I don’t think I’m the only one who grew up thinking that by the time the 2000′s finally got here, technology would be so advanced that the world would be run by robots, humans would live in colonies on the moon, and everyone would have flying cars. Am I? And yet, here we are almost to 2013 and I’m wondering why I don’t have a robot butler named Watson that cleans my house for me, keeps track of my calendar, cooks dinner, and exists solely to make life easier. It would be so cool, wouldn’t it?
But the other day I started thinking… what if what I’m looking for already exists, just in a different form? I mean, I may not have a robot that looks and talks like a person, but I do have a “smart” phone that talks back to me, keeps track of my calendar, tells me the scores of the football games I missed, stores all of my important information, and gives me driving directions. Really, the only thing it can’t do is make me a sandwich. (But it can tell me how to make one—and that’s close!)
The miraculous piece of technology that makes all of this possible is called software. And there’s a myriad of different software out there claiming to be your Watson, or to be able to organize your life for you. More specifically, your work life. If you search “work management software” or “project management software” you’ll find hundreds of results. So how do you choose the one that’s right for your life, your work, your projects, your team?
Look for project management software that does the following:
- Enables team collaboration. This isn’t the industrial revolution anymore. For the most part, your team members aren’t standing at a conveyor belt doing the same mindless task over and over again. Collaboration is an essential part of being creative and innovative and inspiring people to produce their best work, together.
- Consolidates all of your project data into one place. If you’re using two or more tools to manage your projects—like spreadsheets, whiteboards and sticky notes, email threads, etc., your project information is in too many different places, which makes reporting, getting status updates, and risk management a nightmare. The right tool will help you consolidate so everything you need is in one place, instead of five.
- Gives everyone the visibility they need. Project managers aren’t the only ones that need visibility into what’s going on with projects. Stakeholders, executives, and especially project team members all benefit from being on the same page, knowing who’s working on what, when things will be done, and where there are dependencies.
- Has an interface that is usable, adoptable, and intuitive. Spending the money to implement a tool that nobody will really use is nothing but a waste of time and money. If the tool isn’t simple or attractive, it’s not worth it. Project management software should work the way your team naturally works.
- Will grow and evolve with you. What’s the point in purchasing a tool that will be irrelevant to you or too basic for you in a year or two? Find a tool flexible and robust enough to continue to evolve as your needs do.
- Supports you throughout your entire project life-cycle. In my opinion, one of the biggest flaws with project management software in general is they usually only focus on helping you with the project execution phase of the project life-cycle. You shouldn’t have to use different tools for managing different phases of your projects.
- Tracks and organizes all types of work, not just project work. Let’s face it, your team does more than just project work. Ad hoc work requests and lights-on work take up a significant portion of their day. You need visibility into that too.
- Is SaaS (software as a service). There are so many benefits to SaaS. It generally costs less and it’s easier to integrate, access from anywhere, manage, maintain, and deploy. Anything else is just archaic.
This is the future.
If you can’t have a robot or a flying car yet, you should at least be able to have software that’s all about you – making your life easier, managing your projects better, and keeping your team doing great work, together.
Is there anything else you would add to the list?