For many businesses today, especially those with distributed workforces, a to-do list just isn’t enough. Project management software is a much more sophisticated digital system that allows you to manage your team’s assignments in an online space. Learn exactly what project management software is, the best features to look for when purchasing such solutions and what your business stands to gain from using these programs.
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Project management software is technology used to organize your business’s workflow. You can use this digital system to track, schedule and map out your company’s projects and assignments. Project management software allows your team to share a virtual space where you can view your company’s work, as well as follow up and manage ongoing projects. Everyone on your team with permission can access the program, which lets you schedule assignments and collaborate on projects.
Project management software can aid in your project resource management and allow you to quickly and efficiently check on your company’s workflow. As projects move along, the software lets users make notes and suggestions on assignments within the system. It can also send reminders to your team about upcoming deadlines or incomplete tasks.
A project management system tracks your team’s workflow and keeps the lines of communication clear, accessible and open. It also comes in handy for assessing and boosting your team’s productivity. By tracking how much time users spend on a project or how many assignments they complete, you can determine who on your team is meeting or surpassing expectations and who is falling behind. In turn, this information can help you make appropriate changes to your business and staffing.
Project management software is a useful solution for any type of business, ranging from marketing firms to construction companies, that is looking to improve internal organization. However, it’s especially beneficial for businesses that manage remote workers and hire independent contractors. These kinds of teams are often bombarded with shared files and spreadsheets, but project management solutions streamline communication by putting everything in one place. If you have freelance workers or remote employees, a project management system can help everyone collaborate and stay connected.
But even if your company doesn’t have remote staffers or freelancers, project management software can still help your business by streamlining workflow. The ability to see, in one place, which assignments are being worked on and how close each task is to completion gives business leaders better insight into how their team is performing.
Project management software is a great tool for businesses that employ remote workers, but any company can benefit from the improved organization and streamlined communication that project management software facilitates.
As you embark on choosing the right project management software for your business, there are several factors to consider, like capabilities, pricing and customer service. When it comes to functionality, here are some of the top project management system features to look for.
Easy-to-use scheduling and task-management tools make it a breeze to tackle multiple projects at once. Project management software is supposed to streamline your operations, not make them more difficult, so these tools must be simple and direct.
Team collaboration tools, which allow teammates to work on projects together and communicate directly with one another, are also essential. Examples of collaboration tools include instant-messaging features and message-board feeds. You and your employees must be able to connect with one another, which is key to project planning.
Receiving timely information about your team’s assignments and progress is a critical component of every project. Real-time reporting options let you easily track project activity. This project management software feature shows you what’s done, stalled and completed, as well as what you need to do to keep the workflow moving.
Integrations are a big part of workplace technology. Having software that seamlessly connects to the other critical programs you use helps to improve operations. Look for a project management system with native app integrations that will benefit your company. This makes collaboration with other software easier, faster and smoother for you and your team.
Purchasing a project management program that has an invoicing feature is useful for projects that require you to create a budget or financial plan. These tools allow you to calculate costs, track hours, send quotes and bill clients. [Alternatively, see our recommendations for the best invoicing software, which could integrate with your project management solution.]
Having a mobile app for your project management software gives you and your employees flexibility. When you’re not chained to your desktop, you can check on your team’s progress from anywhere and team members can keep you updated while on the go.
Before you purchase project management software, be sure to assess the system’s reporting options, integrations and scheduling functions, as well as the task management and team collaboration tools. A free trial is a great way to test these features.
Managing a team isn’t easy, especially if you’re new to the small business world. Using a project management system creates a neater workflow and an efficient method of communication for your team. Here are some of the benefits of using project management software.
Task management systems not only keep you and your team up to date with assignments but also allow you to analyze workflow and progress. Some systems even have analytics that provide a breakdown of exactly how long employees took to complete assignments. When you have this data, you can pinpoint the weak areas within your business and address those issues so productivity improves.
Emails are a big part of workplace communication, but project management software allows you to cut down on that inbox overflow. With a project management solution, there’s no need to send follow-up or reminder emails, because you and your team can communicate and view each other’s progress within the system. Multiple users can collaborate on projects in real time.
Project management software can also help you save time. For example, you won’t have to worry about an update or suggestion getting lost in a flurry of Monday morning emails. Instead, reporting tools ping users immediately. Similarly, you won’t have to search for files or reach out to teammates individually because communication happens in one space, thus eliminating confusion and moving assignments along.
Although project management software is a great way to organize your team’s assignments, it does come with a few potential drawbacks your business should consider.
Project management software can be expensive, depending on the size of your organization and the features you need. You could end up paying more than you expect based on the number of users, customizable features and storage space your business requires.
For some project management programs, the learning curve for employees is just too steep. When a system is overly complicated, it can be time-consuming and turn staff off. Your team needs to mesh well with the program and have a good understanding of how it works to minimize hiccups during use.
“Getting your entire team to use a project management software, understand its various nuances and, most importantly, integrate into their way of working can take time,” Jimmy Kamboj, founder and CEO of Imenso Software, told Business News Daily.
While it’s important for your project management software to have the tools you need, an overabundance of features can make the program challenging for users. In fact, one of the biggest disadvantages of project management software is that many of these programs have too many bells and whistles, said Ian Sells, CEO of RebateKey.
“While automation features are nice and integrations can help make work easy, sometimes all of the ‘extra’ features in a project management tool make it overwhelming to use,” Sells said. “Often, managing the project management tool becomes part of the job itself, which is the last thing any project manager wants.”
With the right platform, project management software can be a huge improvement over written to-do lists. Everyone on your team can easily use your chosen program to see who’s responsible for which tasks and share progress updates. On top of that, the communication features are great for collaboration, and the invoicing features can expedite your billing. If you implement a project management platform, it just might become your company’s go-to system for business operations.
Max Freedman contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.