As you well know, there are a myriad of project manager software products on the market today. The applications, themselves, range from freeware, like Comindwork and Openproj, to multi-faceted programs with service contracts that can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Further, the software is made by familiar name brands – such as Microsoft Project to software that is created by more obscure startup companies.
All of these choices can, not surprisingly, make IT executives apprehensive about choosing the right software programs for their businesses.
“If I were trying to buy some software I would not even know where to start – since there are so many choices,” said Dave Farthing, a Chartered Engineer, British Computer Society Member and professor who lectures on software development project management, among other disciplines, at the University of Glamorgan in the U.K.
To alleviate some of the confusion, Farthing compiled a list of more than four dozen automated products on his university-hosted website.
To offer further explanation, each of the items on the website comes with a short description of its capabilities and a link to the maker’s website. However, despite this helpful list, Farthing believes that companies should always properly assess their goals and existing infrastructure – before implementing a new program.
IT Executives Should Examine Company Culture
Farthing also believes that the prevailing zeitgeist within an organization is key to determining what kind of project management tools the company should use.
“Some organizations, because of traditions and so on, need to have, or there are accustomed to having very tight project control and very strict procedures,” he said. “Sometimes that is an external constraint”.
He identifies the public sector as having, in general, a greater need for accountability than private companies. Consequently, software that provides detailed project tracking of changes and effective cost summarizing is of particular use to those groups.
The public/private sector split is but one nuance in a wide array of determining factors. Farthing further notes several key functions of automated software project management tools – each with a varying degree of relevance based on the type of organization that would be using these project tools. These key functions are as follows:
- Software that can help managers perfrom accurate project cost estimation, evaluate time, and other factors
- Tools that deal with document management and work group collaboration – especially helpful for large organizations with far-flung departments
- Software that can help with the issue of tracking and calculating costs – especially helpful for international businesses that deal with customs and tariffs
- Configuration management tools and devices that help to keep track of conversions
- Change control and defect tracking software
Of course, IT leaders should identify the key project management processes within individual companies and narrow the market to include only those products that service these key processes.
Taking these project management steps can cut costs as well, since this method can eliminate the buying of redundant or useless tools.