in the organization. Even nonprofits can use project management systems to create fundraising activities to increase their donation flow.
How To Choose A Project Management Tool (7 Easy Steps)
So now that we know why project management software and systems are important, let’s talk about how to pick the right project management software. There are seven steps that leaders and their teams should complete when selecting the right system for their context. Let’s discuss each one.
Step 1: Identify your goals
Like anything, project management should begin with the goal in mind. Why do you need project management software, to begin with? While there are some general goals that everyone shares, such as growing revenue and decreasing expenses, there can be some contextual goals too. For example, you might want to put in a project management system to help increase team morale as some team members might be discouraged by the lack of structure.
Being clear about the goals is crucial when the project management system implementation process hits roadblocks, which it probably will. When you’re stuck, the people involved in the system creation process should go back to the goals so they don’t lose sight of why this project matters and what everyone should set out to achieve.
Step 2: Note down the challenges and roadblocks
There will be challenges to your project management software selection process, that’s for sure. And those challenges will also be unique to your context. Challenges in project management software for small teams are different when compared to that of bigger teams. The challenges of e-commerce companies will be different from logistics companies. Everyone has their own unique setup. So sit down and determine what those challenges are. Doing so will make you more prepared for them when they do arise.
Step 3: Build your project management team
The next step is to create a team who will lead the project management software and system implementation. You will need to determine the core members in your team who will spearhead this implementation and development. The project management team should involve people who will take care of the following priorities:
Software selection and configuration
choosing project management software that’s aligned with the current market trends is important because outdated software would cause a hiccup in your team’s productivity rhythm or rate of output in a day’s work. Your team must learn to choose the project management software that bests suits your company’s needs and preferences. It is also important to have someone who knows how to navigate, configure or align project software so that do not have to worry if your systems are updated or outdated. A frequency configuration greatly helps in the improvements or updates in your software so that it could perform at its best.
Workflow is made up of necessary processes or steps that help a company or organization produce results in the most productive way. An effective workflow is simple, strategic and seamless when implemented. Creating a workflow may be challenging at first because a part of it is trial and error but with the right people in the team, eventually, you would have the best workflow suitable for your company. In creating workflows, one must always remember that greater productivity is achieved when people are valued over the process. At the same time, keep in mind that workflows do not have to be tedious and too specific. Your workflow must be according to the size of your company.
Training your staff and personnel is crucial to your company’s success not just because they are a part of your manpower but also because they represent your company whether internal or external. Your personnel could be an asset or a liability and the way you train them would determine whether they are adding value to the team or slowing down the team. Another reason why personnel training is important is that it boosts your personnel’s confidence and sense of ownership. When your personnel or staff feels that they are part of the company and that their contribution is felt, they would feel more positive about their work.
Administration and database
- Administration refers to the proper control or management of a department or the whole company. The administration is simply making sure that the company is running its operations well. The database is related to administration because it would be very challenging to administer or manage without the correct data. Because of its important role, someone must exclusively look after it. Your company’s database is one of the major sources of information necessary to make the right and useful information.
It’s always a good idea to hire a project manager to take charge of the project as a whole. A project manager’s salary hovers around $92,000 a year. If your organization is not in the position to hire a full-time project manager yet, consider promoting one of your supervisors from within and making project management their main responsibility.
Step 4: Note what features you will need in a project management software
When you compare best project management tools, you need to determine what features your project management software should have. Here are the most common features to watch out for when choosing project management software:
Project timeline management
The project timeline management feature allows teams to oversee the development of a certain project, department or campaign. This important feature would help come up with the best plan for your projects and it would also allow you to identify potential setbacks, hurdles and challenges in accomplishing the project. A project timeline management feature should help you set deadlines, control your project’s pacing and development and have a consistent follow-through and follow-up with the team members.
A well-oiled team is made up of team members who do not just have a high-level performance but also a clear-cut description of their roles, functions and other deliverables. Teams with low productivity, ownership and accountability usually have an ambiguous description and expectations of their daily, weekly, monthly and yearly output. Role management features allow teams to remember who’s who in certain projects. Having an effective role management feature would allow teams to be healthier, more productive and less stressful.
The most successful teams do not only have key individuals who are top performers who stand out from the group, they also have individuals who are very much willing to work together to accomplish tasks and achieve big goals for the team and the company. This is why individual greatness should not hinder group success. Instead, individual performances should contribute to the success of the team. This is the reason why collaboration is very important to any business that desires to be successful.
The best project management software have easy-to-use collaboration tools that would encourage greater synergy among the team members. The best collaboration features allow you to work together and be able to share ideas and insights in an effective way.
Time tracking solutions
Time is one of the most important resources people have. Even though some industries are output-based, this does not mean that time does not affect their work. While time cannot be created or turned back, you can track it effectively through the features of project management software. So, choosing project management software with this feature can help you become more productive with your time.
It may be a simple feature but over time, it would make significant contributions to the health of the company and also most especially to your personnel’s individual health. A feature that offers time tracking solutions would allow you to better manage your time and make sure that it is not wasted. This simple feature would bring significant results when used properly.
Another one of the most important resources of a company or a business is its finances. Using budgeting software has a lot of benefits. It not only organizes or keeps up-to-date records of your finances, but it also allows you to make the best financial decisions for your company because, through it, you can clearly see the cash flow, expenses, and other financial concerns in your company.
Having a feature like this can spare you from overspending and overbudgeting. Using budgeting software also allows you to effectively allocate your financial resources to efforts that would bring positive growth to the company.
Analytics and reporting
Analytics refers to the processing of available data in order to make the best decisions. A project management software feature that helps you analyze data and allows you to present it effectively to your team can propel your team or your company forward. This is simply because you can make sound and informed decisions based on the right analysis of your data. From assessing your manpower resources to financial resources, this feature is proven to be very helpful because it allows you to see the real condition of your business or company while at the same time, giving you opportunities to grow and leverage on other resources.
Automation refers to the preprogrammed step that a system does when a certain condition is met. This feature has countless applications and has a massive positive effect on running a company, a business, or even small teams. An automation feature allows you to manage important and repetitive tasks in a more productive way. This allows your staff or personnel to focus on other tasks that cannot be delegated or automated.
Automation features can greatly help the finance department send payroll on time; accounting teams keep records; run important meetings; fix budgeting concerns and many other things. This project management software feature helps staff members perform their daily tasks well whether it is administrative or client relations.
These are just the most common features that help to choose the right project management software. The project management space just keeps growing and improving every moment. There will be countless features that would be very helpful to your business or company, it is just a matter of choosing project management software that best fits your needs and preferences as a company.
Each project management system has its own set of strong points. Determine which areas your team should prioritize and select the tool that excels in those the most.
Step 5: Determine key performance metrics for success
After you’ve selected your project management tools, determine what KPIs your team should hit when they implement these systems. Doing so will allow you to evaluate better whether the system and software selected is the best solution for your team. If your system doesn’t hit those KPIs, consider redesigning your system. Don’t worry. It’s normal for teams not to get it right the first time. Stay malleable during the setup process so you can find the best solution for your organization.
Step 6: Run test simulations in smaller teams
Before zeroing in on the system and software for your organization, try running small tests on different systems first with smaller teams. Create a small ad hoc team of the most adaptive people in the organization and see how they use the system. For small businesses, the owners and managers can be a part of that process. Ensure that you get adequate feedback on all the systems before landing on a decision.
Step 7: Choosing project management software
The last step is to decide which system will work best for your context. Take your goals, constraints, priorities, and team feedback and take all those into account when choosing which project management tool is the winner. It’s going to be difficult for your team to adapt to a new tool. So try to choose a project management tool that you can run for a minimum of a few years. Don’t switch between tools too often as it could only cause more chaos and problems in your company.
Summing Up: How To Choose A Project Management Tool
Figuring out how to answer the ‘how to choose a project management tool’ is not a major achievement. The major achievement is to implement that tool in your organization. If you choose the right project management tool and follow certain systems, it could bring so much growth to your staff and business.