Some time ago project management was represented by three things: a pencil, a piece of paper and a methodology. But the time flies and the technology evolves… so why stop here? Why not use the technology? Software industry has evolved so much and can do wonders. With the introduction of project management software a few years back, the tools a project manager has at their disposal has been greatly increased.
The new project management tools
There are many different versions and variations to what is available on the market, having many cost ranges including programs for small businesses and all the way up to programs capable of keeping a corporation in business. Managing a business is no easy task, however, and keeping track of everything is often the hardest part of owning a business. These software solutions can make it easier for businesses to communicate with employees, clients, share files and track the status of projects and assignments.
Management software can be a lifesaver for busy business owners looking for a better way to manage their business. But just having this sort of software program in place won’t help managers be more effective. It will only allow them to have access to more data, which may in turn make them more efficient. They still need to know how to communicate to the project head and be clearly able to delegate responsibilities to the project team members.
Project management software has a simple goal: to help those involved in managing projects to achieve their objectives. For individual projects, the objective is to deliver the expected output from the project on time, within budget and to the expected quality. However, for those that manage multiple projects, such a software must do a lot more and it often has a different label, such as project portfolio management software, or resource management software.
So how can project management software deliver such benefits?
Some businesspeople may wonder what project management software can offer that the old tried-and-true cannot. It is quite simple: project management software achieves its objectives by providing pertinent and reliable information that the project stakeholders have confidence in. So the starting point is to look at how credible information can be delivered from such a system.
By looking at the general advantages of software applications (increased memory, faster processing, virtual rendering, etc.) and taking into consideration that good reporting requires both good data and an effective means of processing and presenting it as relevant information we get the obvious conclusion that there are such benefits. If it is easy for employees to see what tasks they must complete, communicate and collaborate with each other then the project manager can spend less time managing these business aspects and spend more time on other things.
But to achieve its objectives, project management tools needs to manage the following types of data:
- Skills, experience and other attributes
- Working calendars and resources availability
- Tasks – describing the activities required to produce each key deliverable, which are normally labeled as milestone tasks
- Assignments – work estimates needed to achieve each task, for each resource
- Cost rates needed to compute the actual costs and the value of work done, to be compared with the budget
Project management software benefits summary
There are a few basic features that a management software solution should have in order to truly gain these advantages.
- Easily manage your company’s projects
- Get resources and finances under control
- Bring project’s critical issues to your attention (overallocated resources, critical path)
- Track project evolution in terms of completion, time and costs
- “what if” scenarios capability is offered via multiple undo and redo levels
- Provide a clean way to break down your project, build schedules, allocate resources and manage budgets
If all these are met then any project manager can agree that the key benefit is in relevant and timely management information.