The optimal project management software (PMS) is instrumental in achieving project success. It empowers project managers to effectively monitor and oversee projects and tasks, ensuring timely and budget-compliant completion.
How does project management software impact projects across organizations? A robotics project management adoption statistics report reveals an overwhelming 77 percent of high-performing projects use project management software.
Choosing a project management platform that meets your requirements does not need to be a complicated task. That is if you already know what things you need to consider before you pick the project management solution for your business.
The following is a comprehensive list of critical criteria for selecting project management software. While needs and requirements vary from business to business, this guide will help you choose the best project management solution for your organization.
Key criteria to look for in a project management software
Must-have project management software features are essential functionalities that contribute to the effectiveness and success of project management. These features streamline processes, enhance collaboration, and ensure the successful completion of projects. Here are key must-have project management software features:
First and foremost, you need to consider a project management solution that can be used by everyone on the project team. Project management software requiring extensive training does not need to be a deal-breaker, though. Hence, you need to evaluate if its features are worth your teams time to get acquainted with the system. You can do further research and then try to compare the product with other alternatives. Some project management systems may offer the same features and benefits yet have an easier learning curve.
2. Project Planning and Scheduling:
Your project management software should help you effectively manage projects and stay on top of individual tasks and project schedules. Visualization is an effective way of pinpointing potential bottlenecks and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. So, make sure that your project management software provides you with tools to do just that. One particular must-have tool in project management software is a Gantt chart. A Gantt chart provides a visual representation of tasks and project schedules. This tool lets you see at a glance if you are on track or already falling behind schedule.
3. Project and Task Management
Another must-have feature of project management software is task management. It should allow you to create a list of tasks and deadlines and assign each task to a team member. After you have assigned these tasks, you should then be able to track each tasks progress and generate reports, so you can assess process efficiency and take action when needed.
4. Resource Management
Project management software should help you effectively plan, schedule, and allocate resources efficiently. Resource management includes labor, time, equipment, and money. Project management software that has a resource management tool will allow you to see individual workloads and availability. With that feature at your disposal, you would be able to balance workloads, prioritize tasks, and optimize efficiency. Effectively managing these resources ensures that no one is burdened with a heavy workload, workers are not idling, and materials, equipment, and tools are available when needed. Ultimately, you will enhance employee retention and ensure that your team will accomplish the project on schedule.
5. File-sharing and Real-Time Notification
Your project management system should allow you and your team members to share and have access to documents, media, and other important digital files. Project managers should also have a way of controlling how these files will be added, viewed, read, and edited by assigning different levels of access. The project management software often has a range of options to make file-sharing possible, including media storage devices, shared hard drives, cloud-based storage, and SharePoint sites. A rule of thumb is to make sure that your project management solution supports multiple platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android, Mac, and various devices.
6. Client and Stakeholder Collaboration
Communication and collaboration play a critical part in every projects success. Many projects fail, and potential clients choose to walk away simply because of communication problems. In fact, according to this communication statistics report published by Project.co, 96 percent of people believe that the firms they have done business with could improve communication and project management. Therefore, your project management software should help you improve communication within your team and between the team and the client.
Built-in project collaboration tools help make sure that responsibilities, goals, and expectations are clear from the get-go. These tools also help streamline communication and facilitate collaboration. If your project management software does not have an efficient collaboration tool, it’s time to explore other options.
You should be able to customize desktop and email notifications to suit your personal preferences using project tracking software.
7. Monitoring, Reporting and Analytics:
You should have access to monitoring and reporting tools to get an overview of how the project is doing. Ideally, your project management software will have project dashboards where you can view real-time updates complete with visuals like charts and graphs. Project dashboards help everyone involved in the project stay updated about how much of the work has been completed, which tasks are in progress, and how much time is left before completion, among other important metrics. Dashboards should be customizable to allow you to set preferences and display only the KPIs and data that matter. Likewise, project dashboards should be easy to read and interpret. Factors that affect its scannability include layout, colors, fonts, white spaces, and amount of information.
Project dashboards should also be accessible in that they can be shared with stakeholders and external users. Typically, you would do this by generating a shareable link that lets them see the updates without granting them access to the system itself. Accessibility also entails the ability to be viewed from any type of device.
Keep Your Clients in the Loop
Some project management software offers a free guest/client portal that allows stakeholders and non-users to view progress and sign off on approvals.
8. Customization Options
A project management system should allow customization to make it perform exactly the way you want it. For example, templates are pre-formatted to enable users to use them as soon as needed, thereby saving time and effort. However, you should still be able to edit it and adjust it according to your needs as well. Workflows should also be customizable to include more appropriate status labels and arrange them in a particular sequence according to your established process.
Customizing workflows allows for better communication and collaboration in the project team.
Customization of your business environment may involve:
Set up workflows for each project stage
Configuring custom properties, fields, and roles
Creating custom project and task cards
Implementing color coding for any property
9. Document Management
Document management helps you automate the process of capturing, storing, retrieving, and distributing documents, thereby enhancing efficiency and reducing cost. Meanwhile, document control will allow you to track versions of a document and grant access to a person with a need to view or edit. It also provides added security by preventing unwanted access while providing an audit trail to ensure compliance with established regulations.
Project management software should have the ability to be easily integrated with the tools your organization already utilizes. Being able to import data from another application allows seamless sharing of data without losing crucial information. Conversely, when you are left with no choice but to collect and manage data from separate sources, you run the risk of compromising your data and wasting employee productivity.
Lastly, but equally important, is security. This is especially true if you will use online project management software. The system should provide ample authentication and encryption measures to ensure that only authorized access is granted access and that data does not leak outside the organization.
12. Customer Support
No matter how great a product is, glitches and system issues will surface over time. This is why after-sales is essential, especially if no one in the team is equipped with the technical know-how to fix even minor problems. Beforehand, you should be able to ask if the provider offers any type of technical support, and if they provide multiple-channel or single-channel support. Response time is also crucial as more extended downtimes can seriously affect your ability to meet your deadlines.
Test, evaluate, choose
Choosing the best project management tools and software boils down to which fits your organizational goals and objectives. To help you find the perfect fit, ask for a trial period and see if it meets your performance expectations. And dont forget to include your future needs when evaluating the product. The last thing you need is swapping cars in the middle of a race.