Project management has constantly evolved as a discipline. Project management tools have evolved as well. Change is one thing both have in common.
Teams have always needed to track activity and how to work together toward unified goals. The tools people prefer to use have always been the catalyst for change. You can see this in the move from paper-bound Gantt charts in the early 1900s, to kanban in the 1940s, to today’s favorites like Agile and Waterfall. Over time as technology improved, the tools available to use continued to do the same.
No matter what, project teams need collaborative tools throughout the project management lifecycle to stay on task, on time, and under cost. However, these tools vary widely in complexity. Some teams may only need a few tools to track simpler projects. Maybe they use a task list, a kanban board, and a calendar. Conversely, teams working on massive projects may need many more tools. These teams may use dashboards, timesheets, workload tracking, security permissions, and maybe even integrations with other software tools to manage their daily work.
Collaboration, teamwork, and transparency are the building blocks of any successful project. As you may have encountered, projects almost always stall if teams can’t work together and collaborate effectively. If transparency isn’t central to a project’s operations, team members can be left in the dark, wondering what surprises are lurking around the corner. The right tools make it easy to work together and ensure everyone’s on the same page, pulling the rope together in the same direction to reach collective goals.
Not Everyone Needs Complex Project Management Tools
Project management can seem intimidating for those who aren’t familiar with the discipline. It can also seem difficult for those who are familiar, but haven’t applied it previously in their daily work. Along these lines, there’s a notion some project managers are hyper-technical, and therefore challenging to work with. They make even the simplest project more difficult through intentionally lengthy and obtuse processes. This is only partially true, like many stereotypes.
The reality is high-level project managers may need to use complex tools and processes, because their daily work requires it. There really isn’t an alternative, and that’s fine. Using the same tools for different types of jobs isn’t a necessity. At the end of the day, project management is project management. It doesn’t matter if you’re building a billion-dollar bridge or a small house for Fido in the backyard. The processes, phases, and disciplines are similar.
The tools being used are the difference.
Three Easy-to-Use Tools for Managing Projects
Our software at ProjectManager.com offers three easy-to-use tools which are invaluable for projects with fewer moving parts:
- Task lists
- Kanban boards
- Calendar views
Our ProjectManager.com task lists make it easy to prioritize your daily work and set your team up for success. They’re simple enough everyone can use them, regardless of previous background in managing projects. These tasks lists are intended to give you a quick, visual view of the work you’ve completed and what’s left to be done. Forget about digging through email chains and slogging through your correspondence to see where a task stands. Mark completed tasks off your list as they are done, and get a birds-eye view of how the project is unfolding:
As you can see from the screenshot above, it’s easy to add comments and files to tasks to make working on them collaborative. Attaching deadlines to tasks makes it easy for everyone involved to visualize how much time they have left to complete their part of the project. Better yet, are you managing a team that’s doing task-driven work? Our task list feature could be perfect. As team members complete an element of a task, managers can receive an email update on how things are going.
Why make things more complicated than they have to be for your team members, when simplicity is an option?
Japanese businessman Taiichi Ohno developed Kanban boards in the 1940s as a way to better streamline Toyota’s manufacturing processes. Specifically, Kanban was designed to manage resources and work processes at every stage of the production process. These boards are used today by companies of all sizes, across industries, as a simple, visual way to manage work.
Kanban boards bring your task lists to life through use of movable cards which illustrate each phase of a task’s life. Our boards at ProjectManager.com are broken down into “swim lanes” which correspond to where the task stands. The most common swim lane headings are To Do, In Progress, and Completed—or something similar—but are fully-customizable to your preference:
The collaborative nature of kanban boards makes sharing updates on any task seamless and easy. You can add comments, files and even change deadlines directly on the card so everyone’s on the same page, and working with the same information. They’re a fantastic tool for teams working on projects that aren’t task-dependent, but are still deadline-driven and dependent on collaboration.
Sometimes it’s best to check out your tasks on a monthly view instead of a daily or weekly, short-term view. Our calendar view makes that possible within the software, and also through ability to export project schedules and information to other calendars like Google Calendar and ICal:
It’s a breeze to seamlessly switch between all three views in our ProjectManager.com software, using views that make the most sense for the project, and the work you have ahead of you!
No matter which view makes the most sense for your work style, we have an option! ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that allows for seamless movement between views, and fully-customizable options to make projects your own. See how it can help you stay on time, under budget and manage resources with ease by taking this free 30-day trial.