Project Management 101: What to Look for in a Project Management Tool


Online Project Management Tool Choices

If your business delivers projects (and I’m fairly certain it does!), it is so important to have well-defined project management processes in place for the planning, scheduling, resource allocation, task management, and approval side of things.

And if you’re thinking, “I don’t run projects,” hold your horses because if you run even the smallest of marketing campaigns, you’re managing projects.

That’s right, even your product launches and marketing campaigns are projects. Take for example, a 5-day SEO Challenge.

To be able to get from idea to a live challenge with engaged participants, there is a heck of a lot of pre-planning that has to happen around outlining and creating your content, reaching out to potential partners, setting all the tech up, pulling all your marketing pieces together, and building an engaged community of participants.

Using a project management tool enables you to plan for and manage all the moving pieces that come with a project such as this one. They offer you baseline benefits like:

  • Better oversight
  • Better managed schedules
  • Easier task delegation
  • Better communication
  • Improved team collaboration

My top 13 considerations when choosing a Project Management tool for your business

With all the project management tools available today, you need to figure out which one will meet your needs today, and as much into the future as possible.

But let me say this – don’t make this choice out to be so big that you feel paralysed into not choosing one. This process can be, and usually is, iterative. Over time, you will find yourself testing a few project management software options to gauge if it meets your needs, the needs of your team and the needs of your business as a whole.

So here are my top considerations when trying to decide on a platform:

  1. Flexibility—Is the tool flexible enough to match your business processes or is it going to require you to reconfigure the way you work?
  2. Ease of use—Will your team be able to hop into the project environment and start delivering on your campaigns pronto or is the learning curve steep?
  3. Scalable—Do you see the project management tool growing with you, or will you be forced to go through the hassle of transitioning data and projects to a new tool in the next 12 to 24 months?
  4. Oversight—Does the tool offer a dashboard of some kind? Does it have the capacity to show you where all your different projects are at a glance?
  5. Granularity—Are you able to then toggle views; accessing project details easily when you need it?
  6. Accessibility—Do you have freelancers and location independent people on your team? What are your accessibility needs? Is a licensed software going to work for you or does something that is cloud-based make more sense?
  7. Costs—What are the associated costs for setting yourself up in the environment and then running your projects on a day to day basis? Is the cost structure based on the number of projects you’re running? Is it based on the number of users? What level of support do you get?
  8. Scope for doing things better, faster—What are your options with things like creating templates for those projects with more similarities than differences? Are you able to integrate your chosen project management tool with all the other systems you use? Does the tool offer power-ups that extend functionality further?
  9. Audit trail—Does the tool offer some way of seeing who made what changes and when? This becomes useful, particularly in a large+remote team setup.
  10. Clear assignment of tasks to resources—How easily can you assign tasks within a project to a team member?
  11. Deadline tracking & notifications—Are you able to set and track deadlines? And, is there an in-built notifications mechanism to ensure all who need to know about a change do?
  12. File sharing & data storage—Does the tool allow for the team to actually upload and/or share files? What are the data storage limits against each tool?
  13. Collaboration—Is the environment conducive to all team members collaborating and interacting throughout the project lifecycle?

 

There you have it — a starting point for you, as you figure out what’s what in the project management software space.

Ultimately, your aim should be to land on a tool that can do what your team is ready for right now; with the flexibility to scale as your business matures. You also want to be sure that your final choice for a project management tool actually improves your workflow, not burden it.