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Project Management Process Tools

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By May 4,2017  7

Project Management Process Tools

There are a lot of software tools available that you can build your project management process around. Many choices exist other than the ones I’m mentioning in this post. I have actually used these in various capacities, so my input is from my experiences using the software.

No matter what you choose, remember that the software doesn’t manage projects for you. You still have to actually use the software. You will have to build schedules, assign people, and communicate clearly. It’s a tool, not magic. So, be prepared to develop a project management process no matter what you go with, and to use that process.

The key is to pick one and go for it. And don’t look back. Embrace the one you choose with all of its strengths and weaknesses and build your project management process around your choice to customize it a little into being your own.

Basecamp 2

You got me. This one is my favorite by far. It is simple, and that’s what I like about it. Building your project management strategies around Basecamp 2 is straight-forward. It isn’t “scary” to a client and you can get them to interact with it, in most cases, which lightens the project management load from your team. It doesn’t come with Gantt charts and time trackers, but it does give you the option to add all of those things. If you go with this choice, you should know that Basecamp is no longer developing it, but they are still supporting it. The company keeps all its versions accessible, once it has moved on to the next, and will still answer your questions. By the way, their support is amazing.

Asana

Asana has strong project management tools, but I find I struggle with making sure the right people get notified of the correct things. There are custom views that I like. Especially if you are a visual person, it gives you the opportunity to build a Board or a Calendar. I would recommend this one if you are a more visual person.

Basecamp 3

To me, this isn’t an upgrade to Basecamp 2, but a different product entirely. Basecamp 3 has some very nice features that Basecamp 2 doesn’t have – like Campfires, Message Boards, and Automatic Check-ins, but you lose calendaring (it only shows a linear schedule) and the ability to email to-do lists into the system. It allows you to assign more than one person to a task, which I would advise against in most cases. But, you can also assign a person to multiple tasks at one time.

Most importantly, it limits the client’s interaction. It almost becomes a challenge to get them involved in using the software. This is a good solution if you don’t want your client involved in the day-to-day project management process or if they are paying you to handle and don’t want to be involved. It does provide a way for clients to approve things. My opinion is that it limits client communication unnecessarily, but if you are an in-house developer only, this might be a great choice for you. it was designed for the way the Basecamp developers work in a virtual world.

JIRA

JIRA is very highly effective for software development, especially if you are following the Agile method. It’s number one benefit is how it aids in software versioning and managing which features go into which solution. The downside? As a project manager who has used many software platforms, I struggle with how it works. (I have actually resorted to videos.) So, imagine how your clients would feel about it. There are plugins like ZenDesk that can help with the client requests. If you choose this software, I would suggest that, as one of your project management strategies, that you do the project management 100% and that you don’t expect your client to interact with the solution.

Smartsheet

For those of you who want a little more of a spreadsheet type approach, Smartsheet is for you. It is also an option for larger projects where there are lots of moving parts and pieces. Don’t be surprised by the simplicity of its spreadsheet appearance – it most definitely does not work like a spreadsheet! Tasks are easy to designate as subsets of milestones and clients can email things into a specific URL you supply. Plus, Gantt charts are put to good use.

Teamwork

Teamwork is similar to Basecamp 2 as far as features. It has a few more detailed abilities, like People, where you can keep track of some basics on who is involved in the project including their phone numbers. And tasks can easily be subdivided between milestones.

Microsoft Project

To be fair, I haven’t used Project in years for many reasons, but mostly, it is overwhelming and cumbersome. You will spend more time messing with the software than you will with the project. It does Gantt charts, manages tasks, schedules and costs, but unless you have several full-time project managers and huge projects, I would advise against even considering it. It is also expensive and you must license your users, but unlike the others mentioned above, it is a one-time cost.

I would love to hear feedback on what tools you use or find valuable. If you need help selecting and managing the best tool for you, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation:

Susan Fennema
Beyond the Chaos
214-603-9963

 

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7 Comments

  • David May 8, 2017 Reply

    Nice write up. One thing I would add, however, is for those looking for a system to take the time to do your homework before making the choice and running with it. And that includes a thorough test drive before buying. We were looking at Basecamp and Asana, as they seemed to come up a lot when searching for project management systems. Once I actually started using them for myself, however, I quickly uncovered key features that were missing and limitations we were unwilling to accept. Honestly, I was quite surprised at some of the things that were missing. Obviously, there are plenty who get by without, or else they just don’t realize what they’re missing. For us, we gladly handed the keys back to them and said no thank you.

    I then found Teamwork Projects and gave them a try, especially liking the refreshing words of “unlimited users” stated on all of their plans. Every feature we needed and expected in a project management system was there. And on top of that, their API is excellent. We’ve even implemented custom tools and features for our organization using Teamwork as our “back end”. It’s truly the Swiss Army Knife of project management systems, and we have never looked back. It really deserves more attention than this article has given it, but I have no doubt a thorough test drive of these systems will bring others to the same conclusion. That’s my two cents, anyway. Hope it helps.

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    • Beyond the Chaos May 8, 2017 Reply

      Hey David- Thanks for the comments. I agree Teamwork is very powerful, but it is sometimes overkill, depending on your goals. It really depends on what you are looking for your solution to do. Assessing the options offered initially is important and everyone should do the free trials offered, for sure. And where there are gaps, you can usually build a process to close them, depending on how big the gap is!

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      • David May 8, 2017 Reply

        Fair enough. And I must commend you on what I think is the most important and insightful statement of this article…

        >No matter what you choose, remember that the software doesn’t manage projects for you. You still have to actually **use** the software.

        Well said. And so very true.

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        • Beyond the Chaos May 8, 2017 Reply

          LOL! So, true David! It’s funny how many just expect it to automagically do it for them.

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  • Elusive Moose: Guest Posts on Project Management - Beyond the Chaos June 18, 2017 Reply

    […] Project Management Process Tools […]

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  • Ninelle July 31, 2017 Reply

    I can never recommend Bitrix24 enough. First, it’s totally free. Second, tasks, projects, dependencies, time tracking, quotes, invoices, clients are in one place. It’s kind of like having Asana+Trello+Slack+Salesforce+Harvest in one place.

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