If your business has to deal with projects, you might want to integrate project management software into your workflows. Such an app should enable you to boost your team's efficiency, make sure you always meet deadlines, keep your customers happy and maximize your revenue. From this article, you'll get to know how to select the best project management software and which features to look for. Plus, you'll learn about optimal project management tools for different types of users.
Let's imagine you're making a movie. To make it happen, you should complete the following tasks:
Carry out castings for actors
Hire cameramen, extras, sound producer and other professionals
Make sure everyone is available on the right dates
Get permission to work on some historical locations
Organize transportation and accommodation
Get the budget
Plan a marketing campaign
You should handle all these tasks in a particular order. Hundreds of people will be involved in the process. The team of your movie will consist of various small teams, each of which will have its goals and deadlines. Project management software should enable you to understand who needs to do what and when. You'll be able to rationally allocate your resources, optimize your schedules and cut down expenses.
Project management software is a type of online collaborative app. Here is how it works:
All staffers who are collaborating on a project log in to check what they're expected to do and when
Staffers record their progress on tasks
They add relevant details, such as notes about any changes
Team members with the relevant permission level can monitor what their colleagues are busy with, what their deadlines are and which goals they should meet
Supervisors can clearly see whether all the tasks will be completed on time. If some team members fail to meet their deadlines, managers can quickly redistribute the tasks and assign them to other professionals. If your project management software supports finance tracking, you can also check whether you fit into the budget.
With the help of project management software, you can handle both online and offline projects, such as:
Influencer marketing campaign
Offline trade show
Building an online marketplace
Reconstructing an old house
With the help of software, you can see how many resources each project requires. Plus, you can identify potential issues before they happen. If the software notices that a specific task might fail to meet the deadline, it will notify you in advance, so that you have enough time to take measures.
Advanced project management apps can do the following:
Automatically fine-tune the project schedule when staffers fail to meet deadlines
Compose reports to let supervisors know which staffers have too much or too little work to do
Track project budgets
Log billable hours so that you can submit invoices to customers for time worked
To reduce expenses, you might want to start with software that offers the basic functionality at a minimal price and then allows you to upgrade to more advanced plans with extended functionality and higher price tags.
The best project management software should meet the following criteria:
Be focused on projects and not just any type of ongoing work. For instance, Airtable, Basecamp and Trello might be often characterized as project management tools — yet in fact, professionals can use them for any type of work. A project needs to have a start date, an end date and a deliverable. If one of these three essential elements is missing, it means the work you're doing can't be characterized as a project.
Offer instruments for tracking, organizing and scheduling project-based work. Gantt charts are also essential: they provide a timeline view that's typically used in project management.
Project management software allows your staffers to juggle dozens or hundreds of projects and their schedules in parallel. If you try to coordinate all these tasks using email, pen and paper or any other less advanced tools, your work might turn into chaos.
When comparing various project management solutions, you should ask yourself these three questions:
What types of tasks your staff needs to complete?
How many staffers are there in your company?
How would you like to run your business?
Ask your team members about their needs and pain points. Organize training for all your staff on using the new tools. Customize the app to the individual demands of your organization before you start adding projects to it.
The setup cost of a project management solution might be rather high — but this investment should pay off quickly. It will facilitate collaboration within each team and across teams. It will be easier for you to assess the performance of your staff and take measures to improve their efficiency.
The best project management software doesn't need to cost a fortune. Many top apps have free versions, whose functionality might be limited in the following ways:
They might support only a small number of users and/or projects
They might offer only the most basic features to free users
If your company is small and you normally handle only a couple of projects at a time, you might be happy with the free version of the product. If you have a bigger business, you might want to use the free version to get a notion of the product and decide whether it makes sense to upgrade to a paid plan.
AceProject, ProofHub, TeamGantt, Teamwork, Redmine, Wrike and Zoho Projects — these are some of the most popular project management solutions that offer free accounts. Yet the top position in this rating belongs to Bitrix24. It's a large and versatile product that is available in on-premise or cloud format as well as a mobile app for iOS and Android. When it comes to project management, Bitrix24 allows you to do the following:
Create an unlimited number of group and private tasks
Add subtasks and checklists
Use templates to automate repetitive tasks
Use Gantt charts for planning and monitoring projects
Switch to Kanban view for visual tasks and projects with fully customizable stages
Use extranet to secure your communication and collaboration with external users such as freelancers, partners and customers
Generate reports to evaluate your staff performance
Bitrix24 easily integrates with third-party solutions. Apart from project management, it also features excellent task and time management tools. You'll appreciate the built-in contact center of Bitrix24, its free website builder and a powerful CRM that can store an unlimited number of records.
Bitrix24 should come in handy for organizations of any size and industry. Apart from the free plan, it also has three paid ones whose prices vary from USD 30 to USD 120 per month.
The best project management software for small companies should cost you no more than $15 per user per month. Probably, you would need to pay only $6 or even $3 per user per month. Such solutions lack advanced instruments that are unique to pricier software. For instance, the most budget-friendly tool would hardly be able to cope with the following tasks:
Collecting timesheets to bill customers
Comparing the progress of multiple projects that run simultaneously
But its basic functionality should be extensive and versatile enough for a small business.
If you've never used dedicated software to manage your projects before, you might want to get started with GanttPRO. It has a low price tag and a shallow learning curve.
If you expect your business to scale over time, you might want to opt for Zoho Projects. It's an ecosystem of useful apps that seamlessly integrate with each other.
Large organizations are usually happy with such software as Celoxis or LiquidPlanner. These tools enable them to carry out the following tasks:
Coordinate the work of thousands of employees
Track time for billing purposes
Get insights into resources
Define high-priority tasks
Identify which tasks and projects are in danger of slipping
Such solutions are less focused on the performance of individuals and more on the efficiency of teams and departments.
You might want to opt for a solution with special features if your business meets these two criteria:
Yours is not a large organization
The functionality of the software for small companies is not enough for you
In such a situation, we would like to recommend the following apps to you:
Equally good for managing project and non-project work
Excellent for large groups
Features built-in billing and invoicing tools
Perfect for teams that spend a lot of time discussing and iterating visual assets
Ideal for automating elements of your project management
Specializes in handling client work; features billing, invoicing and an opportunity of creating intake forms for new projects
Equally good for managing project and non-project work
Hopefully, you found this article informative and now you better understand the specifics and advantages of project management software. Thanks to such a solution, you should be able to efficiently coordinate multiple projects that will be going on simultaneously. It will be easier for you to rationally allocate your resources and boost the productivity of your staff. Your projects will always meet their deadlines, your clients will be happy, your reputation will strengthen and your revenue will grow.