No matter what industry your business operates in, managing individual projects effectively is going to be important. It doesn’t matter how small your business is or how simple the projects are, implementing a reliable system for planning and executing your projects will pay off in spades as your business grows and your projects become more complex.
Project management software can help you to manage all aspects of your project, from setting your overall goals and the individual steps to get there, to allocating work and scheduling tasks. Having the right software in place can make a huge difference to your operating efficiency, so this is a decision that you want to get right.
Keep the following six tips in mind as you make your choice and you will end up with the best project management software for your business.
Assess Your Needs and Define Your Goals
This is the first and most important step in ensuring that you are getting the most out of your project management software. In business, it is always better to have clear and well-defined goals. This will help you to figure out exactly what you are aiming for and will also give you a way of measuring the success or failure of your current approach.
An important part of defining your goals is going to be assessing your needs. In the context of project management software, your needs are defined by the types of projects that you are going to need to manage. This will be influenced by the size of your business as well as the nature of the work that you do. In some cases, there will be more specialized options, project management software that is tailor-made for your industry, but most will be looking at a more general option.
Once you have established the parameters within which you are working, you then need to define precisely what it is that you want to get out of your project management software. Are you looking for a software solution that is going to handle every aspect of your project management? Or are you looking to integrate a more lightweight solution to plug gaps in your existing infrastructure?
Going forward with your search, you need to know exactly what you want to get out of your project management software as this will influence your thought processes and decision making. We will talk more about staff input later but make sure that you consult with all the relevant members of your team when you are deciding what you need from your project management software.
Research and Read Reviews Before You Commit
Project management software can be a pretty big investment. Like all types of business software, there are free open-source options that cost nothing and there are enterprise options that cost thousands of dollars, sometimes on a monthly basis. Most businesses will be looking at something in between these two options, but it is worth being aware of the full range of possibilities that are out there.
With your needs and goals clearly defined, you can start searching for suitable options for your business and put together an initial shortlist of potential choices. In assessing how suitable the options on your shortlist are for your business, online reviews are a useful source of information. This list of the 10 best project management software packages available today is a great place to start your search if you aren’t sure where to begin.
When searching for reviews, you will often find that adding some extra keywords to your search query helps you to identify more relevant results for your business or niche. For example, if you are managing projects within the construction industry, then add the term ‘construction’ to your search. Similarly, if you are looking to manage software engineering projects, then you will find no shortage of specialist options open to you.
Scale Your Resources to Suit Your Projects
If you are looking for a solution that is going to be able to see you through the earliest stages of your business and will still continue to be useful to you as you grow, then it is usually better to consider a SaaS solution. Cloud-based software is often provided on a subscription basis and a lot of it is highly scalable. This means that you can begin with a basic subscription package that grants you access to the features that you need to manage projects as a small business. You can then upgrade your subscription further down the line to gain access to more advanced features.
Not all software is scalable and if you are purchasing a piece of software that is not scalable in this sense, then you will need to consider what its shelf life is. There are some very versatile options that are able to cater to both small and large businesses. However, this inevitably means that smaller businesses will be paying for the features that are included for the benefit of bigger, enterprise customers.
If you choose, you can opt for a more basic option with a view to upgrading it later as your needs change. Of course, you will have to consider whether the combined costs and disruption of continuity are prices worth paying. However, in general, it is better to maintain continuity with your systems. The advantage of choosing a scalable option is that even if it handles very differently when you expand its capabilities, it will still be the same software underneath; you don’t have to worry about retraining staff or whether it is compatible with your current systems.
Seek Integration with Existing Systems
If you already have key business management software solutions in place, then you should look for something that you are confident will integrate into your existing setup as seamlessly as possible. Some SaaS providers will work with you and customize code if necessary to ensure that their product can be properly integrated with your existing systems.
If you have any talented coders on your team, they might be able to overcome some compatibility issues or conflicts with other software. However, this depends on how much access they have to the underbelly of the software. Some software is deliberately left open so that programmers can add their own scripts and modules, but other software is locked down pretty tight.
If integration with existing systems is important to you, it is worth asking the project management software provider what kind of support or reassurances they can provide you with.
Get Your Staff On Board With Your Choice
Managing projects efficiently is an ongoing concern for everybody in your business, it is, therefore, important that you get your whole team on board with the project management software you have chosen. You will hopefully have been seeking their input when it is pertinent, but it is never too late to bring them into the decision-making process.
Involving your staff in the choice won’t just ensure that you choose something that meets all of their requirements, but it will also give you the opportunity to glean any other useful advice or information they might have. For example, maybe someone in your business has experience in using business management software from a previous job and can provide you with some insights as to their experience with the software.
Before you make a final decision, work out the logistics of training up your staff on the new software. There are a number of approaches that you can take, just try to avoid a situation where you suddenly thrust a new system onto your workers without the opportunity for a soft landing. If possible, you should roll out your new software slowly. If you are replacing an existing system, consider having both on your network and then helping your workers to move over to the new system in shifts.
The right project management software will make a huge difference to the efficiency with which your business is able to carry out its projects. However, the benefits of project management software go beyond this – the right software will encourage more input from all your workers and will make it easy for everyone to share ideas and feedback while also staying on top of the requirements of each project. This is a decision that is worth taking the time to get right.