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What To Look For In Your Project Management Software

project management students

In this increasingly mobile age, the workplace has moved out of the office and onto the road. No longer are we expected to be abreast of a project’s goings on from our desks.

Now we’re expected to take the workings of our projects wherever we go. In a world where our mobile devices are our offices, the right mobile apps are the essential tools of the productive project manager. 

In this post, we’ll look at some of the fundamentals that project managers should expect from their mobile apps to increase visibility, control over the project and productivity.

Whether you’re first starting out as a project manager and want to see which tools are most useful to you or you’re re-evaluating whether your existing PPM is doing everything for you that it should, hopefully you’ll find this post useful…

Build on a strong foundation 

Before we get into the rudiments of what to expect from your apps, it’s important to remember that your mobile infrastructure is only ever as strong as your service provider.

While great efforts have been made in recent years to provide coverage in the country’s mobile black spots, it’s safe to say that some areas enjoy better coverage when it comes to phone signal and 4G internet than others.

It behoves you to do your homework and ascertain which mobile service provider (and which device) is best suited to your needs when out of the office. You might want to take a look at this post on how to Keep Your Business Mobile.

While it’s intended for retailers, the advice within lends itself well for any business that needs to remain productive and agile outside of the office.  

While you may not find all of these core functionalities within one app, the following should be priorities for you to get the most out of your team (and yourself) when overseeing projects…

Goal and task setting 

Goal setting is an essential practice in any business, but it’s especially imperative in project management. Goal setting helps your team to keep an eye on the big picture while also being able to visualise and pursue the smaller goals that will get them there. 

Teams can become miopic, focusing their attention on discrete tasks without a clear understanding how they relate to both other teams’ tasks and the overall aims of the project. The right apps can provide clarity and context to encourage collaboration between teams.

Suggestions: Asana, Scoro, Workzone.

Communication

Communication between team members, project managers and senior management is absolutely imperative in ensuring that all parties understand their overarching goals, discrete tasks and progress towards achieving their goals. 

But we have so many means of communication today that they can create as many problems as they solve. A conversation can start over email, migrate to text messages, then continue on WhatsApp or perhaps dovetail into Facebook Messenger. 

Keep all communications between team members on one platform for easy tracking.

Suggestions: Slack, Google Hangouts, Discord

Customisation

In order for adoption to be successful, mobile apps need to be easy and frictionless to integrate into daily operations. And that starts with an interface that is easy to understand and navigate.

So make sure that whatever apps you use allow you to customise your interface. It’s not just a matter of branding or aesthetics. Making sure your team has quick and easy access to the features most useful to them is essential to maintain peak productivity.

Suggestions: Basecamp, Hubstaff Tasks, Trello

Team management and progress tracking

It’s essential that project managers be able to track and coordinate the activities of teams and team members in order to ensure that projects are completed in line with deadlines and to a satisfactory standard.

That means being able to assign tasks, track progress and deliver prompts when tasks are getting close to their assigned completion date or time. 

Suggestions: Asana, Basecamp, Trello

Resource tracking

For many projects, particularly construction projects, it’s also essential to be able to track physical resources (i.e. plant) as well as tracking team members, their progress and their whereabouts.

As 5G internet and the Internet of Things (IoT) become a greater part of our working lives, a new generation of IoT tracking devices has come to the market as well as plant with IoT capabilities built in.

This makes it easier to track resources to ensure that workflow is never bottlenecked by teams standing around waiting to use equipment that another team is using. 

Suggestions: AIRCable Gateway, Asset Tracker

Reporting and analytics

Just as teams and team members need to check in with project managers to keep them up to date with their projects, so too do project managers need to check in with their bosses.

As such, you need a project management tool with robust reporting and analytics tool to help measure and visualise your progress in order to ensure that all is going according to plan and demonstrate your effectiveness to your managers in no uncertain terms.

Reporting also allows you to measure your progress against that of previous projects, demonstrating to stakeholders that your operations are improving and growing more efficient and building trust in your leadership and management skills.

Suggestions: Basecamp, Scoro, Workzone

Security

Finally, it goes without saying that whatever project management software you use needs to be secure. Many project management apps also allow users to capture and store key documents or log the names and contact details of employees and clients.

This is all highly sensitive information and needs to be kept safe. And with Ransomware and other forms of malicious malware an ever present threat, no business is too small to escape the attention of opportunistic cyber criminals.

As such, you need to choose a tool that has robust security redundancies and uses high level encryption to keep the particulars of your project and your team safe from prying eyes. 

Suggestions: Wrike, WorkflowMax, Asana

There is no perfect project management tool. It’s just a case of trial and error and deciding which best suits your needs. 

PM Today Contributor
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