Effective project management is important to keeping clients happy and your business running smoothly. However, achieving this level of effectiveness is not always easy. Mainly because of the number of project management tools that we have to use to make projects run smoothly.
Among these tools are resourcing, time tracking, scheduling, screenshotting, communications, ticketing, documentation, and anything that lets you create templates. Therefore, in this article we will break down the types of management tools out there, why they are important, the role of software and what it does for you.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- Types of project management tools
- The importance of project management tools
- The role of project management software
- Examples of project management software
- Why project management tools matter
Types of project management tools
Project management tools come in many flavors. While some are software solutions, others are specific documentation related to the project, communication techniques used with clients, or even intricate post-it placing around your monitor to keep things rolling.
Let’s name a few, shall we?
- Project management software
- RAID logs
- RACI charts
- Resource scheduling tools
- Time tracking tools
- Mind mapping techniques
- Knowledge of PM methodologies
- Ice-breaker techniques
- Project estimation techniques
The importance of project management tools
Project management tools, like the ones listed above, are important because they help you do your work more efficiently. How? They either help you automate parts of your job that would be labor-intensive if you tried to do them by yourself or help you make things simple for you and your team to understand and follow.
Why use a project management tool?
Using a project management tool will help you speed up the development of every stage of the project management lifecycle. But besides that, it’s important to consider the use of tools in terms of your efficiency! If you use all the tools available to you at the same time, chances are that you will be spread too thin trying to keep every tool updated. Therefore, what is the correct combination of tools to use? The quick answer is whatever works best for you. While some of us are more technological, others prefer writing notes on tissue boxes.
Just remember that most of your time is spent communicating with the client, the team, and other project stakeholders. That leaves a smaller part of your day dedicated to using tools, updating software and working on documentation. The one thing I can say is that project management software, especially nowadays, lets us have a centralized location for some of these tools.
The role of project management software
PM software has a very specific role in a project manager’s life as it becomes the bread and butter of being a DPM. But, how does this software help?
How project management software optimizes processes
Project management software can help your project management team optimize various processes to increase efficiency. A few examples include:
- Monitoring project progress: Metrics such as project statistics, budget tracking, time, and allocated resources 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: It facilitates the sharing of information among team members and stakeholders to increase communication and encourage collaboration. For example, proofing features in software allow your team and stakeholders to exchange information on changes and approvals related to marketing collateral.
- Workflow: You can use software to customize notifications and set rules on how the tool should assign tasks once they start moving through your workflow. Therefore, when one of your team members finishes a task, it will automatically be assigned to the next person in the flow and send an email, Slack message, or in-app notification to them.
Managing projects effectively requires the management of many details. The more details your software can manage, the more efficient your entire project management system is.
How project management software improves your business
Let me present this answer in a sequence. You are assigned a project by a client. After selecting the team, you use project management software to keep track of projects and deadlines, organize tasks, and handle communication within your team. Because of the effectiveness of the tool, you deliver the project on time, making the client happy. Finally, this happy customer brings new projects to you since you are able to deliver on time, while referring you to other potential clients.
Therefore, project management software can improve both the quality and efficiency of the work you do, plus the added bonus of bringing new business.
What can you do with project management software?
Each project management software offers various capabilities, but typically each includes the following functions:
- Project planning: PM software acts as a central location where you can build the project plan and provide visibility of it to the rest of the team.
- Task management: You can input all your tasks, set dependencies, due dates, and choose the best way to see them. The task views normally included in the software are list view, Kanban, and Gantt chart view.
- File sharing: Store all documents, files, and any relevant resources in one virtual location so that all stakeholders can access them. Depending on the software, this can be an attachment inside a task, a link to download an asset within the software, or a full repository where all files live at.
- Calendar: Calendar views let you easily schedule meetings, deadlines, and other time-sensitive components. You can also use them to track tasks and due dates.
- Contact information: Stakeholders can easily access the contact information of other people involved with the project. This information is stored as part of people’s profiles and may contain additional information, such as mobile phone numbers, timezone, and work anniversary dates.
- 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. Time tracking can be a built-in time tracker, a view where team members can manually enter their work hours, or an automatic function that registers the time spent on each task.
Examples of Project Management Software
Here’s a quick list of project management tools that can help you achieve most of what we have discussed in this article.
Best for its capacity to be customized for almost any workflow.
Best project management tool for its comprehensive free plan to test features.
Best agile project management tool
Best for flexibility & customizability
- Zoho Projects
Low price point pm software with a user friendly interface and mobile version of their tool.
Best project management tool with advanced, calendar-based productivity features
Best management platform for its 100+ workflow templates to help you start faster.
Best project portfolio management and collaboration solution
Best for its free collaborator accounts
Best performance monitoring for client/project health
Why Project Management Tools Matter
Project management tools matter because they:
- Make your life easier
- Keep the team connected
- Provide visibility on the project
- Help delimit responsibilities
- Improve your business
- Help you optimize processes
Project management tools can be incredibly advantageous to you and your company. These tools can increase productivity and simplify important tasks, such as resource allocation, task management, workflow management, budgeting, and timeline 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.