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Weighing Project Management Tools? Balance These Top 3 Criteria

If you’re an open-minded project manager, and you’re looking for the best project management tool for your team, you may feel like you’re high on a tightrope, your hair tossed around by the heavy winds of digital change.

Ahead of you: A promise of progress, efficiency, collaboration, and insights.

Below you: The danger of a wrong choice bringing lost productivity and missed deadlines.

Being a modern project manager, you need to balance many elements:

  • Your projects can be approached with different mindsets — from highly structured and control-oriented Waterfall to more flexible Agile approaches and everything between.
  • Some tools excel at certain practices (Microsoft Project Manager for Gantt charts), while others are best for certain tactics (Trello for visual boards, for example).
  • Your team members have their own habits and preferences. You want to help them be more productive, but can’t lose all control or visibility.

Can one project management tool provide equilibrium?

If so, how can you find it?

What we’ve learned at Hansoft — having developed a tool used by some of the most innovative project managers in the world — is that a good decision is a balanced one. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast legacy tooling, such as Microsoft Project, and lightweight tooling, such as Trello.

1. Balancing Control and Collaboration

If you simply need planning structure offered by Gantt scheduling, and you’re fine being the only one that updates it, then Microsoft Project is a worthy, if expensive, solution.

For many project managers, however, this strict sense of what needs to be done rarely applies to the way modern teams work: quickly, transparently, and collaboratively.

In fact, it is partly because of this lack of collaboration and transparency that a major tech company switched from Microsoft Project to Hansoft. With it, both hardware and software teams had access to important planning data and could make decisions in real time.

A tool like Trello, which is extremely easy to use — and therefore suggested by naive but well-intentioned team members to project managers all over the world — offers the exact opposite challenge. While collaboration is fluid, it lacks the overview and structure you need for fast-moving projects with hard deadlines. More than that, team members using Trello have little understanding of the consequences of not completing their work on time. So, accountability doesn’t get distributed as it should.

hansoft project management tool - backlog view

The shared, scalable backlog in Hansoft is just one of many features necessary for today’s cross-functional teams.

2. Balancing Agile and Waterfall Methods

There are numerous ways to manage teams these days. On one end, pure Agile. On the other, pure Waterfall. Then, everything between: Water-scrum-fall, wet Agile, and more.

Whether your company is dipping its toes in Agile, or scaling to large Agile frameworks, your project management solution should flex and scale with you and your team.

As mentioned, Microsoft Project is not native to Agile methods and difficult to use for it. Besides, at the rate of change we’re seeing in technology and development best practices, your company may be transitioning to other delivery methods.

The disadvantage of a Trello is that it does not scale beyond one team. The byproduct? Various teams risk creating silos of information in the organization.

With Hansoft, you can do both at the same time. You can view a high-level roadmap side-by-side with detailed team plans in sprints or boards. Truthfully, seeing high-level Gantt and sprints together can be extremely useful, particularly when you’d like the option to communicate fixed milestones and what leads up to them.

Hansoft project management tool - planning view

With flexibility to show Gantt charts and sprints side-by-side, Hansoft helps you communicate fixed milestones and what leads up to them.

3. Balancing Needs of Teams and Executives

Teams and executives often ask for the same core insights from their project management tool:

  • Where is the project?
  • Where was the project?
  • Is the project on the right path?

The challenge is that the team, stakeholders, and executives (and you) all measure success in different ways.

Team member? A to-do list to tick items off as DONE.

Stakeholders? Real-time status reports and insights into potential blockers and enablers.

Executives? Clean, simple KPI dashboards, and backlogs aligning the organization towards common goals.

You? A burndown chart. So you can make quick changes when priorities, requirements, and scope changes without being held back by the tool.

A thorough and conscientious project manager can spend much of their time putting together all these reports!

As we all know, every project, each with varying stakeholders, scope, time, team members, etc., is different. One of the most misleading aspects of many project management tools is that they say there is a “one size fits all” method for creating a shared understanding of a project.

Not true.

A visual board is a great way to quickly communicate status and understand where bottlenecks exist. But, if you have thousands of work items across multiple teams, you can end up overlooking systematic risks and challenges within a project.

A balanced tool, like Hansoft, tightly integrates flexible reports and dashboards for all users — within and across projects.

Hansoft project management tool - dashboard view

Dashboards and reporting features in Hansoft deliver customized insights to everyone.

Looking for Project Management Tool Equilibrium?

Try Hansoft, the Agile project management tool for enterprise teams. Free for up to 5 users, it provides project managers a perfect balance of control, flexibility, and insights. Your teams will appreciate working their way. Your executives will appreciate getting the information they need for better decision making. Most importantly, you’ll start delivering better projects faster.

This post was made possible with the kind support of Hansoft

Johan Karlsson

Johan Karlsson

Johan Karlsson is a product evangelist and agile coach that builds bridges between customers and product teams. With an engineering and developer background, he works at Hansoft (5+ years) where he is currently responsible for Hansoft’s international customer base. He is backlog nerd with the ambitious goal to bring agile and lean principles into modern enterprise environments.

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