Managing projects is a complex undertaking that requires attention to detail and a commitment to effective techniques. At times, overseeing it all can feel overwhelming.
This is where project management software comes in. These tools create visibility and efficiencies for project teams and leadership. The best tools also enable collaboration and effective decision making and, ultimately, can overcome the overwhelming to provide positive project outcomes.
Let’s talk about project management benefits, key features, and considerations in selecting a solution that will support your success.
What are the benefits of project management software?
Using project management software can address significant business challenges and can support a more agile approach to work.
Just a few of the key benefits are listed below.
Project management software provides a single, centralized location for storing and organizing project information. This makes it easier for team members to access and collaborate on the project with the latest information.
Communication is always key, and project management software typically includes tools and integrations for communication, such as chat, notifications, and document sharing. This helps team members stay connected and on the same page even if they are working remotely.
Project management software increases productivity by streamlining tasks and processes, freeing up team members to focus on more important work. It can also help identify and resolve bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
Tracking progress is an obvious focal point of managing projects, but without good visibility into what is happening, that information isn’t always…obvious. Project management software provides real-time updates, allowing instant access to team members and stakeholders. This kind of visibility helps identify and correct potential issues early on, before they become bigger problems.
Project management tools can provide key analytics and a single source of truth to help teams make informed decisions about the project. By gaining data-rich insights, teams can achieve continuous improvement.
Another benefit is increased team collaboration. Effective project management software encourages team members to work together productively by providing common online workspaces and integrated workflows, even if team members are working in different locations.
Managing risk is a crucial component of any project. This is why the best project management solutions include specific features with regard to risk management. Functionality often includes progress indicators, rich data tracking, and alert automations. These features identify and mitigate potential risks to the project.
Project management software can reduce costs by streamlining processes and minimize (or eliminate!) unnecessary manual tasks and fragmented or redundant tools. By decreasing room for error and the need for rework, organizations can gain greater efficiencies across the board.
Improved project delivery success
By improving organization, communication, productivity and decision making, project management software helps teams deliver projects on time and within budget.
Project Management Software Features
Here are some key project management software capabilities and what they can help organizations achieve:.
Support of Project Management Frameworks
Project management tools vary in how they support various project management frameworks, which range from agile (such as Scrum and Kanban) to traditional approaches (such as Waterfall). Some tools focus on supporting a single framework, while others provide features that accommodate more than one. The most flexible project management tools will provide capabilities to accommodate different types of project management approaches.
Connecting Strategy to Execution
As critical as strategic planning is, it is essential that projects are aligned with organizational objectives. Project management tools can provide a framework for connecting strategy with execution. The most innovative of these tools streamline this process, making connecting the dots easy.
Task and Resource Management
Project management tools necessarily manage both tasks and the resources assigned to them, allowing teams to estimate, allocate, and track work. Effective task and resource management features make assignments easy to see, report on, and adjust.
Given that time is a focal point of any project, tracking it is a key. Project management software allows team members to estimate and record the time spent on tasks and projects, helping with time management and project billing.
Sophisticated project management tools provide automations to create efficient workflows. But sophisticated features shouldn’t be complicated. Tools that do this most effectively also make these automations easy-to-use, increasing overall agility. Examples of what is possible through automations include:
- Task creation and assignment
- Due date and work allocation
- Prioritization tracking
- Automated notifications
- Event, conditional, and time-based reporting
- Event and exception management
- Approval workflows
- Automated interactions with integrated tools
A significant way to save time and create repeatable best practices is through templates. Templates allow individual users and teams to make their best work happen again and again. Project management tools do this in a variety of ways, from template libraries to organization-specific template creation.
Reporting and analytics
The best project management tools not only track projects, tasks, and resources, but also provide decision support through reporting and analytics. Getting to the heart of what is happening within each project and across a portfolio of projects is critical to overall success. Project management tools can increase visibility into project health as well as potential pain points. Data-rich analytics equip teams and their leaders to drive continuous improvement.
Integration with Other Tools
Many project management software solutions integrate with other tools and systems, such as development tools (like GitHub), communication platforms (such as Slack), document management systems, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and accounting software. Integration greatly reduces silos, rework, and lack of visibility.
3 key Steps to Choosing a Project Management Software Solution for Your Team
Choosing project management software for your team can be a complex process. But by following these three steps, you can make an informed decision.
Step 1: Determine your project management needs
Before you start shopping for project management software, it's important to understand your business needs.
Consider factors such as the size of your team, the types of projects you typically manage, your project management framework, and your budget. This will help you narrow down the list of potential software options and focus on solutions that best fit your business requirements.
To determine the project management needs of your team, identify your current project management goals, assess your current approach to project management, and obtain feedback from your team.
Step 2: Research and compare software options
There are many project management software options available, so it's important to do your research and compare the features and functionality.
Look for software that offers features that match your business needs, such as task management, integrations, and reporting.
Pay attention to the user interface and ease of use. Feature-rich systems that are poor in usability create adoption challenges.
In addition, carefully evaluate the overall cost and any additional fees for features or integrations.
Step 3: Test the software
Before making a final decision, test the software to ensure it meets your needs. Many project management software providers offer free trials or demos, which can help you see how the software works in practice.
Consider inviting a small group of team members to test the software and provide feedback on their experience. This can help you make a more informed decision and ensure that the software is a good fit for your business.
Given that an organization’s needs change and grow, it’s best to determine whether the project management software you are evaluating can support future projects. Determining whether a tool can scale with your business is especially crucial.
The Best Project Management Software to Use
There are multiple project management software solutions available. However, choosing which project management software to use depends on many factors.
There are a few that meet the key criteria.
Asana is a project management software that allows teams to plan, track, and discuss work. It offers features such as task tracking, project scheduling, and resource management, as well as integrations with other tools such as Google Drive and Slack.
Trello is a project management tool that uses a visual, card-based interface to help teams organize and prioritize work. It offers features such as task tracking, project scheduling, and collaboration tools.
Basecamp is a project management software that includes features such as task tracking, project scheduling, and document management. It also offers collaboration capabilities and integrations with other tools such as Google Drive and Slack.
Microsoft Project is a project management solution that offers features such as task tracking, project scheduling, and resource management. It is typically used by larger businesses and is designed to work seamlessly with other Microsoft products such as Excel and PowerPoint.
DevStride is a project management software solution that offers strategic project mapping, visual boards to track work progress, and flexible ease of use. Additionally, DevStride provides a number of innovative features such as real-time analytics through multiple, user specified data dimensions, easy custom automation, and organizational visibility and tracking.
Project management software is a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes, helping them plan, organize, and track their work to deliver projects on time and within budget.
With features such as task tracking, project scheduling, and resource management, it can help you streamline project management processes, avoid costly mistakes, and deliver projects in a timely manner.
Additionally, collaboration tools included in many project management software solutions can help teams communicate and work together more effectively.
Overall, the use of project management software can help you better manage your projects, improve project delivery, and create those successful outcomes.