One of the most pressing questions that is always buzzing around the project management world is a very simple one: is the investment that goes into project management solutions software worth it?
We will break this question up into two parts: 1) Would our organization benefit from PM software solutions and 2) If so, is Microsoft Project the best choice?
Would your organization benefit from PM software solutions?
Project management technology will not benefit everyone. If you are running a small business where a team of 10 people work out of one office on one project at a time, then using software might be needlessly rigorous for your operations.
The following is a summary of the factors your organization should consider that would indicate whether or not the there is a favorable ROI for implementing technology:
1. # of projects: We estimate that your organization needs to run at least ten simultaneous projects for there to be enough complexity to necessitate software such as Microsoft Project Server. Any less than this, and the resources, budget, et cetera can likely be tracked manually and may not be worth the investment of time and effort to deploy enterprise-type project management software.
2. Complexity of projects: Not all projects are created equal. The following are the two biggest factors for how complicated projects are:
a) Geographic Dispersion: A project with resources spread among multiple continents will obviously benefit greatly from having tools that effectively communicate project essentials.
b) Predictability and Repeatability of the Tasks: Projects that are made up of a series of tasks that are always done in a similar manner are simpler. Construction, for example, is made to be much simpler since the foundation, dry wall, wiring, flooring, et cetera are always done in the same order using similar techniques. Projects done on an assembly line are the most predictable and repeatable.
3. How much the organization has to invest: The more your organization invests in projects, the more value there is in reducing risk in your projects. Your organization needs to measure budgets in the millions for there to be enough at stake to be worth implementing technology into the project management process.
If your organization fits all of these criteria, then there’s a good chance that the risk of having non-optimally managed projects will exceed the investment in project management software. To summarize, this includes organizations with at least 5 PMs, at least 10 projects and investments that measure in the millions. Organizations that are geographically dispersed and that work with projects that are not easily replicable gain additional benefit.
In our next post, we will address whether or not Microsoft Project is the answer for the organization that finds that a software solution is the answer.