What to Look for in Project Management Software

Gantt Chart

Organizations that don’t adequately bring project management into their processes experience project failure approximately two-thirds more than those who do. That’s according to the Project Managament Institute’s (PMI) Pulse of the Profession® 2020 Ahead of the Curve: Forging a Future Focused Culture report.

Wasted resources, improper tracking, and faulty timelines are just some of the hiccups that can occur with projects that are inadequately managed. But they’re not the only ones.

Many organizations attempt to address these challenges by bringing in experienced, skilled project managers the shepherd their initiatives from start to finish. This is part of the solution. Another important measure to take is to use the best project management software for your business. 

Project management software: An overview

A project management tool allows you to see an overview of the project at hand. Today, there are several different types of software businesses use to visualize and streamline tasks and processes. 

For example, a Gantt chart is essentially a bar chart that enables participants to view activities, displayed as bars, against a horizontal axis that represents time. This way, individuals see the progress of each task or responsibility. 

A kanban board, meanwhile, utilizes cards that represent various tasks in rows that categorize the stage it is in, such as assigned, in progress, under review, or completed. This is one of the more popular project management methodologies and the foundation of software like Asana and Trello.

No matter what the type of tool, though, all project management software offers a few central features. The overarching purpose is to allow businesses and individuals to plan and guide their projects, through scheduling, budgeting, resource allocation, task assignments and delegation, and more. What was once a complex, manual process is now streamlined and made considerably easier with the help of this technology.

What to look for in project management software

Collaborative features

Not every member of your team will have project management skills — in fact, most won’t; they will be focused on their particular niche and area of expertise. Solid PM software demands collaborative features that enable team members to work together to move the project along, no matter whether they’re working in-house, remotely, or across distributed teams.

Some software allows for file and document sharing, communication via real-time messaging or video chats, commenting, and other collaborative processes. These are helpful features to have, ones that promote teamwork, even when team members aren’t physically working side by side.

Ease of use

Your project management tool should be accessible to people with varying degrees of technological skills and knowledge — although, of course, this depends on the type of organization and industry and yoru expectations of your employees. Any team member should be able to use the software easily. Otherwise, you risk the tool failing to achieve its purpose of streamlining and contributing to the project management process and greater organization.

Time tracking

Time spent on projects is an important indicator of efficiency and productivity. That’s why many project management tools offer time-tracking features. 

Not only will this allow you to see whether tasks are being completed on time, but you can also gain insight into whether various projects are cost-effective, given the output of your team measured against the overall cost and profit.

Reporting and data visualizations

Many project management tools offer comprehensive dashboards with data visualizations, like graphs and charts. This allows team members to see the information that pertains to your project in a clear way, enabling them to understand the progress of tasks and the overall initiative. Leaders can also gain valuable insights into metrics on factors like performance, time spent, and KPIs.

Accessibility

People with different abilities and work styles should be able to access and leverage project management software. Consider the needs of your team members. Perhaps, for example, speech to text is critical.

Moreover, all workers should be able to access the tool from practically any location, or at least those with internet access. Remote work, after all, is the foundation of today’s workforce and a style that will become even more ubiquitous in the coming years.

Scalability

Many businesses expand, and as your organization grows, you will need a project management tool that accommodates more and more team members and workflows. Today, you might have only a handful of concurrent projects, but next year, you could have double or triple that number. 

You need software that will grow with your organization. Look for a tool that is scalable and can accommodate your employees and contractors as your business gains clients or customers.

How do you decide which tool to use?

Every business has different priorities. When you’re evaluating project management software, there are different factors to keep in mind, suh as:

  • The size of your business or enterprise
  • Your industry
  • The age of your business
  • Your project management approach (e.g. agile, waterfall, etc.)

Consider, too, the features that are most important to you and your team members. Take into account the preferences and work styles of your employees, perhaps even asking for their opinions. You want a tool that works for everyone — this, after all, is the very essence of quality project management.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.