Project management tools can improve your business
If you run a small business, chances are that your ship doesn’t always sail smoothly. Your job as an owner or manager is to plan and execute projects successfully, using the human and financial resources at your disposal. However simple that may sound, anyone that’s ever been a small business owner or manager knows that it just ain’t that easy! At the top of your mind, every day will be the constant challenge of juggling various projects, completing tasks on time, allocating your people in the most optimal way, and sharing information between teams, individuals and projects. And to muddy the waters further, maybe you’ve got people in different locations and even different time zones.
With different people attempting to achieve different things at the same time, how do you ensure that you all stay on track of the project?
As an operations business, our consultants talk a lot to clients about how they might solve some of their daily project challenges through the use of a project management tool. We talk about greater planning efficiency, better task management and by centralizing the project’s elements in a piece of software, how to promote seamless workflow and collaboration.
What is a project management (PM) tool?
Essentially, a PM tool is something that keeps you organized and up-to-date, and enables you and your team to allocate and complete tasks to get the job done.
Traditionally, analog tools were used to maintain a sense of order and complete projects: day planners, index cards, journals and to-do lists all played their necessary part.
In the digital era, there are a lot of different software tools that you can use to improve your ways of working, collaborating and communicating.
How does a PM tool help your business?
A good PM tool can help your business in multiple ways:
A PM tool can help people collaborate by having everything in one place, and in real-time if it’s located in the cloud. There are places to discuss workflow, timelines, documents as well as the ability to add comments, organize dashboards, proofing and sign-offs. And with shared documents, calendars and contacts, there is less wasted time and effort scheduling meetings, making edits or contributing to documents.
- Planning and scheduling
A PM tool allows you to delegate tasks in one place that everyone on the team can see, with folders, templates, workflows, calendars, images and client documentation. With all tasks visible and ‘owned’ by a member of the team, it’s easy to keep a project on schedule and avoid bottlenecks or pitfalls.
- Budget management
Imagine being able to control your budget and know that you can deliver within it by having an oversight of both planned and actual budget lines. With a PM tool, this is your reality.
- Internal and external communication
Your PM tool will allow you to organize a communication funnel both with your staff, and your external clients and stakeholders.
- Mobile Enablement – Most project management tools today have a mobile app for Apple and Android devices. You will now be able to look up key project notes and make quick client updates while on to go.
Common pitfalls when using project management tools
Like most things, there are two sides to every story. Project management tools can be hugely useful and make a great impact to your business, but there are a few things to consider before making the decision to jump:
Good PM tools cost money to buy, implement and maintain.
Like most new digital programs or devices, PM tools take time to learn to use properly. The interface will be different to what you and your team are used to and each user will need to learn the appropriate elements of the tool before it becomes useful to your business.
Every PM tool requires users to keep it updated with accurate information and then carry out the tasks against their name. If the whole team is not committed to regular updates, the tool becomes an unoptimized investment.
While your projects may need many users to gain access to the system, you might not want everyone to be able to view all the available information. Most PM tools have access panels where you can set the controls to prevent full access to sensitive data.
PM tools are like gym memberships, they are only valuable if you use them. You need to take careful consideration of the pros and cons, but we believe every business can find value in using tools to help manage their projects.