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How do I Choose the Best Project Cost Management Software?

Larry Ray Palmer
Larry Ray Palmer

Finding the right project cost management software can make the difference between completing a project within or under budget and running out of funding halfway through the process. Finding the software suite that is best suited to a project's specific needs takes a bit of research. To choose the best project cost management software, you need to understand what you expect from the software, how to use it, and what the software is worth to you.

The primary consideration when searching for project cost management software is determining exactly what you need the software to do. If your project involves updating investors on progress, it may be beneficial to opt for a software suite that produces visual graphics to explain the numbers. On the other hand, if the project will mainly be monitored within the company, you may be able to get by with a program that offers a more basic running tab of costs. Projects with multiple sources of funding or several categories of expenses may require more complex project cost management software than simpler activities.

Woman holding an optical disc
Woman holding an optical disc

Some of the options available in certain types of project cost management software are very necessary to its function, while other components may simply be nice bonus features. A budgeting module is a core component of this type of software. Supplier contact information, project tracking, and project planning modules are also very useful. Other components like predictive modeling may not be essential to successful project cost management, but are included in some high-end project cost management software suites as an added incentive to purchase the suite.

The user interface may be an important consideration. Even if a specific project cost management software suite is touted as the best program available, if you and your team can't use it, it may not be very effective. In some cases, it may be a better choice to choose software with fewer options and a better user interface. Choose software packages that include built-in help files or customer support, and pick the software that is accessible even to users with a basic level of technical knowledge. The ability to operate the software comfortably will be important to the project's success.

Aside from the other considerations when choosing project cost management software, price is likely a top consideration. While some management software is very expensive, other very good titles are free. The price may be an indicator of the added functionality included in the package. If your project is a very simple one, such as managing the fundraising bake sale of a local organization, a freeware program may be more than adequate for the task. More advanced projects, like the development and production of a line of new products, may require more advanced cost management software.

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