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The simplest projects have countless moving parts, deliverables, deadlines, and financial parameters, but delivering the end-product on time and on budget doesn’t have to be a nail-biting, down-to-wire experience. Online project management software is a fantastic option for keeping your team on track from concept to completion.
Successful project management starts with a deliverable and a due date. Project management software automatically works backwards from the due date, building out a timeline for each phase of a project as well as documenting responsibilities and accountabilities. The list of online project management software options is long, which means you want to have your key needs outlined when you begin your search.
Criteria for Choosing Online Project Management Softare
Ideally your team will be able to access project information from multiple sources: internally on the company’s network server (non-Internet access), from remote locations via the Internet, and on mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets. Off-site, or mobile, access is imperative if your team is spread across multiple locations and time zones; each person must be able to provide updates and feedback on an ongoing basis.
This is the feature that tracks who’s on the project, what their responsibilities and capabilities are, and any costs or limitations associated with them. People, money, and time are essential ingredients project execution, so your project management software has to accurately, easily track each resource as the project progresses.
Tools & Features
Processes and procedures aren’t sexy, but effective project management and execution is impossible without them. Online project management software won’t make them any sexier, but with the right feature set it will give you 360-degree insight into your project at any given time.
Look for features that allow you to assign and track tasks, calendars and timelines, and budgets. Each task associated with a project will have goals, deadlines, and dependencies that must remain front-of-mind beyond the project kick-off meeting, and management software will do that. Calendars and timelines are an easy way to visualize what’s due – and when. Project management software can use ongoing resource and task updates that adjust the timeline accordingly.
Finally, everybody’s favorite subject: budget. Using project management software that incorporates budgeting will save you time and energy, allowing you to tracks costs and financial data as they’re incurred. This information is a valuable resource in project management post-mortems, allowing you to improve forecast accuracy on future projects.
Project management software’s greatest benefit is that it automates the tracking and reporting requirements of a project and lets your team focus on the project itself. If you’re not sure which software is right for your company, learn from the experiences of others by reviewing online user forums and testimonials, and see if manufacturers on your short-list offer free trials of their product that will give you hands-on experience with the software before you purchase.
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