When we think about the benefits of desktop or online project management software, efficiency and speed to market come to mind. Project management software makes it easier to plan, track and monitor project tasks and timelines. It facilitates viewing the project plan in graph such as Gantt chart. Commitments are made and formalized. With project management software, what needs to be delivered is known to all stake holders and hence can be completed on-time and within budget.
How does it work?
Regardless of the project management methodology, project management software forces discipline upon the team. By creating the project plan, tasks need to be put in the proper order. Dependencies are identified. Therefore, if one task needs to be completed before another task starts, the team can plan accordingly. Unnecessary and redundant tasks can be eliminated. Tasks are assigned to individuals with the relevant skill, knowledge and background, reducing the inefficient allocation of resources.
Project management software is used to define everyone’s responsibility on the team. When tasks are clearly assigned, everyone’s role is clarified. This reduces misunderstanding and conflicts between members.
Some tasks require a specific technical expertise that may not be readily available. By documenting these task, project management software can be used to identify skills gaps which will need to be filled. The alternative of waiting until when the skills are required can result in project delays.
Project management software keeps the team focused because it documents and visualizes the project plan and all communication and interactions between team members. Project management software brings order to development. When everyone is aware of what they are working on, it creates more certainty. Rather than work on tasks and assignments that are low priority, project management software keeps the team on track to work towards common objectives. Furthermore, duplicate work and mistakes are reduced because the software provides a clear road-map of what work needs to be performed in a particular order. It also identifies the critical path in the project. Project managers need to pay special attention to tasks which are part of critical path. Any delay in any task in the critical path results in a delay in the project.
Resource planning is also improved via project management software. For instance, if the need for additional equipment is identified upfront, it can be procured ahead of time. With advance planning, project resources can be shared across multiple projects, thereby reducing waste and improving inefficiencies.
Online project management software provides additional benefits
The traditional desktop project management software such as Microsoft Project provide most of the above benefits. Online project management software provides the same benefits as outlined above, but has a wider impact within the organization. It brings collaboration and teamwork to the team.
With online project management software, everyone on the team has direct access to the tool and can check up on the status of a specific work-stream at any given time. Here are three ways that online project management software can have a significant impact on your business.
A Tool for Remote Workers:
More and more companies are benefiting from hiring remote workers. Remote workers tend to work longer hours. Companies also save on infrastructure costs because remote employees do not require office space. How does online project management software enable a remote workforce? Online project management software provides remote workers with real-time access to any changes within a project plan.
Many project management software packages include transparent workflows. Transparent workflows mean that everyone is aware of the changes and updates made to a project plan by team members. With permissions, remote team members can make updates to the project plan without the need for an in-person review session.
Online project management software makes Collaboration easy.
With online project management software, team members can share files and documents in real time. How does document collaboration help an organization? When teams are distributed, document collaboration allows file sharing and commenting with colleagues in different time zones and different parts of the organization. Real time collaboration speeds up innovation as more people can contribute to the end product.
Institutional Knowledge Sharing:
One of the overlooked benefits of online project management software is the ability to tap into the institutional knowledge of an organization. With interactive whiteboards, everyone with software access can solicit feedback from the wider organization. Employees’ knowledge is one the most important and under-utilized assets of an organization. Online project management software can unlock this asset and create value for the organization.