Delivering projects as planned is critical to ensure the continued smooth operation of a business. While there’s often some contingency space allowed into which projects can slip in one aspect or other, getting a project over the line with minimal trouble is easier said then done. Quite aside from the internal factors over which a project manager may have control, external, uncontrollable factors can also come into play.
The successful delivery of a project means accurately estimating, planning and executing it in terms of time, scheduling, costs, staff allocation and resource allocation. Ensuring the quality of outputs must also be managed and adequate documentation of the project must be delivered.
The extent of the management required depends largely on the size and complexity of the project. Small projects may need just a simple approach with minimal documentation. Larger projects, however, can require a full-time dedicated project manager or even a team of project managers for delivery.
To help facilitate the delivery of a project, there are a variety of different project management software tools available. Project management software provides a means of calculating estimates and timings, allocating staff and resources, and providing alerts and notifications of milestones. It also gives an overview of a project and often provides a place for documentation to be uploaded, stored and iterated upon.
Project management software can vary dramatically due to factors like the complexity of project, size of business or industry type for which it is designed. It’s important therefore to have a good understanding of what options are available before making a decision. This article provides an overview of some of the most popular pieces of project management software available.
Basecamp is perhaps the best known piece of project management software. The company was set up in 1999 and it has since grown to be used by over 285,000 companies. Basecamp aims to be simple to use, reliable and provide great customer service. It says that its private ownership helps to contribute towards these goals.
Basecamp provides a means of managing projects and large teams across different organisations. Users can add project members as and when needed, and give them the specific permissions and access that they require. Documents, files, media and links can be uploaded and stored centrally so that all members of the project team can access them and previews of stored files are provided.
Discussions can be held on Basecamp in order to ensure that input is being gained from all members of the project team, and images and videos can be uploaded to contribute to discussions. A built-in calendar and personal dashboard for each user ensure that project team members are kept up-to-date with where the project is at and what comes next.
In addition to its broad functionality, Basecamp offers email support for all users, with priority support for those on more advanced plans. Users can also access their Basecamp project via a browser or smartphone and tablet mobile apps. Amongst its customers, the company boasts Twitter, NASA, DHL and Nike.
Clarizen was founded in 2006 and has grown to become a highly regarded piece of project management software. It has won a host of awards over recent years and boasts Deloitte, Mazda and Ricoh amongst its clients. The name Clarizen is a combination of clarity and zen, which the company says are concepts that are kept central in terms of the design of its products.
Clarizen is an enterprise-class project management solution. It was designed with the aim of creating a more fully integrated solution where conversations and collaborations are more connected with projects and tasks. It is also designed with different roles and departments in an organisation specifically kept in mind.
For project managers, Clarizen aims to deliver project efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. The platform claims to standardise core processes to eliminate work, provide real-time visibility into projects and increase the efficiency of project execution. IT, professional services, development and marketing teams are all said to be catered for with their own sets of benefits.
Amongst Clarizen’s features are the capabilities to track all expenses by employee, department, task or work item, and to create comprehensive implementation roadmaps with due dates, milestones, tasks and interdependencies. It also offers real-time insight into the available resources and their current workloads. Social collaborations and “3D conversation” are aimed at improving intra-project communication.
Clarizen users can make use of phone, email or community support, as well as a library that includes online tutorials, interactive webinars, “victory kits”, white papers and best practice guides. Mobile apps for Android and iOS are also available.
Mavenlink was founded in 2008. According to the company, its software is used by more than 500,000 users in over 100 countries. The firm aims to reinvent the way businesses work using a combination of technology, expertise and support. It says its software “combines advanced project management, resource planning, collaboration, and financial tools.”
Mavenlink’s project management software focuses on three key areas: team collaboration, task management and file-sharing. The platform aims to centralise conversations, activities, tasks and financial information to improve time efficiency. Users are provided with a dashboard that offers an overview of their project and activity streams show what has been happening. A Google Chrome plug-in can be used to turn emails into tasks and assign actions to team members.
Task management is deemed by Mavenlink to be the foundation of collaborative work management software, and it uses drag-and-drop, assignment capabilities and a visual workspace to ensure that tasks can be easily managed. Task time and cost can be tracked, files attached and sub-tasks created.
Mavenlink’s centralised file repository allows users to sort and search through files, view file history and revisions, and link files to tasks. Google Tasks integration is also supported.
Comindware is the baby of the bunch where this article is concerned. It was set up in 2010, but has already won a number of awards. The company says it is fast-growing and that its mission is “to optimise the performance of businesses worldwide through the power of disruptive technologies.”
The Comindware Collaboration and Project Management software is aimed at providing users with easier planning and more efficient execution for projects. The company claims that the software allows users to simplify project planning, keep track of a project’s status in real-time, maximise the use of resources and increase productivity.
According to Comindware, the platform offers automated scheduling and planning functionality, a clear structured and hierarchical view of projects, and the ability to maximise resource usage across multiple projects. Project plans can also be automatically updated based on changes to resource allocation.
Comindware can be used in the cloud and also as an on-premise, installed solution. Mobile apps are available for Android and iOS, meaning users can access their projects from anywhere, and the platform also integrates with Microsoft Outlook.
Wrike was set up in 2006 and boasts Google, PayPal and HTC amongst its clients. It describes its offering as a “real-time platform that blends work management and collaboration.” The platform provides a central place for organising, allocating and tracking a team’s work. Resources and deadlines within an organisation are managed centrally so that colleagues can align themselves accordingly.
Wrike uses simple and familiar project management tools such as Gantt charts and resource planning as its basis and adds useful but simple functionality on top. Wrike also employs simple communication conventions such as @mentions of people to make the platform easy to use. In addition, it integrates with services such as Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox and Outlook. Emails can easily be sent to Wrike and turned into required actions.
Wrike uses a single window to display information about all of a user’s projects. A newsfeed keeps users up-to-date with recent activity and mobile apps mean that the service can be accessed from anywhere. Users can be granted permissions as required and resources can be tracked and reallocated as necessary. Processes can be saved for future use to maximise efficiency.
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