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5 Top Uses of Project Management Software: How To Benefit from Them

Category: B2B News

projectmanagementChoosing the right project management software depends on many factors including the type of project, your team, and your management style. For instance, you can be developing a simple software add-on or an entire system, using local staff or employing coders from Eastern Europe, while implementing a bottom-up approach (you work around coders’ ideas) or a top-down style (you give them specific instructions).

You can have a solution with many functions or a function that is specific to a solution. When you analyze project management solutions they often fall under any or all of these five main functions. This article reveals the five top uses of project management software. 

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1. Planning

It is often referred in the industry as the “real” project management software that allows you to map out the entire life of a project. It can be a general but robust software or a specialized solution that targets an industry, for example, construction or software development. This do-all software helps you to do the following:

  • define the critical path for the project and visualizes the tasks that are interdependent
  • outline the project schedule and set milestone deadlines
  • break down the completion of tasks and who is responsible for each task
  • allocate staff and resources to complete the tasks

Example: Zoho Projects

zoho

Tapped by over a million users worldwide, the software is a general project management tool that applies to any standard projects, be it small or big. It features planning, monitoring, collaboration, communication, documentation, and bug tracking modules, all essential tools to run a project from start to finish. Moreover, you can customize workflows and reports to match your processes, project size and its dynamics. The software can also integrate with Google Apps and other productivity and business apps and has an iPhone app to give you more mobility.

When do you need this type of software?

If you have a full-blown project and this is your first time to use a project management solution, getting a complete platform helps you not to miss out on any essential function. It’s also a good way to understand the potential of each tool and how they integrate to each other. Linking calendar to a task list then attaching them to a time tracker gives you the big picture how project management can be automated or fast tracked.

When don’t you need this type of software?

If you’re in a specialized industry like construction or health care, you’re better off getting a specialist software that understands the details of your business. Similarly, the problem with a “complete” software is you get extra tools that you may not use. Even if the software is priced in modules, you are still paying extra for the middleware to make them integrate to each other whether you have the add-on now or later. If you only need a specific process, such as collaborating with employees in different locations or tracking a bug, it’s better to get a specific software.

2. Manage tasks

One of the most useful functions of a project management software is to help you manage tasks and track them: define it, assign it, set the deadline, and get an alert when it’s completed. In many cases, this is the only thing many managers are looking for when they think of a project management software. This function can be applied at the unit level (the carpenter who will nail together the roof) to the macro level (the contractor who’s assigned to build the house) to track their progress and deliverables. A software can be robust for complex projects or simple for small projects.

Read more:  What is Club Management Software? Analysis of Features, Types, Benefits and Pricing

Example: Teambook

teambook

The software helps you to organize your staff and resources into teams with specific tasks, deadlines, and outputs. A visual interface lets you map out your team’s skills and tag them as specific resources. You can then assign their roles, set the budget and time estimates for each task. Email notifications and an iCal tool that syncs with most calendars keep everyone in the loop, whether the tasks are on or off the mark and by how much.

When do you need this type of software?

Small, simple, and short-term projects may only need this function, where the only challenge is to monitor who is doing what and when. Documentation and communication can be provided by applications that you may already have like MS Office and free web email.

When don’t you need this type of software?

Even if your project is small and short-term, but it’s technical or specialized, like software, engineering, or research, you may need high-end tools like bug or issue trackers. Likewise, if another function–such as collaboration with team members in remote places or tracking hours of freelance consultants–is more critical to accomplish the project, get a software that meets that specific need.

3. Collaborate

Collaborating with team members, suppliers, senior management, and stakeholders is critical to any project. Collaboration can happen among people in the same location (office or field) or are spread out across the globe. It can happen among participants who see each other every day or not at all. Many project management software focuses on this function to ride at the back of outsourcing and workforce mobility trends. These solutions have robust tools to share and store documents, communicate over the cloud through various channels (VoIP, email, IM, wikis, etc.), and conduct presentations, conferences, or webinars. In fact, these solutions are also used outside of project management (for instance, marketing or education) that they’ve been given their own category: collaboration software.

Example: Wrike

wrike

It creates a  hub where you can view all works, messages, discussions, comments, reports, and files that are relevant to the project in real time. Think of it as the command center that you, team members, and authorized participants can check so everyone is on the same page. Wrike also integrates with popular apps like Gmail, Zapier, Dropbox, and Google Drive to extend your reach to participants who may be at the outer ring of the collaboration spectrum (ex. shareholders or clients).

When do you need this type of software?

If collaboration is critical to your project, get a software that specializes on this function. Companies that rely heavily on third-party resources or those with teams in other countries can use a powerful collaboration software. Furthermore, collaboration can go beyond managing a project so you might want to keep it as a separate app for other business processes.

When don’t you need this type of software?

There are plenty of free collaboration tools in the Internet. In fact, Google alone gives you a plate of these tools: Gmail, Google+, Google Docs, and Google Drive. If free tools are okay with you, not minding privacy and security, why pay? Also, don’t get a separate software if collaboration is not a big issue to finish the project.

4. Schedule priorities

Project schedule can deviate from the original plan midway to execution because of an unforeseen event or adjustments. In such scenario, you need to stay on top of what tasks to finish first and who should do them to keep the project on track. Most project management software have a basic calendaring feature, while some solutions focus on strengthening this function. These apps allow you to plot the shortest time to accomplish deliverables by prioritizing schedules of teams that work on interdependent tasks. You can monitor which tasks are prerequisite to other tasks during planning and midway to the project, when changes can impact on the original plan.

Read more:  The Reason Why Project Management Tools Won't Help You

Example: LiquidPlanner

liquid

The software works on priority-based schedule that can be updated automatically during schedule adjustments. It gives you a best and worst-case estimate to help you calculate a realistic timetable to finish the project. The software includes your and the members’ vacation time, availability, tasks, and priorities to predict the most efficient deadlines. You can also bring discussions at task level (with the staff) or top level (with management or client) to speed up coordination.

Why do you need this type of software?

If your project is vulnerable to external or internal adjustments during the execution stage, a priority-based calendar system is critical. Factors that can affect your project include: budget, availability of resources, natural occurrences like weather, political and social issues, and business shakedowns like mergers and acquisitions.

When don’t you need this type of software?

If project schedule is predictable and manageable or a non-issue, a free calendar may even work. These projects can be something that you’ve been regularly doing or have mastered over time, or they’re simple and small enough to adjust.

5. Manage issues

Technical and complex projects will encounter issues that will compromise deadlines or deliverables. Issues can be bugs, malfunctions, loopholes, glitches, or gaps that come up after a task or the project is completed. Project management software that specializes on this function can track bugs and identity the source of the problem so you can resolve the issue. Likewise, the software also archives long documents or discussions as reference to how the issue was resolved. It may also track and store issues like open questions or comments that need to be addressed and what was done about them. This software is ideal to avoid repeating an issue and create best practices.

Example: SpiraTeam

spirateam

It’s a lifecycle management system that focuses on software testing prior to launching. The software helps developers to manage tests, plans, requirements, tasks, and bugs in a shared environment to trace potential problems fast. It can also break down a task into units called Iterations or Sprints, the better to pinpoint the source. Likewise, SpiraTeam features cloud and centralized documentation and folder organization to archive reference materials.

When do you need this type of software?

If your project is highly technical or specialized like in engineering, medical, or research, it’s vulnerable to issues. An effective tracking system will save you the headache, time, and costs looking for the source of the problem.

When don’t you need this type of software?

If your project is non-technical and follows a general structure–planning, execution, monitoring, and closing–spotting the problem can simply be going over the Gantt chart, task list, calendar, or discussion threads, among others, to identify the bottleneck.

CONCLUSION

We hope this article on the top uses of project management software has helped you. You definitely want to get the software that best performs the function you need, or get a general software with one or two specialist apps as supplement. The examples mentioned above are meant to highlight the function that you need and how it looks in an actual software.

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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2 Comments »
nessum says:

I'm still weaning myself from Google Apps--Drive, Google+, Gmail... they've worked for me so far; add to that Evernote to keep me on top of tasks and to-dos. I planned to migrate to a paid app, but the tons of software packages out there can be intimidating for a first-timer. This article is good enough to help me see the big picture how project management apps are sold, but this is just a starting point. I'd have to dig deeper how each one functions (and affects my wallet) so I'm sticking to my comfort zone for now.

Reply to this comment »
Meonia says:

Collaboration is the most important part of every organization so the team can coordinate with each other even they are working from different parts of the world. We had used proofhub and wrike and personally liked both.

Reply to this comment »

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