Since the project management is one of the core functions of a business organization, the project management function should be supported by software. Before software was born, project management was fully done through papers. This eventually produced a lot of paper documents and searching through them for information which was not a pleasant experience.
Once software came available for an affordable cost for the business organizations, software development companies started developing project management software. This became quite popular among all the industries and these software were quickly adopted by the project management community.
There are two types of project management software available for project managers. The first category of such software is the desktop software. Microsoft Project is a good example for this type. You can manage your entire project using MS Project, but you need to share the electronic documents with others, when collaboration is required.
All the updates should be done to the same document by relevant parties time to time. Therefore, such desktop project management software has limitations when it should be updated and maintained by more than one person.
As a solution for the above issue, the web-based project management software was introduced. With this type, the users can access the web application and read, write or change the project management-related activities.
This was a good solution for distributed projects across departments and geographies. This way, all the stakeholders of the project have access to project details at any given time. Specially, this model is the best for virtual teams that operate on the Internet.
When it comes to choosing project management software, there are many things to consider. Not all the projects may utilize all the features offered by project management software.
Therefore, you should have a good understanding of your project requirements before attempting to select one for you. Following are the most important aspects of project management software:
The project management software should facilitate the team collaboration. This means that the relevant stakeholders of the project should be able to access and update the project documents whenever they want to.
Therefore, the project management software should have access control and authentication management in order to grand access levels to the project stakeholders.
Scheduling is one of the main features that should be provided by project management software. Usually, modern project management software provides the ability to draw Gantt charts when it comes to activity scheduling.
In addition to this, activity dependencies can also be added to the schedules, so such software will show you the project critical path and later changes to the critical path automatically.
Baselining is also a useful feature offered by project management software. Usually, a project is basedlined when the requirements are finalized.
When requirements are changed and new requirements are added to the project later, project management team can compare the new schedule with the baseline schedule automatically to understand the project scope and cost deviations.
During the project life cycle, there can be many issues related to project that needs constant tracking and monitoring. Software defects is one of the good examples for this.
Therefore, the project management software should have features to track and monitor the issues reported by various stakeholders of the project.
Project portfolio management is one of the key aspects when an organization has engaged in more than one project. The organization should be able measure and monitor multiple projects, so the organization knows how the projects progress overall.
If you are a small company with only a couple of projects, you may not want this feature. In such case, you should select project management software without project portfolio management, as such features could be quite expensive for you.
A project has many documents in use. Most of these documents should be accessible to the stakeholders of the project. Therefore, the project management software should have a document management facility with correct access control system.
In addition to this, documents need to be versioned whenever they are updated. Therefore, the document management feature should support document versioning as well.
Resource management of the project is one of the key expectations from project management software. This includes both human resources and other types.
The project management software should show the utilization of each resource throughout the entire project life cycle.
Modern project management practice requires the assistance of project management software. The modern project management practice is complicated to an extent that it cannot operate without the use of software.
When choosing the correct project management software for your purpose, you need to evaluate the characteristics of software and match with your project management requirements.
Never choose one with more feature than you require, as usually project management software come with a high price tag. In addition, having more than the required features could make confusions when using the software in practice.