What is work management software or WMS for short? Is it different from project management software or task management software? The answer is yes to both questions! Work management software includes project management software, task management and much more. It brings together all tools needed by teams working on a project into one comprehensive application. Why businesses and startups need work management software? Why is not better to buy a number of different tools and integrate them to get the job done? Because using too many tools is such a drag and it is also very expensive. Why to sign up and pay for multiple applications when one application can do the job? On top of inconvenience and cost, the data from one application can’t be easily accessed by other applications to make an efficient work management software. In the paragraphs below I will go over what is needed in a good work management software and why such an application is the must have application for SMBs, startups and enterprises.
Elements of work management software
WMS is a new addition to tools needed by businesses to manage all aspects of their business. In the past businesses needed to buy a host of different tools to be able to manage different activities in their work. Big enterprise software companies like SAP and Oracle, have been offering WMS for many years but their products are too expensive and way too complex to use. In fact software from these vendors requires extensive and expensive training. This type of software is also a pain to deploy and maintain. With advances in computer technology and software plus wide acceptance of web based applications, the tide is turning. A new breed of work management applications is taking the market by storm. In the following paragraphs I have listed which tools should be included in a work management applications.
Without collaboration, complex work could never be done. Collaboration is the productivity secret known to smart business people and entrepreneurs. Your work management software should have at least some of the the following communications tools:
- Chat- Chat and group chat are great tools for real time communication among team members. A good chat tool, archives all messages and make it available when needed for review.
- Message board- Message board is a great group communication and collaboration tool. Team members can create message boards on interested topics and add team members whose input is needed on those topics. Message board should allow comments, search and attaching files to make it a real useful collaboration tool.
- Video conferencing- All members of the team always are not in the same location at the same time. With remote work becoming more prevalent, video conferencing is a must have tool. Google hangout is a great free tool to integrate in WMS software.
- Interactive whiteboard- For the those occasions when the team needs to brainstorm but not all members are in the same location, nothing comes close to an interactive whiteboard. Good online whiteboards allow drawing, writing text and pasting of images on the board.
The most important element of work management application is a good task manager. Without task management work does not get done for complex projects. The task manager needs to go beyond providing a simple to do list. It should provide all tools needed in a robust task manager. The elements of a good task manager are as follows:
- Task title- The task page should have enough room for a robust title. The title should be editable at any time.
- Task description-A good task description make it easier for the people whom the task is assigned to understand the requirements.
- Task duration-Both start and end dates, or start day and number of days or hours should be available to the user
- Task comments- The ability to comment on a task makes work collaboration possible.
- Task dependencies- There is always inter dependencies between tasks in a project and even across multiple projects. A good task manager provides at least one or more types of dependencies. A good resource for task dependencies could be find here.
- Gantt chart- A Gantt chart makes is possible to view the entire project in one graph. A good task manager always has a Gantt chart accompanying it.
- Attaching files- The file related to the tasks or comments should be attached to the task or its comments. This way all related files are found in the right place.
- Tags- Tags make sorting of task under different groupings possible. A good task manager should support tags.
- Assignment- A task could be assigned to one or more people. The ability to assign to more than one person is an advanced feature that comes handy in many projects.
- Availability- In many projects one person’s time is divided across multiple tasks at any given time. A good task manager make it possible to record if a project member is assigned to a task 100% of his time or some other percentage.
- Link to bugs- During testing, always bugs are found. A good system allows a mechanism to assign bugs to the tasks where the bugs were found.
There is no work without documents, so a good WMS needs to handle documents and their revisions. Binfire keeps all versions of a file in the system automatically and old versions are available to any user in one click. Integration with Google docs, Google drive and Dropbox make document management easier and more manageable.
During development issues arise and the team needs to keep track of these issues. An integrated bug tracking system is a huge advantage when working on projects. Binfire has comprehensive bug tracking tool integrated in its work management software.
If your company does projects for other firms either as a consulting firm or free lancer, you need a system to keep track of time you and your team spend on projects. At the end of the month the system should tally the total time everyone has worked on the project and send an invoice to the customer. Binfire has its own native time tracking and timesheet creation tool. There is no need to signup for third party time tracking applications.
Keeping a good record of all your clients and following their progress in the sales cycle needs a good CRM (customer relationship management) package. The two most popular CRM packages in the market today are Salesforce and SugarCRM. In the future we will integrate with either one or both of these CRM packages.
To keep track of all your finances you need a good accounting package. There are several good accounting packages in the market today. For SMBs and startups we recommend Quickbooks from Intuit Corp. We plan to integrate with an accounting package soon.
What do you think about work management software? Do you believe such a tool can help you run your business better? What other tools do you think needs to be added in the WMS? Love to hear your thoughts.