The recent blunder with Excel with Track and Trace has led many to see that Excel is not fit for purpose. But if you manage stakeholders, and want something to manage stakeholder data and to help create stakeholder communication, what should you use?
1. Cost vs. Functionality.
What is the budget for your tool? What staff are available to manage the information needed to make the tool work? How big is the project team? How many tasks are in the primary project work breakdown structure (WBS)? And how many levels of indenture are there? The power and degree of control needed for your choice of a tool hinge on the answers to these questions. Tools such as the industry standard Microsoft Project implemented in a SharePoint cloud environment costs thousands to acquire the enterprise licenses and thousands more in overhead costs to staff the team to make it run smoothly and keep it running. A simpler PM tool like Teamweek is a visual road mapping and time planning tool that you can try for free for 30 days and then move on to a monthly price plan of £30 to £250 depending on the size of your team.
2. Capability vs. Ease of Use.
The more capable the tool is, the higher the learning curve is going to be. Remember that your entire project team will have to be able to use the tool at some level. How much time do you have to give each member of your project team to learn the software? Of course, you can hire an expert for a price, but then you’re defeating the cost versus functionality paradigm.
3. Compatibility with Other Systems.
Your company has already invested in an integrated technology stack of communication, accounting, and reporting software for enterprise use. Does your tool need to interface with those other apps?
4. Documentation, Startup Support, and Ongoing Technical Support.
All software requires some degree of learning before you can become proficient in its use. How much support does the vendor provide for the software package? Consider the quality of the documentation you’ll receive. What setup and startup support you can expect? What are the long-term technical assistance, automatic upgrade features, and bug fix policies?
5. Security and Encryption
Do you need to protect personally identifiable information (PII), competition sensitive documents, and intellectual property? If the answer is yes, can the tool provide those services?
Always perform your due diligence on any software package you’re considering to buy. Read up on the experiences of other users and consult independent industry rating guides for tool performance. You won’t be sorry you did your homework.
Secure File Sharing
You must be aware of all laws and regulations concerning the protection of personally identifiable information (PII), copyright infringement, and protection of intellectual property. Failure to protect PII and violation of copyright infringement laws carry penalties (financial and corporate reputation), while failure to protect intellectual property (IP) can hurt the profitability of your company and result in litigation.
The important consideration on your part as concerns access to the data repositories and what communication tools and methods you use to transmit sensitive data. First, let’s identify the laws governing such activity in the United Kingdom.
1. The UK legislation implementing the EU Data Protection Directive was the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), s.1(1) of which provides, in words that differ from the Directive’s definition:
a. ‘”personal data” means data which relate to a living individual who can be identified–
i. (a) from those data, or
ii. (b) from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller,
b. And includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of the individual.
2. The UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Digital Economy Act 2010 apply to and may be breached by file sharing activity.
a. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 aims to protect the intellectual property rights of the creator or copyright holder. File sharing violates this act when the copyright owner has not given permission for its material to be shared.
b. The Digital Economy Act changed the penalties related to copyright infringement. The legislation is concerned more directly with copyright on the Internet than previous legislation that was more concerned with commercial abuse of copyright.
The actions you should take:
1. Implement a tiered hierarchy. Identify the level of access each project team member has to the document repository and archives. Sensitive documents must be kept separate from routine, unclassified documents and access control imposed.
2. Double check. Two-factor authentication of users should be employed as a means to prevent hacking into the project database.
3. Always encrypt. The transfer of sensitive files and any documents that could have elements of PII in the document must be encrypted before transmission using tools such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) tools.