If you were looking for great project management software anytime before 2001, odds are you’d end up with your only option which was good old faithful, Microsoft Project for making Gantt charts and resource planning. But in the days of Cloud based software, your options for finding some great project management software tools in the cloud — you’ve got some really fantastic options.
It’s not just about creating fancy and sexy Gantt charts, but by using one of the many online cloud based options, you can better collaborate with teams in and out of your office.
What does Project Management Software Perform
A project manager is only as effective as the Project Management Software (or tools) they use to get the job done. While it is possible that even the best project manager can still coordinate tasks, build project plans and communicate effectively without them — they are putting themselves at an enormous disadvantage by doing so. To get an understanding of what project management software does, here is a quick list of what it should accomplish.
A very typical task is to schedule a series of events, and the difficulty of this can change depending on how the project management tool is used. Some common challenges are:
Events which depend on each other in different ways
Scheduling people to work on, and resources required by, the various tasks commonly termed resource scheduling
Arranging tasks to meet various deadlines
Dealing with uncertainties in the ETA’s of the duration of each task
Managing multiple projects simultaneously to meet a variety of requirements
- Calculating critical path
In many complex schedules, there will be a critical path, or series of events that depend on each other, and whose durations directly determine the length of the whole project (see also critical chain). Some software applications (for example, Dependency Structure Matrix solutions) can highlight these tasks, which are often a good candidate for any optimization effort. Providing information Project planning software needs to provide a lot of information to various people, to justify the time spent using it. Typical requirements might include:
Tasks lists for people, and allocation schedules for resources
Overview information on how long tasks will take to complete
Early warning of any risks to the project
Information on workload, for planning holidays
Historical information on how projects have progressed, and in particular, how actual and planned performance are related.
Why Use Project Management Software
Using Project Management Software doesn’t guarantee someone to be a great project manager. A great project manager has a combination of great people skills, technical skills, time management skills and problem-solving skills. While a great project manager can get the job done without this software, using project management software will definitely increase their efficiency. I will go out on a limb and say that using project management software will do the following.
Project Management software will enhance communication (via gantt/pert/project charts)
Project Management software will keep the project better aligned and organized
Project Management software will improve the efficiency in defining scope
Some Great Project Management Software Tools
A great link for looking at various tools on the market can be found here. While there are probably hundreds of software products on the market, the top two products in the market today are Microsoft Project and Niku/Clarity. If you are looking for a single-user application that doesn’t require multiple people to manage, using Microsoft Project is probably the best project management software product for your money.
Integrating Project Management Software with Requirements Management Software Tools
A very critical component of project management is Requirements Management. The first phase of any project is Definition and Analysis. That’s why it’s crucial that a project management tool be utilized in conjunction with a requirements management platform that facilitates the gathering of requirements and producing very necessary analysis and vision documentation.
Most requirements management platforms provide the capability to group your requirements into high-level packages which can be used as components that are directly used in the WBS (work breakdown structure) that is the foundation of the project plan.