Project management apps do a lot more than just help you create to-do lists. And while most of the ones out there are geared toward larger agencies and enterprise-level companies, there’s plenty of value in them for smaller teams as well.
The right project management app can help your team stay on top of deadlines and track progress, but with so many options out there, it can be hard to know which tool is going to work best for you.
To help you find one that’s a good fit for your business, we’ve put together this list of four features to look for when shopping for project management apps.
Most project management tools are designed to help you organize individual tasks. For example, an app might be great at helping you manage and assign subtasks for a single task on one project. But if you work on multiple projects with different teams, it’s usually necessary to integrate all of your projects into one system so that you can see the bigger picture.
If you have multiple teams working across several projects, you need to be able to view the entire scope of a project within the app.In addition to seeing individual tasks and subtasks, look for an app that allows you to see how everything fits together as part of a big-picture plan. You should be able to create milestones and visualize how your projects flow over time.
You want an app that integrates milestones and subtasks as well as messaging, files, reports and analytics. Everything should be available in one place so that every team member can see at a glance the status of each aspect of the project.
When team members have access to all this information they can see how other tasks and milestones affect their own deliverables. This gives them an understanding of the big picture so they can focus on how their work fits into the overall plan. It also helps teams focus on keeping things moving forward instead of getting bogged down on minor details or micromanagement.
Easy collaboration tools are like the glue that holds a project together. If your team can’t share updates and contribute to discussions, you might as well just keep using email. The best project management apps have extensive collaboration features so your team can work together and stay up-to-date.
Look for an app that enables you to assign tasks to team members and notify them of changes in real time. The app should also provide a space where team members can post general updates, ask questions and discuss issues.
Some apps even allow you to assign permissions so you can control who can see and edit each section of your project. This is especially helpful if you’re working on several projects at once or collaborating with multiple teams.
Time tracking is a necessary part of project management. For one thing, most projects are put on a deadline. Time tracking helps you to stay on schedule and know when you need to ramp up the work in order to meet the deadline.
But more than that, it’s important for billing clients. If you have a good time tracking system in place, then you can easily bill clients for your time spent on their project. So, time tracking is an important feature to look for when selecting a project management app.
A project management app that offers time tracking is also useful for keeping an eye on employee productivity. For example, if you notice an employee is spending more than 30 hours per week working on a single project, that could be a sign that he or she is inefficient.
If the employee has tasks that are unrelated to the project, then you may want to reassign those tasks or even hire a contractor to help out with the excess work. You can also determine whether your employees are overworked and should be assigned fewer projects.
Any project management app you consider should offer a certain degree of customization that allows you to create tasks and projects in a way that works for your team. You should be able to define your own task fields and customize the workflow stages. This ensures that you’re capturing all of the relevant data you need without asking too many questions, which can be a distraction.
For example, if you’re managing a team of writers and editors, you’ll need to have task lists and checklists that are optimized for those types of projects. Similarly, if you’re managing a web design team, then you’ll want customizable task lists and checklists that can keep track of web design tasks such as testing links or designing logos.
Customizable views are also important. When you’re managing numerous projects and tasks, it’s helpful to be able to view your projects in different ways. You may want to view all the projects you have going on at once, or break them down by category. It may be helpful to be able to see all the tasks that are due this week or those overdue.
So, look for an app that allows you to customize your views so that you can view only the information that is relevant to you at any given time.
If you’ve never used a project management app before and are looking to adopt one, your first priority should be choosing one that’s intuitive for you and your team. Even if you’re managing a team of only two or three people, it can be easy to get bogged down by too many options in an overly complex system that robs you of more time than it saves.
The best apps are those that allow you to start using them right away without too much set-up time and without getting distracted with features that you don’t need. In the long run, your PM app should be saving you time and helping you get things done. If it’s doing anything else, it’s not doing its job properly.
For companies of all sizes – small, medium or large – project management apps make staying organized and on top of tasks so much easier. And they make communicating with teams simpler, faster and more effective. Not to mention they also help keep track of expenses and manage budgets better as well as communicate with clients more efficiently.