Project Planning Software: 3 Critical Questions to Choose the Right Solution
Legendary crooner Frank Sinatra – along with legions of inebriated wedding guests who (unfortunately) considered themselves karaoke superstars – have belted out the epic song “My Way,” which contains the signature lyrics “regrets, I’ve had a few; but then again, too few to mention.” Well, when it comes to choosing project planning software, some enterprise executives around the world have more than a few mentionable regrets. In fact, they are riddled with remorse, because the solution they selected turned out to be a liability instead of an asset.
Fortunately, this misery is not permanent and can be rectified. Even better, it can be avoided to begin with – provided, however, that decision-makers conduct their due diligence during the assessment and evaluation phase. Specifically, here are three critical questions that help separate the best project planning software solutions from the pretenders
1. Does the software for project management planning drive productivity?
As we emerge from the pandemic, the enterprises that are thriving and leading the way are not relentlessly slashing costs and cutting back on the size of their workforce. Rather, they are focusing on ways to maximize each employee’s time, so that they can be as productive as possible – regardless of whether they are working in the corporate office, in a home office, or increasingly a mix of both (a.k.a. hybrid workforce). Project planning software that drives productivity checks all of the following boxes:
- Connects teams, aligns communications, and enhances collaboration.
- Supports a range of work preferences and styles including Agile project management.
- Empowers teams to develop customized processes to maximize performance and efficiency, while not compromising overall standards and governance.
- Replaces systems in the environment that are redundant.
- Automates repetitive tasks so that employees can focus on high-value priorities.
- Keep external stakeholders (e.g. customers, sponsors, suppliers, vendors, etc.) informed throughout the project life cycle.
2. Does the software for project management planning drive visibility?
The most important thing that executives need to determine is not just if people are working, but whether this collective effort is paying off and translating into tangible, relevant, and meaningful results. The key that unlocks this inquiry is visibility. Project planning software delivers 360-degree visibility and establishes a single-source-of-truth does all of the following:
- Ensures that work is aligned with organizational priorities, and that resources are optimized.
- Connects performance metrics with project execution.
- Facilitates risk and contingency planning due to imminent or potential changes.
- Centralizes access to real-time data across all workstreams and for all types of work.
- Integrates with other mission-critical systems in the environment (e.g. financial, CRM, HRIS) to provide richer context.
- Ensures that visibility spans across all work-related data, and includes permissioned access for all relevant external stakeholders.
3. Does the software for project management planning drive adaptability?
Adaptability was important prior to the pandemic. Now, however, it is fundamentally essential for survival. It has never been more critical to adjust and pivot in order to support new business models, manage and mitigate risk, and deliver value in light of constantly-changing customer demands. The right project planning software drives adaptability by enabling enterprises to:
- Continuously evaluate and refine strategies and priorities, in order to meet new marketplace needs.
- Link goals to execution, while helping teams stay focused on business outcomes – which is not only vital for maximizing results, but optimizes engagement as well as team members can see how their efforts support overall success.
- Re-align work and resource allocation due to changing priorities, but in a controlled vs. chaotic manner.
- Define and track performance and progress vs. relevant metrics and key performance indicators.
- Introduce new workflows and processes – but without causing delays or incurring vendor costs.
- Minimize redundancies, while increasing both data reliability and real-time data access
Additional Advice on Choosing the Best Project Planning Software
While answering the critical questions noted above, evaluators and decision-makers should also ensure that the project planning software solutions on their shortlist:
- Accelerates time-to-value with tools like out-of-the-box reports, dashboards and templates – all of which can be customized to suit specific team requirements.
- Supports multiple localization options such as currency, language and time zones.
- Provides robust information security for data at-rest and in-motion, and adheres to relevant compliance standards and protocols (e.g. GDPR, UK G-Cloud, ISO/IEC 27001:2013, SOC 2, SSAE 16, etc.)
- Is backed by knowledgeable and responsive experts who understand the project planning software inside and out.
Project Planning Software Free vs. Paid
Economists are fond of pointing out that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Well, at the enterprise level, there is no such thing as free project planning software, either. Any so-called solution that is offered at no cost simply cannot do all of the things that enterprises require. Within weeks, days, hours or possibly even minutes of implementation, instead of clarity teams will face confusion, conflict and chaos – and it will be impossible to drive productivity, adaptability, and visibility.
The Bottom Line
Whether the goal is planning a software project, a construction project, a marketing project, an engineering project – or anything else on the business landscape – the importance of exceptional project planning software cannot be underestimated. Focusing on solutions that drive productivity, visibility and adaptability – and steering clear of those that do not – will ensure that enterprises make a choice that is rewarding, instead of regrettable.
Now…whether decision-makers choose to celebrate their wise choice by regaling their colleagues with a spirited rendition of “My Way” is entirely a personal choice – although perhaps not the best idea (at least not without some singing lessons and ample warnings).