There are many ways to devise a small business project management plan, but what good is a plan that you can’t put into action? The best way to go about implementing a project management plan is through the use of project management software.
Project management software will help automate the five stages of project management and help your business reach goals you’ve set. There are many types of project management software that will provide beneficial features, depending on the type of business you own.
Some of the key project management software features to consider when evaluating options are task management, project status tracking, and document management. But, how do you filter through all those features to find the ones that will benefit your business most?
The trick is to dive deep into reasons why you feel your company would benefit from the software. Here are three reasons project management software can benefit your business.
Decreased project cycle times and better deadline projects
Project management software is going to provide you with the ability to track due dates and deadlines to meet not only your own goals but also your customers’ expectations.
When you agree to work on a project for a client, you want to give them as accurate of a deadline as possible. Many times, clients will choose companies based on their estimated deadlines. A small company that is routinely falling behind has the chance of losing both new and future business.
The reality is that most projects take longer than expected, and you should always expect something to happen that will delay you. As much as you’d like to set a favorable deadline that surpasses customer expectations, you need to be proactive enough to avoid surprises along the way.
Some businesses may decide to simply double deadline projections. If a project should take an hour, set aside two hours. If a project should take one day, set aside two days, and so on and so forth. While this does give you the maximum amount of time to complete a project, it doesn’t help set the client at ease. Being able to decrease your project cycle times, and thus handle more projects overall, will allow you to grab a more realistic deadline for a client that isn’t going to overwork your employees.
The key benefits of project management software when it comes to decreasing project cycle times are:
- Identifying non-value adding activities in your workflow
- Identifying time-to-completion measures for your workflow
- Comparing current to desired measures
Once cycle times can be decreased, deadlines can be more easily met. However, meeting these deadlines becomes impossible without proper scheduling.
Improved workflow scheduling
Improving your company workflow is all about watching your office productivity grow. Five ways to improve office workflow include communication, efficient employees, frequent training, organization, and removing unnecessary stress.
Project management software encourages all five ways to improve workflow. This is accomplished through proper scheduling, or in a broader sense, resource allocation.
At times, you may have the manpower to complete a project, but not the proper tools. The opposite can also be true, with having the materials and equipment needed to complete a project, but no employee available to handle it.
Scheduling work can be complex, which is why project management software provides models and various approaches to help your workflow improve to its highest levels. Calendar tools will allow you to look at staff availability and see who is free to handle various tasks at a set time. Not only that, but you can also schedule slots for resources as well. If an employee can only complete a project by having particular resources made available to them, you’ll need to have a resource scheduling functionality that will mimic labor scheduling.
Better team collaboration
The key to team collaboration is communication. If your team can easily communicate back and forth with one another, you’ll be far better off then a team that struggles to coordinate their efforts.
Project management software allows for tools such as chat, message boards, project status tracking, and document management. The software also allows for integration with other communication tools your company may use, such as email and social media.
Project status tracking provides invaluable project monitoring in real-time. If an employee makes a few changes to a document related to the project or completes a certain task, they can instantly mark that in the program. Other employees involved in that project will be able to check the status and see where the last employee left off, which will help reduce any redundancy among your staff. You will also be able to avoid sending individual updates to each project member. It also allows for audit trails that will help identify change histories.
Project management software can allow users to leave comments on pieces of work in the project. If a team member recently completed a task or made a change to a document in the project, another employee can ask a question that other project members can respond to.
Russ Davidson is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Software Connect, a company that provides free project management software and application recommendations based in Milwaukee, WI. Since 1996, they’ve helped thousands of companies find the best solution for their needs by understanding software requirements and pointing them in the right direction.
These views are made solely by the author.