If that wasn’t enough, they also have to deal with frequent scope changes, risks – external and internal – and shifting budgets.
How exactly do you stay sane in such an environment?
Easy: by using project management software.
Project management software isn’t the panacea to all your PM woes, but it comes close enough. A good PM tool will drastically simplify the project management process. You won’t miss deadlines or waste hours sending reminders and finding documents.
But not all project management tools are built equal. If you’re in the market for one, make sure that you look for the following features as a minimum:
1. Automated Reporting
“How hard could it be to create a simple project status report?”
That’s what most project managers think when they first create a report. Just grab a template, find the right data, add it to the template and bam, you’re done!
That’s all in theory, of course. In reality, you’ll spend hours finding the right report. Then another couple of hours finding data. And one more hour adding it all in the right format in Excel/Word.
This is why automated reporting should be the first feature you should look for in PM software. This feature will let you create reports by just tapping a button – no need to find the right data or search for project status report templates.
Consider how many reports you have to create in a long project, you can save hundreds of hours with automated reporting.
2. Automated Reminders and Notifications
As a project manager, you have your hands full with tough managerial and analytical work.
Why would you want to waste your precious time reminding people about upcoming deadlines?
Automating reminders and notifications about deadlines will save you hours on this mundane task. Automation also ensures that nothing slips through; you might forget to send an email, but a software won’t.
If you’re in the market for PM software, make sure that it has support for sending reminders and notifications on autopilot.
3. Document Management and Collaboration
Imagine a complex creative project such as a multi-channel marketing automation campaign. Over the course of the campaign, you’ll end up creating hundreds, if not thousands of documents – process documents, mockups, graphics, eBooks, HTMl pages, etc.
Relying on third-party tools to manage these documents will become very overwhelming, very quickly.
Further, third-party tools don’t give you any context about the document. You don’t know if a graphic was in relation to Task A or Task B. And even if you do, you have no idea how Task A/B changed over the course of the project.
The solution? Use a PM tool with built in document management and collaboration capabilities. Not only does this ensure that you have access to all your documents in a single platform, you also get much-needed contextual information about the document.
4. User Account Management
In any complex project, you’ll have dozens of people working on its different parts. A UI/UX team might make the initial mockups before the development team takes over. You might get a freelance developer to help with a bottleneck. And you might involve a CRO consultant to give his input on the design before going live.
With so many people involved, you can’t risk giving everyone equal access to the same file. There are certain parts of the project you want to shield from outside consultants and contractors. You also want to be able to share mockups and drafts with stakeholders without giving away access to the rest of the project.
This is why user account management is so critical for effective project management. Without it, you’ll struggle to contain leaks and even IP theft. In sensitive projects, even a small sharing mistake can be fatal.
So make sure that the PM software you choose gives you the ability to limit access to different features/documents.
Project management software has the potential to unlock exponential improvements in productivity and efficiency. But the wrong kind of software can also hamstring your progress and hurt your ability to run smooth projects.
Follow the 4 tips I shared above and you’ll make sure that your PM software does everything that you need, and some more.