Effective project management is important to keeping clients happy and your business running smoothly. There are numerous project management app offerings, as well as tools and software. What are the tools for project management that will best serve your business? Should you consider Basecamp, Microsoft Project, Zoho Projects, or a different collaboration tool? What does it mean that a Gantt chart is the basis of some project management tools? What is a Gantt chart (and what is Gantt chart software)? Read on to learn more, and explore what these tools can do for your project team and your company.
In this article
- The Importance Of Project Management Tools
- What Does Project Management Software Do?
- Different Types Of Project Management Software
- Using Software For Tracking Goals And Milestones
The importance of project management tools
Utilizing a project management tool can help your team become more efficient and effective at reaching every goal you set. Project planning is complex, but the right software will assist in task management, resource planning, budgeting, creating a work breakdown structure, and many other aspects of project control.
Why use a project management tool?
Project management tools help manage all the details of various projects so that they are successfully executed. The main advantage of this software is organization: it can help project managers allocate resources reasonably, ensure that all tasks reach completion, and monitor progress toward each goal on the timeline.
Today’s software can even determine a project’s critical path, offering the project manager valuable insight into the project’s timeline throughout the process. The critical path of a project is the longest sequence of tasks your team must complete to finish the project; it indicates the fastest time in which your team could complete the overall project.
By monitoring tasks, resources, and the critical path, a project management tool can foresee delays and warn you when your project might be veering off track. This software can be a valuable asset in the successful completion of a complex project. Simply put, a project management tool makes effective project management easier.
How can a project management tool optimize various processes?
Project management software can help your project management team optimize various processes to increase efficiency. These optimizations will serve the greater goal of each project. A few examples include:
- Monitoring project progress: Metrics such as project statistics, budget tracking, time, and resources allocated can be automatically monitored and analyzed. This allows for effective project planning throughout the process and enables your project management team to stay focused on more complex tasks.
- Communication: Facilitate the sharing of information among team members and stakeholders to increase communication and encourage collaboration.
- Workflow: Utilizing software, project management tools can automatically assign team members to tasks, taking into account individual skill sets and schedules. A project management tool can also distribute tasks appropriately based on workload and predict when projects will reach completion. This frees up team members for other tasks and helps prevent redundancies.
Managing projects effectively requires management of many details. The more details your software can manage, the more efficient your entire project management system.
How do project management tools improve your business?
Project management software can increase customer satisfaction. With a clear picture of every task and the state of the budget in every step of the process, it’s easier to finish projects promptly and under budget.
Project management tools also facilitate collaboration among stakeholders. If your project is large or spread among various departments, communication can be a challenge. Project software tools can help your team work together as seamlessly as possible.
What does project management software do?
Project management software is very versatile. It offers many different capabilities based on the type and size of your project and the specific goal you have in mind.
What is project management application software?
Project management software is a management tool that project managers use to facilitate the project management process. It helps project managers plan, implement, monitor, and conclude projects while managing budgets, ensuring quality, and creating documentation. Project management software can also encourage collaboration and communication among various project stakeholders.
What can you do with project management software?
Each project management software system offers various capabilities, but typically each includes the following functions:
- Project planning: The project manager may use software to map out a plan of the project, using both text and visual representations.
- Manage tasks: The project manager can create and assign tasks. These tasks may have specific deadlines or include status updates. The project manager may also be able to develop a work breakdown structure.
- File sharing: Store all documents, files, and any relevant resources in one virtual location so that all stakeholders can access them.
- Calendar: Easily schedule meetings, deadlines, and other time-sensitive components on a shared calendar.
- Contact information: Stakeholders can easily access the contact information of other people involved with the project.
- Time management: The software can track hours worked, including hours worked by each team member and hours spent on a particular aspect of the project.
How does project management software work?
Just as document software allows users to type and edit documents, project management software allows project managers to map out projects and manage each component.
These tools often offer visual representations for each aspect or goal of the project. For example, a tool called a Gantt chart is the basis for some task management systems, such as Zoho Projects. A Gantt chart illustrates various tasks over time. This provides an easy-to-read representation of the tasks included in the project, the timeline of each task, the overlap of various tasks, and the timeline of the entire project.
Different types of project management software
There are many types of project management software. As a business, this is to your advantage: you will likely be able to find a task management system suited to meeting each specific goal of your company.
How much do different project management software tools cost?
Just as each project management tool varies by feature, so too does each specific tool vary by cost. The most basic type of project management tool will likely be no more than fifteen dollars a month.
Many also have free options. For example, the “light” version of Basecamp is free. More features are available if you upgrade to a paid plan.
As you scale up and enjoy more collaboration tools, the price will increase. While the most advanced project management tool systems can be quite expensive, most businesses will find that a midlevel, moderately priced option will work effectively for them.
Most task management systems offer a free trial period, allowing you to test different software systems and learn what works best for your team. For example, Zoho Projects gives you ten days to use their software before you must decide if you’d like to pay for the service.
What are the best types of project management software for different types of businesses?
There are many different types of project management software designed to suit businesses of every shape and size. For example, Evernote has a popular project management app that syncs with computers and other devices, while Basecamp is popular with small companies with basic needs.
The best type of software project tool for your business will depend on your size and specific needs. Look for the right tool for your portfolio management—what’s best for one company may be entirely unsuitable for yours. Consider your business’s goals and challenges, and then select the project management tool that serves them.
Using software for tracking goals and milestones
Monitoring progress toward goals and milestones is important for keeping a project on track. Fortunately, project management tracking software can handle this for your team, providing updates and status reports and automatically adjusting your project timeline as needed.
How do you use tracking software for monitoring each goal and project milestone?
Even the most basic of projects requires keeping track of many important details. Project management tracking software can monitor many of these details, including goals and milestones. Project management software usually includes a tool for assembling a list of important milestones. You can assign deadlines to these milestones or link them so that it is clear that one cannot begin until your team completes another.
Throughout the project, the tracking software can provide updates on each of these milestones. This keeps team members aware of which goals they have met and which they have not. It also warns the team about any potential delays that could result, giving them time to respond and prevent or limit the delay. If there is a delay (or if your team is faster than expected), the tracking software can automatically shift all other milestones accordingly so the timeline remains accurate..
What are milestones to look for when using project management software?
Tracking milestones will help you monitor the progress of your project and become aware of potential delays well in advance. They are also important components of tools based on Gantt charts and the critical path method. Milestones that are frequently useful when using project management software include:
- Project approval
- Project plan approval
- The beginning and end of each project phase
- Assembling the team working on the project
- Onboarding the team working on the project
- Obtaining resources (such as funding or equipment)
- Producing important deliverables
- Accomplishing critical tasks
- Meeting project goals and objectives
- Completion of the project
Of course, your specific milestones will depend upon your company, project, and industry, but the previous list is a good place to begin.
Optimize your project management strategy with The Digital Project Manager
Project management tools can be incredibly advantageous to project managers and companies. This software can increase productivity and simplify important tasks, such as resource allocation, task management, workflow management, budgeting, and time line management. Project management tools support your team as they complete projects with efficiency and excellence.
There’s a lot to learn about project management, especially in our increasingly digital world. To learn more and meet a supportive community of individuals building great projects, subscribe to The Digital Project Manager newsletter.