Project management software is a great way to help you create a work breakdown structure, keep track of your deadlines for various work packages, and monitor the progress of your team members in completing their assigned activities. Automating the administrative side of project management is one of the benefits of utilizing one of the many solutions what are commercially available. But with so many choices, what is the best solution for you?
I hate to say this, but it all depends. How complicated is your project? How many people are involved in your implementation team? How detailed do you need your workflow, work packages, and critical date calendar to be? Will you need a way to track the schedule of your team members? Will you need to create a record of your team performance or the history of your project for the planning of future projects?
There are several options available. Microsoft Project is the go to software package for project managers that are involved in large, multi-layered projects that involved multi-dimensional teams. There has been a ton written about Microsoft Project and how to integrate it into project planning, tracking, and evaluation. There are a significant number of books available to help you understand the full capabilities of the software (click here to find out what’s listed on Amazon). I would suggest that you utilize YouTube and search instructional videos there if you would like additional discussion on Microsoft Project.
When working with my clients, our project to-do lists, timelines, and work package tracking needs are not as robust. I have migrated away from Microsoft Project and to a couple of online solutions that enable me to involve my clients in the planning process and assigning work packages to team members. In the past I used Basecamp.com, but with multiple clients I needed to minimize the amount of time it required to train each one in the use of the software. The user interface was not what I would call user friendly or intuitive.
There were a couple of features that I found lacking too. The main piece that helped me make the decision to move was the inability to create dependent tasks. During a project, if in order to start work package B you need to complete work package A, you create a dependence of B on A. Once you mark work package A complete then you can begin work package B. In the environment I work in and the clients I work with, it is important to have that capability.
After some research of several different sites, I settled on Projectmanager.com. I found the interface to be easier to understand and more logical. As we began the project planning process, I would purchase a membership for my clients and we would work together to formulate the WBS, define the work packages, and assign tasks to identified team members. As we began to plan the project calendar, it was easy to format the project schedule and and communicate it clearly to members of the implementation team. Once they completed tasks, it was easy for them to mark their tasks complete. As the project manager, I would monitor the progress of the team in meeting all deadlines through the software. Any missed deadlines could be quickly identified and corrected.
There are other online solutions you can easily find by doing a Google search. But for me and my needs, Projectmanager.com was the right fit. In today’s less than simple world, trying to plan and implement a meaningful project without software is silly — when planning your next project, identify several options, select the best that works for you, and commit to using your selection. One of the best ways to subvert your project is to not utilize the tracking system that you select and just rely on your memory. Even the best memory will not perform up the same level of a correctly utilized software tracking system.