Project management software is used by project managers and stakeholders to plan projects, follow their progress and development, and ensure the timely completion of key tasks. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll look at the core features of this software and the top considerations businesses should have in mind when evaluating a solution.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Project management software is designed to help businesses track the progress of projects from inception to completion. They can use these applications to manage various aspects of a project - from tracking tasks as well as optimizing people and resources to sharing important project documents.
The general purpose of project management software is to improve communication, transparency, and team collaboration, allowing for full visibility over processes, tasks, and workflow.
However, some project management applications are designed with specific teams in mind such as software developers. Others cater a more diverse range of workers.
Given below are different types of project management software and what you can expect from these tools:
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What functionalities differentiate your project management software from your competitors?
Project management applications could either be on-premise or cloud-based offerings. Choosing the right deployment option requires you to consider factors such as software costs and your IT team's expertise.
GetApp.com emphasizes software-as-a-service (SaaS) or cloud-based deployment. These tools typically come with lower up-front costs, faster implementation time, and automatic updates; they also better support remote use, scale more easily, and minimize the need for IT staff and real estate. But you’ll want to broadly understand each deployment method.
Here are the key differences between these two kinds of deployments:Software-as-a-Service (cloud based)
Small businesses usually prefer cloud-based over on-premise solutions as the former is cheaper in the short-run. It also saves them from the hassle of figuring out data backup and maintaining the software on their own.
Key questions to ask your vendor before you buy:
A common project management function is task management to set and assign tasks, deadlines, and time sprints. Some tools also facilitate communication with the help of automated notifications, document sharing, and the ability to leave notes.
It’s important to carefully examine the features to see if they meet your specific business challenges. For instance, a team with well-defined roles would need a solution that can assign specific user permissions at various stages of the project lifecycle.
Let’s look at the core features of project management solutions in detail:
Task management: Helps plan tasks, set priorities, and track progress at each stage of the project. Lets users create and assign to-dos, set up recurring tasks, and view tasks on a calendar.
Overview of in-progress and upcoming tasks in 5 Asana
Collaboration: Allows employees, clients, or vendors to share and collaborate on project documents via shared online workspaces. They can also communicate through various channels such as email, chat, and video calling.
Commenting on tasks in JIRA Software
Document management: Facilitates centralized sharing of project-related documents, videos, and images. Allows project stakeholders to review, co-author, or redact project files.
Importing files into Smartsheet
Project planning: Helps project managers define individual tasks, resource allocation, timelines, and deadlines using visual project planning tools such as Gantt charts.
Using Gantt charts to plan task deadlines in ITM Platform
Reporting: Allows users to view project progress and status at a glance, They can also see upcoming deadlines, completed tasks, milestones achieved, team workloads, and budget utilization.
View project reports in Workfront
Besides these core features, project management solutions offer features that help project managers customize the tool as per their business requirements. Here are two such features that businesses should look for when evaluating a project management tool:
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: How can the core functionalities of your project management solution help me achieve specific business results?
When selecting project management software, ensure that it integrates seamlessly with any software you currently use. Fortunately, most tools integrate with other cloud-based software, saving your time and allowing you to easily share data between applications.
Here are some important integrations that you may need with your project management solution:
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: How many third-party integrations do you offer and how many more will you add in the next 1 to 2 years?
The first step to full-fledged digital transformation for small businesses is digitizing their manual processes, such as tracking progress on spreadsheets, using project management software. However, businesses should take this a step further by leveraging the emerging project management trends and technologies. These include social collaboration and chatbots.
Here are two trends that small businesses should adopt to maximize the benefits of their project management solution:
Social collaboration tools boost communication: While typical features such as project planning and task management are important, there has been an increase in the number of social collaboration tools to manage projects. These solutions are designed like social networks, allowing employees to quickly connect over real-time chat, share their status, and comment using #, @, and emoticons. These are especially relevant to small businesses that have teams working remotely or in different geographies.
Chatbots automate repetitive tasks: As process automation tools, chatbots have become popular with the millennial workforce in the U.S. In project management, these solutions can considerably decrease the time it takes employees to assign tasks, schedule online meetings, and access project documents. As a result, many project management tools have started to integrate chatbots.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What kind of chatbot integrations does your solution offer? Are there any additional charges for these integrations?