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As more companies around the world – from fresh solopreneurial start-ups all the way up to large established enterprises – grasp the fact that project management is an efficient and effective approach to reducing risk, ensuring quality, controlling costs, and achieving objectives, the decision to get project management software is an easy one.

However, that’s where the easy part usually ends. That’s because choosingthe right project management software is an altogether different — and typically more daunting — task.

Businesswoman typing on laptop

Why? Because at first glance, it can hard to tell one project management software solution from another. Most of them seem to be functional, robust and, if you believe their marketing, “perfect for what you need”.  

Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t afford to make a decision as important as this based on marketing hype. As any experienced Project Manager will tell you, completing a project on time, on scope, an on budget is difficult enough! You can’t afford to add software problems to the mix.

Fortunately, the remainder of this article focuses on exactly what Project Managers and teams need: a way to compare and, ultimately, choose the right project management software.

Criteria for Comparing Project Management Software

As pointed out by the website “Top Ten Reviews”, there are five key areas that all companies should pay close attention when it comes to comparing project management software:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Resource Management
  3. Project Management
  4. Ease of Use
  5. Help & Support  
  • Collaboration: Whether your project team is located in the same building – or in different locations around the world – the fact remains that collaboration is not merely important to the overall success of a project: it’sessential. And that’s why the first and most important thing to look for when comparing project management software is whether the collaboration features are robust – or feeble.  Ask yourself: will this software support and enhance communication? Will it be easy for my project team to share and organize information? Will it make things more efficient and simpler? If the answer to all of these questions is a clear “yes”, then you’re on the right track.
  • Resource Management: One of the hardest – and potentially, the riskiest and most costly – aspect of a project management is resource management. Even small projects can have dozens of resources, both human and material, and all of which need to be identified, organized and tracked. So when you’re comparing project management software solutions, pay close attention to resource management functionality and features.
  • Project Management: This aspect may seem redundant, since you’d expect “project management” to be the first thing on a company’s mind when they design project management software. Yet as any Project Manager will tell you, there are some solutions on the market that shouldn’t be called solutions at all – because theycreate problems instead of solving them. Needless to say, as you compare project management software, pay close attention to how robust, functional and convenient the project management tools are. This includes (but isn’t limited to) schedule management, task management, calendars, Gantt charts and other tracking tools, milestone management, and more.
  • Ease of Use: While all project management software has unique features and interfaces that take some time to learn, for it to work for you and your team, it should be easy to learn and use. Remember: project management software, as a whole, is a tool. And by their very nature, tools are supposed to make things easier and more efficient. If your project management software doesn’t or can’t achieve this, then it’s not the right choice.
  • Help & Support: At various times throughout your project, you’re going to want your project management software to either do something that it isn’t, or stop doing something that it is. And when you can’t quickly and easily figure out how to make those changes, you want to depend on reliable help and support. This can be in the form of online FAQs, forums, email support, or live chat. Indeed, when you’re comparing solutions, make sure that this criteria is high on your checklist – because there’s no substitute for help and support when you reallyneed it!

A Final Word of Advice

Doing some research to compare project management software may seem like a bit of extra work that you’d rather not do. That’s understandable – but it’s also the wrong way to look at this.

As any experienced Project Manager will tell you, adding dysfunctional project management software to a project environment can, and usually does, lead to negative consequences that can severely damage project operations – sometimes beyond repair. And that’s not a scenario that any company can afford, regardless of whether it’s a start-up or on the Fortune 500.

Do yourself, your project team, and your end users a favor: carefully compare project management software, and choose the one that has you saying “YES” to all of the above.   

About the Author:

Rami Cohen is a Certified PMP and is the Director of Customer Success at Clarizen.  Rami has vast experience in managing projects in the engineering world.