Choosing the Right Project Management System for Your Business

Recently, Organik SEO made the switch to a new project management system!

As our business and in-house team has continued to expand, we started to outgrow the project management system we had in place for the past four years. We had taken on new clients, who brought larger campaigns that required more management and collaboration among the team. Not only did this present some challenges, but with our new team members, we also had to find a way to monitor and utilize the team to our full potential. Our project management system was void of any resource allocation tools, and we knew we needed to find a way to better manage our team.

Fast forward several (or five) months, and we have completed our goal! We faced some challenges along the way, and since this was such a huge undertaking (and accomplishment), we wanted to offer our advice to any other agencies who may be looking to make that big switch in the near future. Below are our tips for making the transition to a new PM system as seamless as possible:

Define What You Need

Preparation is key for a big business decision like this, so make sure you start the process with a good foundation. We suggest forming a small team of 2-4 people that will be involved in the process from beginning to end. We’ll call this your “PM Dream Team”. Consider including individuals responsible for the ongoing project management of client work, as well as whoever on your team handles the operations of the business (scheduling, hiring, resource allocation, etc). For example, we included our Client Strategist and our Operations Managers. Make sure to set the expectations for your dream team, and let them know this is a very involved process which requires some dedicated time.

With that dream team, discuss what features you need in a PM system for your business to be successful. Define the issues you’re currently facing that could be solved by a project management tool, and what kind of reporting/business intelligence would benefit your company the most. In our case, we noted project management organization and resource allocation as our main requirements of a new system. Create a list of the features you need, as well as a few that you would like to have, and be sure to set a budget before beginning your research.

Another important factor to keep in mind from the beginning is how the PM system will align with your current workflow. At Organik SEO, we have the majority of our clients set up with a repeating monthly retainer. When we began our research, we had to find a PM system that would allow us to easily replicate the project template each month. Let us preface this by saying: it’s harder than you think to find exactly what you’re looking for. For every ten systems we looked into, few (if any) had the retainer capability we were seeking. We don’t want to discourage you, but we do want to set honest expectations for this process, so make sure you allocate a decent amount of time dedicated specifically to the research phase!

Compare Your Options

Once you’ve defined what you’re looking for, it’s time to begin searching for your perfect PM system match. In order to keep your dream team on the same page, we recommend creating a master spreadsheet where you can compare each PM system. It can seem overwhelming at first to compare all of the potential systems, so take the time to make it easier on yourself by prepping for it.

We created a spreadsheet to track which PM systems had the features we wanted. As we started to look into and narrow down our options for PM systems, we found it was much easier for comparison purposes to color code our chart. It also helped during our final stages of narrowing down our top-rated options, so we could see what we could create workarounds for, and what we couldn’t live without. This helped get our list of potential systems down to about four possibilities, which is much easier to compare on a granular level.

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Demo The Systems

Once you have completed your initial research and narrowed down your options to the final few, it’s time to see how the system would work for you. In a few cases, our preliminary research would suggest a perfect PM system, but what we saw in the demo was nothing close to what we were looking for. We cannot stress enough how important it is to see a full demo of a system before signing a contract. It’s important that you know exactly what you’re paying for.

The reps that perform the PM system demos tend to be pretty knowledgeable about the system’s capabilities, so ask them to demo the features of the system you would be utilizing most. Also, ask to see a demonstration of your workflow from start to finish, so you can get an established idea of what it be would like for your team to use it. Typically, the rep will ask you some initial questions about your business to understand how you work, and how the system could help. Some PM systems don’t offer any demos, which was a deal-breaker for us personally, but most companies offer free demos and will work around your schedule. Once you’ve seen how each system works, it’s time to evaluate and decide with your PM dream team which one offers the best solution.

Stay tuned, we’ll be releasing a sequel to this post with tips for implementing a new project management system!

BTW – If you’re wondering which PM system we went with, Function Point was the right choice for us. They’re not paying us to state this…haha! However, we would like to mention that are a lot of great systems out there – and we explored a lot of them! It’s just a matter of finding what works for you and your business.

If you found this information helpful, be sure to check out our post “How and Why to Become a Purpose-driven Business.“ Organik SEO is passionate about helping businesses grow by tapping into the power of social media and SEO. To discuss how we can help you grow your business, contact us today!