Modern business projects have become complex and sophisticated operations involving plans, tasks, budget, and people. All project components and processes have to be optimized to ensure that projects are carried out successfully and effectively with the highest level of efficiency.
Regardless of the industry, project managers are turning to project management software to help them plan projects, keep everything organized, and run processes in the most accurate, predictable, and efficient manner.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of project management software, various project management platforms and their key features. We’ll go through some examples of project management software so you can be made aware of what’s in store when you decide to use one for your projects. In the next sections – project management software explained – we’ll get to understand the purpose of project management software, and the many benefits that can be derived from using it.
Although it can be used in lots of different ways, the purpose of project management software is to facilitate the planning and tracking of project components, stakeholders and resources. What is project management software but a set of functionalities utilized for project planning, resource allocation scheduling, and change management, allowing project managers and users to control costs, manage budgeting, undertake quality management and documentation, streamline processes and tasks, and enable smooth collaboration as well as communication between project stakeholders.
Companies are increasingly putting great importance in project management systems. In fact, statistics on project management software programs and tools show that 77% of companies utilize project management software and 87% of high-performing companies use PM solutions.
The software’s capability to help plan, organize, and manage resources, aside from functions that guide decision-making and quality management, has made it an indispensable tool for today’s project leaders and managers.
Project management software can be as powerful as you want it to be and its usefulness is finding wide usage in almost every type of business. After all, projects have basically the same life cycle and process groups, and the software is equipped to address them.
Key project management features to consider
We’ve mentioned that the purpose of project management software is to help plan and track project components and resources. This is meant to expedite project delivery by presenting you with realistic deadlines and milestones, tying up interdependent assignments, automating tasks, and keeping team members focused on deliverables.
From the traditional 3Ps – plan, pencil, and paper – that largely comprised the arsenal of project management not too long ago, the system has tapped into current and evolving technology to provide you some of the most useful tools to give your business a competitive edge. The benefits afforded you by project management software are immense. Here are the major ones.
A survey conducted with IT and project managers from the finance, utilities, manufacturing, business services, telecoms and IT services sectors in the UK revealed that 57% of them attribute the number one cause of project failure to lack or breakdown in communications. In managing projects, communication is vital and there are two areas that PM solutions are able to address – internal and external. The first is communicating with your team, you immediate high-ups, and management – the stakeholder within your organization. The second is communicating with your client and suppliers, those outside the confines of your company but also have a stake in the project.
Effectively relaying to your team members what needs to be done, reporting to management what has been done so far, updating clients with project status while providing you feedback, and keeping suppliers well informed about project requirements puts everyone on the loop.
Project management software is designed for collaboration to get work done faster and have projects, especially large, complex ones completed in time. Projects status, documents, timelines, issues, and queries can quickly be viewed and resolved through collaborative features without members having to lose precious time by waiting or going to another source. Collaboration keeps everyone closely in sync, informed and aware of what’s going on, how much work is to be done, who is to do what, and what the next task in the workflow is. It allows your team to be aligned with project goals and keep priorities in focus.
Number two major cause of failure in the survey we mentioned earlier is the lack of planning of scheduling, resources, and activities. The truth is it’s often hard to stay on schedule when running a project with no system in place to let you know what task or activity should be completed and when. Project management software is extremely useful in this aspect since it provides better scheduling to make sure that team members get to finish assigned tasks vis-à-vis their deadlines. They get to see at a glance what needs to be done at a given time for a given project, allowing them to better manage their time or schedule to effect the timely completion of projects.
You are not only able to track the progress of each project stage but also monitor the time and work put in by each of your team members. Project management solutions give you an open view into team performance and workloads, allowing you to recalibrate resources, schedules and tasks if needed. You can keep tab of time and output by a team member on a given task and synchronize project milestones to give you more precise handling of planning and budgeting. These project tracking and time management capabilities provide you a clearer picture of the project and the people involved, the performance and results, as well as the areas that need to be improved and optimized.
In a PMI study on how a project’s success is measured, the top three include satisfied stakeholders (20%), delivered on time (19%), and delivered within budget (18%). One of the most important components of running a project is getting a handle on the budget and, based on the statistics, among the benchmarks of successful projects is completing it on time and on budget. Going forward with any project largely depends on how good you can deliver within the budgets provided. Project management software helps you to determine the work budget (usually planned vs. actual) so that you can align work accordingly.
As we’ve learned from the PMI study, stakeholder satisfaction is considered the number one reason for a project’s success. And the most important stakeholder is your client who commissioned you and your company for the project. With project management software you are able to harness not only effective tools but also best practices and methodologies to deliver optimally within time and budget, while updating clients every step of the way on the progress of the project. Successful projects boost your credentials and your company’s reputation, and opens up more projects not only from your existing client but also from other potential clients who have learned of your achievements.
Here are examples of project management software from our database which you can go over with links to their full reviews. If you’re tight on the budget, you can also get free project management software solutions and enjoy the basic functionalities.
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