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5 Tips for Success With a New Project Management System

project management software
Credit: istockphoto.com/NicoElNino

Project management software can be a lifesaver for teams struggling to keep in sync across a range of projects, tasks and deadlines.

If you can get everybody communicating and coordinating, it’s possible to make genuine, game-changing progress in your organization. But that’s if—if you get group-wide buy-in, if everyone learns to use the new tools and if they commit to changing their routines to accommodate the software.

Those are daunting challenges, and they often have little to do with the quality of the software. Yes, you need to select a winning tool, but you also need to ace the rollout.

Here are five tips that can facilitate software-implementation success:

1. Solve a real problem

It’s easy to get excited about a new product’s slick demo or cool interface, but that’s no way to choose a tool. Instead, identify the specific challenges holding your team back, and then go find software that will solve your problem.

2. Secure top-level backing

Even if your executives won’t be daily users of the program, you’ll want their support to drive broad adoption. That means it’s crucial to form a compelling, C-suite-level case for your software, ideally backed by financial or performance metrics. For example, when Tatianna Harris, director of digital marketing for College Park, Maryland-based cybersecurity and IT workforce development platform Cybrary, wanted to introduce new project management software to her team, she started by showing top management how they could benefit with a companywide dashboard of critical stats.

“Know what your management is looking for and how to speak to that,” says Harris.

3. Test your solution (and hone your approach)

Piloting your software with a test team not only will allow you to ensure the product really works, but also assess how it will function best in your context. For example, after Chicago-based PR firm Propllr suffered through a failed rollout of one project management tool, its leaders determined they were attempting to employ too many features. They set out to try again using a bare-bones approach, and this time it worked.

4. Think critically about who needs to use it

“Not every tool has to be agency-wide,” says Erica Zazo, Propllr’s director of client success. It can be tempting—especially for executives—to push for companywide releases of every tool. But given that software rollouts are challenging and licenses can get expensive, often it makes sense to adopt team-specific software.

5. Stay on top of the rollout

Make sure there are processes in place for training and standardization. Equally important, schedule a follow-up summit after the tool has been in use for a month or two. This will allow you to see what’s working and what needs to be tweaked.

The right project software can turbocharge your team’s performance—but only if it’s rolled out well. By keeping these considerations in mind, you can set your team up for success.

Steve Hendershot

Steve Hendershot is founder of Cedar Cathedral Narrative Studio and a multimedia journalist with experience writing, producing, and editing for print, broadcast and web.

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