It’s not so long ago that all project management training programs were using paper-based complex Gantt charts that you constantly needed to be updated by you and redrawn. Today project management software has changed all that for you.
Nowadays you’ll find no more hand-drawn paper charts being used in any form of project manager training. Importantly, less time and money are being spent gathering teams together to go over the charts and administering projects.
Now it is possible for you to track, plan and budget projects online while interacting with your other team members in the building across the country or around the world. In this post, I’ll show you why its time to upgrade from your spreadsheets.
Types of software to choose from
Basically there are two kinds project management software programs for you to look at and consider:
- The first type handles simple projects such as to-do lists milestones and calendars along with other time-management utilities.
- The second type is more complex and integrates online communication among team members whether in the same room or in different locations.
You’ll find there are also two schools of thought regarding the best online management approach. Some people subscribe to the notion of simplicity and believe less is more (e.g. using Basecamp). Others however have much more complex needs and prefer a detailed interactive approach (e.g. using the likes of MS Project).
If you outsource this work to project management consultancy services or use freelancers then you’ll find they’re normally flexible about which tools you wish to use. Therefore, it’s really up to the company themselves to define what types of tools are going to suit your staff and your projects.
Key benefits/selling points
The benefits of project management software are many:
- Catch cost overruns quickly
- Monitor schedule delays
- Assess change orders
- Analyze cash flow
- Keep current on progress billing
- Share information with offsite global or local team members
- Centralize project tracking (e.g. of open bugs) as part of your quality control plan
Gantt chart software saves you time money and frustration by eliminating the need to redraw the chart or update it manually with every small change you make. Your project participants and team members can see the current up-to-date charts and have the ability to interact online with comments and changes.
However since some small businesses do not have the budget or need for large programs you’ll normally find they will select the free Basecamp project management program (or similar) which is easy to set up integrate and maintain.
Finding the options/features that suit your team
When selecting the best online management software there is something for everyone. The choice basically boils down to the old adage “Price, speed, quality… pick any two”.
Small businesses without complex needs will probably choose something like the Basecamp project management online service. This is especially the case with teams split across several offices (as it’s web-based).
For medium and large-size firms the best online management system is Gantt chart software that offers real-time complex quality higher speed and the ability to interact. Whatever the small or large business needs in your firm or whichever online project management software is selected the end result is more projects completed on time and on budget through project management software.
Next, once you’ve nailed your project activities down, you need to consider how resources in your workforce can be administered, time-managed and guided through their working lives.
Stepping up a level: Selecting the right workforce management software in larger projects
The right workforce management software can go a long way toward helping you meet your organization’s modern management needs. Management software can help you keep records of all kinds accurately and in a timely fashion. When trying to choose the right software for your organization you should consider the immediate needs of your organization as well as the specific features available with your software.
For instance you may want to find online collaboration software if people within the organization frequently work in teams and need to share information remotely. You can also manage teams as well as individual projects from remote locations (as above for project management software). This becomes a key part of any enterprise PMO.
However when choosing this kind of software it is important that you find something that is user friendly for all levels of users and that your team will have access to the information such as calendars schedules and other pertinent documents from a remote location.
We live in the age of resource scheduling software: The micro-management facilitator
Your organization may also have the need for resource scheduling software. With this type of software you can get a real-time resource scheduling solution. You can schedule all kinds of projects online whether it is a room for the personnel meeting or making sure you get equipment for that next meeting as well as catering for your special events. You may also simply need software to keep track of appointments to make sure you do not double book or create other such mix ups.
At its simplest however, you could use Microsoft Outlook which proves popular in small firms. If you have a larger company then a combination of enterprise tools (e.g. Sharepoint) can dovetail in resource planning with project management (e.g. MS Project) and automated emails.
Deciding factors when choose the right tool
No matter what kind of workforce management software you get you need to make sure it has the ability to put lots of information in workable form. You should consider several factors when deciding what is the best kind of software including:
- The size of your organization
- The purpose of your organization
- Who will have access to data
- The individual features of the software
- The software’s user friendliness
- And let’s not forget – Cost!
Of course there are other factors you will need to consider if you want online collaboration software or resource scheduling software specifically.
REMEMBER: Successfully managing your organization can be lots of work but you can make things simpler with the right software. A good management system is an essential part of keeping your organization running smoothly so that you can focus on other important aspects of the business. Whether you need to track expenses or plan projects you need to find software compatible with your individual needs.