Success criteria for selecting project management software

Posted by Lauren Beaver on Apr 1, 2019 11:36:00 AM


Evaluating new software can be overwhelming and difficult. Evaluations can be time-consuming and costly too. Quite frankly the entire process might make you want to throw in the towel and stick with the status quo.

There are dozens of options to choose from with demos of features and free trials offered at every turn. So how do you figure out which Project Management software is the best for your team?

Before beginning a project management software evaluation, it’s best practice to have a solid outline of your success criteria. Your success criteria should be defined as standards to judge the varying solutions; standards which matter to your success. Your “Must Haves” if you will. This will ensure your evaluation stays focused and leads you to a product which has the features and functions you actually need. It can also ensure you don’t get distracted by eye-catching features which won’t serve you well in the long run. Keep in mind, not all Project Management solutions will fit your unique needs. While your success criteria may vary, here is a great place to start:

  1. Project Overview (Executive Summary) - Inevitably your leadership and executive level stakeholders will want insight into your projects at a high level, often times requesting a birds-eye view of all projects across an organization. Look for a tool offering an executive summary at a high level, not just the project level.

  2. Templates - Let’s be honest. No one wants to reinvent the wheel. Look for a solution which offers established templates to get you up and running or the option to create your own templates to enable you to duplicate project flows you’ll use time and time again.

  3. Gantt Chart - Gantt Charting is likely an obvious feature to highlight, but it’s become an essential tool for modern project managers. Creating a visual representation to monitor tasks, bottlenecks and resources will ensure you stay on track and resolve issues quickly.

  4. Capacity Planning & Matching Functionality - Capacity Planning and Matching Functionality is probably not a function you’d think to add, but once you have it, you’ll never want to work without it. Think how easy it would be to determine if someone was on PTO right in your system, without having to exit the solution to view a calendar located somewhere else? Or, if you could see with the click of a button what other resources were available on that date and time to fulfill a task? Quickly pivot and adjust your project without the cumbersome task of moving from project to calendar to project.

  5. Visibility Permission Controls - Robust permissioning and controls are essential to effectively manage your project and govern users. Many projects today include sensitive information or tasks not relevant to specific users. Being able to control what eyes see what content is required in most industries today.

  6. Snapshots (versioning) - Have you had one of your collaborators or project managers work in a project and when you’ve returned it looks nothing like how you’ve left it? Discovering a scrambled project can be frustrating and gobble up valuable time. Identify a versioning or snapshot tool which autosaves versions so you can easily revert to the desired state of your project. Or, are there two potential paths you could take in your project and you’re unsure of which route is the most efficient or cost effective? Develop each path, compare and then revert to the snapshot of the preferred flow.

  7. Reporting - Reporting is important for a plethora of reasons; it provides insights into project and task status and completion and actions taken by users. Reports offer you an outlet to document valuable data for future projects to estimate cost, time and resource; making data-driven decisions. Reporting can also inform you of collaborators who are under- or over-performing. Quick reporting also keeps you prepared for an impending audit with a snap.

  8. Individual “To Do” List for each user - Communication (or lack thereof) is one of the most common pitfalls within a project. Establishing a space where each user can see and track tasks along with expectations will ensure no critical information is misunderstood or lost along the way.

  9. Onboarding, Training and Support - Selecting software is one thing, but implementation and adoption is another. One way to guarantee your investment is by selecting a solution with dedicated onboarding and training solutions. Investing in software won’t necessarily fix the problem; the on-boarding, training and support along the way will transform your software from “shelf-ware” to a mission-critical tool.

Does your Project Management Software include all of these? If not, let’s connect.

Topics: Project Management