Companies install project management software to manage their projects more efficiently, meet deadlines, deliver better products and boost client satisfaction. Such programs enable them to distribute tasks more rationally, monitor their progress and enhance collaboration within the team and across teams.
To get started, let's analyze what a project is and how it differs from non-project work. Each project has the following elements:
For instance, building an app is a project. Selling apps is non-project work because that's an ongoing process.
When working on a project, you need to complete tasks in a particular order. You need to understand how many team members should be involved in each task and which skills they should have. You need to schedule and coordinate the work of all these professionals so that they deliver a high-quality product together.
For this purpose, you should use project management software. It's an online collaborative app where all the professionals involved can log in from their devices to check what they're supposed to do, when, how and which result they should achieve. You can give permissions to certain specialists so that they can see what their colleagues are doing and what are the requirements for their tasks. Plus, users with relevant permissions can make notes on changes in their tasks and add relevant details.
Let's imagine a situation when you open your project management app and see that a specific task might fail to meet the deadline. Here is what you can do with the help of the app:
Check how the delay might affect other tasks
Choose a professional who can help to complete the task that is about to be late
Assign the delayed task to another professional and monitor its progress
If your project management software supports tracking finances, you can also use it to make sure the project is running on budget. However, the ability to track finances is an additional feature for this type of app. The set of standard features includes tools for tracking, organizing and scheduling project-based work as well as Gantt charts (it's a type of timeline view that's commonly used in project management).
Project management software comes in handy for teams that need to track more than one project at a time. It can be any kind of project: from running an online PR campaign to building a brick-and-mortar shopping mall. You might want to install such an app to help you with the following tasks:
Figure out how to schedule work
Better allocate human resources
Generate reports to give managers insight into which team members have too much or too little work assigned to them
Track the progress of work and individual tasks
Sound an alarm when a deadline is in danger of slipping
Detect problems before they happen
Automatically reflow the project schedule when tasks do fall off course
Track project budgets
Log billable hours so that you can send invoices to clients for time worked
The more extensive the functionality of an app, the higher its cost. However, many excellent solutions are available for free. You can start using them at no cost and upgrade to a paid plan as soon as you realize that you need it.
Typically, free versions offer limited functionality or allow you to add only a few users. Nevertheless, that's a good chance to understand whether you like the app and would like to upgrade to a paid plan. Smaller teams might not need any upgrades at all.
Here are some of the most popular project management apps that allow you to start with a free account:
But the best example of project management software that you can start using for free is Bitrix24. It is available as a self-hosted or cloud version as well as a mobile app for iOS and Android. It contains over 35 business tools and offers the following features free of charge:
5GB of online storage
Quotes & invoices
The Bitrix24 CRM can host an unlimited number of records. It's fully customizable and implies a high automation level. You can modify access right settings so that each of your team members can reach only that information that is relevant for their scope of responsibility.
Bitrix24 is famous for its reports. This is what this app can do for you:
Analyze your sales funnel and sales pipeline
Forecast the volume of expected sales
Track your unpaid invoices
Create custom reports
You'll appreciate the selection of built-in communication and collaboration tools. You can easily share documents with your team and discuss them, create visual schemes and mind maps, use time management tools (including clocking in and clocking out). When you need to upgrade, you can choose from three plans: Basic, Standard and Professional.
Unlimited users 100% free
If you opt for the cheapest and simplest project management software, you might need to spend from $3 to $15 per person per month. You'll be able to manage and track a couple of projects. On the flipside, apps for small companies might be not too efficient with the following types of tasks:
Collecting timesheets to bill clients
Comparing the progress of dozens of projects in development
If you need just the basic functionality, you might want to use Zoho Projects. As your business grows, this tool can scale to meet your increasing needs. Zoho Projects is an ecosystem that consists of multiple tools — and you can use only those that you currently need.
GanttPRO is also a popular and affordable solution. It's one of the best apps for beginners who have never worked with project management tools before.
If you check app ratings on the Internet, you might find out that Trello, Basecamp and Airtable are sometimes promoted as project-management apps for small companies. Yet in fact, these are work management apps. They were not designed with projects in mind. They are not the best solutions for juggling multiple tasks and schedules. Even though you can use them to manage your projects, they don't 100% belong to this niche.
Project management software for small organizations would hardly be able to satisfy the needs of larger companies. Bigger businesses want such apps to help them with the following tasks:
Getting insights into their resources
Time-tracking for billing purposes
Larger companies rely on project management software to improve the productivity of teams and not individuals. For instance, a business might have 10 hours of work for a QA engineer. The app can help the company to identify which engineer might have time to complete this work. If no one has time, managers can redistribute the resources with the help of the app. Dedicated software enables you to prioritize tasks and take proactive measures to be sure each task is completed on time.
Large companies value such project management apps as Celoxis or LiquidPlanner. They were designed to handle complex projects and coordinate the work of many team members collaborating on projects.
Some companies can't be characterized as small businesses — yet they aren't big either. They might have individual requirements that only project management software with special features can meet.
If your business belongs to this type and you need to manage both project and non-project work, you might consider the following apps:
LiquidPlanner (optimal for large groups)
ProofHub (good for teams that spend a lot of time discussing and iterating visual assets)
Smartsheet (ideal for building automations into your project management)
If projects are your primary focus, you might want to use Teamwork that is tailor-made for handling client work. That should be a spot-on choice for companies that complete projects as billable work for clients. Using Teamwork, you can create intake forms for new projects as well as manage billing and invoicing. Another worthy alternative is called Paymo, which also features built-in billing and invoicing tools.
When choosing optimal project management software for your organization, you should answer the following questions:
How many people work for your company?
How do you want to run your business?
What kind of work does your team do?
What is your budget for the project management app?
It will take you some time and effort to install a project management app and train all your staff to use it. The good news is that this investment should pay off quickly. Once your team members understand how the app functions, it should be easy for them to import data and start working.
Hopefully, you found this article informative and now you better understand the importance of project management software. You might want to install such an app to boost your staff's productivity and make sure you always meet deadlines. This type of software will enable you to avoid bottlenecks and allocate resources most reasonably. The more efficiently you work, the happier your clients and the higher your revenue.