Before I began at Aloft Group, I was a Marketing Event Manager, consecutively managing 22 trade shows and events for a healthcare technology company. At one of our largest events of the year, HIMSS, I stepped away from the convention center for maybe an hour and came back to find the booth set up backwards. Luckily, the electrical was laid properly, so it was only a matter of spinning it around to fix it, but for a second there my heart did skip a beat.
You can perfectly depict the tasks, deliverables, milestones, and schedules for each project, but in the end, things happen: your booth is set up backwards, clients don't send the information you need, a key employee walks out the door, or a technical issue arises that requires you to rethink the approach. And, as project managers (PMs), we do our very best to ensure projects stay on task, time and budget but by utilizing spreadsheets and responding to emails, things can easily become unorganized, quickly.
That's why so many companies invest in project management tools. Having an easy-to-use tool to track each and every aspect of a project can be a total game changer for your teams. And by ensuring the interface is user friendly, you boost your chances of adoption.
Are you ready to begin researching a PM tool for your organization?
5 Questions to ask before investing in a project management tool:
1. What is the goal of using a project management tool?
Is your goal to streamline communication of multiple teams? Finish your projects on time and/or on budget? Reduce the use of email and spreadsheets? Enable your team leads have a high level overview of each task within a project? You may answer yes to all of these questions, but be sure you’ve identified your goals before investing.
2. Who will utilize this tool and how much experience does our team have?
Your PM tool may be utilized solely by your PMs, or you may integrate your finance, product and R&D teams, or even the entire company. Determine which teams could benefit and how much experience they each have with project management tools.
3. What features are most important?
Do team members need an overall dashboard view of their tasks or do they prefer lists for each project? Will team members need to enter their time for each project within the tool? Does the tool need the ability to create Gantt charts? Does the tool need to have a version generator or the ability to edit PDFs or other images? Be sure to walk through each team’s priority features to ensure their needs are met.
4. Do you require integration with your finance teams and clients?
For many organizations, having integration with finance and client teams can mean cost savings as well as the reduced the risk of miscommunications throughout teams. It can ensure a project is billed and paid on time and It can also help to reduce the risk of misplacing important documents, comments and threads through email or the exchange of files.
5. Do we need support and training?
Some PM tools may offer free unlimited support and training. Determining how much experience your team has will help to understand how much training and support is needed. Review what’s offered in the tool’s monthly (or yearly) fee as these costs can quickly add up for team members who may need that time.
Now that you’re on the road to procuring a project management tool, check out my blog post with 5 Tips for Effectively Managing Creatives and Projects.