Posted by: Gilad Lev-Shamur | June 26, 2011

PMO series – part 5: How to choose the PMO software

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When coming to choose the best software for our PMO, we cannot find a single solution. There are different demands and the answer may be changed during the PMO development process. Sophisticated solution might not suit if we take into consideration additional data:

Choosing our software is not like entering into the computer store and buy some games. As the process of choosing our software and implementing it in our organization can take several  months / years, and the implications of choosing the wrong software might be devastated, you should work carefully to capture all the relevant data.

Research

You should do some research before you can jump to the water and play with nice graphs and indicators:

  • What are you using – review all the tools you currently use to manage your projects. What solutions they give you? What they can not do? How many applications you need to operate? Who can operate them? And so on..
  • What you need – as trivial as it sound, many people skip this step and start looking for the answer before knowing the question. As I see it, this step should involve all the factors that might use the PMO software: project managers, engineers, customers, management, teams members, etc.  you should check whether (but not limited):
    • It should handle the project schedule
    • You need to link between different projects
    • You need a place to store the projects documents
    • You need the software to manage the project from the project request (initiation) phase
    • It should store the projects risks
    • It should have built-in reports ( and easily add more)
    • It should manage/ report the projects costs
    • It could control the access for specific  area (permission levels)
    • You need to manage a portfolio with it or separate projects
    • It should have internal/ external access.

Find solutions

After completing the research, we should start looking for our solution. There are different places in which you can look, part of them are closer than you think:

  • In Your company – you will be sometimes amazed how one department in a big organization, do not know what are the tools and techniques another department is using. Start with your IT guys. They usually have a marvelous collection of PM tools with nice graphs and indicators. Check how they use it and how you can implement it in your departments.
  • In professional events – Usually all the big companies have some place where they present the latest solutions provided by them.
  • From professional literaturePM Network , blogs, etc.
  • From colleagues in the industry – this might narrow your search for software which is appropriate for your needs.

Choose your software

You gathered all the relevant data. Now it is the time to choose the appropriate software. You should check whether they fit to the needs you found in the research phase (remember that you will not found a software that fit all. You should rank them by their importance to you). Consider also:

  • The implementation process – do you need a specialist? Could you do it by yourself?
  • Organization guidelines– could you install any software you want or you need the IT department to approve it first?
  • Current solutions – your company might already purchased a license to one of the suggested software.
  • Price – of course…

The bottom line is that choosing a PMO software, is not just looking for nice graphs and dashboards. Doing it right will save you a lot of money and will give you a software that will serve you for long time.

Good luck!

Gilad

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