I often think about why we choose a particular project management software platform (or why we should choose). There were the usual reasons: the right features, pricing, fit with my organization, service, support, etc. Then I came across an article by Ted Hardy that provided some food for thought.
There are the reasons we should choose a particular project management software platform, and then there are the reasons that we sometimes do choose a particular project management software platform. Here are some the reasons I think that we sometimes do choose a platform:
Sometimes we choose a system that we are comfortable with. This explains why so many people use spreadsheets as a project management software tool. Is that the best tool for project management? In most cases no, there is no built in project management functionality and it is difficult to pull any sort of analytics across multiple projects / spreadsheets. But many people are very comfortable with it and so it gets used.
What do you have access to? Using spreadsheets again as an example, most people have access to a spreadsheet program. That makes it cheap and simple to use.
It is sometimes personally less risky to go with a "well-known" system (aka Microsoft Project) even if that is not the best system. Why? Because it is well known and so it would be hard for someone to come back and argue why that was a poor choice, even when the system may not pan out well.
It is easier for us to implement a simple solution than a more complex one. I am a big proponent of keeping things simple, but that has to be compared to the needs of the organization. Perhaps we choose a system because it is so simple that it can be understood immediately, even though our needs may require something a little more complex. For example, we may choose a simple system that makes it really easy to enter tasks, whereas the best system may also provide the capability to store documents, track time, enter dependencies, and track issues and risks.
If we have used software before (such as in a previous position), we are more inclined to use it again, even if it may not fit the current situation and organization. It is hard for us to be open-minded and evaluate from a blank slate, even though the organization and needs may be very different from our previous history. This correlates with familiarity.
Perhaps there is some sort of political influence - a director with a preference - that is the real reason for our decision.
Be honest now. What reasons have you used to choose software systems in the past?