Project management has been there since we started building structures like the Pyramid of Egypt and the Great Wall of China. It must have been there even before!
The idea behind project management is to plan, schedule build teams, create budgets, continuously keep track of the work in progress and make necessary amendments to the various steps until the work in hand is deemed completed and handed over.
In the recent times, we have made significant changes to how things are done based on standards and well-researched principles.
Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI), which is the standard for Project Management, defines it as
“the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of a particular project.”
That said modern project management emphasizes on the use of appropriate tools and techniques to plan, schedule and manage the overall project in terms of time, finance and resources.
Information Technology has made project management much efficient and more insightful which helps to improve the overall productivity and also augment the entire organization’s growth. It is an investment which has become a necessity rather than an optional tool.
Every project, be it in construction, IT, event, or anything else, involve 5 phases in common:
- Performance Evaluation
All these can be well-coordinated and efficiently managed with the help of the right software for project management. There’s cut-throat competition from across the world, thanks to globalization and outsourcing has become quite a trend in every field of business.
To combat competition and impress the customers, project managers have to come up with exemplary results to sustain in the market in the long-term. Technology is invariably the way to go as it brings in considerable conveniences and coordination among these phases in every type of project.
Being an important part of projects, the project management software should be chosen with utmost care. Here are some insights into choosing the right project management tool:
The Right Project Management Software
There are many vendors out there providing readymade and custom made project management software that caters to most of the industries.
For larger firms, custom software such as ERP can be a desirable option, but it involves a significant monetary investment, time and resources to implement successfully.
ERPs can be disruptive as the transition from manual management to automated management is difficult to implement on an enterprise level.
Further, there are shared software services that can be accessed on the Cloud which is a feasible option for most of the SMEs. Though customization is limited when it comes to shared software services, they usually cater to most of the common requirements quite efficiently.
In fact, Cloud Computing is fast becoming more popular among large businesses also because of the security and convenience they offer.
Here are some important elements of project management software you definitely need to ensure. We can divide the entire requirement into the criteria and must-haves.
What are the criteria for choosing the right software to manage your project? We try to answer this part of the larger question here.
The idea is to list down your project’s requirements and compare them with what each vendor has to offer and choose one that serves the best. Factors to consider here are:
This is one of the first requirements to meet – the functionality or the project management features offered by the vendor.
Every industry and business has its own requirements and the PM software being considered should definitely meet the functionality requirements.
In case, the perfectly matching PM software cannot be found, an existing solution can be customized to suit your requirement. This is quite common among licensed software that’s not shared by multiple users.
The underlying technology is as important because an advanced technology will cater to long-term benefits. Sharper and latest technologies will help you manage the project more efficiently without using up too many resources and bandwidth.
Real-time systems and cloud computing are definitely the need for the hour when things need to be managed on the go from across distances.
Project management can be more efficient only when it can interact and integrate well with various other elements or departments of the firm like accounting and payroll.
Integration with external tools will be definitely an added advantage for the business in total.
6. Ease of use
The UI/UX elements are a must too. The manager and the teammates should be able to use the software easily for its implementation to be successful.
Getting a trial version is the best way to try and confirm whether particular software suits your requirements or not.
Many software vendors even offer a free trial without asking for a credit card number – so why not try a few?
Cost is definitely an important element to consider. Software licenses can be quite expensive. So considering the features, functionality and scalability, the right investment which is affordable must be chosen.
Without training the team on how to use the project management software, it cannot be implemented successfully. So the vendor must provide in-depth training and user manuals to the entire team.
Prompt customer support is a must for any project management software. While choosing the vendor, customer support is an important aspect to consider unless you wont to be left to deal with your problems on your own.
11. Must–have Features
Make sure that the project management software has a set of most important features related to your industry. The chances are that the same software will not fit a construction company and a digital agency, so keep in mind what you want your program to do in the first place.
12. Quick and Effective Communication
Communication is an important factor that aids in efficient project management. The project management tool should facilitate quick and effective communication within the team and stakeholders whenever required for the entire project to run smoothly.
The right project management software must support integration with internal and external tools that further support the organization’s data flow. This is integral for the management to compile the information while calculating the project’s metrics.
14. Remote Access
Most of the organizations require the project manager and the team to be working even from remote locations. Hence, remote access to the software is also imperative.
15. Time stamping
Time is a crucial factor in project management. Time stamping ensures that the details of all transactions with regards to when it was input are stored in the database which can help to restore crucial information when required. It also helps in logging historical data for future reference.
16. Budget Tracking
Any project cannot do without a Budget. Tracking the project cost against the budget through the stages is another important aspect which ensures timely and successful completion of the project. Monitoring the actual against the budget will also help the managers to rework on the project in a timely basis if it seems to be exceeding.
The right software will let the organization through scaling up and down as per the needs. Whenever there’s a surge in the data or resources required, a competent project management system will be able to accommodate the same without any disruption.
Ideally, there should be ample scope for additional modules or added functionalities as and when required.
18. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has become an increasingly trending software option for most of the organizations. It promotes shared services which are more feasible options in terms of finance and resources.
Moreover, since the data and software are centralized, its maintenance and security are also managed by the service provider.
19. Email/Social Media Integration
Email integration has become a norm. The project managers and team members must be able to send the reports by email from the software directly.
Social media integration becomes integral to the marketing team. If the project’s progress and success can be shared in the social media, the marketing team can boost the organization’s brand reputation.
20. Data Backup
Data backup is essential for every project. Daily data backup should be taken and stored in multiple storage locations and media whether data is stored in the cloud or locally.
Information security is the most critical aspect of any software. Cloud and online software are the most vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks which make security another important investment for the organization.
Physical, as well as, cyber security for the data are critical features for a competent project management system.
User and role authorization, security logins, firewall and antivirus are a part of the information security arrangements required which should be an integral part of the Project management software.
22. The Impact of Project Management Software
The fact that technology aided project management is a must for successful completion of projects is globally accepted.
According to studies conducted, the project management software has been able to improve the team communication by 52%, the product quality by 44% and customer satisfaction by 38%. 44% of the projects also confirmed that products did not deviate from the budget and were able to get completed on time.