The term project management system is so ingrained in our vernacular that we hear it all the time. It certainly sounds like a good idea, but getting started can be a daunting task. If you have been on the fence about getting started with a project management tool or feeling the call to drill down on the basics to help you determine your best course of action, your beginner’s guide to project management systems has arrived.
Project management systems can be game changers in your communication flows, your productivity and even employee morale – with the caveat of, “when used correctly.” So, it really is best to start with a definition. From there we’ll discuss some criteria that will guide your selection of systems, and follow that up with pros and cons of the available systems.
- What is a project management system?
- How to determine which project management system is right for you?
- Compare top project management systems
What is a project management system?
A project management system is a tool, supported by technology, to help you streamline your business’s operations. The PM tool you use could be focused on one area of your business such as marketing or extend out into all areas from production to accounting to inventory and operations to IT and beyond. You might visualize it like a hub where the tasks that you need to accomplish goals are recorded, accessed, and measured.
Here’s an example of how a project management system might work across departments of your organization. A new product is being launched. Steps have to be taken in your production, accounting and operational departments to support the rollout. Additionally, your IT team has to add it to the website and get the eCommerce pieces working. On the other side of the building, your marketing team is creating tasks around social media launches, in person events, and digital advertising. Each of these moving parts are all large undertakings and contingent, in many ways, upon the moving pieces of others. Your team as well as management will turn to a PM system to get a high level view of project progress, log stages of the process, and streamline communication.
There are multiple uses for project management systems. These are the most common uses for project management software to support a project management system:
- Facilitative organizational – used to organize project team members into reporting hierarchies.
- Project planning – deals with the planning of projects, programs and portfolios.
- Project control – includes all the processes and procedures for controlling project execution.
- Project management information – encompasses the principles and procedures for managing information, including things like communication plans and knowledge databases.
- Techniques and methodology – consists of all the management science techniques used in project management.
- Cultural ambiance – handles the organization’s culture around project management and how it is viewed and carried out.
How to determine which project management system is right for you?
There are a multitude of project management systems available for consideration. Before diving into the comparison charts, it is a good idea to outline your unique plans, goals and configurations. Taking the step back and gaining clarity is a good exercise to help you clarify what you really need and then start exploring the project management software options.
Here is a set of starter questions to clarify your priorities:
- What areas of my business need this the most?
- How adaptable is my team to new technology and change?
- What kind of training initiative will rolling out the project management tool require?
- What other tech tools will need to be integrated?
- How do we currently define goals and KPIs to measure success?
- What kind of reporting tools will my business need?
- Where do my employees work (i.e. will they need mobile accessibility)?
- Who will be the point person (or team) in charge of rolling out the new tool?
- What does accountability look like for usage of the project management system?
What tool on productivity will the learning curve take and how can you mitigate against that?
Compare top project management systems
Of course, this list is what you might be tempted to jump ahead to, but do so with caution. Building a sustainable project management system requires that you define your system before choosing the software that will augment it. The tools listed below are flexible enough to work with the project management systems that most companies have built.
Monday is a popular, cost effective project management app that offers lots of benefits such as easy integration with other tech tools, user-friendly interface and automation opportunities. The company listed a quick glance at its benefits, including:
- One app to replace all
- Agile board views
- Join 200,000+ teams
- Fully customizable
- 1000+ integrations
- 24/7 support
Teamwork is another popular project management suite that stands out for its collaborative features and ease of use. The company listed a few key benefits worth delving further into:
- Ease of reporting
- Time Tracking and timesheets
- Gantt Charts
- Tasks with sub-tasks
- Milestone projection and management
- Different user permissions
Trello is a highly recognized favorite tool for project management due to its visuals and clean, modern UX. Its main dashboard is conducive to organizations using an agile style of task management. The top features of Trello are:
- Unlimited task creation
- Features that facilitate collaboration and communication
- Ability to organize tasks by priority
- Ease of file and image sharing
Basecamp is a popular project management tool for many reasons including its similarities to social media platforms and its Instagram-like dashboard with the features like:
- Application-based collaboration
- Desktop notifications
- Project performance
- Message boards
- In-app collaboration functions
- Separate presentation for clients
Asana’s goal is to provide the user with file storage, collaboration, and many other pieces of project plan tracking without the use of that email client. You will be able to execute the following while using Asana:
- Free option for up to 15 members of your organization
- Easy to track milestone and goal progress
- Quick views of project dashboards for a high-level view
- Syncs up with cross-functional timelines and roadmaps
- Color-coded design, easy to learn UX
There are many other project management systems worth checking out. This is in no way an all-encompassing list, however, it’s a good place to get started. But, be sure to start with a thorough assessment of what you need for your organization and begin your search for the perfect project management system based on your goals. Or give us a call at 855.718.1369 and one of our unbiased TechnologyAdvisors will listen to your needs and give you a short list of project management software vendors that meet your requirements.