Three most common challenges when implementing a new project management system (and how you can clear ‘em)June 19th, 2019
Pass the paracetamol? We’re well aware that changing your project management software system can bring on a migraine. PriceWaterhouseCoopers says “the ability to successfully execute projects is what drives the realization of intended benefits and the achievement of business objectives”, and we agree. When it comes time to shift from the old to the new (whether from on-premises to cloud-based software, or from an outdated, non-specific solution to a more appropriate one) the pain can be real. We’re here to cure what ails you. Here we’re looking at the top three things that bring the burn when it comes to implementing new business software — and the cures. C’mon architectural, engineering and construction design folk, let’s get remedial.
This is the biggy. Hip pockets hurt. In one online Capterra study it was found that organizations “typically spend $10,329 a year on project management software”. Of the respondents in that survey who were dissatisfied with their project management (PM) system, “more than half (56%) say the cause is that the software is too expensive”. So, the question is, how much is too much to pay for your project management software, for your business?
- Know what you’re spending — in this, the age of software subscriptions, it isn’t so easy to work out the real cost to your business of the software platforms you have running your project management, but it’s never been more important to know if you want any sort of understanding of whether you’re running a profitable outfit or not. For the figuring, you need to look at the term of any contract you’re on for your PM tools and work out the cost over time, given opportunity cost… Uhuh, that made us want a microsleep too, but founder and CEO Scott Osborne makes it simple to understand here.
- Make sure you do a free trial first — to assess the value of any specific project management software to your business you need to have a go on it! The more industry-specific the features are, the more time and trouble it will save your practice. Being able to trial the software for a period before you commit will help you sort out the actual value compared to the price, i.e. how much it costs, which processes are streamlined as a result of using it, and how much time that streamlining saves… If the project management software you’re considering doesn’t offer demo freebies, we’d be extremely cautious, kids!
- Weigh up the cost of time saved — once you’ve worked out the $/€/£ figures above, in order to understand true cost, you need to map the price and time savings of your new project management system against the cost of the time you save by using it. That is to say, you take the time saved in hours and compare it to the cost of that time in expenses like wages and overheads. We’ve run through this in closer detail for you here.
- Make sure you’re comparing apples with apples (and we’re not talking Mac) — in your price comparison of potential project management systems, the sums really only make sense when you’re assessing like for like. What does that mean in this case? Glad you asked. It means that you can’t compare a business-wide, enterprise grade, feature-rich, all-in-one solution with disconnected, individual apps that just do one thing (like timesheets, or chats, or invoices). The latter will be cheaper, because it does substantially less. For that reason, you need to consider the price and headache involved in a series of different apps for each part of the PM process and then the cost of making the different apps work together.
Another big bother for firms looking to shift to a new project management software is the amount of time it will take to either migrate across or set up the system. Implementation time can mean that admin slows while your new systems are established and data is input. The cold compress for fevery brows in this case is twofold — smoothing and shortening implementation time with support, and crunching the numbers on how quickly you’ll recoup time lost in implementation with time saved after it.
- Look for something that includes training or has the option of support — the most sure-fire way to increase the amount of time it takes to don your new PM software is using a suck-it-and-see method of implementation. It’s tempting, sure, to have a newbie stab at setup on your own. However, you need to be guided through the process by someone who knows the software you’re moving to in order to get it done efficiently and with a complete understanding of the features most advantageous to your operation. Make sure your shiny new solution has some support (like online assistance, forums and training videos at a minimum) when you’re setting up, and at least the option for consultation to get you and your team pedalling to power.
- Compare time lost in implementation to time saved after it — again, you gotta know your numbers to know the actual cost of your project management software. Part of being able to work out the price tag is assessing down time, or lost time, while the business sets up, against the amount of time saved once it’s in place. This will put the time it takes for implementation into perspective as you can see the exponential savings spanning into your biz future. Success ahead, Captain!
It’s no good to have overcome the first two hurdles of implementing a new project management software if you can’t get your gang to use it. No good at all. We’ve all seen it before, well-intentioned thrusts into the future with new practices and tools, left abandoned and crumbling because no one picked ‘em up and used ‘em. Hello CRM system attempt number four — we’re looking at you!
The answer to this particular quandary lies in change management, friends. Adopting a new software for project management and taking on its new processes is contingent on the engagement of your staff and their willingness to run with it.
- Integration with existing systems and software — for ease of transition and for management of organizational change, it makes sense to start by seeking out a project management software that integrates with the systems you already use. Look at the software each of your staff, contractors, and clients do most of their work on (BIM apps, Drawboard Projects, 12D, Outlook, Xero, etc.) and find a PM solution that integrates with or has add-ons for as many as possible. This will make it a lot easier for your staff to fold the new software into their already existing workflow.
- Staff communication and training — actively developing the buy-in from your staff in any new system is crucial, but never more so than when that system is going to be the hub of your project activity. Generally speaking, all members of staff are going to have at least one touchpoint with your PM software. The key to getting everyone’s hands on, so to speak, is another two-pronged fix: communication and training. Firstly, make sure you’re explicit with staff about the benefits of the new software, and about the cost of not changing. Repeat yourself often and loudly. Secondly, make sure that your staff are properly trained in how to use the software and all of its features relevant to their role.
Given all the kerfuffle, why bother? Well, if you’re able to set clear and reasonable expectations around price, implementation, and change, then a new project management software system can spur growth in project success, improved bottom lines, refined processes and all ‘round better business juju. You and your team will work smarter, better, and faster. You can all spend more time doing what you love to do — designing the built environment.
If you’d like to read more about our AEC industry-specific project management software, and start a free 30-day trial, click here folks.