Collaborative planning with your team has many benefits. First of all, it engages your team. You depend on your team members to get the tasks done that lead to a successful project. Getting buy-in from them should be proof enough of the importance of planning with teams.
But there’s more. Your plan will be better. When you get the whole team thinking together it provides ideas you might miss and a perspective you don’t have. Not to mention, once the plan is executed, you’ll want planning tools that work for both you and your team members.
What Teams Need in Project Planning Software
The first and most important property of project planning tools is that they’re cloud-based. Whether you team is located under the same roof as you or they work remotely, you’ll want an online tool. Being online means that team members have access to their tasks and files no matter where they are, the time or what device they’re working on.
Once that you’ve established that you want an online PM tool, then you have to determine the features that would best serve your team as they plan and execute the project. Some of key features your team will need include:
- Task Management
When you’re looking for a PM software you’re going to want to see which tools offer these functions. They’re going to give you team the tools they need to get their tasks done on time and also provide you to track their progress. If a team member is idle, you’ll be able to put them on task. If a team member is over-allocated then you’ll have the resources to help them before the issue turns into a real problem that can take the project off-track.
Obviously, you’re not going to get another done if you’re not able to explain what it is that needs to be done. Just as important is to create a dialogue in which team members can confrence among themselves and pull you into the conversation when needed. Therefore, a communicative tool is clearly a critical part of any project management software you’re looking to use when planning a project.
What your communication tool should do is offer a platform on which team members can talk whether they’re working in the same space or remotely. They’ll need a tool that gives them the ability to capture their thoughts about an issue in the project as they experience it, even if other team members are not available at that time to respond.
A social chat function, where you can create groups and team members can speak one-on-one is a way to foster communications in the planning process and all other phases of the project. This keeps the conversation in one place, and should allow you to share data by attaching files, pictures, links or whatever other materials you and your team need for the task being discussed.
An online Gantt chart is going to allow you to schedule tasks on a visual timeline. You can add the task and due date to the spreadsheet side of the Gantt chart and then the bar chart is automatically populated with this information, spread out in a horizontal line across the timeframe of the project. You can link tasks that are dependant on one another, to avoid blocking team members, and they can in turn update their statuses which is then instantly reflected on the Gantt chart.
Besides being a scheduling tool, an online Gantt chart also features a functionality that helps teams communicate. Just as with your chat feature, on the Gantt chart you can attach comments, files and documents, but here you can do so directly to the task line. When another team member posts something about that task everyone connected to it is notified by email, keeping everyone on the same page by making sure updates are timely.
There is also task management software where the team members can improve their productivity by setting up project and personal tasks with due dates that can be filtered by their deadline, owner, project, etc. That task list should be simple to update online or by a mobile app. You should also be able to attach notes, files and links, as well as comment on it and then track those comments, production notes and document handoffs. All this is done in real-time when you’re working with a cloud-based project planning tool.
Not all tasks are solely the responsibility of one team member, so you need to be able to share. You should be able to share the task or the URL with anyone, and be able to link to other tasks from other systems, so you can view them and update as you complete those tasks. Email notifications should be easily automated to help your team keep their tasks on track. And because the planning tool is online working remotely isn’t a problem when it comes to updating tasks and files on the web, your mobile phone, email account or whatever device your team is working with, keeping everyone and everything up to date.
You’ll also want to get your team using timesheets. While timesheets have a bad reputation as a tool to micromanage teams, they can help both you and your teams with planning and executing the project. They can help estimate tasks more efficiently, offer visibility on the time being spent on each tasks so they can then be adjust and timesheets over a view of resource allocation to make sure no one is over- or under-allocated.
When team members update their tasks on their timesheets they can track their progress. All their time is tracked by project planning software, from task lists to the Gantt chart, and in real-time. And using timesheets is easy because the project tool syncs your team’s tasks with the timesheet tool. All they have to do is select their tasks and hit enter. The team can then preview and submit their timesheets, and then you can easily approve them.
Give Your Team the Project Tools They Need
When looking for project planning tools make sure they have these functions for your team. They help with collaboration and provide the means for a more efficient and productive project.
Teams work better when they have the right tools. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based software that gives your team those tools. From online timesheets that make submitting timesheets as simple as a click, to task-level collaboration with an online Gantt chart, ProjectManager.com is the one tool you need for all your planning needs. See for yourself by trying our free 30-day trial.