How to find the best project management software in 4 steps – Step 2: Requirements

How to find the best project management software in 4 steps – Step 2: Requirements 03.06.2019 - You are looking for a project management tool, which facilitates your daily work? Yet, you have probably recognized, that this undertaking is not that easy.
There is a huge number of suppliers – and this fact complicates the process of choosing the right provider as well as increase the financial risk of the aforementioned.
How to find a software which is suitable for me, my company and my working methods?
Unfortunately, there is no “complete solution”. But with this series of articles we offer you a guideline on the selection and implementation of PM tools, that you’ll have the necessary instruments to find your individual solution.
Our first overview article can be found here.

Step 1: Analysis

Before it’s time to formulate requirements and criteria for your project management tool, you need a comprehensive analysis. This is mandatory in order to build a basis for the selection of the right tool.
  • How is project management done at the moment?
  • Are there development potentials?
  • Where should the tool be used?
  • Where do you need support in general? 

Only if you know your starting position, you can identify your needs. How to do an analysis and what you need to keep in mind can you read here.
The requirements
The wrong route: Specification sheet
After a comprehensive analysis with many results, some companies tend to create an equally comprehensive catalogue of requirements. In this catalogue all desired features are listed. In the “worst case” companies send their 20-page specification sheet to any providers of software.

But that is the wrong way to proceed

First of all
it’s unlikely that software providers even take a look at, or, let alone work through the specification sheet to compare it to their provided tool. Furthermore, in this way, you won’t find “your” perfect tool as there is no program which meets all your requirements – unless it’s developed for you.
Every company has an own way of operating thus, various software can be used in different fields of application. Prepare for compromises!
Requirements are not equal to features
It’s essential that you not only focus on features. Of course, some functions are important and indispensable, but don’t lose track of the other important selection criteria.
Your list of requirements should consist of two different areas in terms of content:
Part 1: General conditions & provider services
Part 2: Functional coverage – i.e. functions

Part 1: General conditions & provider services
Often unknown: A project management tool doesn’t only consist of the functions it offers. The whole is a provider from whom you receive a service within certain framework conditions.
Therefore, you shouldn't be only aware of your own framework conditions prior to implementation:
  • Cost frames/ budget,
  • Operating system,
  • Interfaces. 

The conditions and characteristics of the supplier are just as important:
  • Installation or cloudbased,
  • Cost per person/month/license,
  • Customer service,
  • Data protection. 
Part 2: Functional coverage
Specific functions build the core of your software solution and ensure some of your procedures being relieved.
Where should the tool be used? What is requested in this area? You should have answered this question already in the analysis. Basically, in answering this question, you can determine the main task of your programme.
Because of the complexity in project management there are many areas, a tool can be used or is needed. Since we can’t show all possible features, here is a selection of some:
  • Recording of efforts: Internal documentation of activities, direct entering by employees, assignment of projects, time slots, etc.
  • Controlling: Detailed cost schedule, comparison of plan/target/actual goals
  • Information management: Project information (comments, specifications), document management
  • Multi-project management: Cross-project views, portfolio structure, central database
  • Scheduling and workflow planning: Activities, defining start and end, probability calculation, costing
  • Presentation: Simple graphics, adaptable layout, complex diagrams
  • Project structuring: Create and manage lists of work packages or tasks, work breakdown structures
  • Reporting: Reports, current project status, filter and structuring options 

Now it’s up to you. Which features are mandatory in order to use the software according to your needs?
Basis for software testing
Do you prefer a cloud-based solution? Are there any financial restrictions? Or is service recording your personal must-have? You have to decide on your own, where your priorities are. But keep in mind: all at once cannot be implemented!
Therefore, one of the most important hint is to prioritize your list! What do you really need? What can be renounced? Do you attach importance either on data protection standards or on cheap prices?
Over time your lists will get more and more “realistic” and based on this article, you can choose programs that you can put to the test.
Now let’s go on with the testing. What you need to pay attention for and who should be involved in this process, will be shown in the next article of this series.
About the author: Denise Rüffer has a passion for communication, software and tools. After studying media communication & journalism and gaining initial experience at Westfalenblatt and RTL Hessen, she is currently an editor at Schuchert Managementberatung. She focuses on project management and collaboration. She regularly shares tips and tools for successful collaboration on the factro blog.     

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