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Simple project management – an oxymoron, right? Tracking the roles, responsibilities, timelines, and budgets associated with a project is rarely, if ever, simple. Project Management Software, on the other hand, can be surprisingly simple to use, and is a fantastic tool for increasing the operating efficiency of your project execution team.
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. You and your team will have to determine what you expect from project management software, so start by reviewing recent projects to see where the problems arose, as well as where things went smoothly. Beyond that, work together to hash out the following items to expedite the decision-making process.
Ease of Use
Simplicity isn’t overrated when it comes to online project management software. Any new software or hardware will have ramp-up time associated with it, and some team members will catch on more quickly than others. You need to thoroughly research project software packages and the learning materials that accompany them and try to find online user forums and tutorials, technical support that’s accessible both online and on the phone, and on-site training if it’s available.
Will the project management software you choose be used for a single type of project? Probably not. Even simple project management software needs to have flexibility so you can use it to oversee projects across a variety of touch points and industries – sales, retail, accounting, manufacturing, technology, business development, product launches.
If your project execution team is spread across various locations, or has members who travel frequently, your online project management software will need to be accessible via the company’s network server (non-Internet access), from remote locations via the Internet, and on mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets. Successful project management requires continual collaboration among team members, so you want to simplify the process of updating tasks, resources, and budgets for everyone involved.
Level of Detail
What’s the typical duration of a project in your company? The time it takes to take a project from kick-off to post-mortem is important in choosing project management software. Gantt and PERT charts are great, but might not provide a level of insight required for projects that are wrapped up in a week or two. To keep project management simple focus on software that allows you to structure and schedule work responsibilities, task dependencies, resources, and timelines. Knowing who’s responsible for what, and when things are due, will go a long way to simplifying project completion.
A variety of simple project management software options exist, but only you can decide which one is right for your business. In addition to searching online reviews and user forums, pare down your list of potential manufacturers and see if they offer free software on a trial basis. Most do, some for as long as 30 days, which is ample time for your team to get invaluable real-time experience with the product.
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