We recently chose a new project management tool at Firewood. Since the experience is still fresh in my mind, I’d like to share the most important things we learned during the selection process:
Broadly identify your company’s top priorities and be sure the tool addresses them. Here are some questions to consider while exploring project management tool demos:
- How do creative resources know what’s on their plate each day and week? Will their view give them the information they need to effectively prioritize their time each day and not miss any deadlines?
- How do project managers view the progress of their projects? Will this save them time by resulting in fewer emails and less “shoulder-tapping”?
- How do creative resources and project managers track time in the tool? As a result of using it, will timesheets be more accurate?
- What are the tool’s capabilities with regard to pulling data, stats, and reports on projects? Does this meet our business needs?
Remember, it’s your responsibility to understand how the tool works. Avoid post-purchase surprises by diligently pursuing complete answers to your questions. Don’t settle for yes/no answers. For example:
- To see how easy it is to create project schedules in the tool, request to create a schedule in the tool yourself. If that’s not possible, request that they create one of your schedules while you watch—so you can see the process firsthand and ask questions along the way.
- Take a similar approach if you need a tool that creates client-facing outputs, such as a project schedule. Request that they provide you with a sample of that output and show you how to create one.
Pay close attention to the customer service you receive while investigating each tool. How available are they to meet with you? How accurate are the answers they provide to your questions? Every tool will have hiccups along the way. You’ll need a customer service team that is available, responsive, and knowledgeable.
Contact references currently using the tool to see how it’s working for them. This is simply invaluable. There’s no better way to predict how effective your project management tool will be than by hearing feedback from businesses already using it. It can also trigger other questions you may not have already considered for your business.
Don’t rush into a decision. There’s a lot riding on this. The tool you choose will likely require a significant financial investment over the long term, plus time for setup and training. Ultimately, it will affect your company’s efficiency, bottom line, and each employee’s day-to-day work life. Create a realistic timeline that allows you to make the best choice.
Yasaman, Creative Operations Manager at Firewood, will be speaking at the Creative Operations Exchange 2017, April 10-11.
On day 1, she’ll help lead a breakout session on “Efficient processing of incoming jobs.” On day 2, she’ll be on the panel “Workflow solutions—find the tool to boost your team’s communication and collaboration,” alongside representatives from GlobalEdit and Lonely Planet.