Project management software is like comfy underwear: it gives you the foundation for everything else. You don’t necessarily spend a lot of time thinking about it, but you miss it when it isn’t there. And the right product can completely change how you show up for the day; you wonder how you ever got by without it.
Project tracking and monitoring tools underpin a business’ success. You need them to support all the other activities and provide the base layer for the organization. They are the fundamentals, the basics, the wardrobe staples of your company’s closet. In short, your firm needs project management software.
Here are 10 reasons why.
1. Monitor progress
You probably have a lot of projects running at the same time. How do you know what’s happening on each of them? Project management software is your not-so-secret weapon. When every project is loaded into the tool, everyone has visibility of what is being worked on.
Make sure no project gets left behind! Monitor progress and check how each project is performing from a central location without having to involve all the project managers or sit through endless status meetings.
2. Collaborate easily
Projects are completed through effective teamwork. But too often, individuals end up working in a silo. Too many conversations get stuck in email. Meetings suck up precious time and drain morale – especially when the right people aren’t in the room. Project management software streamlines how individuals work together so you can truly say they are a team.
Software won’t fix a poor organizational culture, but giving your colleagues the tools they need to do a great job removes many barriers and lets people get on with leading their projects.
3. Pivot priorities
In the early days of my career, when my projects were managed on spreadsheets, a change would mean an afternoon of work. So many boxes to color in and line items to move around until the sheet looked broadly like it reflected the latest change.
When priorities pivot, what’s more important: taking the time to do document updates or helping the team understand and incorporate the work required to deliver the change?
Project management software removes the need for endless spreadsheet updates. Drag and drop tasks to where they need to be or move whole projects around in the priority list, so the team knows to focus on other things.
4. Manage team capacity
Do you really have the capacity to take on another project? LiquidPlanner’s capacity planning features make it easy to see who is doing what and when they become available for new work.
Without the features for resource optimization, you have no idea what the bandwidth is for team members – especially when they are working on multiple projects in the portfolio. That makes it hard to schedule new projects, create proposals for clients or adjust your plans when someone is unexpectedly unavailable.
When you can see what people are assigned to across the portfolio, you can spot opportunities to go faster, check to make sure individuals aren’t overloaded and make hiring decisions in a timely manner. LiquidPlanner takes this one step further by automatically leveling workload for team members, so they are never over-allocated. This is just one more benefit of project management software: it helps team leaders and individuals manage their time to prevent burnout.
5. Align the team to strategic priorities
Yesterday, I spent another afternoon on low priority, low value tasks (although now my inbox is looking sparkly clean). It got to the end of the day, and I could have kicked myself for so poorly managing my time.
Priority-based planning is essential if you want your team to focus on the most important initiatives and not what is simply top of mind at any given moment. Software that surfaces those priorities is one reason why companies move away from tools that are not designed for project management. How disappointing would it be to have that email inbox experience on a corporate scale – you get to the end of the year and have done a lot of tactical things but missed the big strategic goals because no one was aligned to them.
6. Learn where time goes
On the same theme, another reason why project management software is important is because it allows you to track time.
Choose a tool with built-in timesheet features and have everyone keep an eye on where they invest their work hours. This data is invaluable for charging clients and preventing revenue leakage, but also for having a view of what tasks are taking longer than expected so you can take the right action.
This data can drive your schedules by providing relevant, contextual information about how much work is required.
7. Streamline reporting
I heard the other day about a project management team that had a full-time project manager whose job was only to create slide decks about project status.
I wasn’t even shocked.
I’m sure you or some of your colleagues spend plenty of time each month creating project reports, editing data from various systems, and trying to create an executive dashboard or summary deck that will both impress key stakeholders and spur them into action.
Project management software does all the heavy lifting for you. LiquidPlanner, for example, is designed to automate that data capture. Customizable dashboards, intelligent insights, and automated reports save you hours each month because the right people get the data they need in real time when they need it.
8. Better decision-making
Better access to decision-support information, including the uncertainty around tasks, leads to better decision-making. That’s hardly news, but too many teams (in my opinion) don’t have access to the data required to make the best decision.
Another benefit of project management software is that it helps surface all that information in an easy-to-understand way. Knowing that teams naturally underestimate and are inherently optimistic means you can build those variables into estimating and decision making.
And by keeping the change history, you can learn from past performance to make better decisions in the future.
9. Manage uncertainty
We know that things aren’t going to go according to plan. The real world is messy and fast-paced, so why not embrace that? I’m done with creating year-long Gantt charts that are out of date the moment they are emailed to my sponsor.
Project management software benefits your company here too. A better approach is to build schedules with uncertainty in mind. Predictive scheduling and advanced forecasting engines let you run Monte Carlo simulations across the entire portfolio so you can capture uncertainty in your plans upfront and see the impact of change before it happens.
10. Feel confident
This is what project management software is really all about. The tools are a huge practical advantage, saving you time and automating routine tasks. But the confidence boost you get when an executive swings by your desk asking for an update and you’ve got everything you need reliably at your fingertips; that’s the mark of a professional.
Build trust across all levels of the organization and your client base. Give your teams the gift of knowing they can rely on their schedules and that colleagues are available when needed. Boost morale by running projects that are repeatably successful and build an enviable reputation in the market for being good at what you do.
Investing in robust, professional, and helpful project management software might not be top of your strategic goals for the next few months, but as it underpins so much of how your business operates, I recommend finding something that is a comfy fit as soon as you can. Why not give LiquidPlanner a try?
About the Author
Elizabeth Harrin is author of Managing Multiple Projects and several other books. She is founder of Project Management Rebels, a membership community for project managers who want to deliver with more confidence and less stress.