5 Questions to Answer Before Implementing Project Management Software
Project management software, like any software, needs to be implemented well in order to obtain the expected benefits. Here are five questions to answer before you start implementing project management software (or to answer before trying to reinvigorate your existing implementation).
Why are you using this software? You need to have the objective and end goal in mind. Is it to solve a specific problem? One of our clients implemented our software to help solve the problem of delivering projects to their customers late. Is it to better manage resources? Another one of our clients needed a better picture of resource availability and usage. Both of these companies had an objective in mind which gave a clearer focus while they implemented the software in their organizations.
How will you use the software? Software systems can do a lot of things, but you shouldn't use those features just because the software does them. Identify the features you are going to use that meet your objective(s). This is where a focus on process is important. I would even advise you to document the process that you want people to follow as they are using those features. For example, how should people create new projects (i.e. they should fill out a form, use the x template, and assign resource roles)?. Or which reports will be used to measure progress? Determine how you will use the features. This will also give you clarity in training so that you do not get into the trap of training strictly on features just because they are there.
When will you implement which pieces of the software? You may decide to phase in features and processes. If you are an organization that is not used to using a tool like this (perhaps it has been haphazard to date), you may want to start off simple. Perhaps your first goal is to simply get all of your projects loaded into the system and get people used to that. Then you can tackle something else. Also, when will you begin? Does it interfere with any other key organizational events? You do not want to implement software when most of your folks are busy with year end duties, for example.
Who will use the system and more importantly who will manage the implementation? Do you need a full-time person to manage your implementation? Unless you are implementing this across a Fortune 500 company, no. Do you need to assign responsibility to someone to make this happen? Yes. Otherwise, it won't get done. The easiest course of action is for people to do what they have always done. You need someone to make the implementation happen and manage it appropriately.
This is the favorite question that my kids ask. I haven't figured out yet if it means that a) I am not speaking loud enough, b) they cannot hear well, or c) they are bluffing and wish they hadn't heard the question. I have ruled out b with a simple test. If I ask an important question, 62.3% of the time I will get "what?" as a response. But if I whisper something about ice cream from across the room, 87.4% of the time they will demonstrate that they have heard me.
What does this have to do with project management software? Absolutely nothing. But how can you ask why, how, when, and who, without asking what? And I couldn't think of a meaningful use of the question what, except for what features will we use, but I've already covered that so I better move on.
Be sure you ask these questions before you implement project management software. You will find your implementation much more focused with a quicker ROI.