The right project management software can make or break the efficiency and performance of a team.
The best project management software will not only help you track where you are at any given time with a particular project, but it will also help you plan your resources in a way that minimizes the time it will take to complete a project, best utilizes employee time and skills, and maximizes profit and performance.
Best Things to Look for in Project Management Software
When you’re looking for the best project management software, you should be looking for something that’s more than just task tracking. The best project management software will do more than just help you track tasks. It will also help you:
- Identify which resources will be needed for a given project
- Predict project timelines based on task length and employee availability
- Estimate an appropriate budget
- Predict profit margins
- Align the right resources to the right project tasks at the right time
- View the progress of a project at any time
- Share files and project details
If you’re only using a project management software to track which tasks need to be completed, when, and by whom, then you’re missing out on a significant opportunity to optimize your company’s performance.
As you’re searching for the best project management software, keep the following in mind:
Align Your Goals With Your Needs
What are your overall goals as a project manager? Do you want to minimize the time it takes to complete a project by predictably projecting timelines? Do you want to improve project performance by more strategically planning tasks and resources? Do you have a goal to increase profits and minimize project costs? Do you want to better engage your team and protect their performance by better managing time allocation?
Having an understanding of what you want to accomplish with your project management software can help you nail down the features you’re looking for.
Look for a Clean, Intuitive Design
Regardless of the features you’re looking for in your project management software choice, it’s important to make sure the design of the product you pick is clean and simple. If the software isn’t modern and intuitive, it’s much less likely it will be fully adopted by your team.
Take a product demo as well as a free trial. Don’t be afraid to listen to your first instinct. If you’re turned off by an outdated dashboard or a complicated user experience, your employees likely will be, too.
Consider Training and Support
When you’re integrating a new, better project management software solution, there are bound to be questions and roadblocks along the way. One of the most important things to look for in your software selection is the support team.
During your free project management software trial, be sure to send a ticket or two to support and see how responsive they are. Also, make sure to get a feel for how your new project management software will be implemented. Do you have to take care of training in-house, or will you receive training from the services team?
Best Project Management Software Features to Not Compromise On
Everyone has different project management software features that best fit their goals. However, if it doesn’t increase productivity and profitability, then it isn’t worth the investment.
When looking for the best project management software, here are some features you should not compromise on:
Detailed Resource Allocation
It should be clean and simple to add resources to projects, but this doesn’t mean your project management software should skimp on data. You should be able to see at a glance how current resource is being used—whether or not an employee is at or near capacity.
This is important because it prevents you from overscheduling (or under-scheduling) a particular employee. Using this information helps you schedule tasks more realistically, increasing your chances of delivering a project on time. Having detailed resource management is the make-it-or-break-it difference between having a “wish list” of tasks and having an achievable high-performance timeline.
We believe that project management software should reduce the number of places you have to “look” to see, work on, collaborate on, or approve a project. The best project management software includes file sharing, comments, mark-ups, and messaging.
Project templates allow you to save timelines, estimates, and even resource allocation (open or assigned) for look-alike projects. If you had a project that worked well previously, then you can replicate that same outline in the next project without starting from scratch.
This is one of the best features of a project management software since it makes success more repeatable. It also empowers your company to more effectively scale and grow.
The best project managers don’t simply complete a project and move on; they take data from that project and apply it to future decision-making. What trends are apparent? Are there employees who aren’t being given enough time on a task? Or tasks that were completed ahead of schedule? Is there a client that predictably needs a little longer for approval, or a part of the project that always seems to go over budget?
Analyze, analyze, analyze. The more information you have, the more efficient and productive your team will be.
Is Simpler Project Management Software Always Better?
You may see common online searches for the simplest project management software. While some companies have a simple enough project profile that they only need a task-tracker, in most cases, companies of any size will benefit from more strategic project management.
While a more robust project management software may take more time to implement internally, it also almost always has better long-term results.
How Can Mavenlink Project Management Software Help?
Are you unsure what you’re looking for in project management software? Talk to one of our project management experts. We’d be happy to discuss your needs and goals to see what type of solution might be best for you.