I think every project manager started with spreadsheets, then usually comes the era of MS Project until you realize that you need much more. If you start looking for the project management solution there are some must-have criteria you should keep in mind: it should be web-based, intuitive and flexible. Only online software provides you with the real-time collaboration capabilities and possibility to stay up-to-date with the project progress.
As for the price, there are many free options, just google “free management software”, but IMHO it’s a bad idea to stick to one of these free solutions. First of all they offer quite a limited feature set (usually no Gantt charts, reports etc.) They may seem OK for a while but as the number of your projects grows, limitations become quite obvious. By the moment you decide to switch to a more robust solution, you’ll already have loads of tasks and schedules in the system and it’ll take you too much time to transfer all this data to a new tool.
So my advice will be to spend some time on testing different paid solutions and choosing the one that suits you best and helps you in dealing with your current project management challenges
When I started looking for a PM tool, I had two main challenges: how to efficiently manage multiple projects and how to keep my distributed team members on the same page. I tested dozens of solutions and chose Wrike (www.wrike.com). First of all it allowed me to easily juggle several projects at once: I can see all my projects on one screen, track updates in Activity stream, adjust team’s schedules and view projects schedules on the Gantt chart. Wrike is also extremely useful in synchronizing my team’s work as they discuss tasks and see task updates in real time.
That’s said, spare neither time nor efforts to analyze your current challenges and PM apps on the market.
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