You’ve been doing your research on project management software for a little while now, and you’ve narrowed your search down to a few different solutions. On paper, these tools have everything you’re looking for, but the only way to know for sure is by taking a test drive.
All three of the solutions you’ve been eyeing offer two-week free trials, but you want to make sure you make the absolute most of that time. This is where you’ll want to come up with a plan for your free trial to make it as close to a real experience as possible.
Features vary by project management tool, but in general, here are the boxes you’ll want to check when doing your free trial, in no particular order.
1. Create placeholder users to represent your team.
The process for adding a new user in Wrike, a popular project management software solution.
Most project management free trials won’t let you add more than one actual user, but you can add placeholder users to replicate the experience of actually working in the system. Depending on the software you go with, you should be able to add names, profile pictures, job titles, team affiliations, and other information, such as availability.
Ideally, you’ll want to create a placeholder user for every person on your team. This way you can get a feel for what a paying user experience will be like if you decide to go with one solution over another.
How much visibility do you have into what each placeholder user is doing? Are there different privileges you can grant users? Take note of this so you can review how each project management solution compares after the trial period is over.
2. Create a test project.
Some project management tools, such as Basecamp, allow you to create projects (to-dos) and assign team members to certain tasks.
This doesn’t have to be a real project, but using a personal or work project as a test will give you a look into how project-building works in the software.
Let’s say you want to build your kids a treehouse. You’ll probably want to set a deadline for completing it, create a list of materials you’ll need to build it, assign tasks to some of your helpful friends, and set status updates.
Some project management solutions will even allow you to make certain tasks dependent on others before you can start them. This way you don’t raise the treehouse on stilts before you build the roof, for instance.
3. Check for integrations.
Like most businesses, you probably use a lot of business software tools every day. While not all of these will relate to your project management solution, check for integration with the ones that do.
For example, if you run an ecommerce site or an Etsy store, you might use a project management solution to stay on top of orders as they come in from the website. If your project management tool integrates with Gmail or Outlook, you may be able to set your system to remind you to send a handwritten note along with orders over a set dollar amount.
Additionally, your designer may want to share new designs for review within a project card. If your project management tool integrates with Dropbox or Box, your designer can share design previews straight to the card in your project management solution.
4. Experiment with automations.
Popular project management tool Trello allows you to create automations using logic rules.
Depending on who the primary user of your project management software will be, you may want to check for automations when conducting your free trial. Automation is typically associated with long lines of code, but many project management solutions will allow you to set automation rules using only logic rules or drag-and-drop workflows.
If you’re a blogger, you might automate the process of sending first drafts to your editor. In your system, the rule might look something like this:
Trigger: When [insert username] is mentioned on my card,
Action: move my card to the [top/bottom] of [insert lane]
Play around with the various automations offered by the project management software you’re trying out. See if your integrated apps and automations can work together to automatically create a new card every time you receive an order in Shopify.
Automations vary by tool, so don’t be afraid to dive deep here.
5. Run reports and build dashboards.
Dashboards in project management tools such as LiquidPlanner allow you to visualize workflows.
Arguably one of the most useful aspects of project management software is its ability to help you visualize workflows. But workflow visualization would be nothing without reports and dashboards.
Almost every project management tool will offer some kind of dashboard feature, but not every tool will offer the reports you use. For instance, does this tool allow you to view project completion status as a Gantt chart, or will you still have to build them out manually in Excel?
Your DevOps team’s scrum master may also want to use burndown charts to see pacing on weekly sprints. Use the free trial as an opportunity to check for all the desired reporting tools for every stakeholder.
TechnologyAdvice can help.
We can’t complete the free trial for you, but we do know which software solutions are most likely to meet your needs. We’ll ask you a few questions and then send you a shortlist of the best project management solutions for your business.
If you’re ready to start test driving a project management tool, give us a call today at 877.822.9526 or email us at email@example.com. Our Technology Advisors will walk you through a free five-minute consultation to learn more about your project management needs and point you toward next steps. If you want to do some more research first, visit our Project Management Product Selection Tool to learn more.