How to find the best project management software in 4 steps – Step 3: Software testing

How to find the best project management software in 4 steps – Step 3: Software testing 05.07.2019 - You want to manage your projects more easily, transparently and successfully?
You are looking for a project management tool that is a support in complex projects as well as in your daily processes?
But which tool is the right for you? There are more than 700 suppliers of project management software – obviously, that is not an easy decision.
Choosing the right project management software is connected with great effort and financial risks.
And yet it is not impossible to find the tool that fits your company and your employees. All you have to do is get this project right.
We provide you with a guide for the selection and introduction of PM tools. You can work your way up step by step by finding and implementing your individual software solution.
To do so, here are 4 steps which will guide you:
  1. Analysis
  2. Requirements 
  3. Software testing
  4. Implementation 

The overview article can be found here.
Step 1: The Analysis
The first step is a comprehensive analysis. Before you even think about criteria and requirements and long before you start testing software, you have to ask yourself:
  • What does project management currently look like?
  • Where do you see development opportunities?
  • Where do you basically need support?
  • Where is the introduction of a supporting software suitable at all? 

This way you lay the necessary basis for everything else - starting with the search, continuing with the selection and the tests and finally the implementation.
How to carry out an analysis and what you should bear in mind can be found here.
Step 2: The Requirements
Requirements and criteria are in the minds already at the beginning. A lot of imagination is used to consider which functions a project management tool would need in order to revolutionise the work. 
After the analysis, such requirements become more concrete, but no fewer.
This is not the way to reach your goal. Prioritise and arrange your criteria. You can find out how this works here.
Step 3: The Software Testing
Nobody wants to buy a pig in a poke. For this reason, almost all project management tools can usually be tested for free.
You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity. Because the tool must fit you personally and be suitable for your processes, ideas and employees.
Research - From the longlist to the shortlist
Once you have defined requirements, you can't avoid a comprehensive research. The question is: Which PM tools are out there?

Round 1: Superficial "Yes" or "No".

In the first step you look at the programs rather superficially. At a glance, you have to decide which providers are to be "kicked out" and which are to be shortlisted.
A small hint: If you sort out a tool directly on the basis of a certain feature, you should stick with it. You have to choose from a variety. If you look at individual programs again and again, your longlist will never get shorter. You spin in circles if you don't stick to your decisions.

Round 2: Structured sorting out
In the second step you will have a closer look at the programs based on your list of requirements. Have you already found a tool that meets your prioritised requirements? Think in terms of compromises. The "perfect" tool does not exist.
Round 3 to 500: Carefully sorting out
Align requirements, find compromises, set priorities and comply with them. Repeat the whole procedure until there are no more than three programs left in your list.
This turns your longlist into a shortlist with which you can start the test phase.

The Test Phase
The test phase is one of the most important phases. Theoretically, you can think a lot about it and yet it can fail because of the practical use.
A project management tool that does not work for you and your employees is useless - even if it perfectly fits your processes.
Test Management
Test management = Coordination of all activities in the test process
A structured test management is often not a standard. It all comes down to the one word - structured.
Everyone tests randomly and nobody knows why. It is difficult for you to draw conclusions from a test phase of this kind and there is a great risk that your selected project management programs will be put through their paces.
Test Team
You want a tool for the practice. The most important critics in this case are those who are to work with it later. So, form your test team according to the future employees and depending on where the program is to be used.
Should it be an organisational tool that helps managers to keep track? So, there should also be enough managers involved in the test phase.
Should the software be used by all employees for improved communication or for simpler time recording? Then employees from all departments and hierarchies should also be involved in the test.
But the important thing is: the right people, not all of them. The entire company cannot be involved in the test. The team represents all employees who will later work with the tool.
Test Planning
Just like a project itself, the test must also be planned. This should not last forever, cost too many resources and hinder everyday processes. It should lead to a result.
In this case the answer could be "yes" or "no". 
  • "The tool is suitable for us and can be used in practice without any problems".
  • "No, we can't deal with that at all. That's out" 

Keep an eye on your goal: You are looking for a project management tool that supports you in certain things. That's why it makes sense to plan the test phase in advance.
  • Which focus areas should be tested?
  • Who's testing what?
  • How long does the test phase take?
  • What resources are provided? (How many testers are there? Are there enough devices - PCs, Smartphones, etc. - for everyone?)
  • What "test results" are an exclusion criteria? 
The Decision
If everything runs optimally, after the test phase you have selected one of three programs, that
  • suits you and your company,
  • brings along the necessary functions and framework conditions
  • your employees can deal with. 

Then you can be happy, because you have almost reached your major goal and "only" need to introduce the (for you) perfect tool in your company.
If not, you will unfortunately have to return to the research phase and try again.
In the next and last part of our series "How to find the best project management software in 4 steps" you will enter the important phase of implementation. How do you best implement your new tool in your company, so that you can work quickly with it and become successful?

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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