April 28, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Agile? 3 Benefits of Managing your Projects with Eylean Board

By Dovile Miseviciute

Within the fast paced world we live in today, staying on top of things is one of the most important and most difficult goals we give ourselves. Whether it is in our personal or our professional lives, we often find it challenging to keep up with the latest information, understand the whole picture and to make the right decisions fast. The good news is – we have tools like Eylean Board, to help us stay on track and see our projects to completion with ease.

Like many other great products, the story of Eylean Board starts with a small group of people struggling to find a tool that would fit their needs and like many others before them, deciding to create one of their own. Five years later, the small group of people is known as the team of Eylean, the tool is called Eylean Board and it is used by teams all over the globe.

You may wonder what is it that makes Eylean Board so great? Amongst multiple layers of projects, tasks and subtasks, time tracking, reports and integrations, there are three key benefits that put this software on top.

#1 Visual boards to represent every important detail

Eylean Visual boardOne of the most important things in project management is being able to see both the big picture and the important small details. However, analyzing the details takes time and thus we are left to rely on our team to give us the information. Needless to say, many things get lost in translation this way and we end up struggling to make the right decisions.

With Eylean Board however, the important small details are right there in the big picture. You can see who is working on which tasks, how much time they have taken, what problems they are facing and monitor the due dates represented in color-coded notifications on the board. And if you want to know more – simply expand the task details to see descriptions, commentary, attachments and more.

#2 A tool that is easy to use

Eylean Task detailsBeing able to understand and use the software immediately is another big problem companies are facing today. Introducing a new tool to your team usually means hours of training, followed by weeks of confusion and the wait for actual results that may never come.

The beauty of Eylean Board is that the whole user interface is based on intuition. Tasks can be moved, assigned and tracked all with a simple drag and drop. The software is self-explanatory and the ability to modify the board gives you an opportunity to duplicate your previous solution in order to have a smooth transition period for all. Contrary to some other tools, Eylean Board can be used by developers, sales, marketing, finance and any other department in a company at the same time.

#3 Latest project management methods at your fingertips

Eylean Agile templatesLastly, you need an innovative tool to keep up with project management practices that are moving forward. Eylean Boards is just that – you will find templates for Scrum, Kanban and Scrumban boards or will be able to create your own templates modifying and improving the Agile methods to be just right for you. Furthermore, the Eylean team is fully emerged in following the latest Agile trends and can help guide your Agile journey.

Eylean Board is an intuitive and easy to use project management software that allows your team to realize their potential. Intrigued? Start the two-week free trial with no strings attached.

About the author: Dovile is the marketing manager at Eylean. She has been actively immersed in the Agile project management field for two years by working within the methodology and writing a blog about the newest trends and shifts in the industry.

10 Reasons Why There Is Always Need Of Project Management

By Shikha Menwal 

10 Reasons Why There Is Always Need Of Project ManagementAt some point you might have wondered: “Do I really need a project management for my company?” Well, project management is to business what food is to the body. The former is integral to the survival of the latter. So, there goes your answer! But what really makes project management such a crucial tool for thriving in the industry? The reasons are plenty, but here are some major points that make project management such a critical ingredient in the recipe for entrepreneurial success.

#1 To avoid the likelihood of reworking!

Who doesn’t like to get things done in the very first go? We all want to avoid reworking the same thing. According to a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon, 70% – 85% of the total rework cost in projects occur due to the failure to specify all the requirements during the analysis phase. Also, 25%-40% of money gets wasted as a result of having to redo a major chunk of work.

Project management encourages collaboration. Collaboration helps enlist all the requirements right in the beginning when details are discussed. You can avoid do-overs altogether and get it right the very first time.

#2 Getting off on the right foot!

No one likes to hear things such as ‘could have’, ‘would have’, ‘should have’. With a strong work foundation, you won’t have to hear such statements. Project scope definition, statement of purpose, identifying business risks and limitations, and defining the objective of project; all this is part project management and will ensure that you get off on the right foot. Business analysis and project management let you make necessary adjustments in the plan and see if the scope of a project sounds feasible or not.

#3 Exercising control over change!

When running projects, get ready to deal with many changes in requirements because things are never as simple as they seem. This is where change management philosophy comes in. It allows managers to find an exhibit through various conflicting priorities. They are able to seamlessly integrate new changes into ongoing activities without disrupting the flow of work.

#4 Improved communication at all levels

According to one of the studies conducted by PMI, it has been observed that around 90% of problems in most projects arise due to lack of communication. With right project management, teams get to know their responsibilities, priorities, and what is expected from them. It would lay down simple and effective channels of communication. It helps to align everyone’s understanding of overall work.

#5 Documenting successes and failures

Learning never stops! This is the prime focus of project management. Project reviews documents the highlights where teams have excelled and the areas where they could have performed better. As the project reaches completion, both positives and negatives can be documented for future reference. A project manager would know which mistakes to avoid and what practices should be implemented that proved successful in the past. It’s like implementing learnings from one project for future endeavours.

#6 Selecting the optimal course of activities

There can be multiple ways to achieve the same output! But, a project manager needs to know which way is the most optimal one. A project is about implementing a series of activities in succession. But, which course of action is likely to have least possible constraints and challenges? Project management answers such questions and enables you to select the most optimal series of activities in the right sequence.

#7 For maintaining focus

Focus is the essence that makes the impossible possible. Someone who knows the art of project management inside out will keep everyone focused by helping them see the bigger picture. Project management leads the team towards the end goal. It wards off unnecessary distractions that team members might face. It’s the way to making sure that each and every thing in the process is properly planned, documented, and completed on schedule.

#8 Time and budget limit

Any project execution is challenging, because it needs to be done within certain constraints. Project managers define the deadlines and decide how much cost is likely to be incurred. Project management is about achieving goals while staying within the said timelines and budget.

#9 Keeps everyone posted!

We know that projects happen to be multi-dimensional. Several departments work collectively for the attainment of common goals. Lack of coordination brings chaos, which is the last thing a project needs. Project managers coordinate work across all the departments and ensure everyone is aware of the progress. When everyone is on the same page, communicating changes and discussing further details becomes easier.

#10 Prepares everyone for the unforeseen events

Projects are bound to come across multiple challenges and risks. Project management prepares everyone to handle most unexpected happenings in the most natural way. Being prepared for anything will keep you going in the right direction.

In conclusion, by inculcating project management principles and theories, project managers can streamline all the tasks and guide teams to work collectively towards a single goal.

**********************************************************************************

About the Author: Shikha Menwal is a writer at ProofHub. Her academic credentials include a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences. From lifestyle, to technology, and management, etc. she has written about myriad of industries in her writing career during the last three years.

Unconventional Uses for Gantt Charts

By Matthew Jagiello

Gantt charts are already very well-known among project managers around the world. They are de facto an industry standard, used by thousands of companies and institutions – if not far more! SoftwarePlant has looked at some of their clients to see whether Gantt charts can be used in a creative way, in industries very foreign to classic management and businesses themselves. The results are stunning!

Education

Everyone used to be a child at some point in time. This leads us to schools. Remember all these lesson plans, charts of teachers’ free days, duty hours, announcements, etc? Most likely your school was doing all of this using only a printer (or even pen and paper). Nowadays, some schools use project management software* in order to optimize workload and make everything run smoothly. In fact, universities and colleges also do.

Physical work

Project management” is still too often perceived as something strictly related to cleanly shaven people in business suits. But our customers beg to differ – some of them construct buildings, roads, railways and many other things. Gantt charts and risk matrixes help them manage deadlines*** and serve the public in a timely manner.

Politics

When we follow political campaigns, we usually remember only a few key people from each party. This is precisely what the so-called spin doctors are for. But the truth is, political parties are as big as some corporations! In the US, the Democratic Party has 43.1 Million members, while the Republicans hover around 30 Million**. This is a massive number of people, all working on the same projects around the whole country – and good project management software does help them achieve the results they yield.

BigPicture

Events

We all love to go to a concert once in a while. But even professional project managers from other fields rarely stop to think about the sheer scale of some of the cultural events they attend. The scene/stadium, sound systems, lights, tickets, everything involves a lot of hard work, and the deadline is permanently set in stone – it is pretty much impossible to postpone a concert. In order to ensure proper start and finish dates, some of SoftwarePlant’s customers install JIRA with the plugins and look at the risk matrix like a hawk guarding its chicks.

Military

Logistics, engineer corps and administration amount to far more people than actual combat troops. Each soldier needs to be fed, dressed, transported and equipped on time, often abroad and in harsh conditions. The US started using Gantt charts around WW1****, and continues to do so until this very day. Even there the SoftwarePlant’s software has certain uses among military organizations, though details are (as expected) strictly classified.

Entrepreneurs

SoftwarePlant is a start-up company. The interesting thing is, their product is used by many other start-ups, sometimes even from the same industry. They are pleased that other young entrepreneurs like their solutions and wish them luck with their ventures. After all, Skype, a small Estonian company before acquisition by Microsoft, could not have been developed if not for Gantt charts.

These are the cases that were found the most interesting – but what about you? Do you have an unconventional use for Gantt charts, be it practical or hypothetical? If yes, we encourage you to contact us and share this wisdom. Who knows, there may be great rewards…

Sources:

* http://www.smartsheet.com/blog/Gantt-charts-for-sixth-graders

** http://2012election.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004483

*** http://archive.excellencegateway.org.uk/media/KSSP/scheduling.pdf

**** http://www.chroniclegraphics.com/community/blog/a-brief-history-of-the-gantt-chart/

BIO

BigPicture_logoSoftwarePlant is a Polish-American start-up company that produces software for Project Portfolio Management. Its main products are developed for the JIRA platform, but custom development, training and implementations are also available.

 

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Virtual Project Consulting

Wrike – Project Management Software that Makes a Difference

Software Review by Linky van der Merwe

Wrike project management software was founded in 2006 and has over 6,000 customers in 55 countries, including Google, Stanford University and eBay. Wrike was included in the “Cool Vendors in Collaboration” 2014 Gartner Report. In addition to this success, the company has won multiple industry awards. Wrike is available in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Portuguese, making it a top global provider of online project management software. Although Wrike is used by giant companies like Google and McDonalds, it’s also a favourite of charitable organizations, non-profits, and numerous small business ventures.

The company is led by its passionate founder and CEO, Andrew Filev, a former software entrepreneur and experienced project manager. He launched his first software development venture at the tender age of 17 and grew it into an international business with more than 100 engineers.

As his company grew, Filev realized he needed a collaboration tool for distributed teams running several projects simultaneously. Thus, Wrike’s project management tool was born. It connects data across multiple projects, gives an overview of project status and progress to managers, and provides a central hub for smooth, real-time collaboration for the whole team.

Easy Access to Your Work

Workload-management-in-WrikeWrike is a cloud-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) app and does not require downloads or updates. Users can access Wrike from any internet-connected browser, on any operating system or device. The number of users allowed on a specific account is defined by your chosen subscription plan, but account administrators are able to invite an unlimited number of collaborators completely free of charge. Users have full access to Wrike, and can create or edit tasks, view reports and charts, and add comments. Collaborators, on the other hand, can only view the actual tasks assigned to them, upload any associated files, and leave comments.

Subscriptions & Pricing

Wrike offers both free and premium (paid) subscriptions. The free package provides basic project management features for small business or teams who don’t need advanced features. The free version includes 5 users and 2 levels of project folders, along with 2 GBs of storage. All users benefit from Wrike’s 24/7 customer service and support.

Professional and Enterprise plans offer advanced project management features for larger teams, including subtasks, customizable Dashboards, Custom Fields, visual analytics reports, an interactive Gantt chart, and more. Wrike offers a free, one-month trial of their software, and does not require you to provide a credit card number.

For details of all subscription plans or a feature-by-feature comparison between the free and premium options, click here.

Ease of Use

Team collaborationWrike is very customer-oriented, and learning to use the software is made easier by video tutorials, help pages, and optional implementation assistance. In addition, Wrike offers free, live webinars of about 40 minutes that walk you through the software.

Team Collaboration

Wrike’s project management app uses email collaboration to the greatest advantage. Its email integrations allow users to discuss and comment on tasks within their inbox. Each task has a comments section so teams can easily discuss progress and collaborate on work, and they can @mention colleagues to direct a message to a specific user or group. All project updates for tasks you follow are shown in the real-time Activity Stream, making it easy to stay up-to-date on project status.

Wrike’s Project Management Tools

Wrike_dashboardDashboard

Customizable Dashboards show your most important tasks and keep them at hand. View complete tasks lists and drag-and-drop to prioritize, then click on the tasks to view the details, add comments, attach files, update the status, note the task’s importance, and more.

Activity Stream

Activity-Stream-in-WrikeWrike’s Activity Stream presents a linear view of the latest project updates It’s simple newsfeed is easy to scan and quickly check up on updates, task status, and the latest discussions.

Users can add comments to tasks directly from the Activity Stream, making collaboration easy since everyone knows the latest updates.

Timeline

Wrike_timelineWrike’s Timeline is fairly basic, but adequate. It offers the ability to add tasks easily while in the Timeline view and you can refine its date and specifications or drag and drop the task to the desired location within the timeline.

 

Customer Service and Support

Wrike is highly rated for its excellent service and support. The customer service team at Wrike answers questions 24/7, and you can livechat with a representative if you need help immediately via Wrike’s website. A phone assistance line is also available.

Powerful Integrations

Wrike_Mobile appIn the complex IT landscape that most organisations are operating in today, you need project management software that integrates with the other web tools your project team already uses. That will empower them to use the software seamlessly.

This is one of Wrike’s strong points. It integrates with dozens of other online tools, including Google Apps, Salesforce, MS Project, Zapier, and Evernote.

Click here to see the complete list of current Wrike integrations.

Case Study

Recording artist, clothing designer, and entrepreneur Redfoo uses Wrike to keep processes consistent and communication efficient, making it easier to meet deadlines. The team consists of very creative people in the music industry who need to plan events, work on projects and collaborate on new ideas, documents and tasks. They’ve even started saying, “Wrike it down!” meaning put it in Wrike. According to Redfoo, if it’s not in Wrike, it doesn’t exist.

Conclusion

Wrike is an all-in-one software with a perfect blend of project management and social collaboration features that helps you become more productive and achieve your goals faster.

See how Wrike received the Supreme Software as well as the Best Project Management Software awards from FinancesOnline in recognition of Wrike’s  excellent features and customer support.

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Virtual Project Consulting

Communication Challenges for Virtual Project Teams Part 2

Have you ever worked with virtual teams as a project manager? (Click for related articles) From my experience of working with virtual teams who are distributed and working remotely, we have to overcome the communication challenges by using tools like tele-conference facilities, instant messaging and email.

This article is Part 2 of a discussion of research findings about the challenges virtual teams face, communication preferences and recommendations. It is based on an online survey done by Software Advice’s Noel Radley (*) with professionals who regularly work on virtual projects, and who had an opinion on the challenges of virtual projects.

Virtual Team Members’ Preferred Communication Channels

Virtual team's preferred Communication channels

 

Preferred Communication Tools

The survey confirmed recent reports that email usage has not yet declined to the extent some predicted. To the contrary, 41 percent of virtual team members surveyed selected email as their most preferred communication tool. However, it was also stated as problematic by some (23%) due to long email threads.

After email, phone was selected by 36 percent of those surveyed as their preferred communication channel perhaps due to the benefits of a “real-time” collaboration tool. Surprisingly, tools designed for online collaboration were selected by the fewest respondents. Only 12 percent selected virtual conferencing as a preferred communication channel, and discussion forums and chat rooms were selected by just 10 percent.

Miller recommends instant messaging (or chat) as one of the more effective real-time communication channels for virtual teams. It’s a much better way to collaborate on something that’s in active progress, or to reach a final decision on an issue. It can also be used to link directly to Web pages or relevant documents that may come up in conversation.

When facing virtual workers who prefer traditional communication channels, managers may need to push adoption in order to help bridge the gap between the tools team members are accustomed to and the tools that help them collaborate most effectively.

Communication Channel Preferences by Age

To add further complexity, our findings revealed a shift in communication preference based on age. Generally speaking, the preference for digital mediums (such as email) decreased with age, while the preference for analog communications (namely, phone) increased with age.

Demographics: Communication Channel Preferences by Age

Preferred communication tools by age

 

 

 

Email preferences were greatest among the youngest team members surveyed: nearly half of those aged 25-34 had a top preference for email (46 percent). This preference was slightly less for 35- to 44-year-olds (41 percent), and lower still for 45- to 54-year-olds (36 percent).

The greatest preference for phone was held by team members in the 45-54 age category, at 41 percent, while 34 percent of the 35-44 age bracket and 29 percent of the 25-34 age bracket preferred communicating by phone.

These trends change when it comes to video conferencing and discussion forums and chat. The 35-44 group is less likely to prefer virtual conferencing and more likely to prefer chats and discussion forums than both the older and the younger age groups.

These differences may mean that companies with trans-generational teams run into subtle misunderstandings, as diverse communication preferences result in people not answering the phone or not replying to emails. To keep distributed teams on the same page, Miller recommends a “multifaceted” approach.

Recommended Solutions

In addition to using instant messaging, also consider mailing lists, a project wiki, and a project blog. A conference or face-to-face sessions where active project members are invited to get together is also a good solution. This works well at the beginning and end of projects.

Successful virtual projects, therefore, require more than just selecting the right communication tool for your team to use. Managers and project leaders for remote teams should supplement communication channels with engaging online information, collaborative environments and even perhaps in-person events to ensure that all team members stay in the loop.

Conclusions

Effectively managed communication will be more of a solution than a problem for a variety of issues, such as task management and team members with commitments to multiple projects.

Moreover, a multi-pronged approach, including instant messaging, agile project management tools, blogging and wikis, should be used to engage teams and foster effective communication. When confronting teams with diverse preferences, a comprehensive communication strategy involving a variety of tools and techniques can help solidify team connections, as well as improve project visibility.

According to Miller it’s important to keep enthusiasm and engagement high, and to make sure that team members’ direct managers or sponsors have easy access to meaningful information showing the value of the work and the overall return.

For reference, you can find the full report here:

http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/project-management/survey-communication-virtual-projects-0714/

(*) Software Advice is a company that researches and evaluates project management technology.

Communication Challenges for Virtual Project Teams Part 1

Have you ever worked with virtual teams as a project manager? (Click for related articles) From my experience of working with virtual teams who are distributed and working remotely, we have to overcome the communication challenges by using tools like tele-conference facilities, instant messaging and email.

This article is discussing research findings about the challenges virtual teams face. It is based on an online survey done by Noel Radley of Software Advice (a company that researches and evaluates project management technology) with professionals who regularly work on virtual projects, and who had an opinion on the challenges of virtual projects. It is divided into two parts. Part 1 is about the main challenges virtual teams are faced with and task management as a top threat to effective project communication.

Top challenges

  • Thirty-eight percent of team members said communication was difficult on virtual projects, making it the top-cited challenge.
  • Poor communication regarding task management was perceived as the top threat to project success, selected by 41 percent of team members.
  • Email was a preferred channel for 41 percent of respondents—though 23 percent noted long email threads were a communication pitfall.
  • The lack of the right software or technology was given by 33 percent.
  • A lack of productivity was seen as the biggest threat to project success by 28 percent, since many team members believed those who work remotely are held less accountable.

In addition to communication challenges there are also others based on feedback from Matthew Miller, a project leader at the open source technology company Red Hat who has worked with thousands of contributors on open-source operating system called the Fedora Project.

A deeper challenge of most remote teams is the fact that members are typically “drawn from other teams,” and thus have only partial responsibility to their virtual projects. Miller said that typically there’s more work that needs to be done than time to do it, and often commitments to virtual teams are the easiest to break. In view of the productivity challenge stated above, the issue may simply be that they have other commitments that take priority. Managers may need to consider analyzing the scope of a team’s commitments when assigning tasks or attempting to pinpoint problems.

Virtual Team Members’ Top Project-Communication Problems

Virtual Team Members’ Top Project-Communication Problems

Task Management

When analysing the top communication-related challenges of remote projects it was found that approximately 41 percent of respondents answered that the failure to clearly assign and update tasks, was the top threat to effective project communication.

For 23 percent of respondents, long email threads were the top obstacle to communicating effectively. For others (19 percent), they most experienced trouble scheduling virtual meetings and conference calls. And 16 percent of virtual team members experienced confusion about which communication channel—phone, chat or email—to turn to for which tasks.

Many turn to software solutions for task management. Software Advice found in a recent report that 52 percent of project management software buyers were seeking a task management application.

Although tools are important, Miller emphasized the importance of having established processes in place for your team, like regular group interactions for shared tasks for example.

For reference, you can find the full report here:

http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/project-management/survey-communication-virtual-projects-0714/

Please subscribe (top right) not to miss Part 2 and future articles!

Virtual Project Consulting – a 5 Year Celebration

It all started with the belief that a contribution can be made to the project management profession! From the context of “learning, earning and returning”, it was time to return. It was fuelled by my strong desire to help people.

5-year celebrationThat was the birth of Virtual Project Consulting 5 years ago. The company would only consist online with its presence on a website or blog with the same name: www.virtualprojectconsulting.com

It was targeted initially at small business owners who didn’t have project management competencies or capacity within their own businesses and who would benefit from advice and guidance about project management, leadership, best practice tools and processes, as well as other related topics. This community was served through a product called, ‘The Project Management Toolkit’, guiding users about the application of project management on small projects. Coaching was also provided to aspiring project managers.

It was quite a journey. While figuring out ways to market Virtual Project Consulting online, I had to learn about Internet Marketing practices, as well as social media marketing and apply that to my online business. This contributed to the creation of another website at linkymerwe.com, which was complementary and all about integrated online communications.

Over the course of 5 years the target audience has changed to aspiring and existing project managers who are now also served by comprehensive lists of recommended resources for project management practitioners who are looking for products, software, training, websites and books. My social media community has grown on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Every year brought about some ‘recalculation’ in terms of what to focus on both professionally and personally. To me it meant reassessing my goals, direction and my view of what success means. Towards the end of 2013, this process of recalculating lead me to refresh the website, as well as to make a conscious decision to focus on one community only, instead of different audiences through additional websites. It’s about growth, perspective and new possibilities.

With a constantly moving landscape in which we operate today, being flexible, adaptable and responsible are key to success in a changing world.  Success requires that one be nimble and ready when opportunity knocks.  But opportunity favours those who are prepared rather than surprised.

Some highlights that caused me to celebrate over the years were:

  • Publication of articles in the Project Manager Magazine and associated website; contribution to articles in PMI’s PM Network magazine.
  • Being interviewed various times by international contacts for contribution to Webinars, training, surveys, research and for blog articles
  • Awards of being in Top Ten list of favourite project management bloggers more than once
  • Success Stories Shared initiative whereby experienced project managers share their stories about challenges and lessons learnt on projects. One of these stories was used as a case study in a printed text book for Operational Management. It also lead to talks at national conferences as well a local chapter meetings.
  • Participation on global initiatives like the PMFlashBlog when more than 80 project management bloggers contributed stories about “what does project management mean to me” by publishing them on the same day at the same time. Many stories are collected in an ebook that’s available for down-load here.
  • Excellent guest authors who have contributed blog articles over the years

I’m celebrating the opportunities of meeting wonderful new people every year and being able to participate in so many creative initiatives that contribute to the growth of our profession. It is still an honour to be around and to be able to serve people and to make a difference in many small ways. I am truly blessed and enriched by this experience and wish to continue sharing, enabling and growing.

Thanks for reading and sharing my 5 year celebration!!!

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you would like to see more of as resources and information for PM’s.

Please subscribe to my blog to become part of our community and let me know how you want to collaborate.

If you would like to contribute to Virtual Project Consulting as a guest author, please send me a mail: linky@virtualprojectconsulting.com

5 Things to Evaluate When Choosing Project Management Software

By Ben Beck

PM software selectionWho said choice is a good thing? Today, there are so many different Project Management Software (PMS) solutions in the market, offering a host of features. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on which is the best, and asking around can leave you more confused than ever. However, here are 5 things you absolutely need to consider when choosing a PMS solution for your organization. They are not in order of priority.

#1 Adaptability and Scalability

Cutting your coat according to your cloth doesn’t only imply that you look at cost, it also implies you look at need. The software you choose needs to be able to satisfy the requirements of your project. However, it would be much better if it could be spread out over several projects that your organization will carry out1. In this case, your PM software needs to be adaptable to whatever situation.

It also needs to be scalable: it can be used for different sized projects and needs2. You need a software solution that can handle heavy project management requirements such as Gantt charts and heavy resource allocation as well as catering for the needs of small projects that just need a task organizer. Will the software handle the requirements of 350 users with the same aplomb as it does with 15 users? An adaptable PMS will save you the hassle of getting two systems for different sized projects happening within the same organization.

If you’re managing software development projects, finding good agile project management software is key. The main feature of agile planning for development teams is adaptability.

#2 Ease of use

No matter how nifty, powerful, and feature rich your PMS is, if it can’t be understood, then it is useless. An easy and friendly interface, and colorful UI add much more value than most think. If the users associate the software with tedious, hard to understand procedure, then they will not adapt it. As a result, you won’t reap the benefits of your powerful software. Make sure you pick a software that is intuitive to use, easy to understand, and works in line with how your organization generally operates3. Take advantage of free trials, test runs, and images as you decide on which software to settle on1. In order to reap full benefits, consider taking your project members through training on the PMS you settle on before adopting it.

#3 Tracking and Reporting

When looking through project management reviews you need to keep tracking and reporting on your short list. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Project management is meant to make the management process much faster, and thus reporting is of paramount importance. This should be a make or break feature for any serious project manager.

Take a look at what kind of reports your software has to offer, and ensure that you can use them. Good reporting structure can facilitate great management. If it can offer reports that reflect the performance of different levels of the project, the better: whether team level or overall project management.

#4 Collaboration

In today’s world, communication is so much easier with a host of easy to use applications. Ensure that the PMS you choose integrates seamlessly with communication facilities such as email and chat3. This is even more important if you are working with large and/or scattered teams.

Using a cloud-based solution that allows you to email or chat with members directly from the software will prove very handy. What’s more, if you can edit documents centrally, it will make collaborative work even faster. It doesn’t make sense to email around collaborative documents if you can handle them from one central location in real time. Therefore consider a PMS that integrates with Google Docs or some other form cloud based storage.

#5 Customization

Every organization is unique: some follow classic PRINCE2, others use hybrid methods, and others create their own project management modules to follow. Whatever your organization subscribes to, the software needs to be able to adapt to those specific needs. Customization allows you to create the features you really need, while getting rid of those that are not particularly useful in order to create maximum efficiency.

Bonus Evaluation Tip: Templates

When working in an organization that runs several projects, Project Management Templates are key. They allow any project manager to quickly set up a project, fill in the required fields, and generally create a standard operating and reporting procedure for the organization2.

Your PMS should be able to easily and intuitively create and modify templates to suite the organization, program, or project being run. Future project managers will surely appreciate this long-term feature.

  1. http://www.ganttic.com/blog/3-important-things-in-pm-software
  2. http://www.projectinsight.net/white-papers/what-to-look-for-in-project-management-software.aspx
  3. http://www.cio.com/article/718387/11_Tips_to_Get_the_Most_Out_of_Project_Management_Software?page=1&taxonomyId=3013

About the Author:

Ben loves all things technology. From his early youth of command prompting into bulletin board systems (before the Internet) on his Comodore 64, to his current gig managing marketing projects for several large tech companies, he has learned the value of good project management. Despite his near addiction to tech and project management, he also loves to get away from it all and spend time in the mountains hiking, rock-climbing and off-roading. Ben and his wife Celeste live in Lehi, Utah with their two boys. Follow him on Google.

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