Selecting the right project management software can be a time-consuming task for architects. One that no one wants to repeat because your needs aren’t being met, and then the discovery phase starts all over again.
For your own piece of mind and that of your team, take the time to pick a platform that integrates well with your organization. To help you with this process we’ve put together 6 questions architects should ask when selecting a Project Management software.
1. Was it built with architects in mind?
Did you know that Louisville Slugger (the most well-known baseball bat company) was originally your standard woodworking shop in 1884? They didn’t set out to be a household name. The first professional baseball bat they built happened by chance because the woodworkers’ son was an amateur baseball player.
Where are we going with this?
Louisville Slugger was successful because the son had experience with baseball and their first professional bat was built with ball players in mind. Your PM platform should be the same!
It’s worth considering the thought process behind why a project management software was created in the first place. Ask yourself during your research: Was this platform built with architectural projects in mind?
Architectural projects are the core of what architects do. They involve technical phases, multiple internal and external stakeholders, unique benchmarks and performance metrics. Software designed for the needs of the architectural industry give users more powerful, customized tools to better manage their projects. Those platforms designed for general, one-off projects not just in the architectural field won’t have the right features architects need.
2. Is it easy to use?
Not everyone can be a tech guru, which is why an IT department exists. When it comes to making your life and that of your team easier, find a platform that is simple, user-friendly and intuitive. Look for a tool that has the essential features you need, and none that you don't. Your team will thank you.
Sounds easy enough to do, but how do you ensure it is actually easy? There are a number of ways - the best is to try yourself first! Most companies offer free trials or demos so that you can see the software in action and test it out. Also, make sure the platform is cloud-based and mobile friendly.
3. Does it provide analysis and feedback that helps you better manage your projects?
Far too often we hear from architects that they are too busy monitoring a project to effectively manage the project. If you are a small to mid-size firm, look for added benefits in a PM software such as reports and dashboards.
Some of the functionality you should look for in a platform are:
- Track progress by stage in real-time, identifying hurdles long before they happen
- Compare key metrics that really matter like net multipliers, profitability and collection
- Benchmark performance across project types, teams and clients
- Identify hurdles long before they happen with real-time updates
4. How integrated is its tracking functionality?
Tracking a project is essentially the purpose of a PM software, but understanding the layers of what is available on a PM platform is essential. If you are currently using Excel or spreadsheets as your primary tool, pay special attention to this tip, and see what a PM software can do for you.
Spreadsheets have a number of limitations - primarily that your information is not integrated anywhere else nor available in real time. Considering how much time it takes to input information into spreadsheets and ensure formulas are accurate, the opportunity to simplify the process and increase productivity is substantial. Not to mention, you free up time to focus on working to deliver a great project to your client.
With Frank you can track progress by team member including projects they are working on, role settings and permissions; assigned tasks, progress level by task and actual vs. budgeted hours.
5. Is it right-sized for your firm?
Software can be expensive! One of the first questions we hear from architects is: “How much?”
Conduct pricing comparisons with your favorite platforms and notice which companies “up-sell” or offer “right-sized” - meaning you only pay for the features you use. Sure, buying the top of the line, feature-rich platform that does so much it can probably fly to the moon may seem like a good idea, but do you really need all of these features, and at that premium price?
Many companies throw in features so that it seems like you are getting a lot for your money, but generally people probably use maybe 20% of them. Take notice of the platforms that have the functionality you want and need, at the right price.
6. Will it streamline communications?
Project Managers know that communication is vital to a successful project. You need to keep clients, designers, staff and contractors all in the loop. A good platform will allow you to share updates instantly, with the right people.
And what happens when someone needs to jump in mid-project (which is often known to happen)? Onboarding should be made quick and easy with access to centralized project documents, communication history, team members, workflows, and tasks. Finding a tool that helps your team get up to speed quickly will keep stress to a minimum and make for a more efficient project.
As you research, make sure you ask the right questions so you can determine what qualities of a Project Management software matter to you and your studio. And survey your team, figure out their pain points. Likely many of them were listed above. Don’t settle for a product that doesn’t simplify your work and wasn’t built for architectural projects. Go with the platform that was designed to simplify work and make your job -and your life- less complicated.
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Frank ensures that the entire project team remains up-to-date, offering valuable feedback and guidance, in real time. Frank helps you save time and money, and won’t make you break the bank. If you have between 5 and 30 users, the cost ranges from just $0 to $300 per month.
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