As a small business thinking of investing in project management software for the first time, there are few things you should first ask yourself:
- What is our budget?
- Do we need mobile access?
- How large are the projects that we will be working on?
- How many people will be working on these projects at the same time?
As a small business, you’ll most likely want to consider web-based project management software which is comparatively cheaper and less complex to launch than enterprise project management solutions. And when your small business has expanded, you can always switch to on-site enterprise solutions which do offer greater security and customizations.
For small businesses, here is a guide on how to choose the right project management software and some basic features to look for when selecting a solution:
Time tracking is a necessary component to achieving overall productivity. It allows project managers monitor costs while, log the time spent on each task, and keep track of what has been accomplished. Make sure the time entry is easy for the user.
When tasks are assigned to you, they generally have a start and end date but have slack in the schedule. It’s standard practice for the task assignee to determine the best schedule when working on the task. Make sure the software has a way to drop the task on a calendar for your own scheduling purposes and have the ability to bi-directionally sync your project schedule with your daily work schedule. Outlook is a common calendar to integrate with.
Email integration typically includes email tracking and history, automatic email reminders and a variety of templates for quick communication. It prevents people from having to navigate between two different platforms while working on a project.
Today, many platforms even have the capacity to integrate email addresses with the social media profiles associated with that particular email thus increasing the channels of communication.
With the budgeting feature, estimating project costs is made easier and more accurately. The ideal budgeting feature allows for time and expenses, labor, cross-charging, cash-flow requirements, various rates and currencies, and automatic calculation of both actual and re-estimated costs.
File sharing establishes a centralized location for all project documents and sends out notifications whenever a modification occurs. Whether it is hosted on local servers or in the cloud, file sharing should guarantee security as well as an interface that is easy to navigate.
Issue tracking allows issues to be tracked in real-time. Notifications are created for status updates, systems affected, and for documentation and reporting. It is the monitoring of a variety of different problems, allowing people to report issues needing attention.
The risk analysis feature generates an analysis of the project life cycle by incorporating data that includes threats, opportunities, risk correlations, risk probability, sensitivity analyses, and other relevant components related to risk probability.
Gantt Chart Task Plan
Gantt charts present a view of the project through a visual timeline and is an important component of planning and scheduling. Through the Gantt-chart feature, you will see what everyone is working on, monitor deliverables, and make the comparison between planned items and actual results. In this way, you can streamline processes by refining delivery estimates and prioritize tasks.