10 Important Things to Look for in a Project Management Tool
Read time: 9 minutes
I’ve met many creative agency project managers in my day, and no two have been quite alike. They have been formally trained, and landed in the role through a series of circumstances. They have wanted to know what their team is up to at all times, and been almost completely hands off — until a due date is on the horizon.
What they did share though, was a need for the project management software they use to actually help, and not hinder their day-to-day work.
A Project management platform is an indispensable part of the modern workplace. As organizations increasingly rely on teams to complete projects, they need effective tools to manage teams and tasks. A good project management tool can help teams stay organized, track progress, and collaborate effectively.
In this article, we will explore some requirements to consider when choosing a project management software. Whether you’re a small startup or a large corporation, finding the right project management suite can make a significant difference in your team’s output and project accomplishment. Now let’s dive in.
10 Things to Look For in a Workflow Management Software:
1. Cover Your Bases With Cloud-Based
The first thing you need to ensure is that the software is available online and preferably designed as Software as a Service (SaaS). This will spare you from installation issues, hefty licensing fees, and the pain of work-disrupting upgrades. You are also more likely to be able to work from any computer or get mobile access via a Progressive Web App (PWA), so you can manage your projects on the go. It is the advantage of a cloud-based system: you can manage your projects anytime and anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection.
2. Project Management Flexibility
Investigate the product to be sure it can bend to either an agile and waterfall methodology. Although most project managers I know see waterfall as an old-fashioned way to do things, better not to be locked into any workflow. Instead, make sure you have the flexibility to switch between different methodologies. Different projects may require different workflows, but the winning system should be able to handle any process you need, whether it is agile, waterfall, or hybrid. Search for a tool that allows customization to match your project needs, including configurable workflows, templates, task lists, and more.
3. Scalability is Key
Scalability is a key thing to consider when purchasing project management software.
Sure, you may be a small creative agency with 3 big clients now, but can this product handle things if you suddenly rise in popularity? Better to have a highly scalable product than one which cannot grow with you. You’d want a system that can handle a large number of users in case you expand the business. This scalability is crucial, especially when it comes to the variety of protocols, data storage, and processing power.
4. Get as Much Out as You Put In
Will you be able to get the information out once you put it in? A product that offers you plenty of reporting options will be of absolute benefit down the road. Without reporting, how else can you show the need for more staff or the above-and-beyond hours team members have put in?
Reporting is essential for effective project management. It allows you to identify trends, track progress, timelines, and budget to gain insights. The workflow management platform should support you in generating custom reports to draw necessary data and make informed decisions.
5. Have as Much Control as You Need
Another trait all project managers (that I have met anyway) share is the desire for control. Look for a product that will allow for control of the project, as well as project team members, internal and external communication records, files and scheduling of work. The best workflow management system should provide the control and visibility you need to oversee your projects effectively. The more you feel you have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening, the less need for panic, scrambling, and all those other feelings one is better off avoiding!
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6. Browser Compatibility
Although it makes me shake my head, there are still plenty of people who are IE fanboys, and prefer a Windows environment. Different team members may prefer different browsers or operating systems. Look for a product that will work just as well in any browser and at least on Mac and PC operating systems. Select a software solution that offers cross-device and cross-browser compatibility to enhance flexibility for your team. This enables all members to stay connected and up-to-date on project progress, whether they work remotely or on the go.
7. It’s Impressive Inside and Out
So the project management product you have your eye on today sure looks bright and shiny on the company site, but you need to see beyond the aesthetics. What is there for you and your team behind the scenes? Will the vendor offer training? Is there a support team? What kind of charges might be hidden for these services? And does up-to-date documentation exist so that self-learning is an option? Find a project management tool that offers customer support, such as live chat, email, or phone support, to help you troubleshoot any issues that arise.
8. Make Sure Workflows Flow
Select a project management solution that can adapt to your specific needs, regardless of the type of project you’re working on. For example, perhaps your company is best known for web designs right now, but the project management tool you select should not only be suitable for certain kinds of incoming work. Be sure the built-in workflow is flexible enough to handle everything from small print projects to larger-scale re-branding campaigns. With a powerful product that can handle various project types and stages, you can rest assured that the software can keep up with your company’s growth and adapt to your changing needs.
9. One Place For Projects and New Business
It can be time-consuming to manage multiple tools and applications for different aspects of your business. Having everything you use on a day-to-day basis in one place will give you an increased ROI. Choose a project management software that can handle staff timesheets, the business development prospecting cycle as well as your job files and budgets….and beyond. The more of a one-stop-show it is, the more likely you are to use it. The software should facilitate collaboration and enable team members to work together in real-time, share information, and communicate effortlessly. Check for features like shared calendars, task assignments, comments, notifications, and document management and sharing.
10. It Should Simplify Your Process, Not Add Noise
Any project manager worth their salt will have multiple projects going at any time, all at different stages of completion. The project tracking application of a product will need to be able to keep things clear and organized, and allow you to move seamlessly between your clients, projects, jobs and expenses, and always know where you are within the system. By utilizing a program that simplifies your workflow, you’ll be able to increase your productivity, improve team collaboration, and keep everything in check.
How to choose the right project management software for your agency
The right project management system plays a significant role in successful project delivery, streamlined communication, and resource management. Here are some requirements to consider when choosing project management software for your agency:
1. Your needs and requirements
First, identify the specific needs of your agency. Are you a small team or a large organization? What are your primary areas of focus? Do you need to manage client relationships, staff timesheets, or business development activities? By clearly understanding your specific needs, you can narrow down your options and focus on the shortlisted products that can be tailored to your industry and requirements.
2. User-friendly interface
Next, evaluate the user interface and ease of use. Project management solutions should be intuitive, with a clean and organized layout that makes it easy to navigate. This allows new staff to pick it up quickly and get used to it. Since a complicated or cluttered interface can cause frustration and slow down your process, it’s best to get a trial of the software before making a decision.
3. Integration ability
Another important factor is integration with other tools and applications. Your workflow management system should work seamlessly with your existing tools, such as CRM software, accounting software, and marketing automation tools. Hence, you can ensure smooth coordination between all business facets and prevent any interruption in performance.
Security is also a critical consideration. Look for software that includes robust security features such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and role-based access controls. This will make sure your data is secure and protected from unauthorized access.
5. Cost and value of the software
Lastly, consider the cost and value of the software. Project management products can range from free to expensive, so pick one that fits your budget while delivering the features and functionality you need. Think about the long-term value of the software and how it will contribute to the growth and success of your agency.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can choose the right project management software that meets your agency’s needs and helps you streamline your workflow, enhance collaboration, and boost efficiency.
If you’re in a market for a project management system, be sure to check out Function Point, an all-in-one workflow and productivity tool for creative agencies. It offers you everything you need to control projects, allocate resources, monitor progress, collaborate with colleagues, manage client data, and consolidate feedback, while integrating with popular financial software like Quickbooks.
Book a personalized demo with one of our experts to determine whether it’s the right fit for you and your team.