Project Management Software Evaluation Checklist

While project management software is indispensable to the success of modern business initiatives, no one system works best for every team or every project. Just as project managers must tailor their approach to best fit a given situation, so, too, must they take care to select software packages that enable efficient project operations for their teams.  There are so many project management software options available that it can be overwhelming, but this checklist will help you narrow your focus to make sure you select the right product for your team.

 Your Team Characteristics

  • How big will your team be?
  • Will your staff be co-located or work from a variety of locations?
  • Evaluate the overall technical aptitude of your team.
  • What types of tools would help staff work efficiently?
  • Evaluate with an eye toward what is lacking.

Your Customer Characteristics

  • Are customers located within or external to your company?
  • Evaluate the overall technical aptitude of your customers.
  • Decide how closely customers need to follow your progress.
  • Determine what types of project reports will help customers the most.
  • How often and in what fashion you will meet with customers?
  • Decide which modes work best.

Your Project Characteristics

  • Categorize your upcoming work as software development, process redesign, etc.
  • Determine how much money your company will invest in the overall project.
  • Determine how long your project will run.
  • Will the types of projects you engage change dramatically in the next year or two?

Potential Software Characteristics

  • Will you need additional hardware or expertise to implement the software package?
  •  Is the software hosted by the vendor, or will your company need to manage it?
  • Is the software easy to use, both for technical and non-technical users?
  • Does the software package allow customers to follow project progress?
  • Does the software support a geographically dispersed workforce?
  • Can the software facilitate electronic communication with customers?
  •  Is the software system mobile friendly?
  • Can you add new users to projects without incurring additional costs?
  • Does the software agreement include regular upgrades?

Vendor Characteristics

  •  Has the vendor been in business for more than a couple of years?
  • Does the vendor serve other companies similar to yours?
  • Does the software company have any outstanding complaints with the Better Business Bureu?
  • Do the proposed contractual agreements protect you in the case of potential data loss?

Project Management Software Evaluation Tips

Choosing a project management software system for your team is an important step in becoming as efficient as possible.  Keep these tips in mind as you work through the checklist above to make sure that you're honing in on the right solution for you.

  • It's important that you strike a balance between choosing software that fits your situation today and can adapt to your changing needs in the future.  Don't become locked into a package that limits your growth, but you also need to be cautious about overspending on software that has sophisticated features that your organization will never use.
  • No matter what your setting, project transparency is an important consideration when investing in a project management software solution. Make sure that the system you choose supports sharing information with your customers on a regular basis.
  • Whenever possible, try out potential project management software systems with your team for a brief period to determine if it fits your organization. Most companies make trial versions of their software available for free, and it's a great way to figure out which solutions will work best for you.
  • Consult with peers at other companies or institutions who have recently adopted project management software to get their recommendations on which solutions might work best for your situation.