The industry of project management software has boomed in the last couple of years as more and more companies are looking for an efficient, collaborative way to integrate their business processes. The best project management software ensures all the teams working on a project are on the same page and share the same vision and ideology.
Most businesses still rely on conventional processes like Excel, Google Sheets, and Gantt Charts to track the progress of their projects. They might work fine for a few simple tasks, but as your company grows and projects become more complex, you will need a robust, dedicated project management software to cater to your requirements.
Here is a comprehensive guide to choosing the best project management software for small businesses.
A project management software should collaborate with in-house, external, distributed, and remote team members to establish seamless communication. It should offer a virtual workplace that encourages collaborative work streams and project planning. Some communication tools you should look for in the system are real-time messaging applications, along with support for conversation threads, like comments, tags, feedback, attachments, and more.
In addition, look for project calendars that are synced, shared, and managed with personal calendars.
A project management software should further consist of task lists and deadline reminders to help team members with keeping their commitments. Lastly, it should share centralized data, contacts, and documents, which enable scheduling online meetings in a virtual workplace. And, all of these features should be accessible on any device.
Pick a project management system that can automatically list, prioritize, and assign tasks based on dependencies and deadlines. The task lists should be continually organized, tracked, and updated, with the status being visible to all teams. Plus, the software should provide a clear visual of tasks that are planned, ongoing, and overdue.
Personalized task management is another feature to consider, which helps individual members finish their jobs efficiently. If you deal with multiple projects at one time, look for a system that also enables you to execute several projects on time, budget, and quality. Also, look for a project management software that sends automated notifications about tasks and deadlines.
Planning and scheduling
Project management software should help you set goals and roadmaps. It should enable you to create virtual project teams with members that are geographically dispersed. Select a system that allows you to define and manage project requirements, along with scheduling task duration, deadlines, and milestones.
Visualization of the project schedule, dependencies, and tasks with online Gannt charts is another feature to look for. Lastly, it should provide multiple project templates to help you build roadmaps for long-term work strategies.
Workload and resource management
The best project management software should provide you with an overview of existing and scheduled work commitments across projects and teams. Assigning team members, work & balance workloads, and allocating resources based on capacity and availability is one of the features to look for.
Also, the system should enable you to see who is working on which project, who is overloaded, who is not working, and who is or is not available. Pick a project management system that helps you track budget, cost to date, and expected outcome per project, along with managing, planning, and scheduling resources by usage costs.
Monitoring and reporting
Monitoring and reporting are some of the essential features to have while choosing a project management system. It should provide you with an overview to track and monitor the performance of all projects, along with dashboards that display instant progress, status, and performance of the projects. Visual metrics is another useful tool that can show real-time updates on performance with the help of charts, graphs, and timelines.
You should be able to view team progress and performance and track projects with respect to work that is ongoing, due, or upcoming. Furthermore, it should offer centralized data to track, report, and analyze projects and performance.
Document control is one of the must-have tools in project management software as it makes finding and sharing files easy and hassle-free. This tool enables team members to drag, drop, and upload files to let others preview and collaborate on the progress. It also allows you to lock files to prevent overwriting or unauthorized access.
Another document management feature to look out for in a project management system is secure file sharing. The software should allow team members to share files among all team members, from all kinds of devices, and within all collaboration and project management functions, thereby keeping everyone updated with the change tracking and version control.
Lastly, the system should have a document repository that provides a central library for attachments and uploads, thus, helping you manage and store files in an organized and accessible manner.
If all the above points are checked, you should see if a project management software is analogous to the industry standards or not. For starters, it should have a trusted service for cloud-based project management, along with having an ISO-certified system for information security management.
You should invest in a system that provides the highest standards of data availability, confidentiality, and integrity. The vendor should host and readily update and maintain the system. Also, it should have a proven track record of 100 percent uptime. And, it should have an easy-to-use interface with scope for customization and personalization.
Choosing the best project management software for your business can get complicated if you don’t know what your exact business objectives are. What works for others might not work for you; therefore, list down your requirements and find a solution that meets them. Consider the factors discussed above for a seamless selection of a project management system.