Abandoning software you regularly use and moving everything over doesn’t have to be painful. If you prepare properly and choose the right timing, it can be a breeze.
Here are 5 simple tips that will save you a lot of time and effort when switching project management software.
The first step is research. It’s essential for making an informed decision. There are numerous ways of getting information about software. An obvious one is word of mouth. Recommendations by people you trust are priceless. Ask your friends, colleagues, or even clients.
Social media is another good research channel. Comparison websites, blogs, and other resources will give you plenty of choices. So many in fact, that you’ll feel overwhelmed.
Help yourself by making a list of requirements for your team and workflow. Split the list into the following columns:
- good to have
Then use the checklist to eliminate entries that don’t match your essential requirements. Once you’ve done that, focus on the ones that are left. Make a shortlist of the ones you prefer. Try not to have too many items on the shortlist, 4-6 is enough. Chances are you won’t have enough time to properly test 7 apps or more.
Don’t just gloss over the features list. Play around with a free trial for as long as you can. See how easy it is to use and what you can do with it. At first, it may seem like a perfect fit, but once you actually start using it regularly, important issues may come up.
Try to use it on a real project. It doesn’t have to be an important one and you don’t have to include all team members (although it would be good for getting proper feedback). For example, organize a small event, run one phase of an existing project, or simply make a dummy project with a real life scenario.
3. Import Data
Once you’ve chosen the best one, it can be a real headache to set everything up, especially if you depended on the previous app for a long time and have a lot of data in it.
For a start, get in touch with the company who makes the app you want to switch to. They’ll usually go out of their way to help. After all, it’s exactly what they want: a new customer who chose their product over competition. Another benefit of direct communication is that you’ll see how quickly they respond to inquiries and how helpful their sales/support team is.
There are few ways to migrate data:
Automatic - If you’re lucky, there will be an import tool that allows you to move all your data over in a few clicks. For example, if a company is looking for a Basecamp alternative and decides to move to ActiveCollab, all they need to do is enter their URL and credentials, and hit Import. All users and projects are then imported hassle-free.
Data backup - A second option is retrieving a data backup. It can be in different forms (e.g. vcard contacts or excel sheets). Then you can import this data into the new tool.
Custom - If none of these options are available, try to find a third party solution like Zapier or a custom app that can do the job for you. This is a more complicated option because it involves extra work, time, and money. Yet, it can be a better solution if you have thousands of entries and adding them manually would take ages.
4. Prepare the Team
It’s important that the entire team is familiar with the new app before the switch. If you can include them in the testing, that would be perfect. If not, make sure they are aware of the main features.
The best way to ensure they are prepared for the switch is to hold a short demo and let them know what they can expect. For more details, refer them to video tutorials, user guides, and customer support.
5. Choose the Right Time
It would be ideal to perform the migration outside working hours. If this is not possible, try to arrange it in a way that’ll cause minimum disruption. Make sure you let the entire team know in advance, so that they don’t enter the data into the old system.
Poor communication at this stage leads to many problems. Once you’re sure everyone is on the same page, you can go ahead with the migration.
All that’s left is for the team to get used to the new tool. If you made the right choice, it won’t take long.