It’s nearing the end of 2020 and if you still haven’t worked or used a project management system to date for your remote team, I’m sorry to say that you are on the furthest end of the productivity spectrum. Project management systems are designed to ensure that the tasks, projects, and works all reach their fruition stage in due time with little to no inconveniences as possible. A project management system sounds a little nuanced for enterprises that are not aware of it, but it is very rewarding as you get it up and running and integrate all your workflow on the system. This article tries to elaborate on the uses, working, and options that are available if you want to opt for the digital project management system that bolsters your overall productivity.
What is a project management software?
The name is pretty indicative of what it does but we’re here to break it down in bits so that even novice users learn about it. The redundant and slow-moving paper-based progress tracking system is obsolete as of now. They require too much effort, are very time consuming, and create a lot of commotion among the employees. Furthermore, the communication channels are very inferior and both the manager and employees have a hard time conveying what troubles them about the project.
Project management software is designed to keep the workflow visible to all the participants of the project and observe the on-going progress, expected date of completion, and the time it will take to realize the goal. All that tabulation in one place helps the managers to keep tabs on the productivity percentage, sluggish contributors, and points of improvement that could be done to maximize the overall productivity. Yes, productivity is used too many times but that is its major intended use along with planning, delegating tasks, scheduling, observing the progress, and fault tolerance or problem management of any irregularities.
An apt example of the perfect placement of a project management software is for enterprises that have a long list of duties and responsibilities that have to be assigned to the employees. It is very cumbersome to do it physically by assigning tasks to every employee associated with the project. Employing project management software can help the business heads heave a sigh of relief and ensure that the employees are delegated their duties and can oversee the culmination of the project at the click of a button.
Furthermore, as the project expands and new tiers are added the previous tasks will be assimilated and evaluated very easily on a single portal that showcases what effort every single employee put into the project. After filtering the best performers they can be appreciated for the effort as well as assigned the next task associated with the project. For employees that were not able to finish the assigned tasks in due time and with expected finesse, explanatory techniques, as well as confidence-boosting seminars, can be conducted to boost their morale and efficiency. All that is possible through one software, a project management software that suits your personal requirements.
Functionalities of a project management software
We have established a definition of what the project management software is capable of and how this aspect of technology can be leveraged by business enterprises to bolster the productivity of their employees. But that alone isn’t capable of compelling tough-rooted minds to make the transition to an IT-enabled system so easily. So we have chalked out some core functionalities and features that a project management software can easily facilitate for your business. Each of those functionalities is described below.
It is the initial phase before the actual implementation and groundwork begin. Chalking out a robust plan with minimal loopholes is the key to a successful venture. A key prospect in planning is scouting the right people for task delegation and scheduling. Once the plan is in place the team members can be added to the project management software and assigned their tasks and expected due dates. Scheduling tasks ensures timely submission of tasks and using a scheduler serves as an active reminder to the employees of the deadline as well as how far or up to pace they are with the project. The scheduler will promptly remind the employees on their accounts about the due date to avoid any misinterpretations and exclude lackluster excuses if they fail to do so.
Another important factor in forecasting the time it will take to complete a newer project based upon the past performance charts and data about the completed project. This can be useful for the major league investors to see if the available team is suitable for the new project or will it crumble under pressure and deadlines. The approach acts as a preventive measure to protect massive capital ingestion into a project that would churn out poor ROI. It is a part of the evaluation process now for enterprises with existing project management systems.
- Active tracking and management
The possibility of project management software is endless as it can be deployed to measure real-time productivity on the go. After task allocation of a huge project with numerous moving parts, the managers find it easy to observe and track the daily performance of the employees and mark out the sub-par performers if any. The logs can be used at the various phase of project development to further assign the complex tasks to competent performers. It also avoided the abrupt halt of a project due to the laziness of any employee as they can be monitored closely and retrained if required.
- Task Management
Using the active tracking feature the managers can scrutinize what aspects of the project are required to be brought to speed and what assets are performing according to the plan. It allows them to feed constant inputs to the employees about the work quality, required changes as per the discretion of the top authorities. They can tag the tasks that have low productivity and can divert extra resources if required to avoid any persistent delays.
Assimilation of the tracking logs and task management logs can help the managers to observe the requirements that are quintessential to add pace to the project and track what amount of capital has been fuelled in to the project up to a certain point of time. Using this data the final analysis and report fabrication can be done to be showcased to the top-tier authorities.
The most ignored aspect of the project management software is the Teamwork that it facilitates by providing a transparent portal for all parties involved in a project. The software displays the workflow and enables the employees to maintain seamless contact with each other and the authority about any inquiries and inputs if any. The integration of all contributors ensures a harmonious relationship between them and leaves little to no room for error and discrepancies. It also eliminates the hesitation that employees face by talking to authorities directly and liberated them to virtually contact their superiors with ease. So all things at one place and time make it a smooth sailing ride for the project culmination and also maximizes the collaborative effort of the employees.
- Remote Access
In the pandemic-marred situation, the only thing that could turn things in motion was the project management software that supported remote access. This enables the organization to source different employees located in different branch locations of the same company to work together on a portal without frequently visiting the actual head office. Remote access enables the employees to work round the clock and as per their time slot if the organization is relaxed enough. No more crowding the manager’s cabin for inputs and grievances. You can do it at your convenience and at the touch of the button.
Here are a few benefits of using project management software solutions for your enterprise:
- Easy overview of the project in work with detailed logs and reports of all events currently in progress along with tasks that are past the due date or in perilous condition.
- Eliminates the lackluster approach of employees towards the project and keeps active tabs of login hours work progress as per the assigned tasks and matches them against the due dates for report generation.
- Seamless task assignment to the employees within one go and set the requirements and expectations beforehand to avoid any discrepancy.
- Active reminder to employees that are lagging and need to pick up pace as per the project requirements.
- Remote Access that facilitates work from anywhere and allows the employees to work round the clock with minimal disturbance.
- Preventive maintenance and risk minimization by using the past data to analyze performance and hold or continue funding the project.
- Effective collaboration among the team members and unobstructed communication improves work relationships as well as leaves no room for confusion and commotion.
- Project management software bolsters the overall productivity of the project by keeping the wheels in motion and actively tracking the progress and fixing the problems as they arise to ensure on-time completion.
Top five picks for project management software are as follows:
By far the most lucid project management software to date. It is the digital representation of a soft board that is regularly pinned with tasks assigned to the team members and the deadlines. Trello simplifies the task allocation to members and keeps everything else at bay. It provides full control to the board creator over task allocation, delegation, and completion. The task is shaped in a form of cards that can be dragged from one list to another as per the workflow designed by the creator.
The customizability that can be done to cards is very interesting. The admin can set due dates and deadlines, add necessary references and key points, as well as communicate about that card with the professional about progress, problems, and possible solutions with the help of the comments section. The card also supports seamless sharing and upload of attachments and can be even used to add new members to the card if required.
This level of control and detail with prompt email notifications to the employees and admin via email and push notifications makes it rank number one on our list. Tailored to suit all industries and can be scaled as per requirements that make it a feasible solution for every business owner. The basic version is free making it a suitable option to try out and tests its viability with your business model.
- Atlassian Jira
The parent company of Trello realized its potential and acquired it to mold it and refine it using its own framework. Jira is a collaborative platform that bridges the gap between people, activities, and tools. Although the most prominent and distinguishing feature of Jira is its bug detection and tracking that has won it many laurels over the course of time. If the project encounters a glitch and ceases to move on, Jira can be used to identify and source that anomaly to its original code.
The application displays everything in a diagrammatic approach. That makes it easier to point out the actual source of defects, updates, requirements, and who faced exactly what issue. Its dashboard is pretty elaborative and displays each and every minuscule change that happened since you last checked in. It’s is precise to the point where it can be extremely infuriating and informative at the same time. Nevertheless, the issues are resolved by pulling in other participants that present a problem or solution for the anomaly.
Keyboard shortcuts are available to scale through the massive list of issues that are amassed over a period of time. The dashboard is completely customizable with a ton of gadgets that can be used by the admin to keep track of events and know the state of the project by a simple glance at it. Jira starts from a freemium subscription and goes all the way up to a premium membership for enterprise-level support.
Monday.com is pretty picturesque and colorful right off the bat. It is a pretty illustrative project management software that uses Gant charts to manage the workflow of the project, assign tasks, set priorities, and integrate the collaboration of the participants around the globe with the remote access feature.
Its board is pretty simple at first and can get really complex as you keep on adding different tables to it. The simplistic view displays the tasks, participants, priorities, and deadlines. You can add more features as per your requirement. Monday.com promotes competent schedule planning that is both agile and promotes individual board creation along and includes them in an event. You can view the data in different visual formats that include progress charts, pie charts, and many more options. The readymade templates make it easy for novice users to start their projects with ease.
Monday.com provides many automation facilities that can help you to create pre-planned events and the response you want to trigger in case it happens. That level of customization is seldom found in numerous project management software that we’ve reviewed so far making it worth a try. It is a paid product and can even build an enterprise-level system dedicated for your perusal only.
Smartsheet ranks at this spot only because it can appear as a handful at first. The application is enterprise-grade and best suited for large conglomerates that are involved in numerous long-lasting projects. Smartsheet can be very visual and very straight forward depending upon the way you use it. Like all applications, it features a dashboard section that displays each and every activity that is in progress or has been submitted or completed.
Starting with Smartsheet is pretty basic, you add a sheet and then go on to declare tasks, assign members, and manage the workflow accordingly. It has three visual representation modes that include the calendar mode, Gantt chart mode, and grid mode. The grids are movable and can be dragged across the screen for a quick overview or a reminder of the assigned tasks. Smartsheet supports multiple apps integration and API’s as well as templates that could help you manage the workflow better,
The only problem that we noticed with Smartsheet that it has to be practiced for quite a few sessions before the employees can know their way around the application. That includes a steep learning curve as the application is primarily developed as an enterprise-grade solution. Moreover, the application is paid and does not provide a free trial plan as of writing this review.
- Liquid Planner
Liquid Planner is also a project management software that believes in a fluid workflow. It takes into account human error and the possibility of mishaps that can cause extension of deadlines and further extend the life of the project. The idea is to have an adaptive workflow management environment that is primarily based on three viable inputs, namely: effort, priority, and availability. Any sudden change in either of the three variables can allow the workflow to mold according to the new data.
Liquid Planner presents a possibility of endless customization options as soon as you create a board and start adding tasks to it. The default view of the application since time immemorial is the Gantt chart view although it offers a few other views as of the current update. The application has no hiccups in managing the workflow but can be daunting at first to learn all the menu, attributes and tags uses, and features. The data generation for review is massive and can be used to adjudge performance and ROI.
Liquid Planner like other collaborative applications works fine, has a free trial option but lacks the design that could compel new users to use it as a primary project management software. The application could benefit from a revamped UI.
If you want the simplistic yet most interactive UI project management software, Trello is your best bet with a ton of features and even a free trial for budding entrepreneurs. Monday.com is the best visually rich project management software with multiple modes suited for general and enterprise use. But if you are a huge enterprise with a ton of capital at stake, Smartsheet is the right option for you.