According to statistics, only 30% of projects can be called successful. There are many reasons why startups fail, and one of them is not using a project management software. It brings perfect order to the work processes. With its help, you, as the founder or team leader, will always be aware of who is doing what in your team.
A brief historical background to project management
Giant pyramids, majestic churches, and long maritime expeditions that opened up new worlds were all projects that required great cooperation, planning, and communication. Then people could control all the processes manually.
But, with the leap of mankind into the technological age, the scale of projects became fundamentally incommensurate with manual management capabilities. The roots of modern project management are not from Ancient Egypt or the European Middle Ages. The starting point is the middle of the 20th century, the emergence of the first world corporations, and, at the same time, the strengthening of the technological potential of the Cold War rival countries. It is also the time of the first space operations (program lifecycle management appeared at NASA).
“Project management” as a specific theoretical knowledge comes from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. That is where the PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) method came from, which, by the way, worked so successfully there that it was classified for some time.
Industrial corporations themselves came up with similar management methods – almost simultaneously with the military. It was a revolution: their introduction brought enormous gains in time. But in the 1960s and 80s, only market sharks could afford this luxury, because processing large amounts of digital data was done on expensive computers. The inaccessibility of computers did not last long – until the 80s. Then a new generation of computers for a wide range of users enabled more effective use of methods and tools for planning, scheduling, control, analysis of time, costs, resources, and more.
And by the 1990s, the usefulness of such management became apparent even in areas that were not typical before – for example, in public administration and government reform. This happened together with the cheapening and availability of computers, oriented to the mass circle of consumers.
Today, effective project management is unthinkable without the use of a modern software. The size of projects is growing, the volume of information is increasing, the number of employees working on different tasks is also increasing.
What is a project management software?
A Project management software is such specialized software that allows increasing the efficiency of work within the project. The software is designed for group work, in which the project participants can plan the work, specify performers, terms, and lead discussions on their tasks. As well as control the timing of the work. A Project management software takes on the function of tracking deadlines.
You can manage small projects on paper or in Excel. But at some point, there will be so much information on the project that more time will be spent on updating records than on the work itself. If there are more than two people in your team and your project is more than two weeks long, a special project management software will already be useful.
Such software is needed not only to control an existing project but also to store information on work already done. What did we do last month? Did we do a task like this? How long have we been doing the same task? Questions like this come up all the time, and software helps you find the answer quickly.
Imagine a situation where you and your team need to make a certain result by a certain date. There are several members of your team, each of them has at least 10 tasks, and the tasks are related to each other. Some of them cannot be started until the others are finished. That said, there are also a lot of little things that can negatively affect these tasks. This, in general, will have a bad effect on the result.
There are so many little things you can’t keep in mind, something is bound to get out of control. There is a high risk of completing the project with a failure. Special approaches and software tools come to our aid in the form of project management systems.
How much does a project management software cost?
The cost of solutions on the market varies. Many companies use a free online project management software like Asana or Wrike. Nevertheless, such a type of software fits not all companies. Such software has limited functionality. Services such as Trello have little functionality that is sufficient only for startups. This is why great enterprises order custom project management software development. Such software will have all the tools the enterprise needs.
Large project management software development can cost several million dollars, including the cost of the software products themselves, as well as the cost of implementation and training to use them. The development process is very time-consuming and can last for more than 6 months.
So, how does a small business or startup choose software from among those that already exist? What to focus on?
What are the benefits of a project management software?
The variety of tools in a project management software help complete projects efficiently. They help the team to achieve their goals, to optimize work processes at all stages of product creation and promotion. Below are the main benefits of a project management software:
Facilitate the installation of projects, not organizational strategies. This is a cost reduction for the firm.
Increasing the efficiency of resource use. Efficiency is increased due to the competent allocation of resources.
Prevention of cost overruns. Provided by controlling all costs. Availability has a beneficial effect on spending.
Reducing the number of low quality projects. This is achieved through control over deadlines and current tasks. The manager gets the opportunity to ensure the quality of the tasks.
Saving the manager’s time. The manager may not do routine work (collecting information, creating reports) manually.
Interaction with project participants in real time. If an employee faces a specific problem, he can immediately contact another employee.
Facilitation of document management. The system has a document flow function. It allows you to instantly edit information, update them.
Facilitate risk and forecast management. The systems allow predicting risks, making forecasts regarding the success of the project completion.
Control systems for maximum ease of use. This simplicity is needed so that each employee can easily understand the operation of the system. No special training is required.
Disadvantages of a project management software
When implementing a project management software, the following disadvantages must be taken into account:
High cost of management programs with low performance. The acquisition of management systems implies an increase in the company’s income. However, the resulting profit in some cases does not pay off the costs. It should be borne in mind that you will have to spend money not only on the program itself, but also on its regular updates, individual improvements.
The risk of complicating simple projects. When managing simple projects, the use of the control system is optional. Moreover, it is even undesirable, since a simple task can be complicated.
Spending a lot of time making plans. The manager and employees have to spend a lot of time setting statuses, changing priorities, updating information. Sometimes real deeds are “lost” behind such work.
All of these disadvantages are relative. With the right choice and use of the system, all disadvantages are neutralized.
What are the main criteria for a project management software choice?
There are more than a hundred project management software on the market. They differ in price, set of tools, interface usability, and other parameters. It is difficult, but not impossible to choose the best software or service from such a variety.
Price. The first parameter you should pay attention to. Some project management systems are free (fully or restricted), others are licensed. The cost of the license can go up to $800-1000. If you don’t have a big budget, choose free services and programs. They will have a limited set of tools, but it is usually enough for a small project. For complex and large-scale products, it is best to choose professional software.
Interface usability. The service’s interface must be convenient and understandable for all members of a team. Otherwise, the time that specialists could devote to the execution of their tasks will be spent on studying the interface and the capabilities of the service. This will lead to a delay in the deadline of the project.
Toolkit. Create a list of tools that you will definitely need when working on the project. For example, creating calendars, grouping tasks with the ability to comment, filters by specified parameters, time tracking, risk modeling, and analytics, exporting and importing data. When your list is ready, all you need to do is to review the services and choose the one that best suits your needs.
Ease of communication. The project management software should have a convenient chat for all employees, this is especially important when organizing remote work of employees. If your employees discuss tasks via e-mail, social networks, or messengers, there is a great risk that important information will be lost.
Before you choose a particular project management system, it is critical to formulate your requirements. Knowing exactly what features you will need will help you streamline the system selection process.
Carefully make a list of the features and functionality you need, dividing them into “required” and “optional” features. This list will help you determine which project management system best meets the needs of your organization. In addition, an extremely important step before implementation is the evaluation of system usage scenarios. System usage scenarios are all the ways in which your organization might use the software, such as risk management, capital management, or budget management. This helps to understand whether the system will meet the needs or not.
3 of the best project management softwares
Modern developers offer a number of services for project management, each of which has its pros and cons.
One of the most popular project management systems with cloud storage. It allows you to assign tasks to small groups and keep track of project progress. All you need for Trello is email and internet access.
There are paid subscriptions Business Class and Enterprise with an unlimited number of team boards and some enhancements, increased size of attachments in cards, set of tools for process automation. Trello advantages:
Unlimited number of cards, columns, and personal boards.
Up to 10 team boards.
Ability to automate daily tasks.
Creation of labels and filtering of cards by this parameter.
Board improvements (integration with other services).
Email notification of any changes on the boards.
Printing and exporting data.
It is a cloud-based project management system that is suitable for companies of any size and industry. The service allows you to create tasks and schedules, keep track of project progress, keep track of time and budget planning, generate reports, and communicate with colleagues. There’s integration with corporate software, email, and other services you’re using at work. Wrike advantages:
Boards with a clear interface and Drag&Drop editor.
Real-time access to files for all team members.
News feed on projects with the ability to apply filters.
Integration with cloud services and data storage.
Convenient mobile application.
It is a service for collaborative project work that is suitable for small groups and large teams and it allows creating tasks, detailing and tagging them, leaving comments, likes, and checklists. For large-scale projects with a large number of diverse tasks, you can create workspaces. Asana advantages:
Minimalistic and intuitive interface.
Ability to drill down into tasks.
Gallery of ready-made templates for different departments (teams) – marketing, HR, IT, and design.
Hotkeys and convenient search.
Integration with cloud services and data storages.
It is quite difficult to develop and release a complex product on time and within the allocated budget so it does not matter whether it is a new engine for launching spaceships or a mobile application. Everyone who works on the project has to be controlled. Otherwise, the performers begin to fail to meet deadlines, shift their tasks to others, unreasonably demand a raise in royalties. It can get to the point that investors shut down the project, considering it unprofitable.
To prevent this from happening, companies use a project management software. They need to achieve a goal or goals within a given time, resource, risk, financial, and other limits. Now you know why a project management software is useful for any team, agency, or company.