New Project Management System? It Only Helps to Know the Kinds of Decisions You’ll Need to Make
As if carefully selecting a project management system for use within your organization wasn’t hard enough. You’ve done your due diligence and you’ve made your selection, but now it’s time to put that system into use and introduce it to your colleagues and clients.
I have spent the last few weeks implementing a new project management system for Artisan (Celoxis), and have made several decisions and realizations along the way. Below are five important decisions you’ll likely need to make if you plan to implement a new project management system yourself. If you are aware of these going into the process, you might just get that system up in a matter of days instead of weeks!
1. Decide who will have access and what permissions they need.
If you can categorize the users such that those within the same category share the same set of permissions, your set up will be easier. Your project management system likely has some kind of permissions-based structure that determines the system features and type of information that is available to users based on some kind of categorization. For example, you may categorize your system users as employees, contractors, and clients, or you may categorize users by their departments and roles. Determine these categories up front, and you’ll quickly determine how to add users to your system and ensure they have access to the appropriate system tools and project information.
2. Decide what kind of project information you want.
Items like the project name, a basic description, and the project schedule are a given. But what about other project information such as project requirements, project warnings, or project software needs? Reporting should influence this decision – what type of reports do you want to be able to generate, and what kind of information would you like to cross-reference? Answering these questions can help determine the type of information you want available for each project in your system. For example, you may want a report that shows the time spent on projects that have a certain set of special requirements. Comparing this information to your “regular” projects may give you a better idea of how much additional time you need for special requirement projects.
3. Decide if you want to use the system as a document repository.
Many systems let you upload project documents and task-related documents. Where are you storing your documents today? Are you willing to change that process? Does the system support all of your different document types? Are the system’s storage costs affordable? Answering these questions can help you decide if you want to use your system as a document repository or if, instead, you want to link to documents stored elsewhere. This may include using services like Dropbox or Google Drive. You’ll also want to establish some rules about the types of documents that should be referenced in the system and those that should not.
4. Determine what tools or instructions users will need to succeed with the system.
You don’t really expect everyone to read through the system’s help documentation, do you? At the very least, you will likely want to develop a set of (abbreviated) instructions for each category of users you established from #1 above. For example, you may want a set of instructions you can send to your clients (or project stakeholders) about how to log-in and access project information, schedules, documents, and project progress. This not only provides as a valuable resource for those using the system, but can help ensure that your system is used in a consistent manner by its various users.
5. Decide to decide later.
Don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of set up that is required to get up and running with your system. Your new project management system only becomes useful once you actually start using it. If you’re unsure about how you’ll address certain features of the system, don’t be afraid to start using the system and choose to make that decision later. Keep a list of the decisions you’ve delayed, and as you begin using your system, your needs and wishes may just end up driving their importance.
There are plenty of decisions you’ll need to make when setting up a new project management system. Knowing even just a few of them ahead of time can help you plan your system implementation time accordingly. To learn more about how Artisan E-Learning has implemented Celoxis to manage e-Learning production, be sure to catch Diane Elkins and Nick Elkins at Learning Solutions on Thursday, March 20th, for their presentation: Implementing Project Management Software for e-Learning Production.