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Team 5 - 6 Tips for Selecting Virtual Project Management Tools

Page history last edited by Agnes 7 years, 10 months ago

6 Tips for Selecting Virtual Project Management Tools

Introduction:
The purpose for this wiki page is to offer stakeholders, project managers and C-level executives six tips for selecting virtual project management tools. These six tips are not all inclusive, they are only a good starting point when starting to research the different virtual project management tools out there that are available to businesses today. The readers of this page can find the six tips for them to consider as they look at the different tools. Along with those tips, the reader will be given reasons on why they should consider these things, what the impact of not properly considering these things can be and when in the process they should be considering these tips. Along with this description, the reader will be given resources, so they can do additional research for themselves to gain more knowledge that will help to better prepare them to select the right tool. After reading this page, we hope the user will walk away with enough information to help them select the right virtual project management tool.

 

Tips:
1. When searching for a Virtual Project Management Tool, companies must understand and compare the cost of all the available options. 
     A. Are there data limitations if it is a free tool?
     B. Can anyone access the tool or is a licence needed for each individual?
     C. What value does a paid version offer?
     D. Are the same features available for both open-source tools and proprietary?

When choosing a project management tool, one component that companies should consider is the cost. Cost can impact the tool a company chooses in a number of ways. For example, the price of a license or subscription fees, which is normally charged for using proprietary software, may significantly impact the budget. Although open source software may be free, it may be difficult to customize the software to meet the company’s requirements. http://www.prioritysystem.com/tools0b.html Typically proprietary software offers more functionality, robust features and an easy-to-use interface, thus cutting your project development time. http://project-management.ezinemark.com/web-based-project-management-software-7d348940759d.html Cost should also be factored-in when determining which features are necessary to run a successful project. Since all the features of a tool may not be needed, it is helpful for companies to list the features they need before deciding on a tool. Also because there are a number of free options and free trials available, project management teams can use the tools to determine test the tool to determine which features they need. However, keep in mind that vendors may not offer all functionality for free subscriptions or once the free trial period has ended. http://www.emergingedtech.com/2009/02/low-or-no-cost-online-project-management-tools/


2. When searching for a tool company requirements should be identified and available tools should be reviewed to identify the features that will be required.
     A. Files Sharing Capabilities
     B. Group Calendar 
     C. Task Management
     D. Collaborative Document Writing
     E. Document Repository


Another tip in choosing a Virtual project management tool is to consider the features offered by the tool. To do so, companies should compare features offered by different companies. Using a Project Management System allows a team to increase their efficiency, track progress and stay on schedule. http://project-management.ezinemark.com/life-is-good-with-web-based-project-management-software-7d35ed5cd9b9.html With that in mind some of the common features found in these tools are: (1) Files sharing; (2) Group Calendar; (3) Task Management; (4) Collaborative Document Writing; and (5) Document Repository. By using such software you can upload projects, share files and data, and communicate with your team members and clients simultaneously. Additionally, your data always remains safe allowing you to communicate with your clients and transfer files in a secure environment. This software will help you to consistently complete your projects successfully. http://management-software.ezinemark.com/web-based-project-management-software-advancement-in-management-technology-17f5f504bad.html



3. When choosing a Virtual Project Management Tool, companies should consider whether the tool will be user friendly and intuitive or will there be a learning curve?
     A. Time needed to learn how to use the tool

     B.  Test the tool to make sure it works for all that will use it

     C. Test the tool to make sure it can handle the real projects with minimal limitations, or gaps in requirements

 

Software reviews for most products are easy to find and are a good way to find out the opinions of the other users and the challenges and experiences they faced in using the tool(s). Though some products may seem exceptional, with unique features, if the tool cannot be learned easily and/or is not user-friendly, it can be a waste of both time and money. The user interface should be simple and intuitive and flexible enough to meet the needs of all users. Most of the tools have a trial version, which should be used whenever possible to facilitate the decision making process. The tool should be fully tested by the company as well as different types of users to ensure it provides required functionality. Make sure the vendor has knowledgeable trainers that can fully support the tool from the technical standpoint and from day to day user perspective.

4. Virtual Project Management tools should be flexible and able to adapt and grow to meet future
company needs.

A. Consider some functionality offered by the tool even if it’s not required at this point

B. Consider tool that will handle multiple projects

C. Consider tool that will handle different type of projects

D. Consider how you may use the tool to solve any anticipated problems

E. Is the system scalable to a company's size?

 
Many companies make the common mistake of settling for a solution that meets their current needs and requirements, but do not provide strategic thought around their sustainability requirements. This means lacking a review of current volume, as well as anticipating how the system will handle the growth of the company. It’s worth spending the extra time to take a look at the future. There are different perspectives we should consider when looking in the future. The simplest growth is number of people using the tool going up and number of projects expending. Companies selecting a new solution need to ensure that the tool has the room for expansion from the user, project and data end. Watch out for the extra fees that could also grow with the growth of the company and if extra fees are built into the contract make sure the tool would still be a worthwhile investment. The other type of growth that companies should consider when selecting the new tool is the business needs expansion and company offerings. Is the new solution flexible enough for now and for the future use?

5. When considering the implementation of a new project management tool, the current and future enterprise platforms need to interface with the tool seamlessly.
     A. Windows based
     B. Supports Mac iOS
     C. Mobile device support

When many companies are going through the process of selecting a project management tool, the company has to make sure that the tool will work across all the platforms that the company employs, and it is wise to also consider the technologies used by most employees. Today, many companies utilize many different technologies to engage and connect employees. From smart phones to tablets, many companies are using multiple devices to communicate with the office when working from a remote location. Also, companies need to keep the platform in mind when looking at new management tools. With the emergence of Apple’s iPhone, iPad and the MacBook Pro, many companies are making the switch from PC to Mac. With so many companies making the switch, it is imperative that the project management tool support the Mac iOS. Not only does the tool have to support the Mac iOS only, but it has to support cross platform use. Many companies may not make the switch from PC to Mac at once, so the tool will have to connect to users using Mac machines and also users using PCs, seamlessly without the loss of any functionality. This tool will also have to be able to expand to any new platforms that may come out in the future.

6. Technical support and staff training should be integrated into the selection of the management tool.
     A. Directed Training (live instructor)
     B. Self Guided Training (reading manual)
     C. Set-up Support
     D. Continued Software Support

A major quality that many companies look for when they are selecting a management tool is technical support for the tool. When a new tool is presented to a company, they more than likely will need help setting up the tool in their local environment. That is why initial set up support is a major requirement when companies select a project management tool. With so many users, the company is bound to run into problems and malfunctions that the company will need assistance to repair. After initial set-up, the company will also need to have software support in place for life of the tool. Another aspect that the company will have to take into account is if the tool is accompanied by training and what type of training is provided with the tool. Most software companies provide initial training for a certain amount of months, but it is then up to the acquiring company to pay for training for the tool. Some tools come with help functions built in or some type of self guided training via an online reading manual. If a company wants to include live training with a instructor or an employee from the tool’s company, that type of support will need to be discussed during the price negotiation.


Recommendations:
Above we have highlighted some of the key consideration factors to account for when choosing project management tools. One of the major pitfalls reflected above is a lack of well-documented preparation. Before you begin your selection process, you must start by identifying the key requirements that will be considered in the decision making process, and weight them appropriately. Then, evaluate each tool objectively and rank them accordingly. Below you will find a table which compares a number of project management tools in numerous categories. To further support your selection process, we have compiled a list of several leading tools available in the market and have made comparisons regarding how well each tool meets some sample key requirements.





 


Resources:
http://www.4-u-all.com/business/business-project-management/tips-to-consider-while-selecting-project-management-tools/ By Lisa Pavel

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/161-small-business-project-management-software.html By Michelle Bryner

http://www.executivebrief.com/project-management/choosing-project-management-tool-tips-needle-haystack/

http://www.pinnaclemanagement.com/evaluating-project-management-software/132

http://pmtips.net/selecting-project-management-software/ By Brad Egeland

http://projectmanagementforum.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/selecting-a-project-planning-and-scheduling-tool/ By Thomas Franchina

http://webapprater.com/articles/6-tips-to-select-right-project-management-tool.html 


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Comments (1)

terbush@... said

at 1:10 pm on May 23, 2012

Please be sure to identify your audience (so I will know if this applies to me), also an introduction that will be tell what I will learn if I read the page is necessary. Make sure you provide some legend for the table (I don't know what the symbols mean, is all black good or bad?). Please provide navigation back to the main page.

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