We’ve all been there. You're assigned a huge project and just the thought of it makes you want to run and hide under the covers. But in reality, we’re not running from the work, we’re running from getting started. We don’t know where to begin and can only see the project as one huge overwhelming hole. A good project management app will help you break a project down into digestible mouth fulls, making it easier to get started.
Now this is easier said than done, but an easy to use project management application makes it easier to get started by making it easier to get organized. Project management software helps you organize, schedule, plan, and get going one step at a time. And the data entry is much easier than creating spreadsheets, copying and pasting updates, and searching for emails.
For me, when things are organized and efficient, I am more motivated to get started. Here is a list of a few ways project management software can increase efficiency.
A successful project manager needs to delegate tasks to the team. All projects need a schedule, and tasks need to be assigned to team members. How do you determine whom to assign tasks too and who has extra capacity?
Software can help you:
- Take a look at who worked on the job in the past
- Take a look at workloads and capacity using calendars and reports
- Duplicate an old job to get started on a new one
- Use charts and dashboards to monitor progress
Schedules are every project managers bread and butter. Create a schedule, assign tasks to team members, then monitor progress. Schedules allow you to assign due dates for tasks, monitor deadlines, and keep everyone in the loop about project progress.
It used to be hard to create a schedule that could be shared with the entire team. Shared Outlook calendars don’t allow you to mark tasks done, add a note, or even assign the task to a specific person. Tasks are the backbone of the project and therefore need to be interactive elements within your workflow. When you breakdown the job into tasks on a schedule and set realistic deadlines, team members can then tackle the job one bite at a time. And you can hold them accountable as well.
A project management application is a tremendous tool for scheduling jobs because it allows you to:
- Use templates to create schedules quickly
- Monitor team workload with calendars, charts, and reports
- View the schedule data in different formats
- Provide a simple means for team members to quickly mark tasks done
- Create notifications to let you know when things are past due
- Use Home Pages to get a quick look at what is due
Project Managers are usually excellent communicators. However, communication can also take up a huge amount of time. There seems to be an endless stream of meetings, emails, and phone calls that all seem to drain the productivity out of your day, but the team still needs to talk and communicate. You need to update clients, answer questions from management, remind team members to get things done, build and share status reports… You know the drill. The list goes on and on.Imagine how much time could be freed up if you could communicate faster. Or better yet what if some communications were automated. What if your boss didn’t need to call you to get that update? Or what if the Designer received an email reminding them of tasks that are past due?
Software can do all of this and more:
- Use a social media tool to capture communication in one place
- Automate communication activities like task due notifications
- Use Home Pages to tell people when things are done
- Use reports to look at the status of projects
- Team members update jobs themselves, so the data is there for everyone to see
4. Data and TrackingCrunching the numbers is critical to understanding team performance. Timesheets, budgets, schedules, and task data all have the potential to uncover opportunities to improve efficiency, but the numbers need to be presented in a manner that is meaningful. The best thing to do is set some goals and then monitor the data to keep track of progress. How often are jobs completed on time? Are you within the budget? How many revisions are needed to complete the average job? Then use reports to provide different ways of looking at the data and help gain insight. Which customers take up the most time? Which jobs take the most time? Are certain customer’s jobs late more often than others?
Software can help monitor metrics that will help answer these questions:
- Metrics help monitor data
- Dashboards help visualize date
- Reports help look at the data in different ways
- Live updates mean the tools above are always up to date
5. PlanningProject management software helps you to plan ahead and organize your workflow. Calendars help you plan work. Look for space on the schedule, analyze staff workloads, and look ahead at what will be due in the near future. A project management tool designed for creative teams will help you present your job data on different calendars that make sense to creative teams.
Look for the following:
- Calendars that show jobs with start dates and due dates
- Color coding for easy viewing
- Filters that allow you to show jobs for a Campaign or Client
- Task calendars that show task data
- Filters that allow you to show tasks for a job, a team member, or even a client
Software can provide tools to help you plan ahead. Calendars, reports, and dashboards all provide different way to look at your project data. Calendars and gantt charts are especially helpful when looking ahead.
Software can make a well designed workflow even better. It will help organize the team, save time, improve collaboration, and identify opportunities for improvement. It will help you set up schedules and assign due dates to keep track of progress. The team will be able to see how the different parts of the project fit together. You can analyze your data to set more accurate deadlines, reduce costs, and manage the team.
There are lots of options when it comes to project management software, but look for an app you can customize and something that is designed for creative teams. You need to be able to implement your workflow, monitor your metrics, and slice and dice the data the way you need too. If the software forces you to change your workflow, your team may not use it and you may waste time and money implementing it. If you get the right fit the app will become the backbone of your department. The team won’t be able to live without it!
Looking for more reasons to use project management software? Download our cost benefit analysis to see how saving time with project management software means saving money. And lots of it.