Project Management & Planning Articles

What Is Online Project Management for Small Business – Discover Cloud Applications

by Michele Nachum
Published on 26 July 2011's purpose is to help small businesses discover the right business applications for their specific needs. A lot of small businesses do not have large IT departments and as such, require solutions that are easy to implement and manage , safe, and will ultimately deliver ROI for their business.

We are publishing a series of educational tools for entrepreneurs and small businesses to discover how to leverage the latest cloud applications as a way to grow their business. You might have heard the acronyms or terms Project Management CRM, Help Desk, Small Business Suites or Time Tracking - but what do these software solutions actually offer? How do they help a small business become more profitable? And frankly, why should anyone care?

This article is about Project Management and here we showcase why Project Management tools are important, how online Project Management software can help increase your business productivity and how it has evolved over the years. We will outline the major components of Project Management software, and offer specifics on what to look for when choosing a Project Management application.

What is Project Management software

Most people claim to have a vague idea of what online project management software is but if you asked them to list out the actual features - most would not be able to so.

A good way to think about online project management software is to look at the real-world role of a project manager. A good project manager can organize and manage all of the elements of a campaign or project as well as communicate updates, budget, schedules, deadlines and more.

That is essentially what project management tools can do as well. The advent of cloud computing has been a real benefit for the project management software space as developers have taken what used to be a relatively stagnant boxed product full of planning tools and have created products that are now more collaborative and dynamic.

You should think of web-based project management software to support the following fonctions:

  • encourage collaboration and communication
  • track time, deadlines and budgets
  • schedule calendars
  • ressources optimization

Why should you care about Project Management software

Many small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) often do not have the budget to hire a project manager and therefore depend on their internal teams to take on the role. But let's face it, employees who are tapped to manage a project probably have a hundred other assignments as well. Web-based project management software can help a "non-project manager" keep track of all the details so less falls through the proverbial cracks.

Today project management tools provide a sophisticated range of tools and applications to help the project team easily connect and communicate on the progress of the project. These collaboration tools are often at the heart of project management software programs and to support these features, applications for task creation and delegation, budgeting, scheduling, time tracking, reporting and more are readily available to keep everyone informed and the project afloat.

What features to consider?

Collaboration and communication are very important elements to consider when considering an online project management software solution. Therefore, look for solutions that provide:

Collaboration Tools:

  • A central dashboard for the team to communicate updates
  • Document tracking tools to collaboratively edit copy

Planning and Scheduling Tools:

  • Tools for task creation and delegation
  • Alerts for project deadline and meeting reminders
  • Calendars for scheduling meetings and monitoring important project milestones

Budgeting/Invoicing/Billing Tools:

  • Applications to track project budgets
  • Tools to bill and invoice clients on project-related expenses
  • Time tracking tools for various project-related tasks

Analytic Project Reporting Tools:

  • Budgeting reports
  • Status update reports
  • Employee time tracking reports

How To Choose Project Management software

The market for project management software has increased greatly and there are numerous products out there at all price points. Depending on your needs, you can decide on the type of project management software to purchase.

Some project management applications will include the "kitchen sink" and offer tools for communication, budgeting, time tracking, document tracking and much more. But if you are only looking for a few key features such as task creation and team communication - there are products that supply a smaller tool set.

Some products have tiered subscription levels so you can pick the level that best supports your needs and upgrade should you want to utilize additional features or add users.

In terms of resources, and other users have reviewed several project management products to help you find the one that is the best fit to your needs. You can use our free recommendation services to discover and compare project management solutions. We always recommend that you short list 2 or 3 solutions and that you use the free trials before buying.

Review and Compare Online Project Management Software

The "Discover Cloud Applications Series" consist of a set of evaluation tools for small businesses. For the main solution categories such as CRM, Project Management, Time Tracking, Help Desk, Accouting… we share practical tips and guides as well as direct you to products that are affordable, scalable to almost any size business and hosted in the cloud so anyone with permission in your company can access critical information from anywhere at anytime with just one password and an internet connection.


Apps mentioned in this article