When You Need a Project Management Solution, But Have No Budget

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The coronavirus has wiped out any budget surplus, and then some. Organizations are struggling with slow legacy systems, data duplication errors and manual reporting, but no budget for a streamlined solution. With so many municipalities now facing budget deficits, you might not think it’s the right time to research new software when, in reality, it’s likely the best.  

Making the decision on which software provider to go with is painful and intensive processAccording to CEB, a typical software solution purchase takes twice as long as customers expect it will. What you thought would be a quick purchase becomes drawn out over many months—and sometimes yearsThat’s why it’s important to begin looking right now.  

Most organizations have a buying committee who needs to approve the purchase, or purchase influencers who are reluctant to change. On average, these decisions involve at least seven people. To avoid running into stakeholder resistanceyou want to ensure the right people are involved from the start. By involving these key stakeholders from the beginning, you’ll reduce friction through the process and gain more buy-in. 

So, when you’re faced with a lengthy purchasing cycle and a budget that’s been slashed, but you know you need a solution, what can you do? Get the process started, today. Here are some pro tips to help guide the way.

  • Get the right people on board. Map your key stakeholders. These should be people who have a clear understanding of the pains your construction program faces.
  • Create a purchasing timeline and stick to it. Don’t let decisions become a bottleneck.
  • Define your pain point. Find out what’s working and what’s not in your current platform(s). What problem or problems are you trying to solve for? What are the “must have” features in the new system? Identify which features matter most to each stakeholder.
  • Outline success criteria. How will this new software improve processes after implementation?
  • Ask the vendor, “Do you have any clients like us?” and reach out for references if you can.
  • Scalability is extremely important. You need a software that can scale with your program as you grow.
  • Make a choice based on how the solution can address your pains NOW, not what features will be able to help you in the future. It’s common for vendors to sell on future iterations of the software.
  • Present your top selection. Show the decision makers how you came to your conclusion using hard data to support your choice.
  • Get clear expectations from the vendor on next steps, detailed guidelines for implementation, and what to expect for ongoing support.

What’s most important is that you take the first steps now. It’s often 6-12 months or more before a decision is made. After that, you’re looking at another 2-4 months to implement the software (best case). By the time you’ve completed your research, narrowed your selection and made your software choice, there’s a good chance funds will be available. Either way, when the budget comes through, you’re a year ahead of schedule.

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