by Tracy Vides | Featured Contributor
Managing a project is never easy. There are so many factors you need to consider, and even if one or two of them slips your mind, it can be devastating for your business. Project management responsibilities are in fact unavoidable; you will face them at various points within your organizational operations, irrespective of your domain or size of the business. How you use your resource to deliver projects within the budget and timeframe and collaborate with your team members and clients typically determines the success of your business.
But this is easier said than done. A lot of challenges lie in the process of delivering a project without a proper framework. Things are especially challenging for small business as they usually have constrains on budget and resources. They need appropriate project management tools to face these challenges.
The project management tools available in the market at the moment can be broadly classified into three categories and small businesses need all of these functions to effectively execute their objectives.
Types of Project Management Platforms
1) Task Assignment System:
This is perhaps the most basic type of project management tool that every small business needs in their arsenal. Using this type of systems, businesses can:
- Break down bigger and more complex goals into more manageable, smaller tasks.
- Assign tasks to individual employees with the team.
- Demonstrate workflow visually, indicating the order your team needs to follow to accomplish a task.
- Assign a deadline/due date to each task.
- Mark projects/tasks as “complete.”
On a more simplistic note, you can accomplish these tasks on Excel-like spreadsheets or even note apps. But these won’t provide you the features of more advanced project management software.
2) Collaboration Environment:
Task management tools, albeit important, do not provide the full scope of needs associated with dynamic project management environment. You cannot simply assign tasks to your team members and expect them to complete them properly without any supervision or internal discussion. It only shows your short sightedness and can be downright disastrous for your business.
Collaboration is key to successful project management. This allows your team to:
- Communicate seamlessly with clients, stakeholders and others within/outside the company to discuss project requirements throughout its life cycle. This brings remote employees and large workforces working in multiple locations closer to create a better end result.
- Discuss time-sensitive tasks so that managers/clients can respond to queries without interrupting existing work schedules.
- Store and share ideas, notes and documents to facilitate better and efficient project completion.
Again, at its simplest, Google Apps and other file storage and communication systems can help you create a collaborative environment. But for more complex projects, you need something that combines task assignments with collaboration to address the diverse needs of a business with more than a single ongoing program.
3) Time Tracking Utility:
Finally, there are platforms specifically designed for tracking the time invested in a particular task. Proper time tracking is an essential part of good project management; simply delivering the project within the time-frame is not enough. You would also want to know how long it took your team members to complete a given task to see if you can find new efficiencies that you can put to use in future.
A time tracking tool is what you need for this purpose. It helps you track the time spent by every employee on each task/project, so that you can get a better overall idea of task sizes, as well as bill clients accurately for hours spent. A good time tracking tool allows you to switch between projects and tasks seamlessly.
These days, most project management tools combine time tracking with collaboration and task assignment. This allows businesses to leverage all features of a good project management from one single, robust platform instead of trying to pair or cross-integrate various standalone tools. It also makes the whole process inexpensive.
Based on these three categories of project management platforms, let’s consider three agile solutions that are great options for small businesses, both in terms of functionality and cost effectiveness.
Previously called GreenHopper, JIRA is a project management tool by Atlassian Enterprise. This is a great agile project management tool that provides a “flexible and scalable issue tracker for software teams.” JIRA features a Scrum board as well as a Kanban board so that teams can successfully collaborate and complete tasks within the given time-frame.
It allows you to:
- Prioritize and plan your tasks so that you can take action on what’s important.
- Remain updated with everything your team is doing throughout a particular phase.
- Create milestones and assign tasks with due dates.
- Get real-time visibility of the progress and status of an upcoming/ongoing release via the Release Hub feature.
- Collaborate through real-time communication in HipChat.
- Generate reports.
A cloud-based collaborative project management, Nutcache allows you to “TEAM UP. ORGANIZE. TRACK. GET PAID.” It is the perfect solution for businesses to organize and track their work in a collaborative environment.
Nutcache has flexible boards that you can use to apply the Kanban model or the Scrum methodology of project management. Additionally, you can assign tasks as well as manage your project by phases or team. Nutcache allows for both internal and external communication from a single platform to enable better sharing of ideas, status updates, document sharing, comments, and so on.
Nutcache allows you to:
- Create projects and assign tasks to individual employees or teams.
- Assign hours to a specific project.
- Attach documents such as files, videos and images to a particular project.
- Create collaborative boards and organize it with lists and cards.
- Track time spent on each assignment.
- Create project estimates and invoices.
- Bill clients with work hours directly from the project dashboard as well as invoice a whole board.
- Select recurring frequencies for invoices.
This project management tool helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, small groups and freelancers collaborate with different people in order to achieve the common goal of “finishing a project together.” It facilitates easy communication between team members and associates to deliver projects successfully within the predefined time-frame and budget. Little need be said about Basecamp, because it is easily the most widely used project management tool in the small to medium sized business segment.
This popular collaboration tool allows you to:
- Eliminate messy emails from your project management process by allowing you to post messages to its interface directly.
- Assign tasks and mention deadlines.
- Create multiple to-do lists and add sub-tasks.
- View the whole thread of conversation on a topic in a single screen.
- Share files with internal and external collaborators.
What project management tools suit your business depends on your particular requirements. You can incorporate a standalone task management tool or a combined, agile solution that does it all for your business, depending on the complexity of your projects, the size of your business and number of employees who need to use the system. Irrespective of the tool you use, remember that managing operations with a project-based system is the key to a successful business.
Task assignment – http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/s.casual.pm/blog/posts/5%20Principles%20Of%20Creating%20A%20Task.jpg
Collaboration – https://www.marketopia.com/wp-content/uploads/bfi_thumb/Screen-Shot-2015-04-23-at-10.37.13-AM-2yyle7n97wf51dji1k4lxc.png
Time tracking – http://teamviget.com/images/uploads/tracktor-1.png
Tracy Vides is a content marketer and social media consultant who works with small businesses and startups to increase their visibility. Although new to the digital marketing scene compared to her illustrious She Owns It counterparts, Tracy has started off well by building a good online reputation for herself. She’s now a “serial blogger” with posts featured on Sprout Content, Steamfeed, Soshable, and elsewhere.
Connect with her on Twitter @TracyVides for a chat any time!