The only important thing is that you find the right solution or solutions for you.
Categorisation and selection of PM software
But how do you find the right software for you and your project? One possibility is to categorise software from a professional point of view.
- Planning software is probably the classic among PM tools. The creation of Gantt charts and project structure plans are the most important and most frequently used features of these tools.
- Resource management programs are another frequently used tool for project managers. Rooms, machines but also employees can be assigned tasks and their workload can be controlled via them.
- Cost recording and the control of project budgets, as well as the determination of key figures for reporting are the focus of controlling software.
- DMS or document management software are used to manage and archive project documentation.
- Communication-supporting tools are designed to facilitate collaboration within the team and with stakeholders.
- And then, of course, there are special software products for risk management, profitability calculation, configuration management and much more.
Classic project management software often summarises the first three aspects of the aforementioned list, i.e. planning, controlling and resource management.
But as you can imagine, projects could also be categorised according to size, type, risks, methodology or industry and the appropriate software accordingly.
The market for PM software today has become incredibly large. That alone proves a number of more than one million hits in the relevant search engines. Therefore, I can only recommend that you first clearly define your requirements and start your search on this basis. (e.g. Capterra).
One aspect you should keep in mind when choosing the right software is the cost. First of all, we have the license costs. But also the introduction of the new software causes costs. Training and consulting costs are just a few examples. When talking about costs, also consider the operation of the software and, if necessary, the costs for adapting the software.
PM complete solutions try to serve as many aspects of project management as possible. Probably the most represented complete solution software is Microsoft Project. The solution from Microsoft is a software that is primarily intended for planning, monitoring and controlling projects. In addition to the single-user version, there is also a server version that integrates a number of other features, such as time recording, multi-project management and document management.
A counterpart for the Apple world is Merlin Project. But there are also free, i.e. open source products that are similar. One example is the Java-based program ProjectLibre. In addition, web- or app-based complete PM solutions exist in abundance. The following list of five tools from this category is exemplary:
In addition to pure project management software, there is also a large number of software products that have not been designed specifically for project management, but can be used excellently in sub-disciplines.
A software that is frequently used in agile software projects is Jira, a web application that contains a workflow component to map its own processes. Wiki systems such as Confluence are ideal for knowledge management. But also visual tools like Mindmanager, xmind for creating mindmaps or Goalscape for planning strategies or goals can be very helpful in a project management context. Then, of course, we have tools for completing tasks. The best known free service is Trello. In the web application it is possible to create lists together with other members on so-called boards. But also tools like Skype, Slack and Co. which can help you to simplify the communication in your teams.
Microsoft Office is installed on almost all company workstations. The employees know how to use these programs and there are countless templates. So why not use Office for project work? And in fact, the three programs Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the most frequently used PM tools in surveys. Templates for requirement specifications for Word, schedules and control cockpits for Excel and templates for status reports and risk analyses for PowerPoint can be found in abundance on the Internet. One could almost come to the conclusion that one office is sufficient for all project work.
But also here applies: Keep it simple and stupid. With page-long Excel analyses, including the most complicated pivot tables, you won't make as many friends as with endless PowerPoint presentations.
So choose your software tools carefully and consider costs and benefits! But don't forget compliance and data protection issues. Stay on the ball and watch the market, because virtually every day new software products are arising somewhere that might fit your project perfectly. If you would like to find out more exciting information about project management, please take a look at the Visual Braindump website and blog.
Christian Botta und Ines Bahr
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