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Choosing A Project Management Tool: 5 Essential Criteria

There are so many different project management tools out there, making it hard to choose which one would be best for your organization. Which one would fit best with your business processes? Which features should it have? If you know which questions to ask, you will be able to find the answers. We have compiled the most important selection criteria for you in this article, plus a handy checklist that you can download for free.

Choosing A Project Management Tool: 5 Essential Criteria

Are you going through the struggle of selecting a project management tool? We know how real this struggle is! Finding the right fit for your company is not easy. There are thousands of project management tools on the market and every single one of them claims to be the best. Look no further. We have done extensive research, gathering the most important evaluation criteria to consider before selecting a project management tool.

Table of contents

1. Map out your needs and goals
2. Define the must-have features
3. Keep convenience in mind
4. Find the most competitive price point
5. Sign up for a free trial/demo
6. Conclusion
7. Download Checklist

Map out your needs and goals

Successfully selecting the right tool begins with knowing what your team’s needs are. Besides this, it’s important to define what you want to achieve with your team in the foreseeable future. It might be useful to have a get-together to ask the following questions.

Which challenges are we currently facing?

Looking for a project management tool is the solution. So first you need to ask yourself the question: what is the problem I’m trying to solve? What is my main goal? Which roadblocks along the way am I currently facing?

Write everything down. You perceive information differently when you see it written down. You may be surprised by what you find when you start going through the list point by point. Some roadblocks are obvious. Others may take some digging to uncover, but the extra effort will pay off in the end.

Which features do we actually need?

We are not just talking about the nice-to-haves. We are trying to focus on what it is that you really need.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing “everything is important”. So be mindful of this. We already recommended you to write down the challenges you face in the previous point. Now you can use this list for reference. You will find that every challenge might lead to a specific feature that you should be looking for.

Which project management tool would be the best fit to help your team achieve their goals?

What is the best fit for our team?

Once you have evaluated what the main challenges and features are, you can determine what fits best with your team. If your team is fully remote for example, simultaneous user access is important and the program should remain reliable while multiple people work in it.

Team size is another important factor to consider. Some tools are enterprise solutions. Others such as Rodeo, are more focused on smaller teams, which is common in the creative industry.

You could opt for multiple specialized tools that integrate with each other. That makes things complicated though, and who wants complicated? Thus, ideally you will end up with an all-in-one solution that doesn't need any integrations at all.

Last but not least, consider your team’s methodology. You can learn more about different project management methodologies and which would be the best for your business in this blog.

Define the must-have features

After making the initial first steps, it’s time to delve deeper. Most project management tools on the market have multiple features, so how do you choose the right one for your team?

As you evaluate your options, it is important to consider the must-have features and then build on top with features that are a nice bonus. 

Some common features are:

  • Time tracking/Timesheets

  • Task management

  • Budgeting

  • Planning

  • Estimates

  • Invoicing

  • Dashboards

  • Reports

  • CRM

  • People management

  • Expense tracking

  • Ability to share externally

  • Ability to upload/attach files

  • Customizable

What are the must-have features a project management tool should have?

Keep convenience in mind

When it comes to thoroughly evaluating a project management tool, it’s not just the composition of features that need consideration. You might be excited about finding a tool with more than 10 features, only to find out that it’s not practical at all. 

User-friendliness

You need a tool with a level of intuitiveness that matches your work processes. Moreover, a level of user-friendliness that matches your team. 

Some tools are very straightforward, with an interface and features that are self-explanatory. You will also come across some tools that are a bit more complex, with elaborate features.

Maybe you have tech-savvy team members that are highly proficient with software. If this is not the case, however, you will be better off selecting a tool that is intuitive and very easy to use. 

Practical functionality

Besides user-friendliness, there are other technical components that should be considered too. Check which security measures are in place to ensure safe use of the tool for example. 

Furthermore, do you expect you will need support during business hours only? Or would you prefer a tool that offers support 24/7? 

These practical things are easily overlooked during the selection process, but will prove to be crucial in the long run.

Thus, some other selection criteria worth considering includes:

  • Integration capabilities

  • Data privacy

  • Support Center

  • Hosting model: cloud-based vs. server-based

Find the most competitive price point

Congratulations! By now, you should have a better idea of what to look for in a tool and how to decide which one is best for you. 

Another extremely useful evaluation criteria to help you sift through the results is the price. Depending on the size of your company, this can be a big factor. 

Subscriptions: flat fee or fee per user

Most tools offer a few different subscription types. Some will require you to pay a flat fee while others require a fee per user. This usually depends on the hosting model, which was mentioned in the previous point. 

If the project management tool offers cloud-based services, the pricing model is based on the number of users per month. For server-based tools, a flat fee is the most common pricing model. 

A fee per user profile

A select few tools take it even further, considering the different types of employees that a company might have. Project managers will probably use all or most of the features a tool has, while other team members might only need to see their tasks and track their time.

For this reason, some tools allow you to pay a fee per user based on the user profile. There is a price for users with access to all features, with a cheaper price for users who need fewer features. It doesn’t get more cost-efficient than that!

Payment per month or year

Another thing to review is whether you would like to pay per month or year. As you might be aware, software companies tend to offer a bulk discount when you subscribe for a year. However, you will be making a much longer commitment.

Sign up for a free demo/trial

Test, test, test!

The best way to discover if something works or not is to test it. This doesn’t only apply to marketing in general, but also in the case of choosing a project management tool.

Let’s say that you have narrowed down your selection significantly, you will be ready to put some of them to the test. Fortunately, most project management tools offer a demo or a trial for a limited amount of time. Usually, this is offered for free and without needing a credit card, like Rodeo does.

This way, you can explore the tool while talking to support for the duration of your free trial. Any questions you might have about the features or further customizations can be answered as you are guided through the trial period.

Conclusion

We hope this extensive step-by-step guide will be of great help while evaluating and choosing a project management tool.

In the end, you are the one deciding which of the criteria are most important to you. There are so many products to choose from, which makes it super important to make the right choice for your company and team.

Just to make your life easier, we have compiled a checklist with all the criteria from this article. Download it for free and use it to evaluate all the project management tools you are considering.

Download the checklist here

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