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When it comes to choosing project management tools, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best tool for your business will depend on a variety of factors, including the size and scope of your projects, the number of team members involved, and your budget.
To help you make the best decision for your needs, we've put together a list of the most important features to look for in a project management tool. We've also included our top pick for each category, so you can see which tool is best suited for you and your business needs.
MARKETING Project Management SOFTWARE & TOOLS: The Basics
Project management tools are essential for businesses of all sizes. They help manage projects more efficiently and effectively, ensuring that tasks are completed on time and within budget. In addition, project management tools can help improve communication between team members and keep everyone on track.
There are a wide variety of project management tools available on the market, from simple task-tracking apps to comprehensive project management suites. The best tool for your business will depend on the size and scope of your projects, as well as the number of team members involved.
Before we dive in, let's highlight some of the key differences between the two high-level types of project management: informal and formal management.
Informal project management can take many different forms. It might involve keeping a handwritten list of tasks on a piece of paper, using a to-do app or other bare-bones and free project management tools, or just keeping everything in your head. Formalized project management, on the other hand, requires tracking and recording tasks and progress in a specific tool designed with project management methodologies and best practices driving the project.
More risk is associated with practicing informal project management rather than formal management because no best practices or methodologies are being followed. This could lead to a project getting off track and not meeting its objectives.
When it comes to formalized project management, there are many benefits to using an actual tool in addition to (or in place of) traditional project management methodologies. Project management tools provide a single source of truth for all project information and can help ensure that everyone is on the same page.
They also make it easy to track progress and identify bottlenecks, as well as get real-time insights into how the project is progressing and whether or not the project is still within both its scope and budget. In addition, many project management tools come with features like task dependencies and Gantt charts that can help you plan and execute projects more effectively.
When choosing a project management tool, it's important to consider your specific needs. Some things to think about include:
- How many people will be working on the project?
- How well do you need to track progress?
- What type of projects will you be using the tool for?
- What's your budget?
- Is the tool easy to use?
Once you've considered your needs, you can start diving into the details of what features you and your team or business will need, prioritizing based on what's most important.
Essential Project Management
When it comes time to choose a project management tool, you'll want to make sure it includes all of the features that are essential for your specific needs. Here are just a few (of many) features to consider:
The most basic project management tools will include some form of task management and project tracking. This could be as simple as a to-do list or Kanban board, or it could be more complex with features like subtasks, task dependencies, and effort tracking. Time tracking is another important feature to consider, especially if you need to bill clients for your time or track employee productivity. Some project management tools come with built-in time-tracking features, while others integrate with third-party time-tracking apps.
If you need to track project deadlines and milestones, then you'll want a tool that includes project scheduling features. Gantt charts are the most popular way to visualize project schedules, but some tools also include other features like milestone tracking and resource allocation.
When you're working with a team on a project, you'll need some way to assign tasks and track who is working on what. Resource management features will help you do this, as well as give you visibility into your team's workload so you can identify any bottlenecks.
Depending on the type of project you're working on, you may need to share files with your team or clients. Make sure the project management tool you choose has a built-in file-sharing feature or integrates with a third-party file-sharing service like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Perhaps one of the most important features to consider is how customizable the tool is. Does it allow you to add custom fields, workflows, and templates? Can you integrate it with other tools or services you use? The more flexible and adaptable the tool is, the better it will be able to meet your specific needs. This consideration should be at the forefront of your mind when you're looking for a project management tool for your business. You wouldn't want to invest in a tool only to find out later that it can't be customized to fit your needs.
Communication & Collaboration
Another key consideration is how well the tool facilitates communication and collaboration between team members. Does it have features like threaded comments, @mentions, and notifications? Can you easily share files and give feedback? These features are essential for keeping everyone on the same page and making sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Reporting & Analytics
You'll want to consider whether the tool offers any reporting or analytics features. This could be anything from a simple dashboard to more complex features like custom reports and data export. Leadership teams don't have time to dig through every little detail, so having visibility into key project metrics and KPIs is essential.
Integration with Other Tools
As alluded to earlier, one of the most important features to consider is integration with other tools. Project management tools are often just one piece of a larger puzzle, so it's important to make sure they play well with others. The best project management tools will offer native integrations with popular apps and services, as well as an API for custom integrations.
When it comes to pricing, project management tools can vary widely. Some online project management tools are available for free with upgradable add-ons, while others can run upwards of hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month. It's important to consider your budget when choosing a tool, as well as whether or not the features offered to justify the price tag. Free project management tools may be a good option if you're working on a small project or if you don't need all of the bells and whistles that come with the paid versions.
Finally, you'll want to consider the quality of customer support offered by the project management tool. This is especially important if you're paying for a subscription-based tool. Make sure there is someone you can contact and receive a quick response from if you have any problems or questions. The last thing you want is to be left in the dark when something goes wrong.
Project Management Needs & Comparison Factors
Now that you know what to look for in a project management tool, let's take a more granular look at some of the specific needs that might come up during your search. Depending on the size and scope of your project, as well as the industry you're in, you may need a tool that really hones in on certain features or capabilities.
User Interface (UI)
The user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of a project management tool can be make-or-break for some users. If the tool is difficult to use or navigate, it only adds frustration to an already stressful situation. You'll want to look for a tool with a clean and intuitive UI that's easy to use from the get-go. This is especially important if you're working with team members who are not so tech-savvy.
In addition to the UI, you'll also want to consider the overall usability of the tool. How easy is it to set up projects? Can you easily add and remove team members? What about assigning tasks and tracking progress? These are all important factors to keep in mind when choosing a project management tool. After all, the whole point of using a tool is to make your life easier, not more difficult.
When dealing with sensitive data, security should be one of your top priorities. Make sure the project management tool you choose has robust security features in place, such as password protection, two-factor authentication, and data encryption. You'll also want to consider where the data is stored and who has access to it. The last thing you want is for your project data to end up in the wrong hands.
Number of Users
The number of users you need to support will also play a role in your decision-making process. Some project management tools are designed for small teams, while others can support hundreds or even thousands of users. Make sure to choose a tool that can accommodate the number of team members you have now and in the future. Along the same lines, you also need to consider exactly how each user or team will be using the tool. Some tools offer different levels of access and permissions, so you'll want to make sure everyone has the right level of access and ability to do their job.
As we mentioned before, pricing is always a factor when choosing any type of software. Project management tools can range in price from free to hundreds of dollars per month. It's important to consider your budget when making your decision. However, you also need to ensure you're getting value for your money. Some of the more expensive tools may offer features that justify the price tag. Just make sure you're not overextending your budget for a tool and features you may not even end up using.
Project Management Tool Costs
(& Which Ones Are Free)
Let's keep rolling with the topic of price by looking at some of the different types of pricing models out there. Project management tools usually fall into one of three categories:
- One-time fee: You pay a lump sum upfront and have access to the tool forever. This is typically seen with desktop software.
- Pay-as-you-go: You only pay for the features and users you need at any given time. This type of pricing - which is often paid monthly - is becoming more common as project management tools move to the cloud.
- Monthly/Yearly subscription: You pay a recurring fee, usually on a monthly or yearly basis. This is the most common type of pricing model for project management tools. Annual subscriptions typically come with a discount compared to the monthly payment option.
- Free: That's right, some project management tools are free. These usually have limited features and users but can be a good option for small teams just starting.
While it might be tempting to go with the free option to save some money upfront, there are several reasons why a paid project management tool is always the better choice. Let's break down why paid project management tools are worth the investment and how they can save you even more money in the long run.
Paid Project Management Tools Are Regularly Updated with New Features
One of the main reasons why paid project management tools cost money is that they are regularly updated with new features. This might not seem like a big deal at first, but it's a very important factor to consider. Project management tools are designed to make your life easier by streamlining communication and saving you time. If a tool isn't regularly updated with new features, it quickly becomes outdated and ineffective. On the other hand, by paying for a subscription to a project management tool, you can rest assured knowing that you're always using the most up-to-date version of the software, rather than merely hoping the free-to-use version you're using is constantly being evaluated and updated.
Paid Project Management Tools Save You Time (and Money)
Another reason why paid project management tools are worth the investment is because they save you time (and money). As we all know, time is money. And when you're able to manage your projects more effectively, that means your team will be able to get their work done more quickly and efficiently. That efficiency will save you money in two ways: first, by reducing the number of hours your team spends working on each project; and second, by reducing the need for multiple tools. Unlike free tools, paid project management tools often come with extensive built-in features like task lists, calendars, file sharing, and more—which means you won't need to purchase separate software to handle those tasks. In other words, investing in a paid project management tool will save you both time and money in the long run.
Poor communication is one of the biggest productivity killers in any workplace. When team members can't easily communicate with each other or access important files, projects invariably fall behind schedule and start going over budget. Whereas free project management tools often have limitations for team interactions, paid project management tools help improve communication by providing a central hub for all project-related information. By keeping everyone on the same page and making it easy to access files and information, paid project management tools help improve communication and productivity across the board.
In addition, paid project management tools also come with top-notch customer support. If you ever have any questions or run into any issues, you can reach out to the company's customer support team and get help right away. With free tools, you're on your own if something goes wrong. Good luck getting anyone to help you, at least any time soon.
Project Management Tools That Help Get The Job Done
"Tools" is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to project management software—these days, the best ones are more like suites, with an ever-growing list of features to help you plan, track progress, collaborate with team members, and much more.
When thinking about the "tools" that you need to successfully manage a project, it’s also good to think more along the lines of best practices and project management methodologies. For instance, five management tools are Gantt charts, PERT charts, critical path methods, resource allocation, and work breakdown structures. Each tool is used in a specific stage of project management.
And what are those stages? Project management has countless models and frameworks, but most can be boiled down to these five stages:
- Planning: This is when you first come up with the idea for a project and start putting together a team to make it happen. Once you have a solid idea of what needs to be done, it's time to start planning how you're going to do it. This is where those project management tools come in handy.
- Execution: This is when the actual work of the project gets done.
- Monitoring and controlling: Even after a project is underway, things can (and will) go wrong. That's why it's important to have systems and processes in place to monitor progress and make sure everyone is doing their part.
- Closing: Once the project is completed, it's time to close things out—which includes making sure all the deliverables have been met, assessing what went well and what could have gone better, and tying up any loose ends.
- Post-project assessment: Just because a project is over doesn't mean your work is done. It's important to take some time after the project is complete to assess what went well, what didn't, and what could be improved for next time.
Any good project management software will have features to help with each of these stages—and the best ones will be customizable to fit your specific needs. Whether you're checking out Workamajig, Asana, Trello, Monday.com, or any of the other options on our list, keep these five stages in mind to make sure you're getting a tool that will help you get the job done.
Many project management offices (PMOs) also utilize Jira, which is an issue, and project tracking software. Jira's main function is to help team members communicate about specific tasks, or "issues," that need to be completed. While it is not specifically designed for project management, Jira can be used to manage tasks and track progress, especially for more technical projects.
From planning to execution, get it all done with Workamajig
Project management tools are essential for organizing, planning, and executing projects. They can help to track deadlines, manage resources, and communicate with team members. There are many different project management tools available, both paid and free. It is important to consider the objectives and features of each tool before making a decision.
If you're on the fence about whether or not to purchase a paid project management tool, we hope this blog post has helped convince you that it's always worth the investment. From staying up-to-date with new features to saving you time (and money), there are many advantages to using a paid project management tool instead of a free one. So if you're looking for a way to increase productivity and streamline communication within your team, investing in a paid project management tool is always your best bet.
Workamajig is one of the best-paid project management platforms available because it offers a wide variety of features that are beneficial to both project managers and team members. For project managers, Workamajig offers task management, time tracking, invoicing, and reporting features. This allows them to track the progress of their projects and ensure that all tasks are completed on time and within budget. For team members, Workamajig offers customizable dashboards, file sharing, and notifications features. This allows them to communicate effectively with each other and receive updates on their projects. In addition, Workamajig offers a support team that is available 24/7 to help with any issues that may arise.
With its intuitive interface and powerful features, you'll be able to streamline your workflow and get your projects done on time and within budget. Schedule a free demo to learn more about how Workamajig can help with your Project Management plans.