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Benefits of Project Management Software: Examples of Top Solutions Explained

Wrike: No. 1 Project Management Tool

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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.

Credits: Oxbridge Academy

Project Management Software Explained

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

  • Task management
  • Project planning
  • Project monitoring
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Document sharing
  • Calendar and scheduling
  • Time tracking
  • Project cost management
  • Risk management
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Reporting
  • Bug and error management
  • Intuitive use and navigation

Wrike: Award-winning online project management software built for speed and efficiency.

Benefits of Project Management Software

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.

Improved Communication

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.

Sample features:

  1. Real-time updates. Newsfeeds on project activity allow everyone involved to get instant status reports which reduces time spent on meetings and emails, and shifts focus and efforts to doing project work.
  2. Email sync. This ensures that your important messages won’t be lost in your inbox, and can even transform emails into tasks and send them back to the system.
  3. Document sharing. You can easily send and receive data, files, documents, and folders with your tem members or suppliers.
  4. Project portal. The software allows clients to log in to view relevant project data, get updated of progress, give feedback or even make edits, right within the platform.
  5. Mobile support. Team members will always be informed of project activities and tasks even if they are in the field since the software usually come with native mobile apps.

Easy Collaboration

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.

Sample features:

  1. Dashboards. Everything is organized in one place for your and your team. With cloud hosted project management solutions you have one centralized location for all data and information that can be accessed and viewed by all concerned through visual dashboards and reporting tools.
  2. Document sharing. You can easily send and share documents, data, files and reports to team members wherever they may be through any connected device. You can even share schedules, calendars, and timelines to keep everyone on the same page.
  3. Email integration. Whatever email client or platform you use, this can be integrated with your project management software to save time and keep the team’s energy directed to tasks at hand.
  4. Custom status and workflows. To further facilitate collaboration, the software allows customizing workflows to fit schedules and align with timelines.

Optimized Scheduling

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.

Sample features:

  1. Gantt charts. This tool gives you a dynamic timeline that you can update, review, and edit using drag-and-drop functionality. It lets you and your team members get a real-time view of who is working on what, and when is the expected date of delivery or completion.
  2. Online scheduling. A team member can put in a work schedule and sync it (to avoid conflicts) with the schedule of others, anytime and anywhere using any connected device.
  3. Custom calendars. Configurable calendars with important notes, reminders, and activities, can be created with the system and linked or synced with other timeline features.
  4. Real-time activity stream. This allows you to update schedules and calendars depending on the feeds of the activity stream.

Zoho Projects: Popular project management platform designed for collaboration and easy project monitoring.

Better Project Tracking

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.

Sample features:

  1. Time-tracking. Employee time can be tracked whether in the office or on location. Mobile apps let you pinpoint where your team members are and the work hours they’ve logged.
  2. Workload view. Through online schedules and calendars you can see tasks and assignments of individuals and where they are in relation to their deadlines.
  3. Timelines. Gantt charts give you the specifics of who, what, where, and when in connection with tasks and the individual responsible.
  4. Progress reports. You have at your fingertips quick access to reports generated by the system based on the performance, time and output of your team member, and the progress of the project which can be presented to you in your dashboard.

Efficient Budget Management

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.

Sample features:

  1. Task automation. Project management solutions are built to streamline tasks and workflow, saving you and your team time, effort and resources which all equate to lesser expenses and more money saved.
  2. Work collaboration. Facilitating work collaboration results in shorter time needed for completion of tasks and projects, and reduces miscommunication and rework which can be costly. Optimization is always a time and money saver.
  3. 360-degree view. Allowing you complete visibility over employee’s work, output, and progress performance lets you identify areas that need fine-tuning, eliminating bottlenecks and issues that might stall the project and result in more expenses.
  4. Resource allocation. The software enables you to assess and allocate resources when and if needed to ensure that you don’t experience overruns and go over budget.

Enhanced Client Satisfaction

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.

Sample features:

  1. Client log in. This mechanism allows your clients to view relevant data, progress reports, and other information on the status of the project, and provide feedback and comments.
  2. Visibility. The solution gives snapshots of project phases and status which can be shared with stakeholders – client, management, team member, vendors/suppliers – to get them up to speed with the project.

Examples of Project Management Software

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.

  1. Wrike. An award-winning online project management software built for speed and efficiency to help distributed and co-located teams. The platform enables multifunctional groups to collaborate and get things done effectively from a single location and allows users to schedule, prioritize, discuss, and keep track of both work and progress in real time. Its user-friendly navigation lets teams do all their work with just one hub with access to data and information stored in an online database.
  2. Zoho Projects. A popular project management system that assists in making business projects more productive and finishing them in time. It is loaded with functions to improve team collaboration, making project monitoring easy, and enhancing productivity and output. The software features milestones, tasks, and tasklists to plan your work in advance, and divides large and complex projects into manageable units, scheduling recurring tasks, dependencies, and subtasks according to set deadlines.
  3. Clarizen. An enterprise-grade solution that combines project management and high-quality social collaboration feature, all in an easy to use and fast to deploy platform. It provides companies with a well-defined work structure by connecting tasks, projects, and conversations, allowing for a faster way to manage their work, initiatives, and projects. It automatically prioritizes budgets, projects, resources, portfolios, and tasks, and makes sure that critical information and resources are always handled appropriately.
  4. Asana. A widely-used task and project management application for small and large companies to facilitate team collaboration and communication. It can be utilized to create projects and tasks within the projects, and follow the progress of those tasks from various browser and devices. It allows adding team members to projects and tasks, share files, and communicating with everyone on the team. The platform enables users to balance prompt project delivery and adequate communication.
  5. Trello. The collaboration software helps members to discuss projects in real-time, utilizing boards which correspond to projects) and within them are cards (which represent tasks). The cards contain lists which can be used to track the progress of a project or to simply categorize things. The application is currently one of the leading project management and collaboration systems for its unique way of keeping everybody informed through task assignments, activity log, and email notifications.
  6. Tiemchart. A a web-based enterprise project management solution created to cater to all enterprises types and sizes, but is also quite popular among small and medium-sized business. It integrates core capabilities of project management, collaboration, scheduling, resource management, accounting, budget management, and more into a single, powerful platform.
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