Managing a project has many challenges; there are goals to achieve and deadlines to meet. Generally, several people work at the same time, and not always share a space. Information and documents must be shared, so constant communication is needed.
When meetings, e-mail strings and spreadsheets are no longer useful, using a project management software is a must. These are online platforms that allow you to work and interact in real time. What’s more, they keep each member of a team informed of progress, news or changes.
One of the main advantages of these applications is that the information is available to everyone at any time, and therefore allows resources to be allocated more efficiently and responsibly. For example, projects can be divided into tasks and sub tasks, with one person in charge and set deadlines.
Documents and presentations can be shared through the platform itself (with a limited amount of storage space), or through connections to services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. In order to choose the best Project Management Software, have these topics in mind:
Why do I need project management software?
Project management has become very important in companies. In addition to being a tool for developing products or services, projects are becoming a useful strategic way of working to survive in today's competitive environment.
Whether they are used to create new services and products, or reorganize projects or start a new one, their management through methodologies aligned with the organizational strategy translates into numerous advantages for the company.
Beyond managing organizational change, project management software provides benefits in terms of cost or efficient resource management, quality or, for example, meeting deadlines. Similarly, if the company's strategy is developed on a project-by-project basis, it will also help to improve the business itself.
Within this context, the use of these types of software is the best option to reach goals. Basically, just as a project manager helps in the design and control of projects, programs and applications are a key business management tool for an efficient application.
Versions and functions
Analyze what you really need and start with the basic option. When the amount of information, tasks and participants demand it, you can move to the paid version. Care should also be taken not to confuse project management software with more specific software, such as collaboration or task management software.
A collaboration platform allows two people to work on the same document at the same time or to communicate through a chat or video conference. A good project management system already includes these functions or allows you to connect to other tools of this type, such as Google Docs.
Planning is everything! It helps you to have an overview, avoids misunderstandings and allows you to delegate tasks. To make sure that everyone knows what their job and responsibilities are, these characteristics will be crucial:
Tasks should be easy to create and clearly defined in planning. In addition, you need to be able to add new ones, change them, delete them or assign jobs to other colleagues in just a few clicks. A shared team calendar provides transparency and supports the work of the group.
It is also very useful to be able to assess the urgency of each project and add deadlines. However, not all tools have automatic notifications. Prioritizing can also help you identify the most important projects and sort them correctly and in a structured way.
Cooperation and communication
Employees often depend on the work of others to complete theirs. Therefore, fluid communication and good organization are key:
Make sure you have a centralized system for recording basic data and detailed information. A knowledge-sharing wiki, along with a system for sharing files quickly and easily - like the well-known Google Drive - is the best you can imagine. In order to recover files efficiently, it is essential to have a practical search function.
Everyone needs access to customer information if you want to respond quickly to their needs. A CRM tool allows the entire team to view customer data with a single click.
In other words, managing all data with a single tool and in a centralized location has a positive effect on internal collaboration and communication with customers. All information about the project must be stored in one place, with the planned and completed tasks, customer data, resources used and their costs, and even the invoices sent. This extensive overview will also help you to produce a detailed report.
To plan your projects successfully, you need to be fully informed about all the problems that could arise. If you use a tool that provides reports and statistics, you will be able to quickly know the business risks without having to analyze the parameters manually.
Budget and resource management
The larger the project, the more it costs to manage resources. Some project planning software offers specific applications for managing resources. These functions can give you an overview of the reserved meeting rooms, the resources planned and used and the cost of all this. This way, you will also avoid unnecessary expenses and scarcity of resources.
Time tracking will let you know which tasks take longer to complete, helping you to better estimate costs and hours spent. There are many basic time tracking tools, but the option to set different hourly rates and automatically add billable hours to your receipts can save you a lot of annoying administrative work.
Which software should you choose?
If your SME focuses on a series of clear and defined jobs, free software can probably help you for a while. The problem is that often these tools are not scalable, if the number of users increases, you will have to change it for a paid subscription or you will be using a very limited interface that you can only expand by paying for any extra features you want to use.
An adapted software design
The software design for project managers will be more or less suitable depending on the different characteristics of the project. Its development philosophy can be based on basic models (cascade model, prototype model or formal development in stages) or iterative models, such as incremental or spiral development.
The choice of one or the other is made according to the project, in addition to considering the different circumstances and the type of organization in which it will be developed, time available, budgets, customer requirements or objectives to be achieved. A hybrid methodology is also often chosen if it is really better suited to the specific case.
Although a priori there is no better option than another, when determining the software development life cycle, each project will opt for an approach in line with its needs. In contrast to traditional solutions, normally associated with the cascade model, the agile methodology is aimed at generating and delivering value early on.
It is a new approach to project management that allows you to add changes at any time, as well as continuous improvement, with the ability to stick to fixed timescales and budget.
Advantages for project managers
On a day-to-day basis, the use of project managers is necessary to carry them out in an optimal way, especially when working as a team and controlling each of a company's projects is required. It is not for nothing that the achievement of objectives and the effective management of projects are essential to their successful completion.
The application of suitable methodologies, planning and control will be simpler through software solutions for project management. Nowadays, it can be said that project management software is an essential element for its integral control, with efficiency and comfort. Its usefulness ranges from the area of planning, development, production and customer relations to the coordination of the company's various projects.
On the other hand, it facilitates the registration of tasks and workers involved in them. Depending on the functionalities and needs of the user, the control will be carried out by a single person, allowing the participation of several of them or of the whole team.
It´s use, therefore, will facilitate the monitoring and coordination of group work according to our needs. Project managers are versatile and multi functional tools. They are designed to plan and monitor tasks, control costs, manage information flows, and be able to interact with other business management systems.
Project management software, external and internal collaboration tools can be found everywhere. The offer is endless whether simple or complex, free or paid. This software can greatly help improve communication and the pace of work, as long as you know what you need.