Projects are incredibly diverse, and project management software reflects that diversity. So to some extent, it’s a question of selecting software that suits the way your organisation works and the kind of projects you do. But another key factor should be the project methodology you’re using. If it’s a structured method, such as PRINCE2 or Agile, it’s a good idea to choose project management software that complements the method you are using.
Even the smartest software can ‘t make up for lack of experience in the project manager, whereas an experienced project manager will always find a way to use software to increase their team’s productivity.
Many projects have teams that are partly home and partly office based, or whose members have to travel to different sites on a frequent basis. This makes communication difficult and a productivity takes a hit because one part of the team isn’t aware of conversations and emails taking place in another part of the team.
Some project teams try to overcome this by cc’ing everyone constantly. This results in everyone drowning in email that takes longer and longer to read, taking people away from productive work.
Trello meets this problem head-on, using “Trello cards” to cross-reference and index project activities, messages and events and bring them together in an organised project workflow. More structured projects using organised methods such as PRINCE2 probably don’t need this type of organising software, but for more informal projects, it works very well.
This is probably a better fit for organisations using a project management methodology such as PRINCE2 or Agile. PRINCE2 roles can be matched to Teamwork roles with ease, effectively importing a large part of the project structure.
Teamwork is also excellent at understanding the problems of project managers and offering solutions. With a large team based in different locations, it’s difficult to develop a coherent and up to date view as to what’s going on. Teamwork offers a Project Activity Overview, which is a kind of dashboard, offering the PM robust business intelligence.
The “trigger” features will work well with PRINCE2 exception reporting and can be used to set tolerance levels as required.
Asana is an ideal choice for IT and other projects running under Agile. It can track launches and has been designed to follow an iterate, review and repeat workflow – many other project management software packages struggle with this process.
Asana can help with sprint planning and milestones as well and its Sprint Plans screen is exceptionally clear and easy to use. It has timelines and roadmaps built in, which are useful for informing senior management who can sometimes have problems understanding the Agile method. This is where an experienced project manager who knows how to explain what the project is doing, is invaluable.
You can sort tasks by priority, incorporate product feedback and track work requests. If you’re using Agile, it’s definitely worth a look.
4. MS Project 2019
MS Project is now marketing itself as a portfolio management tool that can help you keep track of multiple projects. Of course, what counts as one project in one organisation might represent twenty projects in another, so it all depends on your definition of a project.
Project 2019 has the familiar (and not particularly helpful) Gantt charts, as well as timelines, detailed task planning and resource assignment facilities. It remains one of the few packages you can use that will allow you to customise earned value fields, but that’s because it’s aimed at large, enterprise level projects and programmes.
The new release has integration with Power BI to provide analytics and business intelligence and KPI reporting has become easier. Definitely one for the corporates, often used in engineering and manufacturing, MS Project works well with structured methods such as PRINCE2 but is more difficult to adapt to Agile teams.
This is an app that integrates with Dropbox and Google Drive. Don’t dismiss it as small-time however. It’s used by major businesses including Sony, Volvo, Time Warner and Deloitte. It’s a cross between a project management tool and a project manager’s personal organiser. It allows the PM to create and customise tasks into a workflow, then track tasks they have delegated to their team. Definitely worth looking at, perhaps as an add-on to one of the larger products.