Project Managers (PM) are the unsung heroes of agencies. They’re magicians with numbers and time-crunching all the while balancing the planning, organizing, and direction of all the projects. Not only do Project Managers help reign the creative types in from rabbit holes of research, but they can also help streamline a task that feels like it’s never-ending. PMs also have a great sense of humor and humility that keeps the workload less daunting, and instead gratifying. This is where project management software comes in.
Time is Money — Invest in Project Management Software
There are only so many deadlines and data that Google Sheets and mountains of sticky notes can handle. Instead, as an agency and small business, we rely on project management software. Ranging from simple to robust to free and paid options, there are many choices out there on the web when it comes to choosing a project management solution. We just recently began a transition to a new project management software and I thought it would be a great time to sit down with our project managers and see from their perspective what the value of using a project management software is and when is it best to think about a new system and break up with your current?
What are the most important features of a Project Management Software?
Elena finds that reporting is one of the most important features of PM software. But it’s a ‘catch-22’; to have the extensive reporting you need, you must have all the information you need to pull a report.
She and Blanca both agreed with one another that having productivity and time data is also super important. Specifically for them, once a week they will meet and will look at the profitability report that has all the employees and the tasks they did for the last week and how much time was spent. At the end of the month, they total up those weekly reports, total it up, and evaluate how the team has been working. This isn’t done in a way to micro-manage anyone’s day, but to make sure team members can be their most successful with their workloads.
What makes other software options fall short in your eyes? UX, lack of integrations, etc?
A lot of software options offer the integrations that agencies use and expect to see but can lack the necessary features — a lot of PM software options are glorified checklists. This doesn’t allow for PMs to have assigned tasks for individuals or teams, not allowing collaborating teams equal access to data or information they may need. Trying to find a workaround can be the source of many headaches for teams.
List your software-must haves
- Time tracking – It’s a big factor in the new PM software we’re using — being able to see a detailed breakdown of each employee’s day.
- Good reporting systems: What is the data worth if you don’t have good reporting? From productivity to billing, it’s important to have all our data in one place to make sure our team is meeting the goals of projects on time and within budget.
- Customizable dashboards: Each person can customize to what they like best and what works for them. With a wide range of different people on our team, it was a must to have software that lays out tasks for each employee that makes sense to them.
Why are you leaving our old PM software?
Our PMs found that our old software is not as robust from a functionality standpoint. Our new project management software has more integrations and usability, while our previous software lacks a lot of collaboration features that as a collaborative, growing agency we need.
Another reason for leaving our current PM software is reliability issues. Our past software goes down and glitches with data tracking. Not only does it take a long time to restore, but this also causes a huge disruption in our workflow. With it being our main hub for our tasks, it can temporarily disrupt or even cause errors in projects.
When is it best to think about a new project management system and break up with your current?
Elena says “Whenever they’ve realized it’s not a good fit for them.” This can boil down to when you spend more time trying to make it work for your small business or agency than it works for you.
Blanca has suggested that when you reach this point, outline all the must-haves that you need out of a PM software to work smoothly. Next, begin looking for software that has these features and opt for a 30–60 day demo, and evaluate its effectiveness compared to what you have and to what you need. No solution is one-size-fits-all.
Every business or agency needs something a little different out of their PM software for the way they delegate projects, bill clients, or even based on the location of employees (hello remote workers).
Time is money — invest the time in testing a few different project management software options and see what will best suit your team.
What has our transition to a new PM software been like?
Our PMs decided on a soft rollout with our team, with it being over a year in the making. After extensive testing by our PM team, they decided to slowly roll out the software for specific departments to test out real-life scenarios and problem-solve any issues that arose.
Doing this allows for early-on troubleshooting and user feedback before our whole agency uses the software to minimize agency-wide disruption and supply training as needed.
What is the test team saying about the new project management software?
Our beta team found that our previous PM software was very formal, if not intimidating. With the customizable, emoji, and confetti-filled interface of our new PM software, users are saying it helps reduce anxiety and allows users to organize their delegated tasks and data as they see fit to work their best.
Save time and save money with PM Software
The idea of managing the flow and overseeing the completion of all the projects of an agency or business can seem like an impossibly daunting task, not to mention the billing and employee compensation that comes from this. No single person can do it all themselves.
But with the help of business experts, prioritizing and organizing business operations have never been easier. Whether your need an unbiased pro to evaluate your productivity or improve internal functionality with project management software, TM can lead you to happier customers and employees, all the while saving time and money.
If you’re looking to level up your business or agencies’ project output or to simplify your project management processes, consider a consultation from TM to help you identify your business’s pain points and expert-level recommendations for improvement. Simplifying your project management is the first step in running a smooth and successful business, but for lasting success, having an in-depth look at your pain points can help you bolster your business from many sources, not just one.
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