Implementing Project Management Software
A little over a year ago, we decided to embark on our first journey with project management (PM) software. It had become apparent that our traditional methods of project management weren’t providing enough transparency or real-time data for our team to successfully manage budgets and timelines in an effective manner and we needed to make a change. Implementing a change of any kind can be a daunting task, especially when it involves both a change to internal processes as well as new technology so here are a few things we’ve learned along the way.
#1 – Define your objectives
Before you decide to buy and commit to one solution, make sure you’ve done your homework. It is critical to define what your pain points are and what you need to gain from implementing new PM software. There are numerous options for software solutions and they are continually changing and evolving with the industry and each solution provides very different and unique benefits. Be sure that the software you select addresses your immediate needs and aligns with your objectives.
#2 – Assign a team, not an individual
Define the team that will lead the charge and outline each individual’s roles and responsibilities. Depending on the size of your organization, make sure to include at least two people on this PM team. We made the mistake of assigning a single person to lead the change, which, at the time made perfect sense for our company. However, when that individual is out sick, on vacation, or in my case, 7 months pregnant and the size of a barn, you’ll need to transfer that knowledge in order to avoid any gaps or regressions in your efforts.
#3 – Get buy-in EARLY
What’s the phrase? “Garbage in. Garbage out? PM software is only a tool that your team will utilize, it will not magically solve your problems. And it is only as good as the team using it. If the team isn’t committed to using the software, your chances of successful adoption will shrivel up like a raisin in the sun. In order to keep your team committed, communicate early and often. This not only keeps everyone involved, it helps to allow people to prepare for the upcoming change. Identify why the change is necessary and how the change will benefit each individual or department. Allow anyone with concerns to voice them. Attempt to understand and address their concerns or let them be part of the decision-making process.
#4 – Training
So, you’ve finally selected and purchased your new PM software. I bet you think the hard part is over? In reality, the hard work is just beginning. The PM team is responsible for introducing the software to the company, promoting the benefits and managing training. Again, user acceptance of the new PM software is critical to your success and training is a big part of gaining acceptance. When considering how to structure your training, keep these things in mind:
Provide training even if the tool seems intuitive and user friendly. Some individuals require a little more encouragement than others.
Avoid “one-size-fits-all” training. Gear training and demos to specific departments, groups or individuals based on their needs and how they’ll interact with the software.
Provide different types of training. Remember, everyone learns differently so make sure to provide options to meet each individual’s needs. This could mean hosting live group demo/training sessions as well as individual training sessions. Also, provide some live training as well as opportunities for self-training. Some people may respond better to learning via videos, webinars or step-by-step documentation.
Once the training is complete and your shiny new software is fully implemented, don’t forget to continually re-evaluate and follow up with your team. Allow for enough time for successful adoption before you determine if the software is a good fit. We’re almost to our year and a half mark and the jury is still out. We’ve certainly seen benefits from choice we made and improvements in various areas but we’ve learned a lot and some of our goals may have shifted. As a very intelligent man here would say, “More to come.”