Project Management Software Features are the building blocks of your software needs. In our previous article Project Management Software, we discussed the important questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a software solution. Here we will look at some of the features on offer in popular project management software and get you to ask yourself some questions.
- scheduling – central to every project. Do you want to be able to set and manage timelines for the project tasks or phases and be able to communicate these to stakeholders? Gantt charts offer an easy time based view of the progress of the project and individual tasks. They also let you compare estimated and actual progress.
- collaboration – do you want to allow more than one team member to update the project information in a central location? Is it important for team members to view the status of work items and the overall project progress? File sharing is also important in collaboration. Do team members have access to the latest specifications and documents through a cloud system, your file servers or must the project management software provide this feature?
- budgeting – track how many hours are being worked for each task, record money spent on materials or services. Cost estimations often need to be revised as a project proceeds and being able to automatically calculate the latest hours worked, based on rates for different people is a huge time saver
- issue tracking – once testing is underway, effective tracking and resolution of issues can move a project to a much faster conclusion. Knowing the status, progress and ownership of each issue can help immensely when a few people are needed to resolve it.
- resource management – how important is it to know who is working on each task, phase or feature? Do you need to move resources into more problematic areas or onto tasks that are running behind. How much capacity do your resources have?
- workflow – often project tasks have to be worked on by multiple people in a sequence for example a designer, a programmer, then a tester. Workflow features help you and the team manage who is working on what for how long. Always knowing what tasks you have and when they should start and finish, helps move things along more efficiently. Workflow is one the most important project management software features.
- messaging and email – some software can generate automated emails and messages for workflow and general communication. Messages can be tracked so you know what messages were sent to whom. On projects with high frequency communication, this feature can help contain the noise and separate the project from your normal email activity.
- time sheets and invoicing – time sheets can report actual time worked by each team member. This impacts actual project budget. Some software solutions can generate and track invoices based on staff hours and rates.
- dashboards and reporting – large projects can place significant demands on the project manager to produce visual views and reports that sum up project progress. Being able to generate and distribute reports from inside the project management software saves time and improves accuracy.
In deciding what project management software features are most important, you must look carefully at your projects, your organisation and the project management methodology you are using.
A software solution will rarely do everything well, so decide on your most important features then find some other lightweight software to manage what your main solution does not provide.