When is it time to use project management software?

Are you managing your projects using index cards, paper or spreadsheets? How can you tell it is time to move to using dedicated software to manage your projects?

Many projects are managed using a collection of manual methods. These may take the form of index cards, todo lists, spreadsheets or whiteboards. For smaller projects this may be all you need.

For larger projects where more people are involved, or for longer running projects it is beneficial to use dedicated project management software like TaskTrakz. For a small cost you gain very important communication, visibility and archival benefits. In addition, project management systems can actually save you money when you consider the cost of your time.

Communication and collaboration

When you are managing a project manually, your communication and collaboration takes place independently from the project. Your communication may be face to face, via email or via instant messaging.

With good project management software, people can collaborate and communicate directly on projects and tasks. This includes the ability to:

  • Write detailed descriptions of tasks. Descriptions can contain as much or as little information as necessary for the task. Descriptions are richly formatted so you can use bold, italics, pictures, tables or even syntax highlighted code snippets to convey the necessary information.
  • Hold discussions relating to the task through task comments. This enables your team to collaborate, discuss and record decisions relating to the task directly with the task.
  • Attach associated files directly to the task. This means all the files your staff needs for the task are immediately available to them.

Because you access TaskTrakz through a web browser, all of this information is available wherever you are. Whether you are in the office, on the clients premises, at the airport waiting for a flight, or even at home, you can stay in touch with your team, monitor progress and collaborate on tasks.

Another way in which TaskTrakz can help you collaborate better than many other project management systems is on tasks that require more than one person to perform sequential actions. This often arises in the context of testing and approvals. For instance if a document must be written by one team member and then approved by a senior team member, a TaskTrakz custom workflow can be set up to help with this process. By having a separate approval status for the task, the document writer can signal the approver when approval is needed, and the approver can have a list of tasks needing their approval directly on their dashboard.

Project visibility

Another very important benfit of using project management software like TaskTrakz is good project visibility. Manual methods have visibility only when updated by the project manager.

TaskTrakz takes input from all of your team members and uses it to instantly update all of the information in the system. The status of the project is always up to date, giving you the latest and most complete picture of your project possible.

Charts and statistics are also constantly available. Everything from project progress bars to burn up charts are available to give you insight into your project progress. All are generated automatically and updated whenever any new information is added to the project.

You also have the power of custom dashboards at your disposal. Each team member will have an overview of their tasks, and you can customize your own dashboard to give you the information about your project that you need. You can save time and keep your team on track without an endless stream of status, progress and update meetings.

Archival

Manual project management methods have limited archival ability. Archiving your project information after completion is important in case you ever need to find information relating to the project again, such as why a task was done a certain way.

TaskTrakz helps you with archiving your project information:

  • All tasks are retained in the system for future reference.
  • Files associated with tasks are kept for future reference, for example client instructions.
  • Discussions in comments around the project tasks are kept, this may be needed in the future to understand the decisions of the project team.
  • Task status history keeps track of which user moved each task through each workflow stage. This can be used as a sign off that the stage is complete.

Saving time

Most people use manual project management methods to save money. However, this may be false economy when you examine the cost of the time involved.

The first and most obvious cost is the project managers time in keeping the manual method up to date. Remember to include time to gather progress reports from team members, communicate next tasks to team members and time to create reports and statistics that could have been generated automatically by software.

The second cost is on team members time. How much time do they spend communicating with you about the information they could otherwise obtain themselves from TaskTrakz? How much time do they waste searching through email for the right file, instead of finding it attached directly to the task they are working on?

TaskTrakz is only $25 per month per user, with no setup cost. This is a tiny fraction of the cost of all of this wasted time. You pay your project team for their time, make sure they use it effectively with TaskTrakz.

So when should you use project management software instead of manual methods? If your project involves more than one person, you need up to date status of the project, you want to retain records for the future, or you just want to save yourself some time, project management software is for you. Get your free 14 day trial of TaskTrakz here.