Importance of Project management Tools
The field of project management is growing exponentially in the corporate world as businesses get more complex, diverse and widespread. Managing projects is a grueling task on a daily basis and the project manager is an important fulcrum that keeps the balance between accomplishing the project, in time and on budget, and keeping management informed about the progress.
While project management techniques assist the project manager, there is a necessity to incorporate a tool that aligns the execution of a project and supports its delivery.
Productivity and efficiency of the team working on a project is tremendously enhanced with the use of a project management tool. The tool assists the team to manage the following 5 key aspects that go towards making a project successful.
- Work Schedule: It is critical to schedule project work optimally if you intend to have a successful project delivery. You can input details about the project into the tool, including specific tasks, resource details and manpower requirements that are essential to work on the project.
- Assigning resources: Resource assignment creates a correlation between the task and the resources that are essential to complete it. These resources can be machine, material or manpower.
- Progress Track: A project has critical tasks that need to be completed as per a schedule if the project is to be delivered on time. The tool tracks the critical path progress of these tasks from initiation to completion ensuring the project is on schedule. Any delay in the task recalculates the delivery date of the project.
- Budget Management: Every business is cost conscious and project going over budget are not appreciated. The tool helps keep a birds-eye view on the costs in relation to the budget for the project.
- Timely Reporting: Reports are an important factor to keep a project in check. It throws light on progress, cost and performance. The tool is capable of generating a number of different kinds of reports that can help managers to make informed decision for keeping a project on track, or alleviate and threats and risks that may delay the delivery of the project.
It is necessary to be trained on these project management tools before beginning to use them. Though through trial and error you may learn them, but the time taken and the impact on the projects during that phase is surely not worth it.
7 Best Project Management Tools
The best strategies without a project management tool are almost impossible to execute. A small error of judgment and months of work could be decimated. What’s even more difficult is trying to get a project in distress back on track without a project management tool. It will not only eat into a lot more of the budget, but will possibly require an equal increase in manpower and other resources.
That’s why, it is prudent to always use a project management tool; and there are some great ones available, especially for smaller businesses that cannot afford to have custom built software. To top it all, most of them are free in their basic version, with a fee for their upgrades.
Here are 7 project management tools that I consider to be the best, in no particular order. Read about them here, then research them yourself to pick the one that is most suitable for your requirement. I’ve listed them with pros and cons, to give you an even perspective on them.
This software is designed to allow for unlimited projects and users. Most of the functionalities are available in the free version, which has an unlimited storage capacity but with a limited file size of 10 MB. A project can be created with adding components such as project details, milestones, individual tasks, resources, timelines, interactions and much more. The great part is that it does not have the free version as a trial and is free for as long as you want. For as little as $4 per month you get Google Drive integration along with Sub-tasks Pro.
- Notification feature to inform users of status and updates.
- There is administrator control of access level by different users.
- In-built templates for various reports and invoices.
- Its website is optimized for use on mobile devices.
- It is necessary to invest time in learning how to use the software correctly.
- There are claims by users that the software does not always allow multiple milestones to be saved at the same time.
- There is no mobile app at the moment.
- There are a few features that it lacks, such as a Gnatt chart, which is very useful in project management.
This online tool is very visual and uses a Kanban style of management to help teams collaborate on projects. Tasks are represented by cards,which can be moved around to visually represent developments in a project. Though the tool allows for unlimited projects and users, it only allows a file size of 10MB in the free version of the software. To move to the Trello Gold version requires you to only share the tool and get a new user, which moves you immediately to a file size of 250MB.
- The software is extremely intuitive.
- The cards give a snapshot of the current state of the project.
- It has a calendar function that creates transparency amongst all stakeholders of a project.
- It lacks a few key features.
- It comes across as a very simple version of a project management tool (though some may look on this as a pro).
This is a open source project management tool that has a free version and is designed on the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). It has all the basic project management features, including load charts for resource management and Gnatt charts for task scheduling. There are tools for time management and scheduling built into the software. It also has reports that can be accessed in PDF and HTML formats.
- Easy and quick creation of project schedules
- Allows milestones to be created and assigning tasks
- Workflow problems can be easily identified
- Helps to improve project delivery timelines
- Has multiple reporting format options, such as HTML, PDF and excel spread-sheets
- It lacks certain features, such as messaging, cash flow and control of documents.
- The software needs to be learnt thoroughly before use.
- The best support for it is only available from its forums.
This project management tool is free for only 12 users. It has functionalities of task management, time tracking and document sharing built into its social intranet to maximize communication among the users and optimize efficiency. It has an Activity Stream which provides updates at real-time and allows you to send files, schedule tasks and events, and interact with all stakeholders in Activity Streams that are personalized.
- Can be used in cloud or hosted servers.
- It has Gnatt charts, time tracker, task options and planning of workload for employees.
- Easy communication through its social intranet and Activity Stream
- Free version has 5GB storage and you can increase this at just $0.25 per month.
- Workload planner allows the creation of checklists and subtasks.
- Limited users in the free version.
- The steep per month fee of $99 is expensive for smaller businesses.
The tool offers unlimited projects and users in the free version and has apps for iOS mobile devices.
- Along with the time tracker it also has an issue tracker.
- Storage is unlimited.
- Project boards support methodologies of Agile.
- The customizable boards can be used for Scrum or Kanban.
- It has a user-friendly communication tool, similar to Trello.
- It lacks a few features such as Gnatt charts, CCPM and an Android app.
This tool also allows unlimited users and projects. The 10 MB file size limit can be overcome with a monthly fee of $20.
- Allows for a complex set of tasks and sub-tasks with milestones.
- It has the option of using a Gnatt chart.
- Multiple report formats are inbuilt and allows some level of customizing reports with a pre-designed report template.
- The free versions doesn’t provide for document management because of the 10MB limit. However this can be availed of in the paid version.
This tool is designed to manage agile software development. The free version is only for the on-premise version. There is a $9 per month fee for the cloud version of the tool.
- The too is entirely customizable.
- Its versatility requires very good know-how of coding, and so this tool is not for use by novices.
Leadership: A Critical Tool of Project Management
While any of the above tools can be used for managing projects, the most important and imperative tool is the right leadership for a project. The best software tools cannot salvage a project if there is bad leadership.This makes a competent leader the most critical tool for the successful delivery of your project.
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