What to Look for in Project Management Software

Posted on: July 4, 2019

Project Management Software is exactly as it sounds; it is a type of software that helps a project manager carry out his tasks, efficiently, within budget, and in a timely fashion. There are several different types of software to choose from; however, the broad variety of options can put you at a disadvantage, as it may be confusing to choose the exact tool that will fit your needs. There are many online software options, as well as a few offline options, from which to choose. Online project management software has gained popularity among small and medium-sized businesses; these tools are known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud-based technology.

Everything we do is gradually becoming more and more digitalized, from basic tasks like setting up your daily routine or making an online purchase, to more complex tasks like staff administration. Today, many people turn to project management software to make their multitude of tasks easier.

For a team leader, project management software can be a blessing. Imagine handling a task that typically would require a whole team to handle different sub-tasks and all within a limited time frame. You will need to closely monitor the progress of your team and tackle any problems that may arise in the process. Tasks like this require close monitoring so that your team doesn't derail. One small, overlooked mistake could cause severe damage to the entire project.

Given that, the best solution would be to use project management software. This will give the whole team a single platform from which it can operate; that way, you are able to monitor their progress, and keep your team connected, regardless of their location in the world. With the proper software, you can also assign roles to each member of the team from different locations.

According to statistics, 50% of project managers carry out their tasks without using project management software. The slow adoption of project management software happens for a variety of reasons which can range from ignorance of the product, inability to pick the right tool, to concerns about the cost effectiveness. If you are about to embark on a task and you are still skeptical about using it as a tool, here are some sound reasons why you might need project management software.

Collaboration

With a good project management software, you will be able to assign roles to different members of the team so they can work individually as part of the bigger project.

Communication

Good software will have social features where the team can discuss documents, timelines, work progress, etc. It will also create a direct link where you can communicate both internally with your team members and externally with your clients and other stakeholders.

Budget Management

For your project to be successful, you have to manage your budget effectively. For every task you undertake, you will have to work within the assigned budget. With a good project management software, you can efficiently monitor your budget.

Supervision

For a successful task, you need consistent monitoring and supervision of the project. This type of software is specifically designed to help you monitor every stage of your work; if your project is adequately supervised, it will help you keep within your time and budget constraints.

File Sharing

Working with a project management software will help the entire team share files among the group, either within the software or a 3rd party software.

Considerations for the Project Manager

As a project manager, you have to consider several factors before picking one of the numerous options available in the market today. Getting and using the right tool is fundamental for every successful job or task you undertake; the project management software should be tailored to your task. If you know the exact criteria the task requires, you can better evaluate your project using the available tools. If you use the wrong software, it could consume additional time and/or money and jeopardize the project. The goal is to work smarter, not harder; to that end, here are three factors you should consider before you choose a project management software for your task.

  1. The Type of Project

Your first consideration is the type of project, how technical is it? Consider its model and the technology involved. This should be the first criteria you put into consideration when looking for suitable software. Randomly picking from the variety of available software is risky and foolhardy. For example, if your project involves a high degree of SaaS use, then you would need to integrate other web-based software to help with the task; this additional software provides a superior outcome than the solution one could obtain from a single software.

Remember that every step and process involved in carrying out your task would be tracked and recorded on the software you finally choose, based on the nature of the task. Given that, your team should also be considered when making the decision, since their activities would be carried out on the interface. Is the software user friendly, so that every member of the team will be able to effectively use it?

The software you choose will, to some extent, affect the workflow and existing processes of your project. If the project already involves a lot of activities, then you need a project management software that can absorb the burden. The software that you use will also determine how data will flow from one end to another; the software will manage data between all parties involved, from fellow teammates to your clients. The wrong software could result in a complete breakdown of the project.

You will also have to consider the technologies and capabilities that you are currently using. If you are working with sophisticated software, it would be ideal to use a more sophisticated project management software to match.

Whether your project is large or small, it's important that you consider your budget when choosing the appropriate software. While the pricing for project management software is primarily within a tight range, you should be concerned with getting value for your money. If you match your software to your project, then it is money well spent.

Finally, while considering the nature of your project, you also have to consider the technicalities involved in making the software work. Regardless of what the software cost you, it is of little value if you or your team members cannot comprehend how it works. If you are in this situation, you should consider software that has a highly intuitive user interface which will make usage easier. A user-friendly software system will help make the task not just simpler but goes a long way to lowering the rate of mistakes. The drawback to this type of user-friendly software, however, may be limited features which are not dynamic, but you will have to weigh the trade off of convenience and ease of use over features.

  1. The Project Requirements

Understand your project's specific requirements before you look for a project management software that matches. Take time to investigate, research, and identify the specific features and requirements your software must have in order that you and your team are able to complete the task. If your research is carried out properly, you won't waste your money, time or effort on inappropriate software; for example, if all that is needed is a simple tool, don't buy sophisticated software, and vice versa.

You will also need to consider the project size as well as your team size, and not necessarily just for this project for but future ones. If you are working on a medium scale project with a team comprising ten members, and you pick a software that matches the size, what happens if your project becomes more technical and you need to employ more hands? Fortunately, many (but not all) project management software do provide an upgrade solution for an additional fee (SaaS software is typically like this). Subscription-based project management software has its own set of considerations. For example, a one-off type of project may not need an annual membership plan. In some cases, project management software that offers a temporary subscription would be the best choice.

If your project requires mobility or if it's a remote project, then you should choose software that allows each member of the team to communicate effectively and to manage their portion of the project from wherever they are in the world. Ensure that the software meets the needs of your remote projects and team.

  1. Features of the Software

Finally, you have to consider the features of the software before you make a purchase. For example, if you need a project management software that will help with your remote or mobile tasks, then the software must offer cloud-based technology for easy access.

Another question to ask is will the software be appropriate for the type of project? For example, if your project is related to agriculture, your requirements will be different from, say, the requirements of an educational project. Will the software integrate appropriately? The project management software you ultimately choose must have the exact features that you need; it shouldn't have too many or too few. If the features are more sophisticated than the task, it will lead to confusion, and if it's too simplistic, you will end up being under-equipped. Every software should come with a package where you should be able to view and identify features that exactly suit your needs.

Among the available features, the most important is to ensure that the software is customizable to suit your task. Often, each task undertaken is unique, and even if it is handled by the same team, one project may need some features that were not necessary in an earlier project. In this situation, having the ability to customize the software can be a huge benefit. Customization should cover the nature of the task, functionality and the interface, to ultimately enable you to save both time and resources.

Last but not least, one additional feature to watch for in a project management software is its ability to integrate data on other applications; it should be able to work with other related applications for your project to run smoothly. There are a number of applications that can be integrated to your software for a hassle-free task.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the project management software which will work best for the situation at hand, as well as your future needs, does not need to be a daunting task. It may be a hassle, but the bottom line is taking the time now to do your homework will save you in the long run, in terms of money, effort, time and, more often than not, your sanity. Your ultimate goal is a well-run project with a satisfactory outcome on all fronts.

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