Many companies struggle with their projects, either going over budget or running past a deadline. Project managers help teams stay aligned, accountable, and executing against project goals to reduce risk and promote smooth delivery.
Project management software is a not-so-secret trick of the trade that project managers use to monitor project progress, track expenditures, and automate status reporting. This frees up their time to engage on tough stakeholder challenges that only a human can solve.
Whether you run a small team or a group of a thousand, you’ll want the best project management software available. Learn how project management software can save your business time and money before deciding what technology would work best for you.
What is Project Management Software?
Think of project management software as a digital assistant that helps you manage routine tasks so you can focus on the bigger picture. Project management software has as much functionality as you require—it can handle a handful of small individual tasks or span a project portfolio.
Project management software can simplify:
- Task management and work management
- Project planning
- Cross-team collaboration
- Project reporting, including dashboards and Gantt chart creation
- Resource management and resource allocation
8 Reasons to Use Project Management Software
Solid project management software saves businesses time and money. Team members, including leaders, can use the software to understand and organize their workload according to their chosen project methodology (such as agile) and monitor project progress toward milestones.
Here are 8 reasons why your organization should use project management software.
1. Better Scheduling
When you implement project management software, you’ll immediately have access to a better scheduling capability. Team members can be assigned tasks as they arise, and they can also immediately receive notifications for new assignments. Within a few clicks, you’ll have a centralized list of project activities, responsible parties, and associated timelines.
Even better, you won’t have to waste time trying to get a hold of anyone by making phone calls, waiting for a reply, or even walking down the hall to their desk. When you’re ready to prioritize and assign tasks, using a project management app is like having the whole team sitting in front of you.
And the same goes for them: team members won’t have to waste their time trying to figure out what they’re meant to do. Everything they need to know (including task dependencies) will be accessible to them in the spot where they need to look.
2. Faster Communication
If you need to clarify an assignment, gather additional details about task or deliverable progress (or lack thereof!), or remove bottlenecks, most project management software includes in-app communication features and collaboration tools, so you won’t even need to leave the tool to get your question answered.
This means you’ll no longer have to pause your work to check emails or switch between different communication apps. This may sound trivial, but context switching is a real productivity killer. In fact, it could potentially cost you up to 40% of your daily productivity.
Communication and teamwork are especially critical when a project team comprises members from different departments. Trying to schedule meetings around everyone’s availability leads to delays in the project. However, with the right project management software, you can rely more heavily on asynchronous communication—whether through task updates or in-app messages.
This is even more critical in an organization using remote work, where the best remote project management tools make project delivery possible.
3. Improved Organization
A project management tool keeps everything organized for your project team. Every note, due date, conversation, and task can be easily accessed at a moment’s notice. This beats the old way of shuffling through physical notes, hunting people down for information, and trying to piece everything together by hand.
When your project team doesn’t have to search for everything, more of their time is spent on project delivery. This can drastically reduce wages paid for searching for items that should be available on demand.
Some quick math can illustrate this point. After time tracking, an employee has 40 hours logged on their timesheet for a week. They have spent 10 minutes a day looking around for information they need. That totals up to 50 minutes a week, or 43+ hours a year, trying to find what they need.
Implementing a project management system can eliminate that waste. As a bonus, it reduces team frustration because everyone has everything they need when they need it.
Another way project management software can help with organization is by integrating with existing software you’re already using, such as Slack or Microsoft Excel. You can bring data from a variety of places into your project management solution, so you’re not constantly switching back and forth.
4. Reduced Risk of Scope Creep
Scope creep is the tendency for projects to get off track. There are many reasons why scope creep can occur: weak leadership, undefined goals, vague ideas, the natural evolution of the project, unforeseen obstacles, and poor team involvement.
A project management software solution mitigates the risk that scope creep wreaks havoc on your project schedule and careful budget management. We already know that project management software offers better scheduling capabilities, ensuring that the entire team is up-to-date with what’s planned and how long the work is going to take.
Most project management software also includes an option to track financial expenditures. Maintaining a centralized ledger promotes stakeholder awareness of how you’re tracking (and forecasting) against budget. You can restrict permissions to “view only” or to select stakeholders if you’re concerned about sharing potentially sensitive information.
5. Simplified Status Reporting
Project management software also simplifies status reporting. Canned reporting features let you choose the right level of detail for the right stakeholder group—whether that’s leadership, the board of directors, or members of a different department. You can even set reminders to generate reports on a set cadence.
Additionally, most project management software offers visual reporting options. You can share built-in Gantt charts on demand within a few clicks—no more wrangling with spreadsheets for hours to zhuzh up a sad bar chart. Now, you have real-time updates that are easy to understand, even for your client who refuses to read written reports.
6. Fewer Redundancies
Project management software summarizes the list of ongoing activities across your team, across departments, and across portfolios. By offering different views of project information, project management software can help project managers more readily spot redundancies. They can then assign tasks to more beneficial areas or eliminate these tasks altogether.
Project management software can also help a manager identify recurring tasks in their workflow and take care of them in the most effective way possible. A recurring task is usually ripe for process improvement, and depending on the nature of the activity, the software may even allow you to set up an automation for it (ex. status reporting, meeting agendas, meeting notes.)
Finally, project management software automatically tracks project performance, including metrics like time to task completion, how long a task remains unassigned, and team workload. Project managers can use this data to identify what worked and what didn’t on previous projects and avoid redundancies in the future.
7. Less Training
As nice as it would be to have the same team for the length of a project, that’s not always possible. Whether you need a bigger team or to replace someone, training a new person is a significant resource commitment.
Project managers can integrate new team members more quickly using project management software. The software helps new team members learn who does what, communicate more efficiently, see their assigned tasks, look at what’s already been done, and ultimately get to work faster.
Project management solutions can also become a clearinghouse for project documentation using built-in file management and file sharing capabilities or by building out link trees to other data sources. (You can even create a separate “project” for onboarding new hires to your organization if they are brand new to the company and the project!)
Building up an information repository as part of the software solution frees a team member from playing the role of trainer and giving up some of their precious time. This means fewer wages paid for training and more time allocated to project delivery.
8. Resource Planning
Project management software includes resource planning capabilities that help project managers:
- Identify and allocate resources across a project or portfolio
- Use multiple views to compare and edit data
- Generate reports, diagrams, charts, and more.
For example, you can configure project management software to alert you when a team member is overallocated, giving you the opportunity to do what you do best as a PM—intervene to mitigate the risk before it is realized.
While a software solution isn’t a substitute for human intervention and certainly can’t solve problems for you, it does help you focus your time most effectively to stop potential issues in their tracks.
Choosing the Best Project Management Software to Meet Your Needs
The right project management software can help turn around a poorly performing project in two ways:
- By bringing visibility to issues
- By freeing up a project manager’s time to focus on addressing pain points, rather than chasing status updates
A strong project management tool can benefit small businesses and project teams as well as large project portfolios spanning an organization. Not only will your projects run smoother, but you’ll also save time and money. Better resource management also leads to happier employees and improved organizational efficiency, generating key benefits far beyond the scope of a single project.
Get started on finding the best project management software for your needs and comparing pricing. Many of the options in the lists below are cloud-based and offered as a SaaS.