Most Important Features of Project Management Software
Project managers are burdened with many responsibilities, including conducting meetings, planning, and scheduling, managing resources and budgets, and analyzing reports. When faced with a busy day, the workload can quickly become overwhelming. Managers require the best project management software solution to automate time-consuming tasks and efficiently manage a large team of professionals.
While the ideal tool would provide a one-stop solution that covers all required tasks and features, the abundance of options can make finding an all-powerful PM tool daunting. Hundreds, if not thousands, of software solutions focus on the same features: tracking and organizing the project management process and enhancing team collaboration.
To identify the best software for your team, consider which features are essential for efficient project management. It’s important to review the must-have features of project management tools to avoid overlooking any vital aspects while searching for new software. The key features of good project management software include the following:
- Planning and scheduling
- Resource management
- Managing the project budget
Planning and Scheduling
As a team manager, having clear task assignments and responsibilities for all team members is crucial. This helps avoid misunderstandings and facilitates the delegation of new tasks.
The best online project management software allows for task assignment, prioritization, and deadline setting. The tool automatically sends notifications by adding due dates as the scheduled completion date approaches and the activity remains incomplete.
Prioritizing tasks is essential, particularly when urgent problems arise. With a planning tool that includes scheduled time slots, you can quickly make adjustments without rescheduling the entire project plan.
An agile task management tool is also crucial for assigning tasks and outlining upcoming activities. This feature is ubiquitous among web-based work planning software, making it easy to find.
A shared team calendar for scheduling and organizing meetings is also a must-have. Synchronization with popular calendar tools ensures everyone receives notifications and attends meetings on time. You can also add important due dates to the calendar for a quick overview of upcoming milestones.
The planner feature outlines all planned project tasks and facilitates the scheduling of new activities. With time slot views, you can see how many hours and tasks have been booked for each team member and quickly assign new tasks in the next project step. This helps set realistic deadlines and avoid overbooking team members. Whenever urgent tasks arise, you can move others and make room for high-priority ones. You’ll have a more productive project team by taking advantage of these tools.
In a large project team, each member is responsible for specific tasks and has expertise in a different area. Collaboration between team members is crucial, which requires organized and efficient communication channels.
The best project management software should include features for file sharing, shared calendars, and contact lists. This allows every team member quick access to information wherever and whenever needed. Look for software that offers free storage for uploading files and data.
Some software includes a built-in messenger app, but this is not necessary. Slack is an effortless and quick option for team communication.
Choose software that enables the creation of team dashboards that everyone can access. These dashboards can include graphs, charts, visual metrics, and KPIs, providing a quick overview of whether the team is reaching its goals. Dashboards can also be used during meetings to compare results to the planned schedule and make informed decisions.
Sharing Customer Data:
In an agency, it’s important to store and manage client data. Project management tools can aid in this task by creating customer cards to share with other team members. Customer profiles can include contact information, linked projects, and invoices. It’s also possible to categorize customers by criteria, such as companies with due invoices or trustworthy partners. See the list of 20 essential CRM features for more helpful customer management tools.
Are you still managing all your project data on Excel spreadsheets? With up to 88% of spreadsheets containing errors, it’s time to consider using an Excel alternative for all your business processes. By having all your project information accessible in one place, including planned and completed tasks, past and upcoming calendar events, customer data, project resources, expenses, and bills sent to clients, you’ll save time and minimize the risk of errors.
A comprehensive project management tool allows you to easily share and access all your data in a few clicks, eliminating the need to switch between multiple spreadsheets to find data bits. When searching for the best project management software, it’s important to consider the types of information that the tool can store and manage, including customer relationship management (CRM) and invoice automation. By gathering your information in one place, you’ll also benefit from detailed reporting.
To effectively manage your projects, it’s important to be aware of any issues that require immediate action. Two key features are necessary to achieve a comprehensive overview of project progress: insightful reports and a KPI dashboard.
Reporting tools are essential for collecting and analyzing project data to create customized reports that provide valuable insights into project performance. By comparing multiple reports, project managers can identify any negative trends and determine the root cause of any issues.
The Project KPI dashboard efficiently tracks real-time project performance by providing important metrics such as planned and actual project value, schedule variance, and percentage of completed tasks. A shared team dashboard, financial KPI report, project performance dashboard, and project manager dashboard are examples of multiple KPI reports that can be created to serve different purposes. Using a PM tool with these features is an excellent way to proactively improve project performance and address issues.
Effective project management involves managing your team’s time and keeping track of other project resources, such as meeting rooms and materials used in the project process. A recommended software tool for this purpose is a project dashboard, which allows you to schedule and manage all project resources, calculate their costs, and avoid over-assignments and conflicts.
With a project dashboard, you can assign resources to specific tasks and ensure your team has the necessary resources and tools to complete their work. You can also easily identify when a resource is being overused and take action to limit its use or set new guidelines for its allocation.
Managing the Project Budget
Expense management is crucial for larger projects, and Excel spreadsheets are not the best option. You need project management software that can track and report your expenses in an efficient and organized manner. With weekly and monthly reports on your project expenses, expenditures, and totals, the best project budgeting software provides insight into your budget performance and when your project goes over budget.
Export all the necessary data to your computer, and create a financial reporting dashboard reflecting your project progress. Add graphs and charts to your dashboard for real-time updates, and set up access rights to ensure that the right people receive the data. In addition, you may need to track time spent on tasks and automate invoicing for multiple customers.
Use time tracking software to document time spent on tasks and automate the invoicing process with predesigned PDF templates and email reminders for due invoices. Switching to project management software with time billing features can save up to 10 hours of a project manager’s time weekly.
When searching for project management software, decide whether you want a single tool to cover all your needs or are open to using multiple tools for different activities. All-in-one PM tools typically have better reporting capabilities and allow access to all your project data in one place. Still, you can also integrate specific tools that your team already uses.
There is no perfect tool, but with proper research, you can come close to finding one that covers all your essential features. Check out a guide for choosing project software and a free project planning software comparison spreadsheet. Once you’ve found the right tool, follow the steps for implementing new software and generate high user acceptance for all the new tools.