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5 Steps for Success When Choosing a Project Management Tool

Are you ready to take your spreadsheets, emails, walk overs and calls to a one system solution to streamline? Well if so then I can imagine you have found a lonnnnnng list of project management tech available. Each promises higher efficiency, communication, planning and workflow. You need all of these things, and you immediately book a demo and you or your boss think, ok great we will be up and running in a matter of weeks. Ok, deep breathes, let's slow down just a moment and dig in just a bit.

Listed below are 5 steps to get you and your organization ready for the switch over to a project management tool.

1. Documented Current Process

Is the current process documented? If so, great! Pull it out and give it a read and consider if it is up to date and reflects what the team is really doing. Make some updates where needed. If you answered no, take a day or so at a coffee shop and write out the steps that will be mapped over to the project management tool. Why is this so very important? Your current documented process is the roadmap to understanding what project management tool will work for your team. The written documentation is your baseline for testing later once implementation gets going. This step is a MUST for success.

2. Process Map

Wait, what, didn't we just get done having a documented process? Yes but a process map, is the visual to start to shape out roles, decisions and timing. The process map also is well, the roadmap to build out the project management tool. Remember, once you get past the glitter and glam of the demo and the agreement signing you will run the show with implementation of the tool. The company providing the application can give you a how to, but they do not know how your team works and functions, only you know that. Some Project Management tool companies will provide you a project manager to assist in your launch, and they would be starry eyed to have a process map handed to them, because it will get you launched faster. LucidChart is a great tool to use because it is online and has a monthly subscription so that when you are done, you can choose to download your maps and move on or I suspect you will start to see its usefulness for other business processes, but I digress.

3. Let the Team Know

Start creating comfort in the experience of moving a team to a PM tool. Depending on your team dynamics this could be a make or break point for adoption later on down the line. Remember humans are not thrilled with change, and there will be some fear in the room. Keeping the team informed on the process of selection to roll out is again crucial and everyone will be much happier that you took the time to make the experience informed and inclusive.

4. Your Teams Agrees - Yeah That is What We Do

Here is the fun step, the part where magic, growth and perhaps a stern word or two that you have never heard from your team happens. Do not panic, this is all good!!! Get your team together for a workshop on the current state of the process. Give them time to review the process documents before the workshop. The goal is to leave with the team in agreement, yes this is what we do and how we do it. A few things to note on this step - 1) You may find out that what is documented or thought was happening is not. If so, update the documents to reflect what really happens. 2) The futurists and dreamers of the group will give you what should be happening. Actively listen to what they have to say, because there may be gems of efficiency in their ideas that will be amplified in the right PM tool.

5. Team Requirements

After everyone agrees that the process is solid, now is the time to understand what does the team need to happen in a tool to get it done. Are you following? Let me explain. Say your team has documents that need to be shared among several people - the requirement of the tool will be to have a place in each project for shared documents. What if your team needs a way to make requests that are currently handled by email - the requirement of the tool is a project/job intake function. Make more sense? This effort can be small, medium or large depending on the complexity of what your team does. The goal here is to have a list of must have requirements and a few it would be really amazing to haves. This makes it so that if a tool meets all of your must have's and a few amazing, then you may have found what you are looking for.

These 5 steps will kickstart the transition to revolutionize your workflow, communication, and tracking. Remember all Project Management tools are not equal and what works for one team may be a poor fit for another. In the end you want to improve productivity, create a mindful team, and win everyday.

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