Over the years I got numerous requests for help in selecting a project management software so the company could start managing projects…I would always kindly decline and instead offer help in developing project management processes.
It definitely would make things easier, if picking a project management software would magically make project management work. Unfortunately, the approach of putting the cart before the horse hardly ever yields the desired results. It happens way too often that companies pick a system, get a few licences and … nothing changes – projects still experience issues, teams are frustrated and leadership can’t assess what is going on….This path is especially easy to fall into, as there are literally hundreds of relatively low cost applications that promise project success with minimal effort.
Before your company gets too far on the “we need a project management software to solve our project issues” path, try to answer a few fundamental questions about projects within your organization. The answers might immediately indicate that establishing project management processes first, rather than implementing a project management application, is the path to take.
Does your organization have a definition of what constitutes a project? How an idea becomes a project? Who will pay for it? Who will benefit from the project? Do you know how to calculate ROI on your projects? Do have too many projects and might need a better approval process to avoid resource issues or conflicting outcomes? Do you assess risk of doing a project vs. not doing a project? Those are just a few questions related to project initiation phase; there are many more questions to answer in order to determine preparedness in execution, delivery and transitioning projects to support cycle.
Map out project management processes that work for your organization first. Get your team on board and test and iterate those processes. If everybody is on the same page and follows the same standards, projects can be managed on a sticky note (not convenient but doable). Project management applications without project management processes will be just that – another application – and will have no bearing on your project success or failure.
In the next post we will explore when your organization might be ready for a project management software and what criteria you should use in selecting one.