How do you choose the right tools for project management?

If your teams are running projects, you need to make sure they are using the most efficient and effective tools and methods. You need to ensure your teams are approaching and carrying out projects most efficiently, to the best of their abilities, and within budget. Projects can be very costly if they are not properly planned and managed.

Effective project management relies on different types of tools that can facilitate planning, organization, communication, collaboration, tracking, and documentation. But with so many different tools available, how do you know which are the best? Which are an expensive way to do something you could do for free? What tools should you rely on, and which are a ‘nice to have’ option?

If you are new to the project management world, knowing where to start can be difficult. We will investigate some of the collaborative tools available for project management and what you should be looking for to improve your project teams’ efficiency.

Why can it be difficult to choose project management tools?

There are several factors that make choosing project management tools difficult.

1. Diverse tools are available

Project management is a huge subject. There are many methodologies and ways of approaching the same thing. There are also many players in the market so it can be hard to compare like with like or understand what your organization needs. Each project management toolkit will come with its own features, strengths, and weaknesses.

2. Project requirements vary

Projects vary in terms of size, complexity, industry, and team structure. Some methods are better suited to certain projects: what works for one project may not work for another. It can be challenging to find a tool that caters to a project's unique requirements and supports your preferred approach.

3. Budgets need to be considered

Project management tools vary hugely in price, and they can be incredibly expensive. Some have free versions with limited features, and paid versions will be available for subscriptions that can involve substantial costs. You need to think about your budget and balance it against your desired functionality and the value your tools offer. This can make the decision-making process quite difficult.

4. Integration and compatibility need to be seamless

You are likely to need to integrate your project management tools with other software and systems that your organization uses on an everyday basis. For example, communication tools, document management systems, and time tracking software will all need to work perfectly with the systems you are already running. Ensuring compatibility and seamless data flow between tools can be a complex task.

5. Training may be required

Introducing a new project management tool can take time and effort. You might need to train your project team members in the most efficient and effective ways to use a new tool. People are often resistant to change and if a tool is overly complex or is not particularly user-friendly, they may take time to adopt it. This can then make your project less efficient.

6. Tools may need to be scalable and flexible

As organizations and their projects evolve and grow, their requirements change. It is essential that you look at tools that will be able to scale according to your project's needs. They should also be able to accommodate any future changes. They may need to be flexible in terms of customization, new integrations, and adaptability to different project management methods.

7. Support and update availability

Project management tools should have adequate technical support and regular updates. If the tool you choose is not actively maintained and any bugs that crop up are not quickly addressed, you could end up with something you cannot use. This could lead to problems and even threaten your project, so support needs to be readily available in case of any issues or questions.

Popular project management tools today

Task management tools 

They help you organize, assign, and track your tasks. You can create task lists, set due dates, assign responsibilities, and monitor progress. 

Communication and collaboration platforms 

These tools give you a centralized hub with functionalities like chat, file sharing, and workspaces for collaborating. They facilitate real-time communication and ensure that everything relating to a specific project is kept in one place. 

Document management systems 

They offer centralized storage for project-related documents, files, and templates. This can provide version control so there is no confusion over which version of a document you should be using, provide access permissions, and collaboration features so you can manage the documents related to a project more efficiently. 

Virtual meeting and video conferencing tools 

These tools facilitate remote team collaboration. With many teams working remotely or on a hybrid basis, projects can benefit from online meetings, workshops, and presentations. Meetings can be done ‘face-to-face’ and offer screen sharing and recording capabilities.

Time tracking tools 

They will help with tracking the time spent on project tasks and activities. This can provide insights into resource allocation and productivity analysis. They can also be used for billing purposes. 

Risk management tools 

These tools will help project managers and their teams identify and assess the risks relating to a project, helping to address and mitigate project risk earlier. 

Resource management tools 

They help with allocating and managing project resources. They can give you visibility into the resources available, as well as skill sets and workload. This can help to optimize resource allocation and balance project demands. 

Reporting and analytics tools 

These tools enable data visualization, reporting, and analysis. They can help project managers to track key performance indicators (KPIs), generate reports, and gain insights into project performance.

Gantt chart tools 

They help visualize project schedules, dependencies, and milestones. These tools enable project managers to plan, track progress, and adjust timelines based on task dependencies and other criteria. 

Agile project management tools 

These tools provide features that are tailored to agile project management methodologies. They facilitate iterative planning, sprint tracking, and team collaboration. 

Online whiteboard tools 

Online whiteboards have multiple uses and can help support and simplify many elements of the project management process mentioned above. They are particularly useful for their visual management features, enabling visual project tracking.

How can you choose project management tools?

The choice of tools will depend on your project's size, complexity, and budget, as well as the way your organization prefers to work. It is important to select tools that align with your project management methods, can improve efficiency, and will promote teamwork and collaboration among your project team members.

What are the requirements for your project?

Firstly, you need to understand what a project's specific needs, requirements, and objectives are. You will need to consider factors such as how large the project is, as well as its likely complexity and duration. You should also think about the size of the team and how they will need to collaborate. Determine what essential features and functionalities your project management tool should have to support these requirements effectively.

What project management methods will you use?

Some project management tools are better suited for specific methodologies. 

Agile project management, for example, is an iterative and flexible approach to project management. It focuses on iterative, adaptive, and collaborative processes. It originated in software development but can be applied to various industries and project types. 

Agile projects tend to be divided into small iterations or time frames called sprints and this enables flexibility and adaptability as things change. It requires a collaborative approach and teamwork and includes frameworks and methodologies like Scrum and Kanban.

Waterfall projects, on the other hand, take a more traditional approach to project management. They are characterized by a linear progression of project phases, with each phase being completed before the next one begins. The term ‘waterfall’ is used to describe the flow of work from one phase to another, just like a waterfall cascades down. There is a lot of emphasis on planning and documentation.

Is the project management tool easy to use?

Tools that are user friendly and intuitive are more likely to be used effectively and efficiently. If they are easy to navigate and do not require extensive training and complicated techniques, they will be more quickly adopted. 

The project management tool you choose should offer adequate training resources and support to help users quickly adapt to it.

What collaborative and communication tools do you need?

Your teams may work together in the same workspace, or they may be based remotely. A lot of work is likely to be done on a hybrid basis even if your teams work together in person much of the time. 

A good project management tool will have strong communication features and should support real-time communication, document sharing, and seamless collaboration among team members.

What level of scalability and customization will you need?

When you choose a project management tool you should consider how much you might need it to scale with your projects and teams as they grow. Project management tools that allow advanced customization can be more easily adapted to your specific workflows and project requirements.

How will your project management tool be integrated with other systems?

Seamless integration can streamline processes and improve efficiency. However, choosing the wrong tool can have the opposite effect. If you have complicated systems that your tool will need to be integrated into, make sure your collaborative tools support this.

What is your budget for a project management tool?

Project management tools should be assessed on the value they will bring to your projects and how they will be used. Can the cost be justified by the features it offers, and what sort of budget do you have available for it?  

One tool for all your projects?

As we know, within each aspect of project management there are many tools to choose between. Whether it is document management, a time-tracking tool, or videoconferencing provider, there are many things to consider and decisions to be made. 

Finding a tool that can cover most, if not all, of the functionalities you need to manage your projects and support the various project management methods your teams are using will make their lives easier.

An online whiteboard provides a centralized hub for all the information relating to a project, as well as a collaborative space where teams can generate ideas, brainstorm solutions, and visualize concepts. Project teams can explore ideas and capture and organize them in one easily accessible place

A visual whiteboard can be used to define a project’s scope and its objectives, outline deliverables, and create a visual representation of the project's structure. Teams can more easily establish a clear understanding of a project and visually identify key milestones and its workflow.

Online whiteboards can improve efficiency, by helping teams break down project tasks into smaller, more manageable components. They can be used to organize, assign, and track tasks, responsibilities, deadlines, and progress.

Project teams can create Gantt charts and Kanban boards with readymade templates, for example, giving them a visual and interactive platform for managing and visualizing a project's workflow more efficiently. Brainstorming ideas to come up with innovative solutions is a useful way to move a project forward, and online whiteboards are particularly well adapted to this technique.

Team members can collaborate in real-time, regardless of their physical location. This enables effective communication, idea sharing, and instant feedback. This can enhance team collaboration, engagement, and bonding.

Project management tools your teams will love

Here at Klaxoon we have all the tools you could need to help your teams become more efficient and effective with their project management. Online whiteboards help drive creativity and innovation, as well as increasing engagement and productivity. They can be used with numerous project management methods and techniques, and we have readymade templates for all sorts of approaches and applications.

Our visual management tools are useful for all project management teams. They help promote teamwork, efficiency, and more effective collaboration, regardless of the sector, industry, or business requirement. Why not check out our resources to see how our collaborative tools and templates can help your business work better?

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