Looking for your next project management tool? Not happy with your existing tool? Making the right decision is not only about product features, but more widely, it is about product capabilities. Here are 3 points you can focus on when making this selection.
While talking to other project managers, it’s interesting to share thoughts on how the field is changing. Or, put more correctly, how the field should be changing more, but isn’t. We are all used to using the same old tools, but we all share the same feeling that something is missing. We should have newer tools at our disposal. Different tools. The right tools for the right job.
Frustration aside, at the end of the day, we just need to pick something fitting and we need certain criteria to select it.
There are so many features out there that it makes it hard to distinguish the more important tools/ software, from the ones we can do without. I would like to suggest that the list can be narrowed down to only 3 critical subjects that should be considered when choosing your project management software.
Let’s delve a bit into each of these 3 criteria for just a bit.
The first criteria is so simple yet so important. A project management software must provide a view people understand. What is the optimal view? As always… the answer is, it depends. Is your project task heavy and requires a nice-looking task table? Or is it a complicated dependency matrix that should be presented over a timeline? If you only need your team to understand, people that know the material already, the view can be more complicated, but managers and customers will need a more simplified, clean view.
Whatever the “view” is, it should be there – intuitive, inclusive and focused.
If people view and understand, they will cooperate, they will report back. If they don’t understand, you just lost your most basic building block.
When checking your next project management software try thinking about how easy it will be for other people to understand your plan.
It is quite surprising, but the first thing project teams will like to do when they understand the project “View” is to… talk about it! Share ideas! Ask questions! Collaborate!
The last thing you want to do at this point is to send them to collaborate on a different tool. Consider the most trivial collaboration message – “Well done!” following nice progress on a task. Such a message should be as easy as a click! And it should be as easy as another click to receive the message on the other side.
“Talk” is not only technical messaging system. If the message is send outside the software tool you are using, the information, the contents of what you re sending is also being sent there. The probability that your project management software will be used to continue following the discussion is reduced dramatically. You just lost attention and team engagement in your project.
When checking your next project management software, make sure collaboration can be done within the tool and in close proximity to the specific activity.
Now that people understand and engaged, the project is rolling in the right direction. It’s time to measure.
Measuring can be used to analyze the project structure or to analyze activity actions – progress and collaboration. Either way, it gives you something you can follow beyond your thoughts and assessment.
“Analyzing” is not only about getting data from the tool, it’s also about the ability to use it. You can spend a lot of time arguing that a specific team is not engaged. Team leaders might even act defensively trying to protect his or her team. But what if you have a number? A score. This number or score will tell us the probability of a successful outcome. And what if this number or score is easily comparable with other teams’ numbers and scores? It is much harder to argue with. It’s data!
When checking your next project management software, make sure it has built in project analytics capabilities which will help you track the project team progress.
Are there other things I should look for?
Of course! We didn’t talk about many things – integration with other tools, storage space, portfolio management, task management and more. These items are not less important but they are second to the fundamentals – View, Talk, and Analyze. If your next tool can’t provide any of these 3, it may very well end up failing somewhere further down the road unfortunately.
Keep that in mind when selecting your next software and… good luck with your project!
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