Research, Tools, Templates

The right project management software (software 2/3)

In my previous article on project management software, we looked at general software that plays an important role in everyday working life.

As already pointed out, the programs are very different and the software considered so far is not project-specific software but rather general office software, as it is found on almost every computer.

First things first – what is project management software?

'Project management software' refers to software products that support project management processes, and can be further sub-divided into the following types:

  • Planning software that is used for example for the development of network plans, bar charts, project structure plans, lists of requirements, and many more.
  • Resource (employees, machines, rooms, etc.) management software is used to assign tasks, monitor workload, monitor availability, and much more.
  • Controlling software for the recording of expenses, monitoring the project budget, monitoring the project progress, etc.
  • Software solutions for special project management tasks such as configuration management, quality management, risk management, to name only a few.
  • Document management systems for managing and archiving project documentation.
  • Collaboration tools (see below) for project communication and supporting project management processes, e.g. by mapping workflows or Kanban boards
  • Software for project, program, and portfolio management.
  • Standard office software (word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and possibly database management)
  • Telecommunications software (email clients, browsers, video conferencing, etc.)

In my first article, I gave a broad overview. In this article, I would like to discuss some more specific programs that are often attributed to project management. These are collaboration tools that are often used online. They influence our previous working methods and support teamwork.

In my third article, I will then introduce you to software such as Microsoft Projects and Oracle Primavera P6.

Online collaboration tools

Online collaboration tools have become very popular in recent years and have certainly gained importance during the last couple of months due to the need to work remotely. The list seems to get longer almost every day. I will initially limit the article to only 5 tools that I know of. However, there are many more and I will add more products as time goes on.

I will deliberately not make a ranking because this depends on how the priorities are set in the respective project. While the presence of a certain function in a project may be of great importance, this may play a subordinate role for another project under certain circumstances. I am therefore arranging the programs in alphabetical order. For the same reason, I do not list pros and cons because the way one looks at them can be very individual.

If a certain software is missing here, this should not be interpreted negatively in any way, but I am simply not that advanced. You could, however, help me by sending me an email and introducing your program. I will get in touch.

Calendar Milestones Dashboards Notifications Time tracking Open API* JIRA Integration** Google Drive Integration Dropbox Integration Discussion Where to get it
Confluence Link
Planio Link
Slack Link
Trello Link
Wrike Link
* APIs are sets of requirements that govern how one application can communicate and interact with another.
** JIRA is used for bug tracking, issue tracking, and project management.

At first only a very short list of the available products is shown above. There are many many more and I will try to extend the list soon.

How to find the right project management tool

The compilation of possible requirements and their characteristics is the first step in making a pre-selection of products. You quickly discover that, on the one hand, a large range of functions also means high costs and, on the other hand, even with very similar performance features, two products can have very different prices. To be able to make a qualified purchase decision, one must therefore carry out careful cost-benefit analysis. Since the selection of the right software is a very subjective criterion, I am holding back with an evaluation. Functions that may be important to me maybe totally superfluous for you. However, one thing is important to note. In addition to all the functionality, user-friendliness is not to be underestimated. If the software is too complicated and the users get the feeling that the new software is rather complicating and slowing down the work steps, then there will be no buy-in on the part of the users and the software can very quickly degenerate into a bad investment.

You have to find out for yourself, your team, and your project which functions are necessary, important, or rather unimportant. If the right product is carefully selected, the use of collaboration tools can offer great advantages for the project and can improve:

  • Transparency, and project status and progress overview,
  • Optimization of resource utilization,
  • Cost control,
  • Improved collaboration and communication,
  • Improved work efficiency resulting in faster project implementation.

Last but not least

You should also consider the possibility of interfacing the software with existing programs. If you have working tools that adequately serve a certain area, why buy additional software with exactly this function? It is better to first use the existing programs to their full extent and then to see how both can be combined. However, caution is advised here too. If an IT specialist needs to interface the two and keep them running, this can quickly turn out to be expensive. Thoroughly consider and analyze the costs and expected benefits.

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