The most successful businesses are the most efficient ones, which is why project management solutions are important.  By providing an organized and intuitive structure for your projects, the right platform can facilitate effortless communication, seamless collaboration and easily coordinated teamwork.

However, with so many variables to consider when faced with all the project management solutions on the market, choosing and implementing the best one for your company’s needs can be a project in itself!

Here at Mavenlink, we fully understand and sympathize with the business user’s dilemma.  To make the process easier, we would like to share the following six tips that can effectively guide you through the transition.

Choosing the Best Project Management Software

1)     Start with a needs analysis:  Project management solutions come in all shapes and sizes.  The first step is to determine what kind of project management and/or collaboration you need. For example, are all your projects internal, or are you also working with external vendors and clients? Do you need to assign tasks and deliverables or just create a space where everyone can collaborate? Will your projects involve budgets and invoices? This needs analysis phase is critical, especially if you manage multiple, complex projects.

2)     Test out the products: Most project management solutions offer a free trial period. Many will also provide a live demo upon request.  Create a checklist based on your needs and compare the products to each other.  Price is another consideration. Some companies offer per user pricing while others charge based on functionality.  Have both the project manager and the team members review the software.  If you are including external constituencies, invite a trusted contractor or client to join a project and get their feedback on ease of use and effectiveness.

Getting Employees to Adopt the Product

3)     Find a Champion: Once you have picked a product, the hard part starts… adoption.  There are several ways to achieve this. You could create a company mandate, but people may grumble.  A better way is to find a product champion who can honestly get excited about the product.  A testimonial is also very effective.  Comments like “This made my job so much easier or “I stopped losing emails” really address people’s pain-points and can be very influential.

4)     Train Employees on the Product:  Offer multiple training sessions to make sure everyone can attend.  By the end of each session, ensure everyone has an account, a login and an easy-to-remember password. (If people can’t remember their password, they will often give up.) Set up a project right away so employees practice creating posts, attaching files and using the system.  Then offer follow up “advanced training” two weeks later to address questions.  If official training isn’t available, then online tutorials and videos are the next best option.

Maximizing Existing Software Usage

5)    Integrate with other apps:  One important selection criteria when choosing a product is its integration capabilities. For example, everyone uses email. A solution that also posts messages to email will increase user engagement and extend the reach of the product. Other possible integrations include: document management for files sharing, financial applications, contact management, and external payment options.  A solution that lets users manage multiple aspects of their workflow and actually conduct business online can dramatically improve internal efficiency.

6)     Use All Features of the Product: Different people/departments may want to use different components of a solution.  For example, some may just want to collaborate. Others may want to share files, or manage tasks, deliverables and milestones. Some may want to track their time and expenses.  For a complete set of options, choose a product that can support the needs of multiple user types.