So you are in the market for a Project Management solution.  What do you think about when trying to find the right one?  Theses days there are so many different solutions to choose from.  So it pays if you are methodical and do your research carefully.   It isn’t all about functionality though, in fact you can have too much of a good thing.  So perhaps you should try MEAT.  The Most Economically Advantageous Tender.  This approach will help you by bringing value for money into your selection process.

value for money;project management software

Value for money – don’t over specify

Many organisations start their search for a project management tool by drawing up a list of the features they think they want.  Of course this is a good idea but sometimes it can get out of hand.  These lists can get very long and can end up including lots of things which are only of interest to a small number of users.  When this ‘over specification’ happens it narrows the possible applications to being just the most highly featured ones.  You then get two very big negatives:

Firstly the solution will be much more expensive.  Secondly the solutions being more complex will be harder to train to users and in practice to actually use.  Strong control from the leaders of the selection project will help here.  Especially if they use a MOSCOW approach.  Here you mark the function list with Must have, Should have, Could have, Won’t have.

The secret to this is that only absolutely core requirements like reporting and security should be Must have.  Things not universally identified as Must have should be Should have.  You should also bear in mind the things which are appropriate for your level of maturity.  If you try to jump to capabilities too far above your current point the radical change will be difficult to adopt.  This blog post and you tube video will be helpful in understanding this.

When you then score the categories it allows applications with more features to be better represented.  But crucially it doesn’t disqualify a solution which might be missing one aspect that some people need  but is otherwise very attractive.  This functionality score should be represented as a % with a solution that meets everything getting a 100% score.  Of course you might like to weight some features higher than others.

Value for money – the EA in MEAT

Now you have a scored list of suppliers and how they match to your functionality.  The second half of the MEAT equation is to then compare the cost of each solution.  If you wrote your requirements well with user numbers, periods and service levels this should be easy to do.  Usually the lowest price gets a 100% score and then the other solutions are prorated against this.  So a solution would get a 50% score if it was 2x the price of the lowest (and this is surprisingly common).

MEAT then brings your two scores together.  Perhaps you might do this simply by just adding the functional and price scores.  More often though buyers weight the split perhaps giving a 70:30 weighting to function vs price.

This is a rational way to help judge tenders which can often vary significantly in function and price.  Of course you don’t have to follow it but it really helps to bring clarity to that surprisingly common trap.  “Do I really want to pay twice the price for those few features more?”.

Value for money – buy vs lease

One trend in the Project management software market has developed strongly over the last ten years.  That is organisations choosing to lease their solution rather than buy it.  We will discuss the pros and cons of this in the next blog piece.

Of course not everyone goes to formal tender.  Public sector organisations can often purchase SaaS solutions through GCloud and you can find us listed there.


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