Today, many project managers are looking for software tools for easier project management. This simply makes sense since project managers are the ones who will be using the project management tools daily. They are sure to have strong opinions and expectations about what the tool should be able to do and how it can function in helping them in managing the projects they have at hand.
If you are to choose a new project management tool for your team, do you already know what you are looking for? Here, we will discuss ten things that you should consider when choosing your project management tool. They are not in any definite order because what is most vital for one of your projects may not be the same for the other. There may even be some items that you won’t find essential at all.
You can use the list we have prepared here as your starting point when you will be assessing the PM tools that are available in the market today. It will be much easier to create a shortlist of the tools if you know the features that you are looking for. Let’s take a look at the first item on the list.
Ease of Use
You want to make sure that the project management tool that you will be investing in is not difficult to use. There are some tools out there that are too complicated that it will take you a number of days before you get familiar with how it works. The best PM tool should be one that is simple and straightforward and one which your whole team can use easily. Most of the PM tools have free trials. Check them out so you can try how it is like using them before you purchase the tool.
Effectively managing projects is the goal of any project manager. To do this, you will require a scheduling tool that is of professional-grade. There are plenty of basic products that will only show you your task list but can’t do anything else other than that for your scheduling. Although that can work for smaller projects for a small team, once you start managing more complicated projects and larger team, you are going to need more than a task list for your scheduling.
At the same time, don’t overlook the importance of task lists. It is the first step to managing your tasks effectively. But you will be needing a project management tool that has more features that can help you in task management. The tool should be able to give assigned tasks to the rest of the team members so that each of them will know what tasks, in particular, they ought to focus on.
Tasks should be ordered in a way that will make sense not only to you but for your team members as well. With the tool, you should be able to group them as well as add target deadlines. If the tool can also send email alerts to the responsible members, then that’s a bonus feature you would want to have as your project management tool.
Data Availability and Sharing
For your PM tool, of course, you would want one where you can share the tasks and plans with your team members. But you would also want one where the project data can also be available to other people who are outside of your team such as your clients or contractors. Look for a cloud-based project management tool to make data sharing much easier.
You can save a lot of time for preparation of reports once you find a PM tool that has real-time reporting. With this feature, data can be retrieved from different areas of the PM tool and then you can use it in producing reports that will be reflecting the project’s status.
And speaking of reports, a tool that can translate data into graphical reports will also save you time. You should know that most of the sponsors and stakeholders of projects are more responsive and more receptive if you use charts and graphs to illustrate your data as compared to written reports. So, do look for a PM tool that has this feature.
When looking for a PM tool, functionality is one of the first things that we check. But we should also make sure of its security. Review the PM tool’s security options. If it is an online tool for project management, check if it has a 128-bit encryption. Also, a tip is to use a hosting platform that is separate and dedicated just for your customer data so that it will remain safe from the rest who are not involved.
There are several tools that you can choose from for your project management. However, some may look un-updated and old-fashioned. While you should choose the tool based on its functionality, you should also look for one that is attractive. This will surely impress your clients and other stakeholders.
The project management tool that you want to have is one that you can customize based on what makes it easier for you to work with it. Check the tool if you can customize the data and reports column as that is what you would want to play with and not just the colors and the visual appearance. If you can customize the data and reports column, you will be flexible on how you will be showing information to your clients, for example. This, in turn, will be able to provide you with enough insight into the areas of the project that needs to be managed.
Also, look for a PM tool that has time sheets. Not everyone may like it but time sheets will help you in keeping track of the tasks. They will be able to give you early warnings if there are going to be delays. They will also allow you to check if your task estimates are valid. Get a tool that will make it easy for the team members to complete their tasks through their time sheets.
Wrapping it Up
These are just ten of the things you should consider when choosing a project management tool. You will be the best judge of what items are most important for managing your project. As there are so many tools that you can choose from, it is important that you take the time to test them so that you will see which ones will fit your needs as well as that of your team best.