Learn why Project Management tools are important and how to choose the right Project Management software
Last updated: Feb 17, 2021
What is Project Management?
Project Management is a specific set of processes and operations carried out by many stakeholders. These could include consultants, who may be from the same company or different organizations, and spread across geographies. They work together to accomplish a singular goal within a stipulated period and utilizing fixed resources.
Project management entails the efficient application of skills, knowledge, technique, tools, and people to carry a project to completion. With technological advancements and disruptions taking place at a rapid rate in this segment, Project Management Software has become a strategic function for every business today. As per a report titled ‘Project management Software Market – Growth, Trends & Forecast, the project management software market is expected to register a CAGR of 10.17% during the forecast period, 2020 - 2025.
What is Project Management Software?
Project Management Software is a platform that helps teams complete and coordinate the requirements of their clients’ projects within a stipulated time and budget while delivering the expected quality. It can be used for collaboration among teams in companies and often supports resource allocation, scheduling, and planning of the project.
Key Benefits of Project Management Software
Availability of Historical Data for Planning
Project Management Software helps project managers set up a management plan, allocate resources, prioritize goals, identify issues, fix deadlines, and create project deliverables conveniently. The software makes it easier for users to archive and manage historical data and this can be effectively used for planning purposes.
Effective Utilization of Resources
Project Management Software provides better visibility into the utilization of resources. Using its workflow-based system tools, project managers can easily account for the time needed for a task and work it into team members’ schedules, alert teammates when tasks are veering off-track and ensure that the right people are working on the right tasks in the time allotted to them. Effective utilization of resources helps organizations to execute more projects with fewer resources.
Project management can be defined as a way of developing structure in a complex project, where the independent variables of time, cost, resources and human behavior come together.
Transparency and Better Visibility
One of the main problems faced by key stakeholders and executives in any organization is getting the right level of visibility into project execution. Also, organization leaders like to get visibility into the project which is real, metric oriented, and quantitative. In the absence of tools and metrics, leaders need to rely on first level managers for the assessment which tends to be more qualitative and very often glossed over. Project Management tools solve this big issue and with dashboards and tools that provide visibility and bring in transparency in project execution.
With many tasks overlapping among teammates in different departments and across geographies, Project Management Software helps by enabling real-time collaboration, thus avoiding communication gaps while on a project. Teams get instant updates on the progress of work through live activity stream and instant messaging features.
Effective Task Delegation
Using Project Management Software, managers can delegate tasks and brief the team at the same time while assigning the tasks to the relevant team member. This is especially helpful in complex projects, which involve multiple stakeholders to ensure there are no overlaps or wasted efforts.
Easier File Access and Sharing
Project Management Software provides companies with centralized control over all project assets. Within the system, users can change or modify documents, which can be viewed by everyone involved in the chain, including new team members or third parties, brings more transparency and easier project asset organization.
Keeping the project on a budget is a critical component and key to the success of any project. With Project Management Software, managers can track their budgets aided by real evidence in the form of every teammate’s work hours and money spent on their tasks. Guided by this reliable information, managers can tweak their financial decisions to keep the project on track.
A project without a critical path is like a ship without a rudder.
Support Remote Working
Many organizations have teams in different time zones and geographies, besides allowing employees to work from home. In such a scenario, it is imperative that their people feel connected all the time. With delegation, scheduling, and constant updates being central to any Project Management Software, managers can harmonize different teams and get them working in tandem on projects efficiently.
Onboard New Team Members
Bringing on someone new to the project becomes easier with any Project Management Software’s tools which help them catch up with the work done and any direction changes along the way. They can begin effectively contributing faster, as this tool allows them to seamlessly integrate into the project.
Which Industries Use Project Management Software?
The industries that widely use Project Management Software include construction, event management, retail, healthcare, advertising, manufacturing, engineering, and IT, among others.
Who are the Users of Project Management Software?
Businesses, both large and small that have to manage numerous projects, plans, and people to coordinate seek to use Project Management Software to help streamline their project work. While nearly anyone facing a client, and needs to estimate, track, deliver, and get paid for services need this software, it is commonly used by project managers, design and product teams, engineering, and marketing teams.
Key Features of Project Management Software
Scheduling and Project Timelines
One of the hallmark features of a Project Management Software is that it helps project managers and team leads to schedule tasks, give relevant instructions, make lists, and fix deadlines. Automatic alerts are often a key feature to notify team members of an approaching deadline. Automatic reports are generated when subtasks are completed, creating a timeline visualization that lets other team members see their work in the overall scheme of things.
This feature utilizes data from previous projects and helps in calculating the ROI of a project before it is started. It takes into account the time spent on each task, and the resources mobilized in alignment with the organization’s budgets and business goals. This tool can help a business pivot towards making better strategic decisions before beginning a project by predicting potential risks and limitations.
Time tracking helps managers know exactly how much time is spent by each team member on their respective tasks and keeps the project on schedule. By measuring this, managers can make forecasts on project completion dates.
As large teams work on projects together, the software lets managers delegate responsibilities and see ‘who did how much work in how much time’. As many tasks may be interconnected or require inputs from many teammates, managers can get the full picture of where tasks are being derailed and reassign tasks based on these insights.
Budgeting and Expense Tracking
Sticking to approved budgets is critical to the success of a project and the Project Management Software offers expense tracking and budgeting functions as well. Through the budgeting and expense tracking tool, managers can set budgets and also get updates regularly on how team members accrue expenses during the project implementation stage. These insights can be used to predict future project costs as well.
No major project is ever installed on time, within budget, with the same staff that started it.
Communication and Status Updates
In-built communication tools help each resource stay informed and connected to the progress of a project. These collaboration tools not only connect teams working on different tasks in different parts of the world, but also support the sharing of documents, updates through message boards, and internal messaging.
AI in Project Management Software
Identifying a potential risk that could impede a project and mitigating that risk is critical to its successful completion. Project Management Software also offers cloud-based tools that can bring in real-time data for managers to track projects more effectively. Using real-time analysis, risks can be predicted and companies can plan strategies to avoid or overcome them more effectively.
Automation in Project Management Software is helping free up human resources from doing low value-repetitive tasks. These tasks can include triggers for critical changes, missed deadlines, and overloaded resource, or project delays.
Predictive analytics uses historical data, artificial intelligence, and context to analyze and surmise future outcomes. By employing solutions sometimes included in the Project Management Software like statistical tools such as regression analysis, data modeling, forecasting, and statistics, businesses can undertake predictive analysis to foresee potential issues and course correct to achieve their business goals.
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Buyer’s Guide: Guide to Choose Right Project Management Software
On-Premise or Cloud
There are different variants of Project Management Software in the market - on-premise as well as cloud-based. On-premise software is preferred by large enterprises where the usage can be complex, multi-site, and across various divisions. Also, they would need higher data protection and security. But they bring in higher deployment and administration costs.
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Increasingly cloud variants are gaining popularity due to its simplicity, more cost effective for small to midsize organizations as they are devoid of deployment and maintenance overheads.
The project management complexity and needs vary widely across different industries. Construction industry requirements can vary drastically from technology industry needs. Also, project management tools need to support newer models like Agile. So it is important to assess the fitment to the industry before the buying decision.
It is quite common for teams to spread across geographies and it is important that the software supports a multi-site model for different teams to collaborate seamlessly. Sometimes in very large organizations, they might even prefer multi-nodal deployments.
It is quite common in organizations to have pre-existing tools, home-grown software that are used in project management. When new software is chosen, it is important that the vendor supports data migration from existing tools to the new environment.
Total Cost of Ownership
Project Management tools are largely seen as productivity tools and organizations tend to be sensitive to the overall cost of managing and administering. So apart from the licensing or subscription cost, the overhead cost of managing, administering, support, and training costs need to be optimal and this is a key factor of consideration for organizations.
Security is imperative to the adoption of any software for a firm. Secure Project Management Software should have different user roles available and provide different levels of access to these roles. It should also have Secured Socket Layer (SSL) certificates and well-established processes to manage and control infrastructure access and access to customer/client data.
Challenges in Adoption of Project Management Software
Homegrown Assorted Tools
While implementing new software, companies could face resistance to their use from employees who are likely to be using an assorted set of homegrown tools. Also standardizing usage of tools across different divisions and groups is always a challenge for large companies. The reasons are several - a temporary increase in employee workload, change of managers, and lack of training. This transition phase could ultimately cause delays in project implementation. To overcome this, many firms also opt for an effective training program to enable a smooth transition.
Choosing a Project Management Software that aligns with the business goals of the company is imperative. Buying software without analyzing its alternatives can result in too many tools that are not useful, and merely add to red-tapism. Feature-rich platforms can also be expensive. It is therefore important to evaluate their usefulness, before investing.
May complicate simple projects
Occasionally a Project Management Software may be an overkill for a project. While it is a popular move to use Project Management Software, it could end up complicating a simple project if used when not necessary.
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