There was a time when project management software was used primarily by information technology specialists. These days, though, the systems are being used by all sorts of business professionals for a variety of tasks. The right software can help keep even the most complex projects on track.
Benefits provided by project management software
Many businesses use several separate tools to manage and evaluate projects. While each individual program may work for a particular task, they often were not designed to work together. Spreadsheets and calendars have important functions, but a user often has to toggle between them. They also may not be readily available, or understood, by each member of the team. Project management software seeks to overcome these shortfalls.
*The software is designed to allow individuals or teams to track a project from when it is just a set of ideas through to its completion.
*Timelines and calendars for projects can be created for each individual as well as for the team as a whole. Each calendar can be accessed by other members of the group in order to track the progress of each section. These applications can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection. The calendars can even be synched with outside applications.
*Budgets can be easily monitored throughout the process to ensure benchmarks are being met.
*All information associated with the project is compiled in a central database that can be accessed by team members.
*When new material is received, team leaders can provide instant analysis that is passed along to the rest of the team. New tasks can then also be assigned and prioritized if necessary.
*Each team member can create their own project home page, which displays the information they want to access on a regular basis. This is often updated in real time and can also include new messages from other members or management.
*Project management software can often make sure no detail is overlooked while working on the project. The system can also organize thoughts and data for workers.
*Because all the information and communications are saved in a central database, when new members are added to the team, they can be quickly brought up to speed.
*Systems can be either self-hosted or cloud-based. Self-hosted means the servers are kept on location, which can lead to some additional maintenance costs. Cloud-based systems are online and accessed through the Internet. While this allows workers to access the system even outside the office, an Internet outage could limit availability.
Businesses of all sizes are starting to rely on project management software to reduce costs and increase productivity. The system leaves no question which team member is responsible for specific tasks, though help can be offered within the team if needed. Because the information is kept in a central database, new members can join and quickly contribute. Since all the tools are designed to be integrated, projects run more smoothly and stay on budget.
This guest post has been contributed by Sandra Hopkins, writer for a project management software comparison website.