Easy implementation with project management software
As it may have already turned out, projects can become very complex and confusing. The requirements of stakeholders are constantly changing. Under certain circumstances, a project must even adapt to a changing market situation. Moreover, you need to keep an eye on the costs as well as on the priorities, deadlines, tasks and their dependencies. On top of that, the implementation of projects requires teamwork and collaboration primarily requires a functioning exchange of information. How does a project management tool help?
The advantages at a glance:
- overview including visual representation of the project
- local and time-independent communication
- easy assignment of tasks
- all deadlines and milestones at a glance
- always visible project progress
- clear presentation of bottlenecks and work behind schedule
- all important information transparently provided in one central location
You will probably find some free tools offered on the market. However, companies pay for project management for good reason. Find out why by learing about the true costs of free project management software.
What should a project management tool include?
Projects are different and there is no tool that completely covers the range of functions available on the market. Therefore, there is no universal guideline for choosing a suitable project management tool. We recommend to think in advance about the requirements that must be covered and then to inform about the various offers. Below we listed the components that are most relevant to every project:
The purpose of project management software is to facilitate the collaboration of several project participants. It is the place where all project data, requirements, guidelines and contact is being provided and where progress as well as problems is being shared. Users should be able to access all relevant information and share it with other team members. If there is a certain rights system, this also includes customers and external partners.
Visual task management
The targeted task management is the basis of good project management software and the foundation for implementing the project. Since tasks do not always affect just one person, it is important to make sure that they can be assigned to multiple users. In particular, an option for subdividing tasks into sub-tasks might be very helpful in this regard.
Also, the communication between all parties involved is essential. So you should ask the following questions: Can tasks be commented on? Can background information be stored directly in the task? Is there an option to attach files and documents to tasks? Having all the data at your fingertips makes work a lot easier.
Task processes in projects are of course much more complex than the process of ticking off a completed task on a simple to-do list. Special task workflows create order. Are there approval workflows available for tasks that require someone to review you? Is it possible to add individual status options to you board or lists, so you can create your own workflows?
There are usually several options for visualizing task workflows. Task lists and boards (Kanban) should be standard. The latter, with its subdivision into individual status columns, provides a good overview of the current state of the project.
Some tools also provide the ability to map milestones and dependencies.
Smooth communication in real time
As already mentioned: Communication is key. Only few project management solutions offer an integrated communication option. However, it is important to be able to link communication with elements like tasks, appointments and files in order to keep actions and conversations comprehensible at all times.
Team chat and direct messages should be clearly structured, for example due to a function for commenting on individual messages, direct mentions and file attachments.
Well-ordered file management
Files and documents are needed in every project. The versioning of files and documents and different folders keep the storage of repeatedly updated files transparent and well-organized.
The team must always be in the forefront of upcoming appointments and deadlines in order not to jeopardize the schedule of the entire project. Different views of the calendar in which the appointments of all team members can be displayed and filtered are helpful. Notifications should be adjustable individually.
Data security / compliant according to DSGVO
A particularly important selection criterion for any company should be data protection arrangements - especially for those teams that communicate sensitive data (be it personal data or data threatening competitive advantages).
Certain functions allow to record exactly how long a certain task has been worked on. This information can be used, for example, as a basis for invoices or as an indication of where future projects need to be improved.
In order to successfully complete the project, progress should be continuously monitored to adapt processes if necessary. For this purpose, certain data and overviews should be provided.
Ask yourself: What forms of presentation are available that reflect the status of the project? (Board View, Gantt Chart, Dashboard)
If overdue tasks are highlighted and can be filtered according to individual users, you can see where help may be needed or where action is required. As soon as individual tasks are delayed or deadlines postponed, it could influence the schedule of the entire project. In these situations, special measures may be necessary.
For a project management solution, there should be at least one Android and one IOS application available. This way, you can react to emergencies anytime and anywhere. Of course, the design of mobile applications plays an important role as well. In order to guarantee data protection for mobile use, a two-factor authentication should be used.
Because it can be very time consuming to inform about all the different options, we compared 5 popular project management tools.
Why projects fail or succeed
One of the hardest decisions for a project manager is to declare a project a failure and cancel it. In fact, statistics from the Standish Group's Chaos Report show that around one-fifth of all projects fail, while around half fail to meet time, budget and scope targets due to massive difficulties. It is therefore particularly important to be aware of which factors influence the success of projects and why some projects do not meet their targets or even fail. These are the most common reasons:
Problems regarding requirements and objectives
A clear formulation of requirements and objectives is the foundation of every project and one of the main factors when it comes to whether the project should be carried out at all or not. Surprisingly, however, it is precisely this point that project managers repeatedly cite as the main reason why projects fail. The objective should always take place in coordination with time, budget and scope and should never be disregarded in the further course of the project.
In this context, it is also important to pay attention to the correct prioritization of requirements and to always coordinate changes in requirements with the set goals and the planned scope. A statistical evaluation by the PMI in the course of the PULSE OF THE PROFESSION survey shows how important this is. According to the survey, as many as 45% of those surveyed had to struggle with massive changes in project scope or even scope creeps. The list of main reasons for the failure of the projects clearly included the "change in priorities" (41%) and the "changes in objectives" (38%). In this context, good stakeholder management and sufficient support from the management level are crucial.
Inadequate communication and lack of transparency
It has already been mentioned several times in the course of this article - consciously. The PMI lists "poor communication" with 30% as one of the main causes for failing projects. This has just as much influence as "inaccurate cost estimates". The wrong means of communication, personal discrepancies, lack of transparency on the part of managers or even language barriers - a deficit in the exchange of information can have many reasons.
The choice of suitable software, however, brings a significant improvement in communication processing and also solves the problem that decentralized teams are facing. Unfortunately, many projects still use e-mail to communicate, which can and probably will bring up unexpected problems. Especially in complex projects, e-mails become real productivity killers. However, it is a huge problem that information can be lost, current processing statuses remain opaque and fluctuations slow down processes. The right project management software as a central location for all important information and data creates overview and transparency.
Management without Method
The extent to which methods support project implementation has already been explained above. If a team uses no or wrong methods, it will face massive organizational problems. Although it can easily be confused with agility and flexibility, project management is not a place for spontaneity. If the wrong method is used, productivity can suffer or simple experiments can become risks for the whole project.
The most important factors for successful projectmanagement
These are the project management success factors according to a study conducted by Volkswagen Coaching GmbH at the University of Bremen:
- Sufficient support in achieving the goals by top management
- Usage of the method best suited to the project
- Qualification of all team members with regard to the selected methods, processes and tools
- A well thought-out organizational structure
- the right project management software choice