The right project management software can help you surface useful data for decision-making on your project. It streamlines reporting, makes it easy for project team members to see what they need to do, and facilitates collaboration. In short, the right software tools help you deliver your project faster, more easily, and with everyone pulling in the same direction.
There are hundreds of software applications for project managers and teams. How do you know what the right tools are for your organization? In this collection of podcasts, we cover all kinds of questions about project management software, including how to decide on the best tools for your PMO.
Project management software is the tool used by a team to help plan, manage and track progress towards the project's goals.
Project management software serves many different purposes in an organization. For example, apps are used for project reporting, scheduling, estimating, discussion and tracking time.
Project management tools fall into several categories, depending on their functionality. Here are the main categories.
As you can see, there is quite a lot of choice, ranging from simple solutions for To Do list apps through to fully-featured enterprise-grade PM solutions to manage large complex programs across multiple sites and teams. You might find that your perfect product is a hybrid choice that fits across a couple of these categories, or you might decide a simple solution is the best.
Below we explain more about those categories to help you narrow your search.
While you can manage projects with any of the above types of tool, it’s far easier and more common to use a fully-featured project or program management platform, especially in a medium or large organization where managing projects according to a structured approach is part of the culture of doing the work.
There are lots of these available on the market including Microsoft Project, Wrike, Workfront, LiquidPlanner, Teamwork Projects and a range of agile project management software solutions for teams needing features like burndown charts. They manage the full project life cycle with all the features you need to monitor and control your project.
Project, program and portfolio management systems have many features and tools in common. It’s helpful to understand what the tools do so you can make the right choice when choosing one for your workplace.
Here are some of the features you should look for in a PM app.
The way you want to use tools for managing projects will determine what kind of systems are most appropriate for your PMO. The way you manage work will also be a factor in deciding what kinds of tools are best for you.
For instance, if you work in an international team, you may want a product that can cope with different currencies and help with collaboration across time zones. If you work in a team using Agile approaches, you’ll need a tool that supports the way you work. Some teams will need a lot of enterprise-grade and advanced features to meet the requirements of clients; others will need a simple tool for tracking tasks and dates.
You’ll be using your project management tool every day, making small changes to the schedule, updating actual performance and collaborating with the team. Look for features you’ll use daily!
Project management software also needs to be implemented in the team with the appropriate change management techniques. You will probably have to train colleagues on how to use it efficiently, and over time the PMO may become the owner of software inductions for new starters.
There is no right or wrong answer to what project management software is the best fit for your team, and you’ll find your needs change over time. When you come to select a product, it’s a good idea to think forward about how you want to develop the offerings of the PMO and what functionality would be needed to support that.
Here's a simple process for selecting the right app for your team.
As the saying goes, “a fool with a tool is still a fool.” So much of whether you get value from your project management software depends on whether you know how to use it to meet your needs. Start with what you want it to do and then find a tool that fits your requirements.
So what is the best project management software? The best project management tool is the one that’s a perfect fit for your organization. Spend some time looking at reviews and project management software comparison grids so you have a good understanding of what is out there.
Here's a summary of some of the most popular tools to get your started.
Metrics have to align to your organizational goals and strategies. They have to fit so that they really impact the processes or activities that are important to that organization. Metrics lead to fact-based decisions. You need to be able to assess and understand that metric and then impact change.
Project management software helps you manage the work more efficiently, effectively and with greater transparency. You can see what is happening on your project, and more easily identify where you need to change direction or manage the project’s performance in order to reach your goals.
The right tools, implemented in the right way, can improve productivity, collaboration and project success rates. Spend some time thinking about what tools you could choose to support your organization. If you already have tools in place, think about how you could use your project management software more effectively to make it easier for everyone on the team.
We have plenty of relevant podcast episodes on this topic, so pick a few and get listening!