Online shopping has changed the way we make our purchasing decisions and the way we buy is changing drastically. It used to be that the marketplace in which you shopped was limited to your local community. You would go to the stores up the street and hope they had what you needed. You might be able to compare prices at a store or two on the same product and then you would make your decision to buy. You didn’t get what they didn’t have and you just assumed that the price they were charging is what you would pay.
We know the Internet has changed every rule to this game. Now, you walk into a store with your iPhone. On your iPhone is the app from Amazon or another online marketplace. You find the product you want to buy and then immediately scan the UPC code on the back. You now have a wealth of information and more importantly, what others are selling this product for, at your fingertips.
You can now take this information to the store manager and see if they will match the price and allow you to purchase the item right then and there, or you can click a button and the item can be at your door as early as the next day.
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Checklist to Buy an Online Project Management Program
Regardless of how you shop there are some fundamentals you must know. You must know something about the item, how you plan on using it, perhaps you have seen it in action previously, and how much you are willing to pay. The same principles apply to a purchasing decision about an online project management program. Before you make a final decision about purchasing an online project management program tick off the following five boxes.
Know Your Stuff
The first thing you need to know is something about project management in general. It will be hard to make a good decision if this is your first day on the job as a project manager. You need to have some experience to understand the ins and outs of project management. What are the challenges that surface on a regular basis that an online project management program will help you conquer?
You need to have a clear idea in your head of what you are looking to accomplish and how this will fit within your organization. Don’t fret if you are new to project management you can expedite the learning process by reading and networking with other project managers that have ‘been there, done that’. The insight you gain from other professionals will prove to be invaluable in your decision making process.
Know Your Organization
Take a poll around your company and see what other departments are using as an online project management program. It’s no surprise that many companies are silo-ed in their approach to project management. One group may have realized they need to have a small group of project managers and another group may have realized a similar thing. You end up with two departments, two online project management programs both doing different things. You may find that there is a program that one group is already using that fits your needs.
Find Out What Others Think
One of the things that is great about the Amazon App when you are shopping in a store, are all the online reviews. It’s hard to know how a product will perform when all the packages look so professional and enticing. It can be a different story when you read the products online reviews. What at first seemed to be exactly what you were looking for may rate only 2 / 5 stars. Thus informed you can look into your other options.
Be aware when you are shopping for an online project management program as everyone’s websites will tout how revolutionary their product is for project management, so verify these claims with actual users of the online project management program. Start by asking your colleagues about their experience with online software programs. What do they like? What don’t they like? What can and can’t they do? Then expand your research online and see what the larger user group is saying about the products as well.
I have a friend who goes “all in” when he starts a new hobby. He goes out and buys anything and everything available to immerse himself in this new distraction. A couple of weeks go by and all of that stuff ends up in a closet next to the last distraction. I always recommend to him to start out small and see if he likes something before he spends all that money and the same advice applies to purchasing an online project management program.
Start small and see if you like the application. Most companies will offer a trial period where you can test drive a small project with a handful of people and closely monitor and follow how the project moves through its lifecycle. Does it do what you expect? Did it save time? Is it easy to understand and train others?
Begin working with a handful of the features and functions and run through the entire process. Dig into the dependencies of the system. For example, if you change one thing…does it cascade to all other areas of the application? Do the reports reflect the changes that have been made? Really run the online project management program through its paces before you make a decision to buy.
Get Further Training
This step actually occurs after you’ve made the decision to buy based upon all your research above. You will want to obtain further training depending upon the complexity of the application. Some online project management programs are easy to use and require minimal effort to learn. Yet, they are powerful in what they offer as a set of features. This is the ideal scenario. Other programs are much more complicated and require a greater learning curve in order to maximize their potential. Determine what you need to accomplish with the program and then find training that is commensurate to your needs.
Buying an online project management program is really just like anything else. You need to know your stuff, understand your needs, do your research, and then make a decision to buy. Once you’ve been through this process you’ll have a much better user experience and reap the full benefits from the package you have selected.