As a business owner I often feel like if my firm could tighten up our ability to run projects it would have a profoundly beneficial effect on our cost of doing business. As I read about Lean and the Toyota Way I begin to understand that even the smallest things that are done within our company are really mini projects so the need for project management is bigger than what my team and I initially think of. However we often feel that the expense and the trouble of putting small projects into any software system will exceed the value and cost savings that we hope will come out the other end.
Project managers understand that spending a dollars’ worth of time in the planning phase of a project can save hundreds of dollars of rework once you reach the production or implementation phase. Having a tool that enables us to manage projects well should return significant savings over the life of the projects that we manage, and so to failing to take action is likely costing us many thousands in lost productivity.
Changing project management software is a big deal and will be similar to changing accounting software so it should not be entered into lightly. Picking the right product is critical and then the second step is determining where to run that tool… locally or in the cloud. I would suggest that the most important and the first step is to pick the software that works best for you needs. Having said that the push to reduce capital costs may require a cloud-based tool otherwise you’ll never get it approved. Cloud-based tools do have some potential benefits like: lower upfront costs, accessible from anywhere, allowing clients or other interested parties the ability to get status reports real-time, increase accuracy and productivity found by allowing multiple people to access the tool regardless of where they are and simplified IT because your project management software runs in a browser and is always up-to-date.
Finding the right software for your organization is key and that will require a careful needs analysis. You want a product that is sophisticated enough to give you the detail that you need but not so complex that your users get bogged down and don’t use it. Suitability to task is important but with an eye to the future to make sure that you don’t under buy and then have to upgrade to a more powerful version down the road. Make sure that you test drive every product and that you engage the entire team in the selection process, encouraging people to consider what is best for the company not just what they are familiar with. Implementation of project management software takes time so make sure you have realistic expectations about how long it’s going to take to get your project management software up and running.
A Google search for cloud-based software options will turn up a myriad of options. Again, I would suggest that selecting a product is first and then where it runs (local or cloud) is secondary.
A great starting point would be to read PC Magazine’s article comparing, the best Project management software of 2015. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2380448,00.asp
Other names that might be worth investigation are: www.Basecamp.com, www.leankit.com, www.level35.net/oneview-ppm.com, www.trello.com, www.smartsheet.com, www.workzone.com, www.easyprojects.net, www.planplex.com, www.inmotionnow.com