A range of software exists to make project management smoother and more efficient. But while general-use applications are readily available in most organizations (word processing, spreadsheets, and the like), gaining approval for PM-specific software can be a challenge. We’ve put together some suggestions to help you move software requests through the approval process successfully.
Build a business case. Too often, software is viewed as a must-have by PMOs but a nice-to-have by those in charge of approving the budget. It’s up to you to treat it as a resource and craft a solid business case for it. Provide thorough descriptions of the software and any hardware requirements it may have—the software’s value may be obvious to you, but a non-PM might need supporting documentation to make an informed decision.
Highlight error reduction. If the software will help eliminate errors or reduce the time to reconcile earlier errors, be sure to make a point of it. Errors can be costly in a number of ways—compromised worker safety, unnecessary expenditures, extended timelines, wasted or duplicated efforts, even missed business opportunities and reduced competitive advantages—and you should consider all them of when drafting your business case.
Show the return on your investment. Remember that ROI doesn’t have to be in dollars (though that’s the most common and easily understood method). Cost savings, headcount reduction/stabilization, reduced time to market—whatever the particular benefits your proposed software package will provide, put them into terms your senior staff can easily understand and relate to.
Coordinate with IT. In many organizations, the IT group must evaluate and approve software before it goes to the executives for a final OK. It’s best to involve IT early in the process, so they can address potential support, security, or infrastructure issues before they become impediments to approval.