5 Things to Consider When Choosing Cloud Based PM Software
By Charles Settles
Project management software has become an essential tool for both small and large businesses. It can structure workflows, monitor progress, measure outputs, and aid project managers in delivering results on time and under budget.
As workforces become increasingly mobile and connected, cloud based project management software offers benefits that an on-premise installation cannot. These include ease-of-access from anywhere in the world, remote collaboration tools, and secure file sharing, just to name a few. Since globalization and mobile devices aren’t likely to go anywhere, the next PM software you buy will likely be cloud-based.
Choosing the best project management software for your needs can be tricky. Here are five things to consider before implementing a new program.
Determining what software features a particular project requires is one of the most important parts of choosing project management software. Does your project need Gantt charts? Does it require multiple user permission levels so managers can keep sensitive information restricted to just certain employees? Is it mobile-friendly so managers and collaborators can access project information even when they’re not in the office? There are as many different features for project management software as there are PM vendors, so do your research and know that if one solution doesn’t have a feature you find essential, it’s likely that there’s another solution that will better fit your needs. Even better, many cloud-based project management software solutions offer free trials, so once identified, vetting a potential solution only requires patience.
After determining whether or not a particular solution offers the features you need, the second most important factor to consider is pricing. Is the software priced per user? If so, do managers cost more than collaborators? Can access be purchased for an entire company? Is the price paid weekly, monthly, or yearly? There are also some free PM solutions to consider. Similarly, you might consider whether or not your project is short enough to be completed during a free trial period of an expensive software solution.
After determining necessary features and price, you’ll need to establish how much storage will be required for your cloud-based project. There are free storage options, but as the space required increases, so, frequently, does the price. Also, what sort of security does your stored project data require? How can access to the data be controlled?
An important factor that isn’t always mentioned on vendor websites is whether or not the company is using redundant storage methods for your data. If they’re not keeping multiple copies in the cloud, then a server crash could take all your information along with it. If you can’t find any information on their site, make sure to ask them before signing a contract or beginning a plan.
Another important consideration is how your cloud-based project management software will integrate into your current workflow. Does your team use Google Apps or Microsoft Office? Do you have a customer relationship management (CRM) product? If your chosen project management software does not integrate with your existing software, you may be decreasing rather than increasing efficiency. Switching between different screens and entering data multiple times is not going to help anyone.
Finally, what sort of messaging does the software offer? Does it offer internal messaging? Does it notify you when you receive a new message? Does it have a group or bulletin board messaging capability so that information can be disseminated to everyone? Does it integrate with your email client so you can send and receive messages in both places? These are all important questions, especially if you want to use PM software to reduce the number of intra-office emails every day. Ideally, your PM solution will help you keep an accurate, focused record of your project-related conversations.
Of course, these are not the only things that should be considered when choosing cloud-based project management software, but these five are a good starting point for your search. If there are other factors you feel we should have listed, let us know in the comments!
Charles Settles is a content writer at TechnologyAdvice. He writes about about project management, health IT, and other emerging trends.