What is Project Management Software Used For?
When most people think about project management software, the first thing that comes to mind is task scheduling and tracking. However, a good project management software is much more than that.
Great project management software will help you design a wireframe for your project to organize, plan, track, and execute as efficiently as possible. It also helps you manage resources to optimize profit margins and performance.
Top 9 Uses for Project Management Software
When looking for the best project management software, look for a product that optimizes planning, tracking, and collaboration. Software should also let you see at a glance the progress of a project, the current allocation of an employee or team, and that gives you data to make more informed project management decisions in the future.
Here are the top 9 ways to use project management software to improve company performance:
1. Managing Project Details
Before a project starts, the project manager and team will need to know the details of the project itself. Project management software can help you keep all the information about a project or client consolidated so everyone has the information when they need it.
Use this part of your project management software to keep a project or client summary, project goals, and pertinent data, links, or files.
Project Management Tip: Share detailed project notes. It’s true you don’t want to overwhelm your team members with information, but making sure relevant information available can help your team be more productive. Having shared information can clarify project goals, help an employee feel more engaged in the project (since they can better see their contributing role to the overall outcome), and can open up better communication to other members of the team.
2. Tracking Task Schedule & Completion
When it comes to project management software, tracking tasks is one of the first things that typically comes to mind. That’s because there are typically a lot of moving pieces between project inception and close. By using a project management tool to track tasks, it’s easier for project managers to assign the different steps in project completion, set due dates, and track progress.
Project Management Tip: Task tracking can be useful not only in tracking tasks, but also in understanding trends. Do you have a team member who is consistently late on delivery? Take a quick dive into past task tracking to see if there are any trends. Then, when you assign future tasks, take this information into consideration to set the due date a few days earlier than it’s actually needed or to give them more time than they originally projected.
3. Creating Estimates and Timelines
When you’re preparing a quote, timeline, or project overview for a client or supervisor, a project management tool will help you give an educated prediction of the resources—time, employees, budget—needed to complete the task.
When used properly, your project management tool takes the guesswork out of your projected timeline and instead leave you with a blueprint from start to finish. This means more accurate estimating for budgets and profits as well as timelines.
Project Management Tip: Are you using your best resources to the best of their abilities? You will see an increase in performance and engagement if you are conscious about aligning your team members skills, talents, personalities, and passions with project tasks. It takes more than knowing who can do what and who has more time for it. Taking the time to align the best person for the job can mean your project is more likely to be delivered on time, on-budget, and at the best quality possible.
4. Employee Planning & Scheduling
Resource allocation truly is an intricate puzzle. It takes several moving pieces to take a project from start to finish, and the planning process can sometimes start to feel like a never-ending brain teaser.
A great project management tool will help you not only to plan who will be tasked with what—and when—it can also help you coordinate schedules between multiple team members who may need to work together on certain parts of the project. Finally, a great project management software may also be used for tracking budgetary resources for a project, including contractors or employee resources, expenditures, profit margins, etc.
Project Management Tip: If your project management software has a system for viewing an individual’s project hours in relation to overall work hours, use it. A trademark characteristic of high-performing employees is that they overestimate the number of responsibilities they can accomplish and take on more than they can realistically handle. Compare your project needs to their existing commitments (and allocate a reasonable amount of time for things like checking email, attending company meetings, etc.) and don’t overschedule. This helps keep your project on track while also ensuring you don’t overextend your employees.
5. Equipment/Material Management
Some project management software can also be used to track and schedule resources such as equipment, like cameras, meeting rooms, projectors, etc. If you have multiple teams or project managers, this can help make sure no one has to slow or extend their delivery times due to having unnecessary resource allocation.
Project Management Tip: Make sure you maintain a good rapport with other project managers, especially if you share team members or company resources. This can help ensure there are never power struggles for a particular resource and can also help you gain helpful information about employee’s strengths or weaknesses, client preferences, or strategic resources that can improve your project performance.
6. Cost Management
Many project management software platforms include budget planning and tracking. When used to their full potential, this can help you see at any point whether you are on budget or over budget on the project as a whole, as well as details about where you may be over-spending or under-spending.
Use the cost management portion of your project management software to help prepare accurate customer estimates, analyze profit margins, and optimize your resource planning to make the best choice for your client.
Project Management Tip: Cheaper is not always better. Some more expensive resources make up for the extra cost in being faster or more proficient in their tasks. This can help reduce project time or revisions. It can also sometimes mean less client turnover since you’re more likely to get the project done right the first time.
7. Project Wireframing
If you need to develop a project plan but don’t yet have details such as who will be on any particular part of the project, a project management software that has a wireframing tool can be endlessly useful. These tools, often called “role-based planning,” allow you to block out time according to the role that will eventually fill it, and then allocate those resources when it’s actually time to schedule.
This is beneficial not only for estimating purposes, but also helps you plan from the top down instead of from the bottom up. Top-down planning means you show which resources you need, then work to fill that need—as opposed to seeing what’s available and using that information to patch resources together. The top-down strategy usually means a cleaner, more efficient plan. You may have to make adjustments when it’s time to actually allocate resources, but you may also find that you can be more creative in problem-solving with this approach.
Project Management Tip: Find a project management software that allows you to save project templates for “look-alike” projects. Being able to use a template for similar projects instead of starting from scratch can be a game-changer in your project management game.
8. Scenario Building
Scenario building helps you create multiple project scenarios per estimate and compare margins and staffing options to make the best decision for the project.
While many project managers approach a single scenario and change and adapt it until they feel like it’s optimized as well as possible, scenario-building takes efficiency and profitability to a whole other level. By doing side-by-side comparisons of scenarios, you can use data and metrics to pick the project scenario that will have the best results.
Project Management Tip: Take time to predict project risks and set yourself the task of checking up on these potential roadblocks or bottlenecks when you anticipate they will happen. For instance, if there is a task that is dependent on client approval or other external indicators, or that requires collaboration from an off-site contractor, set yourself tasks to prepare for additional follow-up or allocate for potential slow-downs to keep your project on track. This can help prevent a risk from becoming an actual problem.
9. Managing the Approval Process
A project will usually require approval from multiple parties, including different parts of the development team, supervisors, and clients. These revisions and approvals can get messy if they’re not managed properly, leading to version confusion.
A great project management software will give you a platform that allows you to manage the approval process within the project file to keep all the information in one place.
Project Management Tip: Track everything. Documenting all change requests and approvals can help provide documentation that may be helpful in the future. Not only can it help prevent “version confusion” in your current project, but it can also act as documentation in case there is ever a question about a change that was—or was not—made. It can also give you data to better predict changes for a particular project type or client in the future.
How Can We Help?
Mavenlink helps you plan like a pro! With all these resources and more, Mavenlink project management software takes the guesswork out of project management and helps you design a detailed blueprint for project success.
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