Project management software is just for IT, people with the actual title of Project Manager (whatever that is), and robots, right? Nope. Neither is it exclusively designed for the aggressively anal Type A micro-manager (who might as well be a robot). With today’s plethora of resources, there’s a project management tool for even the most laid back people among us.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a few ways project management software can brighten and lighten anyone’s workload in and out of the office.
1. They’re Not Just for Business
The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines Project Management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” In order to understand project management, you first need a project. A project is a short-term endeavor with an end game. You may not think you have projects, but they’re actually all over the place.
Consider a road trip. Some travelers strive to shave off road time by finding the fastest routes. Drivers aiming to minimize mileage opt for the shortest route. Still others intend to maximize the scenery, regardless of time or distance. Then there are the carefree spirits who decide as they go; the goal being spontaneity. The point is that the trip has a beginning, an end, and a goal. Your trip is the project. How you initially plan your route and the choices you make along the actual drive are project management.
Need another example? Look at each day as a project. Do you keep a calendar? Set alarms? Leave sticky notes reminding yourself to pick up almond milk after work? Then you already use some variation of time and resource management, and more than likely use more than one app to do so. Project management apps can combine all of these things and more to help you master all aspects of life day by day, making you more productive in your personal and business life.
2. They Create Clear Line of Sight
Now that we have a bigger picture of what constitutes projects and project management, let’s try to clear up a few more things. First and foremost: Communication. Teams who spend a majority of their time out of the office are more and more prevalent these days, especially in the contracting business. Team members may only come into the office to check their schedule in the morning or fill out paperwork at night, leaving a lot of communication downtime in between.
Statistically, there are a lot of upsides to a distributed workforce: higher productivity, flexible schedules, greater job satisfaction. Unfortunately, there are also downsides to geographical distance. The thing is, the farther apart you are, the more important – and difficult – clear communication becomes.
A project management tool helps ensure everyone on your team is on the same page with the same destination and goals in mind. Going back to our road trip analogy, it’s a lot easier to make sure everyone is heading the same direction when your team members are all riding together in one car. Teams that work out of the office, however, are more like a caravan. Anyone who has ever driven in a caravan knows that not everyone is good at playing follow the leader. One missed turn signal or red light and your line of communication disappears with your line of sight.
Asana, Quickbase and Monday are just a few examples of project management software that use Gantt charts to offer visual road maps and checklists for each project, so you can literally see your team’s progress from anywhere. Task assignment features mean no more confusion about who’s doing what. Progress tagging and check off lists clearly show where your team is in the process. Say goodbye to hazy, wandering trails and hello to clear-as-day straightaways.
3. They’re S.M.A.R.T.
So, your project has goals, but are they S.M.A.R.T.? The November 1981 edition of Management Review included a paper that would forever alter Business 101 terminology. In There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives, George T. Doran delineates the specific criteria for setting successful goals and objectives. In fact, the “S” stands for Specific. S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic acronym for:
Project management software helps you map and measure the specifics of a project from tasks to timelines. Do you ever wonder if jobs are appropriately distributed? Task assignment features help the entire team assess and even out the workload. Does a mysterious bottleneck in production continuously interfere with making your deadlines? Seeing job responsibilities and timelines laid out on a screen or project flow chart makes easy work of identifying and reconciling those pesky hold ups. Not sure where the hours all go? Use time tracking apps to help you and your team stay prioritized and on pace.
Even better, you can connect your project management software with a performance management tool that tracks individual and team goals. By using these two tools together, you can get a clear picture of how individual employees progress toward personal and business goals.
4. They Get it Together
How many apps do you use to track the ins and outs of your life every day? Go ahead and count; I’ll wait. Now take that number and multiply it by the number of people on your team. There are only four people on my team and the math’s already giving me a headache. It’s hard enough trying to manage your own schedule, so trying to meld multiple schedules and programs can grow to be unrealistic.
Group project management software brings all of your project initiatives together in one space to improve your workflow as an individual and as a team. Being able to see where a project is in the process, even when your team is at several different worksites, cuts down on time and frustration trying to figure things out. It also builds a collaborative feeling among team members as you can all see and know that you’re on the same page. Literally.
5. You Already Use Them
I’ve mentioned it a couple of times already, but in case you missed it, let me be clear: Believe it or not, you are a project manager. You may not have the fancy title or the company car, but you are already using software to manage your daily life. In the end, project management boils down to resource management. Each one of us is gifted with a finite cache of resources to use or lose. Either way, they need to be managed. Someone is going to manage them; it might as well be you.
Melissa Reinke is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a storyteller, editor, writer, and all-around word nerd extraordinaire. She spends her days managing web content and her nights unwinding in myriad creative ways.