Software can be a key success factor in the management of projects. Specialized apps can help organize and streamline operations that help professionals achieve project goals quicker and more efficiently. Project management software typically focuses on workflow scheduling, deliverables tracking, events management, resource planning, task and time tracking, and process optimization. Software-aided performance optimization across all business functions can significantly improve the odds of success in the management of projects. Read the full software guide...
Project management software is a digital solution that helps organizations manage various phases of a project, from planning through to execution. Key functionalities include project planning, task management, resource allocation, scheduling, time tracking, and change management.
Products in this category help project managers assign the right tasks to employees, track the progress of projects, control costs, meet deadlines, and communicate with stakeholders. On the other hand, employees can use these products to collaborate on projects, share files and provide updates on the tasks completed.
Different types of project management software are available to manage all aspects of commercial projects. Some products come equipped with basic features, such as drag and drop scheduling and leave management, whereas more comprehensive products feature the ability to create and send invoices, manage documents, create estimates, facilitate collaboration among project participants and help track key deliverables.
Almost all industries use project management software. However, some sectors, such as marketing and service industries, rely more heavily on them. You will also find products designed exclusively for specific industry use-cases or project types.
Common project management software features can be divided into three core areas: the planning of projects, the tracking of projects, and collaboration among project participants.
Project management software is often used to help businesses organize, schedule, and forecast the resources required to fulfill project deliverables. As such, these solutions generally provide the ability to map out the scale of a project and set deadlines.
Resource allocation functionality enables project managers to plan and visualize all resources related to a particular project or task. This enables them to easily evaluate the relevant resources and track whether any changes are required. As such, these tools can be effective at planning projects through their entire lifecycle.
Additionally, resource allocation capabilities facilitate the identification of potential roadblocks and allow for the proactive reallocation of resources where necessary. As a result of their similarities, many solutions that offer resource allocation features also cover inventory management.
The ability to schedule completion dates for various aspects and tasks within a project is central to most project management solutions.
Software offering scheduling capabilities will generally enable users to set due dates, be automatically notified when a due date passes, as well as show how close to completion a certain project or task is. As such, many scheduling tools will either provide or integrate with online calendars.
Kanban boards are a popular scheduling method derived from lean management methodologies. They help teams effectively visualize the stages and tasks within a project.
Tasks are represented in the form of cards that can be organized across a horizontal project board. Each stage represents a different stage of a task, generally spanning from the planning to roll out and testing stages.
Forecasting capabilities can be especially useful for planning projects and their allocated resources, such as predicting task completion times or to facilitate budget tracking. Predictions are usually based on historical data leading to increased accuracy over time.
Forecasting in project management software is generally coupled with risk management and mitigation functionality to help users identify where potential problems may arise over the course of a project lifecycle.
One of the core responsibilities of project managers is to stay on top of project deliverables. Tracking resources, tasks and project metrics are often crucial to ensure the success of projects. Tracking and reporting features are therefore front and center to the majority of project management solutions.
Many project management software solutions provide task management functionality to allow users to assign or track tasks until completion. This provides users with a more in-depth view of all the individual tasks that a project relies on, allowing them to easily identify where issues or delays may be arising.
Solutions offering time tracking can help users record the exact amount of time a project or specific tasks within a project take. They serve as a way to measure employee productivity and facilitate budget/cost attribution.
Gantt charts are an effective form of project task and time dependency visualization. They give project participants a simple ‘waterfall’-style overview of how a project is progressing and which resources are connected to which deliverables.
Similar to Kanban boards, Gantt charts creators are available as standalone solutions and are often offered as a visualization option as part of larger project management software suites.
Project management software offering customer management functionality enables users to track sales and customer records that are relevant to a project or particular tasks.
Expense tracking and budgeting can be crucial to avoid cost-escalation of projects. Cost tracking functionality enables project managers to monitor project budgets and expenses incurred, as well as revenue generated throughout the project lifecycle.
Many project management solutions come equipped with billing and invoicing capabilities. This enables users to centralize the majority of accounting tasks related to the delivery of projects, instead of relying on 3rd party integrations.
Furthermore, billing and invoicing functionality enables project managers to keep track of the payment status of receivables and associated deliverables that are central to the successful delivery of projects.
Project management solutions commonly come equipped with analysis and reporting features. These features help bring greater clarity to the entire project lifecycle by providing KPI metrics and performance visualizations.
Collaboration features can be crucial to facilitate communication and productivity for teams that have multiple employees involved in the same project.
The ability to allow multiple individuals to access project management software at the same time is vital to project collaboration. Project management solutions that enable multi-user access enable users to track their own task progress, as well as the progress of the entire project.
However, there is often information or software features that should not be accessible by all team members. As such, many solutions will also provide access and permission roles so that users can only interact with what's relevant to their role in a project.
Many project management solutions can come equipped with messaging and chat capabilities to facilitate and encourage communication. This ensures that all team members are kept in the loop regardless of their location.
Document management enables users to store all important documents related to a project in a centralized location. These documents can be shared with or accessed by colleagues and clients. Furthermore, multiple users will generally be able to collaborate and work on a document at the same time.
Other common document management features include change tracking and version history, which provide a reference and backup based on how a document has changed over time. This enables all project participants to easily stay in the loop about the editing of documents.
Which project management software you need depends on what type of buyer you are. For instance, startups or individual buyers such as freelancers or professionals often look for a simple product with basic task management, scheduling, and document-sharing capabilities. However, any small business with more than two employees will need basic collaboration features as well.
On the other hand, enterprises usually look for a fully featured solution that helps in planning, budgeting, invoicing, assigning tasks, allocating resources, sharing documents, managing inventory and creating bug reports, among others.
When choosing project management software, enterprises should also consider their business model. For instance, if you are a software development business where the completion of a single project results in multiple sales, you generally need strong collaboration capabilities.
Furthermore, large enterprises with multiple layers of management often look for a product that allows for setting different permission levels for different hierarchical roles. This helps them provide the right level of access to the right employees. Small businesses usually do not need this level of access control, because most small-business employees need to wear multiple hats.
Another important consideration is whether or not you have any industry-specific project management needs. Construction companies, for instance, often look for a product that has powerful resource allocation capability and the ability to review design plans.
You should also check the integration capability of your project management software. For example, you may want to check how easily the product will integrate with your existing accounting software.
Project management software can be extremely versatile and cover a range of business functions. A key advantage is that these solutions facilitate easier collaboration and enhanced communication, both with team members and clients. This is because users are generally able to access the software from anywhere with an active internet connection, regardless of their location.
Another important benefit these solutions can offer is improved planning, scheduling, and tracking. This is due to the ability to visualize project milestones through features such as Gantt charts or online calendars, allowing all users to easily keep track of and be notified about milestones belonging to a project’s lifecycle.
As a result of the aforementioned factors, project management software can also be very effective at streamlining task delegation. This is particularly the case for solutions featuring a Kanban-board, as this lightweight tool can be extremely convenient for creating, visualizing, managing, and notifying users about their respective tasks.
For users wanting a fully-fledged, centralized software solution that goes beyond just project management, accounting and budget management capabilities can be especially useful. This is because all information relating to a project can be kept in one place, making it easier for project managers to monitor costs across the entire project lifecycle. Additionally, solutions offering these features generally cover billing, invoicing, and payroll functionality.
Overall, project management solutions can be crucial for businesses looking to enhance and streamline their standardized project processes.
|API||Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.|
|Batch Permissions & Access||Control user or group access and permission settings for software or other systems.|
|Budgeting||Planning and tracking capabilities for financial budgets and plans often used to manage funds across different departments or for investor / shareholder oversight.|
|Calendar Management||Manage and update calendars for scheduling or consolidation of events across teams, departments or business functions.|
|Collaboration Support||In-application functionality to enable project collaboration between 2 or more parties.|
|Contact Management||Manage large amounts of personal or business contacts in a centralized system.|
|Contact Sharing||Share contacts across teams or platforms to give access to others or to migrate address books across different systems.|
|Customer Management||Manage customer databases and/or track outstanding shipments, payments and more.|
|Dashboard||Dashboards are digital interfaces commonly used to visualise data or give quick access to important features and functions of online platforms. They often serve as an overview gateway in software applications.|
|Data Export||Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.|
|Data Import||Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.|
|Data Visualization||Data visualization features render a visual interpretation of data sets through the use of charts, infographics and other visual cues generally in form of a reporting dashboard.|
|Expense Tracking||Track employee travel and other expenses to stay on top of budgeting requirements and reimbursements.|
|External Integrations||Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.|
|Gantt Charts||A particular type of flowchart using horizontal bars to illustrate time intervals. Mainly used to visualise the use of resources or duration of tasks over the course of a project.|
|Multi-User||Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.|
|Notifications||Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.|
|Resource Management||Manage company's internal and external resources efficiently.|
|Scheduling||Schedule tasks, resources, appointments, payments, communications, etc.|
|Task Scheduling/Tracking||Schedule and track tasks and deliverables in form of to-do-lists.|
|Third-Party Plugins/Add-Ons||Offers additional features or integrations built by third-party developers in form of plugins or add-ons.|
|Time Management||Monitor and optimize how you're spending your time.|
|Travel Management||Manage travel plans and expenses for employees, prospects or potential recruits through a central environment.|
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