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Businesses have goals and objectives to be achieved which can be used to measure its level of success and growth. In order to reach them, a certain range of tasks must be accomplished. This can be done through an effective project management. Since it is arduous, complex, and time-consuming, implementing a project management (PM) software streamlines the process.
What is a PM software and what is it for? In this article, we’ll focus on why project management software is useful. We’ll also have project management software explained to help you get a better understanding of the its uses and cite a few examples of project management software solutions. If you are new to this field, we highly recommend that you go through this comprehensive project management software guide to quickly get you in the loop.
Project management solutions are expected to help improve these statistics (source: Wrike)
Project Management Software Definition
Project management refers to the process of planning, systematizing, and administering the scope, budget, and time for a particular project. It uses the application of project management resources and tools, techniques, skills and knowledge for facilitating the project-related activities.
When working on a project there are four main elements that must work together seamlessly. These are the:
- Scope. In essence, it refers to the project size, goal, and requirements. It’s the connection between the goals to be accomplished and the budget allocated to reach those goals. If there are any changes committed in the scope, it’s imperative to reflect it with other components as well, especially when it comes to the time, budget, and resources.
- Resources. It has three aspects: people, material, and equipment. First, it’s important to ensure the right number of people is employed to a project and they carry the appropriate skills and knowledge to facilitate their assigned tasks. Next, procuring the correct materials and equipment, at the right place and time, is crucial for your team to operate efficiently.
- Time. When doing a project, time management is a crucial aspect. Each task must be listed (others may overlap while others must be in chronological order), scheduled with a set duration, and allocated with the right resources. Managing critical paths (tasks with zero float or no flexibility) is one of the most challenging aspects of this scope.
- Money. All tasks come with a certain cost which must be estimated and totaled. However, not all estimates are as accurate as others; that’s why there is “contingency allowance” allocated in case a task goes over the estimated budget. Another important aspect is the profit or the amount of money that a company wants the project to earn.
Since this is a complex and time-consuming process, streamlining it using a project management system is a valuable solution that’s adapted to more and more businesses. The main purpose of project management software is to assist your team with project planning and monitoring for completion while taking in consideration its overall resources, components, and stakeholders. This investment is cost-efficient in the long run when considering the amount your company might lose with poor project management. According to a research, $122 million is wasted for every $1 billion invested in the US caused by a mediocre project performance.
Important Uses of Project Management Software
Businesses that are not yet utilizing a PM software are likely to do more work while gaining less profit because of the time wasted on juggling little tasks. If these tasks are taken care of, you and your team will have more time to focus on core operations to complete your project. There are various types of software packages to choose from based on your business requirements. For reference, you may take a look at these project management software rankings. Here are the reasons why project management software is useful for business of any size:
When managing a large project, each member is designated with individual tasks in the team. To make sure everyone is on the same page, a project management solution helps in simplifying team collaboration. When a member has inquiries or concerns, he/she can immediately get the right response through communicating with the team internally—with the right people in the right project—without looking for other sources. This reduces time lost in searching for answers. It also optimizes sharing of documents, timelines, and status updates to notify everyone of important information such as how much work is done and how much is left to be finished.
- File sharing. This allows quickly sharing files, calendars, and contact lists where every team member, as long as they’re given the access, can add information to the system. Quick access is also enabled for members to obtain the data anytime and anywhere.
- Team communication. Some PM tools have a built-in messenger app in the system so members can communicate with each other easily, allowing for timely responses to urgent inquiries.
- Customer data sharing. Having customer profiles is essential because it lets you easily add their contact information and link invoices and projects. When you need to organize them, you can easily do so by categorizing them by, for example, due invoices.
- Team dashboard. Functioning as a KPI (key performance indicators) report, dashboards can be used track metrics where you can add graphs, visual metrics, and charts. The data provides an overview whether the team is meeting goals or not.
2. Scheduling and planning
Without a system in place, it can be difficult for your team to stay within schedule because of the lack of a set guideline on what should be accomplished by who and when. Time is lost when employees report to work without knowing the tasks they should be doing. This often affects one’s productivity. Utilizing the software outlines tasks and makes them visible. Setting deadlines and priorities, along with scheduling, avoids misunderstandings and overlapping of tasks and schedules.
- Task priority. This makes rescheduling easier by using scheduled time slots so priority tasks are accomplished first without having to reschedule the entire project plan.
- Shared team calendar. Choosing one that syncs with other calendars is vital to notify everyone in your team of assigned tasks, deadlines, and meetings. It also provides an overview of milestones by sending due dates to your team.
- Time slot. An overview of each member’s booked tasks and hours. This helps you quickly see who you should delegate to the next task which is an essential purpose of project management software to expedite the process of assigning tasks.
3. Resource management
Resource management is another reason why project management software is useful. Aside from your team, managing your resources is important to ensure proper operation so as not to waste everyone’s time. Knowing the materials you’ll have to use in a project lets you work on it without hitches caused by a missing tool or equipment. It is a feature that outlines the resources that will be used and when they’ll be used. It also calculates the cost of its usage, accordingly. Why is this helpful? It lets you avoid lacking resources and over-using them to reduce expenses by ensuring you will only pay for them when you actually use them.
4. Budget management
Each project comes with a cost which is included in a budget along with contingencies and profit. A project manager’s goal is to keep the actual cost below, or at least at, the estimated cost in order to maximize the profit earned by the company for the project. To manage expenses efficiently, simply creating an Excel spreadsheet won’t do the job.
- Time tracking. Documenting the time spent on tasks automates the invoicing process. This is also essential for monitoring billable and non-billable time.
- Budget report. It gives you monthly and weekly reports on expenditures, expenses, and totals so you can track your budget performance and immediately see if you go over the budget.
- Budget dashboard. A financial reporting dashboard consists of KPIs, graphs, and charts to display the progress of your project. This can also be shared with other members by giving them access.
- Automated invoicing. Since invoicing is time-consuming, this feature sets up email reminders for due invoices. This also helps you compile them and forward the bills with a few clicks to save more time.
Many business use Excel spreadsheets, while others even still use pen and paper, to keep track of their team project’s progress. However, having this type of arrangement exposes you to potential errors. In fact, 88% of spreadsheet data contains errors which are alarming for organizations that use it as a go-to tool for handling business operations and implementing financial analysis. Using a PM software guarantees accurate data-based documentation.
- Central data storage. It stores all data – including expenses, bills forwarded to clients, project resources, previous and upcoming calendar events, customer information, and planned and completed tasks – all in one place for easy retrieval and viewing.
- Quick access. This eliminates the need for switching between multiple spreadsheets and you can share it with the rest of your team with a few clicks.
- Reporting. KPI dashboard and insight report is vital to monitor the project’s progress and identify any problems to immediately find a solution. The data also includes key metrics such as complete task percentage, schedule variance, and planned versus actual project value.
Examples of Project Management Software
There are a lot of PM software programs available that focuses on key features such as tracking and organizing the project management process. Knowing the features you need for your own business is essential in choosing a product to implement in your daily business operations. To give you a head start on what to choose, here are the leading examples of project management software:
- Wrike. This is one of the most robust online project management tools with a focal point on boosting team collaboration and efficiency. It improves productivity by making people more self-sufficient in looking for the right information (and making it easy to find them) instead of waiting for the help of others. Additionally, it’s packed with data management and business collaboration features.
- Asana. A popular software for tracking a project lifecycle, it is used by a wide range of companies including non-profits and local businesses. It facilitates team communication and collaboration without the use of email or third-party apps.
- Clarizen. It is a collaborative work management solution for managing projects. This enterprise-grade solution combines task management and social collaboration features to drive you and your team’s ideas into execution.
- Monday.com. Formerly known as dapulse, it is a collaboration and communication app that helps you manage workloads. Its platform is customizable, it allows constant and easy monitoring, and it’s smartly integrated into your established software ecosystem. It’s also user-friendly for freelancers.
- JIRA. It is a software development tool for agile teams that allows members to plan, track, release, and report their project progress. It helps manage workflows and it can be integrated with various developer tools.
- WiseTeam. A centralized project management platform designed to help project teams work together within a single environment, enabling them to share tasks, discuss ideas, manage and allocate resources, and collaborate more efficiently among other, resulting in faster delivery of projects with results that meet or even exceed client expectations.
- Codegiant. This agile project management software is great for small teams and businesses looking to easily keep tracking of all development issues and keep track of tasks in a single clutter-free interface. With Codegiant, you don’t have to break the bank to handle your entire development processes as it comes equipped with all the essentials for end-to-end project management. Aside from intuitive issue tracking and easy workflow management tools, it offers a fully hosted Git platform, a text editor for exhaustive documentation, and a robust Slack integration.