How Do You Effectively Evaluate Project Management Software?

You realize you need a project management software to manage your team’s increasingly complex workload–you’ve outgrown email and spreadsheets or the most basic of task tracking tools. Now comes Googling for the most dreaded part of any tech selection process: project management software evaluation. There are a plethora of options in the space (and almost the same number of websites that offer evaluations of them!) and it’s up to you to figure out which one is the best fit for your needs.

Looking for a new piece of marketing software can feel about as appealing a process as getting a root canal, because there’s no clear path to success. How do you dig through all the jargon, pricing structures, and pitches to get a clear apples-to-apples comparison of the project management software capabilities? How do you know which project management software reviews to trust? How do you know which project management software features will best fit your team’s needs?

Then there’s facing the fear of the most dreaded outcome: what if you choose a project management software and get it up and running with your team, only to find it isn’t a good fit for your needs and you end up back in the market for a new vendor in 12 to 18 months? Not fun or cost-effective.

In this post, we’ll show you how to choose a project management software that will fit your marketing team’s needs, help you stay on budget, and allow you to scale the solution within your organization vs. putting it out to pasture after initial enthusiasm wanes.

Here are 9 questions you need to ask yourself before digging into the project management software features to find the best software for you:

What are my KPIs?
If you don’t know the measurable improvements you’re seeking with a new solution or the quantifiable pain points you’re solving, there’s no solid way to gauge how well that solution is meeting your needs when it comes time to evaluate your investment. Don’t depend on anecdata and gut instinct alone. Be specific about the changes you expect to see post-implementation.

Do I understand my team’s workflows?
If someone gave you a pen, could you sketch out the process or stages a given type of job or project goes through from end-to-end? Don’t wait for potential solution providers to prompt you for this info; have a blueprint of your workflows in hand when you start your solution search. That way, you can more easily zero in on one that is equipped to meet your specific requirements.

Have I talked to my team about their needs?
Ask your team members about the challenges they’re struggling with when it comes to how they currently manage their workflows and their workload. What’s working and what isn’t? Finding a solution that will meet 100% of everyone’s needs 100% of the time is a pie-in-the-sky aim, but you want the solution you choose to solve real productivity-sapping problems, not create new ones. Ask questions, listen to the answers and present those challenges to your shortlist of vendors.

How does this solution get my team closer to reaching its goals?
You may need to build a business case for investing in a workflow solution to present to internal stakeholders, so, in addition to developing KPIs, you’ll need to be prepared to link the outcomes of adopting this solution to your broader team and organizational goals.

How long is the learning curve?
Your deliverables can’t wait, so it’s critical to find out how quickly you can expect your team to be using the solution competently and what sort of support the solution provider offers in terms of user training to get you to that point ASAP. What sounds like a great choice on paper isn’t so great if users are still struggling with the basics of the software months after it’s gone live.

Who else uses this solution?
Of course, a solution provider worth its salt will offer you solid customer references and dazzle you with the logos of the household-name brands they count among their customers. If you’re a 10-person agency, however, the solution trusted by a team of 250 at a Fortune 500 company may not necessarily suit your needs. Check out a vendor’s existing customers who look (and work) like you do before deciding on a solution.

What’s included or not included in the pricing?
Is training included in the quote? Can you add and subtract modules based on your needs? Extras add up and what looked like a modest base price can easily balloon once you factor in add-ons and upgrades. Do the math early to avoid sticker shock.

How will this solution integrate with my current tech stack?
If you’re wedded to specific software suites like Adobe Creative Cloud, you’ll want a solution that can easily integrate with the tools your team already relies on. Figure out where the complements and redundancies lie and how this solution would fit into your existing tech stack, so you can avoid buying too much or too little solution.

What kind of support can I expect?
When someone deletes something they shouldn’t have, when Mercury goes into retrograde and the software experiences a glitch, or when you need expert assistance on getting the most out of a feature, will your solution provider be there for you in a helpful and timely manner? Don’t sign on any dotted lines before you have a firm grasp of their support policy and the response (including turnaround time) you can expect if you report an issue or an error.

Choosing a marketing workflow solution represents a major commitment. You want to make sure that the time and money you’re investing will ultimately equip you with the tools your marketing team needs to reach its full creative potential. Asking smart questions and doing your homework when determining the right platform for your needs is the best way to set yourself and your team up for success.

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