The purpose of Project Management Software is to provide an environment in which a group of people can work together on joint projects. Most projects involve the development and implementation of new ideas, and these ideas have to be presented, evaluated, and revised.
The role of Project Management Software is to help this collaborative effort along. Collaboration happens at various levels and it is up to the Project Management Software to facilitate all these levels.
A typical Project Management scenario
Consider a creative agency developing a marketing campaign for one of its major clients. The project team includes a number of individuals within the agency — the creative director, the copywriter, the illustrator, the graphic designer, etc. But it also includes personnel on the client’s staff: the product manager, the advertising manager, even the general manager if it is an important enough project.
And the team will usually include outside agents who have been hired specifically to deliver some component of the project: illustrators, photographers, voice over specialists, audio and video studio personnel…the list goes on.
All of these people have to be kept in the loop as the project proceeds.
Traditionally, coordination of this sort was done by the project manager. But Project Management Software puts this job into the hands of individual team members. If it is working correctly, it gives each member of the team an accurate picture of how the project stands at any given moment.
Once a team member becomes familiar with the Project Management System, there is no reason not to be fully aware of developments, timelines and delivery dates, to submit assignments for approval in a timely manner, and to make revisions as they are necessary.
What to Look for in your Project Management Software
Usability – Perhaps the most important feature a useful Project Management System must have is ease of use. If using the software takes more time and effort than it is worth, team members will quickly stop using it. The point of Project Management Software is to complete the project more efficiently, and if the software is not user friendly it can end up doing exactly the opposite.
Set up and Maintenance – Your Project Management Software must be easy to set up and run trouble free. The last thing you want is a new level of technical problems, or a system that requires a dedicated technical person to run.
Accessibility – Team members will need access 24/7 from a variety of locations – from within your office, from client locations, from team members’ homes. That means that web access using a standard web browser is mandatory.
Simple User Management System – Be sure your Project Management Software has a simple and easy-to-use system for creating users and assigning privileges, as well as creating, storing, and retrieving passwords.
Powerful Document Management – The heart of any Project Management System is the way it handles documents. It should provide a variety of tools and features to make it quick and easy to control how you share files with your clients and team members. Some features to look for in the document management of your system are:
– Easy uploading of files so they become available to all team members with appropriate privileges.
– Ability to attach notes, comments and suggested revisions to each document.
– Ability to retain different versions of documents with their accompanying notes and author information.
Flexible Task Management – Your system should allow you to break down your project into tasks, assign tasks to your team, track task progress, view the task history and measure how much time has been used on a task.
It should also allow clients to log issues and questions through the web interface which can then be directed to the project manager for incorporation into the workflow.
Project Archiving – Once a project is finished, team members should be able to delete old versions and download the latest and approved versions of files along with a list of all project tasks in a single compressed ZIP archive.