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Project Management Software: How to Find the Perfect PM Tool
Tips and information about project management software

The term "project management software" includes a wide range of software solutions that support project managers, executives and team members in their project management work. The spectrum ranges from simple task lists to comprehensive project management suites designed to plan and manage large project portfolios. Standard office software can also support project teams, e.g. many use spreadsheet programs for time tracking or project controlling. 

Learn in this article what project management software is, how to find the best project software solution for you and your team, what benefits a full-featured project tool has and what advantages a integrated solution offers. 

Content

  1. What is project management software?
  2. Why do you need a project management software?
  3. How to find the best project management software?
  4. What are the benefits of a full-featured project solution?
  5. What are the advantages of the integrated project software InLoox?

1. What is project management software? 

The umbrella-term project management software comprises any software category that is used by executives, project managers and team members to support them in the planning, execution, reporting and documentation of projects.

Some software products only cover certain parts of what project management entails, like time scheduling. There are also software solutions that combine all tasks that are relevant to project management. The following list gives an overview of the different types of programs that are generally subsumed under this software category:

  • Planning Software (Time planning and scheduling, incl. solutions that feature Gantt-charts and diagrams for visualizing project schedules)
  • Resouce Management Software (For planning and balancing of project resource capacities, often as part of an Enterprise Resource Planning-system (ERP))
  • Project Portfolio Management Software (PPM; Used to identify projects that have positive effects on the corporate value)
  • Controlling and Accounting Software (For project budgeting, reporting and accounting)
  • Document Management Systems (DMS)
  • Task Management Software
  • Communication Software for teams

There are solutions in the market, that combine several or even all of the above mentioned features and aspects of project management in one single tool. They are what would be considered full-feature software solutions.

2. Why do you need a project management software? 

Introducing a tool is often considered unnecessary and too time-consuming. After all, it has worked without one so far, so why introduce another software that might not be used by the employees?
The more complex and demanding projects become and the more team members and project stakeholders are involved, the more difficult it is to keep track. This is where a project tool helps you master these challenges in your project work:

Better project management

A project management software supports project managers and project teams in the entire project life cycle and in all areas of the field:

  • Project planning: Project tools help you track project costs, returns and deadlines - this makes planning and coordinating much easier. 
  • Task management: Organize personal and project tasks and stay agile with virtual Kanban borads - so team members always know what to do and when.
  • Document management: Create new documents and interlink existing ones in a virtual project space - staying organized becomes effortless. 
  • Resource management: Track real-time capacity utilization in your teams and departments - so you can identify bottlenecks in time and optimize the workload distribution. 

Better communication & coordination

The increased complexity means that communication and coordination gets more and more difficult as well. A manual distribution of the most important information carries a high error risk: information is lost because it was forwarded by email or phone, the information went to the wrong person or the person who needs the information did not receive it. A project tool can automate such processes and consolidates all relevant project information in one place. Team members no longer have to laboriously gather the information.

Save time and get a better overview

In today's world, companies are under enormous pressure to innovate to stay competitive. New products have to be launched in ever shorter intervals, while at the same time costs have to be kept as low as possible. This means that every additional day in a project also means additional costs. For project managers, this means that adherence to schedules has the highest priority. A project management solution can help companies deliver their projects on time. The fact that certain processes can be automated with project software saves a great deal of coordination and administrative effort. Project staff always know exactly who has to do what when and by when. This provides much greater transparency and avoids the scenario where several resources do the same tasks. Project tools can also display budget and time alerts so that project managers can take timely action to counteract possible budget overruns and other unforeseen events. 

3. How to find the best project management software? 

There is an abundance of project tools in the market, making the process to find the right software for your needs a little project in itself. Everyone who did only a quick online search might very well have felt a little overwhelmed at the wide range of solutions offered by various providers. With so many options available, how do you pick the one project software that best serves your and your project team's needs? Keep in mind, all throughout the decision making process, whichever tool you pick, it should be evaluated against whether or not it has the potential to help your team collaborate more efficiently. We compiled a step-by-step guide that helps you choosing the solution that best supports you and your team on the way to successful project delivery. 

1. Determine the Status Quo

How to find the best project management software | Step 1: Analyze status quo

Before researching project management tools, you should first define the current situation of project management in your company. Main questions to answer in this context are: How are projects currently being planned and managed? What business processes does project management currently entail and which ones should be improved for better delivery results and increased business productivity? Which aspects of the project management process should in the future be software supported?

2. Conduct a User Survey

How to find the best project management software | Step 2: Conduct user survey

In order to find out what kind of support your team(s) needs most, it's best to ask those who are currently involved in projects. You should ask the future users of project management software to tell you about current challenges they face and describe cases from their project-based work. You want their backing for this undertaking from the start this will make the following implementation process far easier. Those responsible for selecting a software solution should then define a list of feature requirements based on the survey results. Experience shows that it is not recommendable to let the actual users compile the catalog of requirements — this way companies too often ended up choosing a unnecessarily complex and feature heavy solution. Clarify which features your team really needs, e.g.: 

  • Gantt charts
  • Agile project management (Kanban, Scrum, Sprints, DevOps etc.)
  • To-do lists
  • Document management
  • Time tracking
  • Budget management
  • Multi-project management
  • Project portfolio management (PPM)
  • Integrations and API (Outlook & other email clients, SAP, ERP, Salesforce etc.)
  • Mobile apps

3. Assess Technical Requirements

How to find the best project management software | Step 3: Assess technical requirements

The existing technical infrastructure is a significant aspect when it comes to choosing a new software; especially when it is intended to be used as a company-wide solution. Consult specialists from the IT department to clear questions like: Does our infrastructure and manpower allow for an on-premise project management software? Can we use a cloud-based project management solution? Which systems does our current IT infrastructure support?

4. Start Researching Software Options 

How to find the best project management software | Step 4: Research software options

The status quo analysis of how projects are currently being planned and managed as well as the definition of the IT infrastructure profile are solid grounds for starting a software research. Taking the time to go through steps 1 to 3 actually will help you save time in finding the best project management software for your needs. Based on the requirements catalog, your product search is much more targeted and efficient.

5. Test & Evaluate Software Options 

How to find the best project management software | Step 5: Test & evaluate software

When you start browsing for project management software, you are offered a tremendous amount of solutions. Pick three to five tools that fit the previously defined specifications and put them to the test with sample projects. You can use real projects that you've been working on in the past or come up with testing scenarios based on your experience and cases the teams provided to you. The testing process should be supported by live software presentations from the provider — either in person or as a webdemo. Even if you are a well-versed software user, having a solution expert to demonstrate the most important features is of great benefit and helps you accelerate the "get-to-know-the-software"-process.

6. Ensure User Friendliness & Usability 

How to find the best project management software | Step 6: Ensure user friendliness and usability

A common mistake made when choosing a project management software is basing the decision solely on the feature range. One of the most important decisive factors regarding the successful implementation of a new software actually is its user-friendliness. Asking employees to get used to a new software at times can be rather challenging, even more so if the software in question is hard to grasp and difficult to use. Resistance against a new system has already frequently led to implementation failure. In fact, the Standish Group's Chaos Manifesto finds that almost 70 percent of all corporate projects to implement project management software fail because of user resistance.

7. Estimate Implementation Effort 

How to find the best project management software | Step 7: Estimate implementation effort

While checking a software's user-friendliness you should at the same time assess what the potential implementation costs and training efforts are of the respective software solutions. The duration of the implementation process and the training of all the employees working with the software is an important expense factor. In this case, time really is money and only after implementation and training have been completed can you expect your team to work productively and efficiently with the new system.

8. Short-list Favorite Software Options 

How to find the best project management software | Step 8: Short-list favorite software option

Steps 5 through 7 help you narrow down your list of potential software options to a maximum of two or three project software solutions. Contact the providers of the software systems that made it onto the short list and request a quote for the software package you need for you project and company size. If none of the initially selected solutions stand the testing process, simply go back to step 4 and do a research re-run with the newly gained insights.

9. Gain User Acceptance 

How to find the best project management software | Step 9: Gain user acceptance

Once you picked a project tool, you should focus on gaining and increasing acceptance for the new software among the users. Allow them to gain hands-on experience as soon as possible and help them understand how the software can support and simplify their everyday workload. If you want to implement the new software for an extended project team or company wide, it is advisable to define key users who recieve intensive software training. All the other software users can later refer to the key users if they have further questions on how to use the software in specific scenarios.

4.  What are the benefits of a full-featured project solution? 

Every department in your organization has very specific and unique requirements regarding the feature range of a project tool they benefit the most from. The success of production focused departments heavily depends on fixed deadlines and activity dependencies. Marketing departments, on the other hand, often times works with unscheduled task lists that provide information on who currently works on which sub-project at which progress status. IT and development departments are most comfortable working with agile project management methods.

Due to the differences in work requirments, departments create their special "island-solutions" that work great for one department but not at all for any of the others. Using different solutions within one company, however, curbs effective cross-company communication and inter-departmental collaboration. Considering the different department requirements, is it even feasible to implement one comprehensive project management software solution for the entire company?

It is desirable to have one software solution that everyone works with especially because of the (major) differences among the departments. This helps define company wide standards for project related work across all teams and departments, facilitating easier collaboration and communication between any department or special division. Whether this is possible, heavily depends on the program itself. Ideally, the project software allows working with all the different project management techniques and methods in one single platform. Additionally, it should allow the combined use of different project management methods in one project. This ensures great flexibility for the software users and allows them to choose the method that best fits the project at hands.

5.  What are the advantages of the integrated project software InLoox? 

InLoox project management software helps project professionals, teams and departments work more efficiently and effective, driving their projects to success. It is the only project management software solution to combine a full Outlook integration with the power of an online project management software and offers native mobile Apps for iOS and Android. Users can use InLoox for Outlook, InLoox Web App and InLoox Mobile App as standalone solutions or in combination with each other. Use it to:

  • Manage, track and prioritize tasks
  • Develop and realize project plans
  • Gain real-time insight into project performance
  • Foster collaboration among all project stakeholdes

Benefit from integration

People often resist project management software tools for a simple reason: they are forced to adjust their way of working to the system, rather than the other way around. InLoox project management software allows you to simply continue working with a program that you already use the most every day. The software's seamless Microsoft Outlook integration makes it simple to grasp and easy to use - all you need to be more productive from the get-go.

  • Simple and familiar user interface
  • Minimal training efforts and steep learning curve
  • Syncs Outlook appointments, emails and contacts
  • Dedicated communication platform for everyone involved

Advantages for everyone in the organization: management, project managers and project teams

InLoox's software solutions are suitable for companies and teams of all sizes and from all industries. It offers advantages for executives and management, project managers and also project staff. Learn more: Who needs InLoox? 

Empower high-performance teams

In today's fast paced and competitive business environment with only limited resources, you need to unleash your team's full potential. InLoox project management software allows you to empower your teams by enabling participation and alignment in one central platform. Project teams reach excellence because team members always have exactly the project management software features at their fingertips that they require for optimal project execution.  

Drive projects from concept to finish

InLoox offers the best project management software solution across a wide spectrum: The software is full-featured enough to serve as an enterprise-class project portfolio management solution. On the other end of the spectrum, InLoox project management software allows team members to quickly report status and easily collaborate. And the exceptionally user friendly interface - featuring one-click quick access to just about any project task and data - makes everyone involved even more efficient.

Merging agile and classic project management methods, InLoox project management software allows you to work in one central work-platform accross the company. All project related tasks, from developing concepts with the mind mapping tool, managing tasks and creating detailed project planningdocument managementreporting and billing, are cleverly interlinked. Even better, our project management software also serves as your dedicated collaboration and communication tool. See how InLoox project management software can help you be more productiv and efficient: InLoox product video.

Tailored solutions

Your needs are specific - this is why we engineer project management software solutions that offer exactly what you need. With InLoox for Outlook, you get a simple, yet state-of-the-art project management software solution that is designed to adjust to your needs. Check out our solutions for project managers, teams and departments and find out how InLoox project management software can help you pave the way for business success. 

Your success is our top priority

InLoox project management software solutions are used by high-performance teams in more than 3,000 companies by over 45,000 users in the U.S., North America and all around the world. Our customers are companies of all sizes and from diverse business sectors such as engineering and manufacturing, health care industries, public administration and professional services. Global players like US Airways, Verizon Wireless, AVIS, Siemens, Pentax, and Novartis are just a few of the clients we are honored to serve.

Our customers' success is our top priority. This is why we continuously develop our software, inspired by our clients' experiences and feedback to provide them with the best project management software solution for their needs.

The help you need

There are a large number of use cases for the project software InLoox. InLoox customers can therefore always rely on a comprehensive individual consultation. Your personal InLoox contact is always available to assist you from the initial consultation to a smooth start with InLoox and whenever you need support.

While InLoox for Outlook is really easy to use, we know that with very specific needs come very specific questions. We offer a variety of online project management software resources to give you the answers you need. You can check our InLoox project management software knowledge center to find answers to frequently asked questions, browse our online help and find instructions in our video tutorial section. If you can't find an answer to your question in our online resources, contact our helpdesk via the InLoox ticket system.

Free online project management for small teams

InLoox Starter is exclusively available for InLoox Web App and enables small teams to plan projects and tasks flexibly and easily with the help of the most important basic features. Teams who are just starting out with project management can quickly and easily complete projects successfully. If you recognize after some time that your team needs more features you can easily upgrade to InLoox now! Professional or Enterprise

InLoox now! Starter is permanently free if you sign up before December 31, 2020.  Our Starter edition offers you everything you need for successful online collaboration: 

  • Personal workplace: Daily tasks and project news at a glance
  • Keep track of an organize your project to-dos with the Kanban board
  • Efficient document management: Edit Word & Excel documents directly in the browser
  • Chat: Real-time communication with your team
  • Customizable checklists
  • 10 GB storage space per account
  • Permanently free if you sign up before December 31, 2020

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