When it comes to researching and choosing the right project management tools for you and your team, it can become a bit of a minefield. There is an abundance of different software companies out there, all claiming to be number one at what they do, leaving you with the age-old question of which do I choose?

There’s no right or wrong answer to the question, what works for one might not work for another, so it’s important to get together and speak to your team early on to find out what features they would and would not like to see in a project management tool and go for a tailored approach.

Ultimately, you’ll never find a solution that will tick everyone’s boxes, but you’ll be able to find a tool that comes pretty damn close.

Here are some simple steps I’ve put together to help make the decision process a little bit easier…

STEP 1: LIST YOUR REQUIREMENTS

First things first, you want a tool that everyone in the team is going to use and not avoid. There’s no point in spending hours of time and resources looking at tools and software that you think will do the job without consulting your team members first.

Get together and consider who will be using the tool, what they will be using it for i.e. planning, scheduling, resource management, and reporting, and then make a list of all your teams’ requirements. Specifically, ask them what they would and would not like to see and then rank them in order of priority from ‘must-have’ to ‘nice to have’.

STEP 2: START YOUR SEARCH

Once you’ve got your list of requirements together, it’s time to begin the fun part of finding the right tool/software for your team.

Start your search by asking for recommendations from colleagues or fellow industry leaders, reading online reviews from resources such as ‘The Digital Project Manager’, or by simply searching for what your team needs on your favoured search engine of choice.

A little bit of a warning, this is by no means a quick and simple task, you want to be as methodical as possible and gather as many potential solutions as you can. Once you’ve got your list together it’s time to narrow down your selection to your final 3-5. It’s best to base this on which ones will work best with your team, budget, how efficient they are, and how easy they are to integrate or migrate to from a previous tool.

STEP 3: Test & Measure

Got your list ready? Then let the testing begin!

The main aim of testing is to find out which solution will work best for you and your team, which is the most efficient, and meets those all-important requirements you set back at the very beginning.

Most tools will offer free trial periods of their product and if not they’ll usually offer you a walk-through to run through how it works, what’s included, possible integrations, how it can be tailored to match your needs, and answer any questions you may have.

One thing I’d advise is to come armed to the demo with as many questions and working scenarios as you can, this will help you evaluate which of the tools might be the ‘one’.

If you’ve signed up for a trial, which is a definite must, make sure you maximise the limited time you have available with the tool. Remember to use it as you would in real working life situations and invite a select number of team members to the platform to help test and measure. This is where you’ll find out whether your selection of tools is a viable option or not, If you or your team are struggling or finding it too complicated to use in a trial situation, then it’s not the solution for you, and move onto the next one.

STEP 4: BUDGET & APPROVAL

Made your choice? Then it’s time to think about budgets and evaluate the overall costs of your final selection before seeking approval.

You’ll want to consider payment and subscription options and weigh up which option is best for your team. It’s also worth thinking about what the value of the tool will bring against not having it, will it ultimately help your team be more efficient and improve collaboration or have a negative impact by hindering productivity with the extra unnecessary workload?

These are all things you must consider before receiving sign off on costs.

STEP 5: IMPLEMENTATION

Now that you had the seal on approval, it’s time to begin the process of implementing the new tool and introducing it across teams as soon as possible.

Training is paramount, you want your teams to be up to speed and working in line with the new software from the get-go. Start by creating a plan of action and schedule training sessions with each team. Quick tip – you’ll want to make sure all onboarding’s, migrations, and integrations have taken place beforehand during the set-up phase.

It’s also worthwhile creating a resource folder for any training documents and videos, making sure these are widely accessible to the whole team post-training.

The first couple of weeks will take some getting used to and there may be some hiccups along the way, so remember to take the lead, give re-assurance, and set aside some time to answer any questions the team may have.