The project management revolution started a few years back, with Basecamp. Many people swore that it would be just a fad. However, the revolution continued and today we are in a world with many, many project management systems which offer endless features and advancements. Today, Basecamp (especially in its new, rewritten version) tends to pale when compared to its many competitors which are quickly grabbing huge chinks of the project management software market.
All these competitors tend to offer a lot of features — and, obviously, a lot of them overlap. When choosing which system to use, it’s easy to get quickly lost with so many offerings. If you are looking for your perfect project management system, you will probably soon feel lost. You can more about Project management system by Clicking Here.
So, what are the features that everybody has, and (more importantly) the features that differentiate each product?
What (nearly) every product has
- Tasks. Every single project management system out there has the concept of tasks: they are the backbone of every project. In fact, it can be said that any project management system is a glorified, shared TODO list where each task can be assigned to a person.
- Projects. Again, every project management system allows you to create “projects”, and assign one or more tasks to these projects. Users will generally be given access to specific projects.
- Multiple users. Having a project management system that lives online basically implies that it can, and should, be a multi-user system. Every single project management system out there will have the concept of “user”, and the ability to grant access to the project to different users.
- Email integration. Email integration is an absolute standard in project management systems. Pretty much every system will have a degree of email integration, where the most basic (and also most important) level is when users are able to reply to an email in order to add a comment to a task, without having to login.
- File uploads. Again, every single system out there will allow you to upload files to the system, and attach them to projects and tasks.
- SSL. Every program out there will allow you to connect using SSL. You should avoid using any system that doesn’t, since any information (private or not) you exchange will travel unencrypted (and therefore readable) on the network. (And information travels a long way when it does).
- Data export. Every system out there allows you to export your data in a meaningful format.
- API. Not every system out there provides an API to access the system without using a GUI. If project management systems don’t provide an API, it means that you won’t be able to access your data except than using the provided GUI. Having an API also tells you that the software is solidly written.
- Integration with other software. This is the ability of your software to access other software’s API and integrate with them. For example, a project management system could give you the option to interface with Freshbooks and create an invoice automatically for all the time entries that are marked as “not billed” — and obviously mark them as billed.
- Recurrent tasks. Recurrent tasks are only offered by some project management software. Their availability is not crucial for your work. In fact, a project should be seen as an atomic bunch of tasks, and having recurring tasks might break the basic concepts behind them.
- One page applications (no page reload, desktop feel). Modern applications use AJAX extensively. The aim is not to get the user to wait for a full page reload every time a TODO item is added, for example. The more AJAX the application uses, the better. The very top is with one-page applications, where reloading never happens.
- Task dependency. Not every product out there allows task dependencies. Task dependencies can be tricky to have, in terms of UI; however, they do have a lot of potential..
- GANTT chart. If a program have task dependencies and task duration estimates, it will also be able to generate GANTT charts, which will give you an overview on your project’s development.
- CRM. Most project management systems don’t provide CRM features (Customer Relationship Management); however, CRM features can be very useful, especially in terms of project management.
- Multiple users for a task. Most systems don’t allow more than one person assigned to a task. This means that each task can only be assigned to a single worker. Having two or more people assigned to a task might seem like a great feature; however, in some cases it’s best to have only one person assigned to one task, as it’s possible to “bounce” that tasks amongst users who are meant to be working on it. Go to http://www.sixsigmais.com/how-project-management-can-be-like-playing-cards/ to know that how can project management be like playing cards.
- Permissions. Permission models vary wildly between programs. Make sure you check what the permission abilities of the programs you pick, and keep in mind that “simple is good”. Having a permission model that is too complicated tends to lead to more bugs ad management issues.
- Time Management. While time management is supported by most software out there, implementations vary wildly. Features like interactive timers, billable/billed flags for time entries, and integration with invoicing software are all features that might become deal breakers for you.
Seeing is believe it
Deciding which project management system to use is tricky at best. Deciding the feature set you need to have for each one is a path that you might not want to take, as you might end up excluding every single project management system.
In order to chose the best project management system is to:
- Do your research, and have a nice shortlist
- Try briefly each one, to check if you “click” with them
- Pick three projects management systems, and actually use them for small projects. This will obviously need to be an internal project; however, it’s the best way to figure out if a product actually works for you.
Also, remember to take your time and give yourself (and your company) time to make the perfect decision for you.