It’s time to get serious about your project tools. When you’re working on a project, there’s so much at stake, from the planning and collaboration, to the tracking and reporting to make sure the project is on track. Most managers know that project management software is an essential tool for making all that happen.
But some people are, well, hesitant to make the switch to online project management tools. For some managers, for example, a spreadsheet has served them well. Or, mostly well. They still have to manually update all their plans and personally find out if their team is on track. For others, they’re not quite ready to give up their desktop PM tools.
Project management tools were digitized years ago, but is a program that’s chained to your desktop the best way to take advantage of the technological advances in software solutions for managing projects? Obviously, we don’t think so. Online project management software is the way to go. The benefits are clear:
- Plans and Tracks Online
- Fosters Team Collaboration
- Provides Real-Time Data
- Automates Notifications
There are, of course, reasons why people remained tethered to their desktops. Being online means you’re at the mercy of your ISP, so depending on how fast your connection is there could be lag. Plus, there are legitimate concerns these days about security on the web. Your information might seem more protected in a standalone box than it is let loose in the wilds of the internet. But most reputable online PM software companies offer vastly improved speed and security for most industries, with data backups guaranteed. Cloud based project management software is more essential than ever.
The benefits of using an online project management software far outweigh the antiquated concerns. Let’s delve a bit deeper into these bullet-points and see why online tools are a better choice for managing your projects.
Plans and Tracks Online
The plan is how you start a project, but the tracking is how you complete it on time and within budget. Using an online PM tool can help with both of these critical processes. You could plan with a static Excel spreadsheet if you want to, but once you import that into your online PM software you can now share and update it easily.
An online Gantt chart provides a visual timeline on which to plot your numerous tasks, tasks dependencies and milestones over the course of the project. You can freely change the duration of a task or reallocated resources with a simple keystroke. Once you’ve collected all the tasks and given them due dates, you can assign them to team members. All of this is done in one program, on one page, streamlining the planning process.
Since the team is able to view the online Gantt chart, they can help with the planning process. The team can comment at the task level, offering realistic estimates on how long it’ll take to complete the work. That saves you time if you guess incorrectly how long it’ll take them to complete a task, saving you from reworking those estimates, which cause you to over- or under-run your budget.
Tracking a project when your software is online is more accurate because the information being fed into the program is more timely. When team members finish a task, their status update is instantly reflected on the project dashboard, giving you a picture of the project’s progress without delay that can poorly impact your decision-making.
Fosters Team Collaboration
Communication is the bedrock on which productive collaboration is built. You might already be using one of the many messaging apps to keep yourself and your team connected, but that software is taking you out of your project management software. Going back and forth is not only annoying, it’s inefficient. Wouldn’t you rather have a communication tool attached to all the other PM features you use?
When you use an online collaboration tool you’re providing visibility, everyone in the project knows what everyone else is doing, so your team is more productive. Also, you’re able to see the team discussion and therefore answer questions that might arise and avoid unnecessary bottlenecks.
As mentioned above, besides a chat function where groups and individuals can wrap discussions around specific topics, there’s the online Gantt chart where those conversations are tagged to a task. There team members can share ideas and attach files, images or videos to better communicate.
Another point is that as work becomes more distributed, with teams no longer exclusively under one roof, you need an online PM tool to keep them working together. Now they can communicate, update their statues and problem solve wherever they are, even if they’re in a different time zone.
Provides Real-Time Data
The benefits of real-time data have already been touched upon, but this is one of the foundational advantages of using an online project management software, and it deserves a closer look. For one thing, you don’t have to waste time exporting project data and importing it into another tool to generate a pivot table or bar chart. It’s all done for you before those crunched numbers are so old that they’re useless.
Your online PM software is always tied to what your team is doing. The data is always up-to-date. There’s no need to create a dashboard to use in a presentation. All the information from your team’s statuses are updated instantly and populate your dashboard. The data is defined in clear and easy-to-read graphs and charts that can be shared or printed. With real-time data you’re able to respond to issues before they become problems.
You can easily monitor your planned versus actual progress because all reporting is done in real-time. Whether that’s across individuals, tasks or projects, the information is just one click away. Your online project management software can calculate the number of days you’re ahead of the schedule or behind it, saving you from having to work out that calculus yourself.
You know how much busy work there is when managing a project. Project management tools help streamline your effort so you’re more productive, but a desktop application can only work with the numbers you’ve punched into the system. That’s more work for you. But when you’re using an online PM software, those figures are automatically updated, as we’ve noted above.
But there’s more. Because your team is noting their status online and the software is instantly updating, you can set the program to notify you if someone is falling behind and reallocate the needed resources to them before it becomes a problem. You and your team will never miss a deadline when you set emails and alerts to keep you and the team in sync with their tasks. Now everyone knows what they’re responsible for and when their tasks are due, so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
Save Money and Improve Productivity
You already do most of your personal computing on your phone, and so does your team, so there’s no learning curve with most PM applications. The world is online and its mobile and project management can adapt or get left behind. But on a more practical level, it’s expensive to license and install and maintain desktop applications, but with online tools you stay up and running without breaking your budget.
If you need more convincing about the value of switching from a desktop application to online project management software, then why not give ProjectManager.com a test run? It’s cloud-based PM software, which means you’re getting the real-time data that can make a difference between a well-informed decision and a poor one. It also has an online Gantt chart to make scheduling, task management and resource allocation more efficient. Plus, it facilitates communications all within the same program. Try it for yourself and see by taking this free 30-day trial.