3 Must-Have Project Management Tools for Startups

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Starting a new company, or working for a startup, is equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. In a startup environment, budgets are often tight and the typical processes that keep companies running are often missing. Such a dynamic work environment can be punishing for even the most experienced employees because there will always be new problems to tackle and limited resources to tackle them.

Most how-to books will tell you that in order for a startup to succeed, it takes a combination of hard work, good employees and ample funding. But most of these books don’t discuss the project management tools that the world’s best entrepreneurs use to organize and manage their companies. That’s why we’ve put together this list of startup project management tools that every young company can use to create a highly-efficient organization.

1. Work Management / Task Management Software

There’s an old proverb about collaboration: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This holds especially true in the startup world, where having a strong culture of collaboration is a key to success.

In order to achieve success as a team, all employees need to be rowing in the same direction and working towards the same goals. Smart entrepreneurs have figured out that the way to achieve this is to utilize a collaborative work management platform.

What is Work Management Software?

“Work management” is a relatively new type of software that was designed to give teams a central place to collaborate and work together digitally. Work management software combines project management, task management, document management and communication into one place to get all employees on the same page.

A screenshot of ProjectManager.com task list view, displaying all the tasks related to a project along with key metrics.
ProjectManager.com has a task list view, which displays all of the tasks related to a project, along with key metrics.

Benefits of Using Work Management Software

  1. Keep Things From Getting Lost in the Shuffle: Startups are dynamic and fast-paced, so there’s always something new that needs attention. Without a central collaboration tool, employees find their own ways to keep track of their to-do lists, which can lead to tasks not being completed and general confusion. A central collaboration platform solves this problem.
  2. Get Better Visibility: Startup employees are constantly busy attending to their work, and don’t always have time to connect with management to keep them in the loop. When all work is managed and tracked in one place, managers can see everything that their staff is working on, eliminating the need for constant check-ins.
  3. Improve Accountability: A central work management platform ensures that all employees are accountable for their work. When management can quickly see what all team members are working on, it is impossible for under performing employees to fly under the radar. Conversely, this gives management another way to identify their best and most productive employees.

2. Kanban Boards for Building Workflows

In a startup environment, it’s crucial to build visual processes that act as guides for employees to follow in order to be successful. One of the best ways to create these processes is to use kanban board software.

Kanban board software is a simple startup project management tool that’s used to visualize and track all of the different tasks happening within a company or team. Each task is created as a “card” that can be dragged-and-dropped into different areas of the screen to indicate the status of the task.

The kanban board shows anyone looking at it what work needs to happen next, what work is in progress and what work has been recently completed.

A screenshot of ProjectManager.com's kanban boards, which display tasks as cards in sequential columns that represent stages of completion of a project.
Kanban boards are an incredibly useful visual tool for managing workflow. Make your kanban board with ProjectManager.com today!

The simplest way to use a kanban board is to have three columns: to-do, doing and done. When a new task needs to be added, it goes into the to-do column. Then, when someone is ready to work on that task, they drag the kanban card into “doing” so that everyone on the team can see the task-in-progress.

However, kanban boards can also be used to build more complex processes in the form of custom workflows. This is done by creating custom columns for each stage of the work process.

Related: Project Management for Startups & Entrepreneurs

Kanban Workflow Example

For example, let’s imagine your startup does marketing for clients, and you need a good way to manage all of the work requests that clients send in. You could create a kanban board with the following columns:

  1. New Work Requests
  2. Information Gathering
  3. Doing
  4. Client Approval
  5. Done

Each column represents a step in the workflow or process.

  1. When a new work request comes in from a client, the employee who received the request creates a task in the “New Work Requests” column, and assigns it to an account manager.
  2. When the account manager is ready, they move the task into “Information Gathering” and contact the client to get all of the information needed in order to start work. They then re-assign the task to the marketing team and move it to “Doing.”
  3. The marketing team now works on the client request. When finished, they move the task to “Client Approval” and re-assign the task to the account manager.
  4. With a new task in “Client Approval”, the account manager now knows the work is ready to send to the client for final approval.
  5. Once the client gives their approval, the task is finally moved into “Done” to indicate the process is finished.

As you can see, the kanban board is used to build a step-by-step process for work requests. Since the whole team has access to the board, everyone knows the status of all of the work that is happening. Kanban boards are a great way to eliminate questions and confusion by giving the team a blueprint for how work should flow through the team.

3. Project Management Dashboards

As mentioned previously, visibility into your employee’s work is crucial to successfully managing your company. This is why savvy entrepreneurs choose to implement key performance indicators (KPIs) across their companies.

The motto of “measure everything” is useful in early-stage companies because data allows the company to pivot quickly when things aren’t working—and to double down on things that are. There are many different types of dashboards a startup company can implement across the business, but the most important one is the project management dashboard.

Project management dashboards passively collect data from your project management platform, turning the information into helpful charts and graphs. The dashboard will update in real time, giving you all of the information you need to make decisions across the business.

A screenshot of ProjectManager.com's real-time dashboard, displaying project health, tasks, progress, time, cost and workload.
ProjectManager.com’s dashboard gives a birds-eye view of important project metrics—Try It Free

Project management dashboards can quickly tell you information about several project metrics.

  • Workload: see which employees and teams are over or under worked
  • Project Progress: see how specific projects are progressing
  • Time Tracking: monitor where and how employee time is being spent
  • Budgets: learn the real cost of employee time and resources to make smarter budgeting decisions

Implementing Project Management Tools for Startup Companies

Startup companies are dynamic, exciting and always growing. And as a company grows, it’s needs to change over time. However, establishing the right project management tools and processes early on will give your startup a solid foundation to build upon.

This is why we recommend that every startup company implement a work management platform, kanban boards for building workflows and dashboards for measuring everything across the business, all as soon as possible.

Implementation of these startup project management tools might sound like a lot of work, but it’s well worth it. Plus, there are plenty of software suites that gives you all of the tools we’ve discussed with zero coding or training needed.

ProjectManager.com is a project management platform used by thousands of teams around the world, from small startups to global companies like Volvo and Bank of America. The cloud-based software is easily accessed via web browser, so no on-site implementation is needed. In fact, you can have your new tools set up and running in under five minutes. Click here to sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

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