3 tips for selecting the best project management software for your business

It can be challenging and time-consuming trying to decide which project management solution will fit your company's needs. Here are three ways to narrow the search.

According to software rating and review site Capterra, there are over 600 project management solutions. However, not all PM software will work in every industry, company, or project size and type. Here are three steps to help your company select the right software to suit your project needs.

    1. Evaluate your internal environment.

    Gather all the details about your business and how it operates. Factor in company size, hierarchy, how departments and units are structured, and how they interact. Also, analyze products or services, culture, and the available internal and outsourced talent. Some other factors to consider include internal policies, technology, internal views, project methodologies, long-term goals, and finances. These have the potential to create alignment issues with the way your business operates or manage projects.

    Before choosing PM software, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your business. This in-depth analysis may slow the selection process down, and take time and effort, but it is an essential exercise that will help all stakeholders avoid disappointment, wasted time, and potentially unnecessary costs. Having a big-picture view can reduce the risk of selecting a solution that does not align well with the long-term strategy or the unique inner workings of your business.

    SEE: Managing vendor relationships: Time commitment, benefits, and pain points (Tech Pro Research)

      2. Identify projects and confirm PM software will sufficiently support all aspects.

      Work with business leaders to identify and document high-level details about upcoming projects, both short and long-term. Record as much detail as possible; this information will be required when sending requests for information (RFIs), requests for proposals(RFPs), or requests for quotes (RFQs) to software vendors.

      To ensure the a particular solution can meet your short and long-term goals, pay close attention to the details provided to make sure project requirements are properly and fully addressed in vendor documents.

      Look for features that work for your specific project needs. Just because a vendor offers more features than other vendors does not make it the best choice for your company's projects. Make sure the solution can accommodate your key processes and methodologies and that it is scalable and customizable. Also take the time to make sure the vendor can complete onboarding within your company's budget and schedule.

      SEE: How to build a successful project manager career (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

        3. Do a trial run.

        Whenever possible, take the opportunity to do a trial run of the fully-working version of the software your company intends to implement. Again, involve key participants in this step to sufficiently test all the required features to make sure each meets your project needs. This may require people from many different areas of the company: make sure frontline users are okay with the system, as well as IT specialists. This is the final gateway before onboarding and reduces the costly buyer's remorse that companies encounter all too often.

        Evaluating your internal business environment, identifying potential short and long-term projects, confirming sufficient support, and doing a trial run of software can help your company select the right solution to suit your project needs.

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        Image: iStock/vladwel

        About Moira Alexander

        Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contr...

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