Everyone is not born equal. On similar lines, no two project management tools are equal. How do we know which is a better project management tool? What are those features and functionalities one would expect in the ideal project management tool?
Let’s start with the basic ones:
- Activity Definition: Define activities.
- Activity Scheduling: Define dates for activities
- Activity Sequencing: Ability to create dependencies between activities
- Resource Allocation: Assign resources to the activities
The above is what most of the standalone project management tools offer.
Now moving to more:
- ‘To Do’ list based on tasks assigned
- Ability to track actual progress: Ability to track planned dates vs. actual dates of completion
- Collaboration: Project team and Cross functional stake holders
- Timesheet against tasks
The above features are generally available in many online project management tools as well. But are they sufficient enough to manage the project in the best manner?
How about considering the below mentioned capabilities for your critical projects?
- Project Budget Planning: Ability to plan budgets periodically for people, material, machines and overhead etc.
- Project Revenue Plan: Ability to plan the revenue periodically.
- Risk Management: Identify Risks and plan for them
- Project Document and Knowledge Management: All project documents and knowledge attached to project
- Access rights: Role based access rights for each project
- Project Material Planning: Project ‘Bill of Quantity’/’Bill of Materials’ estimate
- Employee Expenses: Track all the expenses made by team
- Project Invoice Tracking: Ability to create project invoice and track till amount is receipt
- Project Cashflow Tracking: Track the project cash inflows and outflows in real time.
- Project Profitability Tracking: Track the project profitability in real time
- Customer Satisfaction feedback after Project Completion: Formal way to get feedback
- Lessons learnt: Lessons learnt (both Good and Bad) of project.
- Project Analytics: Different executive dashboards and associated analytics for different stake holders – Team members, Project Managers and Management
So, the ideal project management tool should not only have the basic features, but also all of the above.
For many, it would seem quite complex to implement and start using such a tool from day one. Even though the tool may have many functionalities, organizations may have to modify their processes to take best advantage of it.
Another dimension of any project management tool:
- The tool should have comprehensive features
- Allow phase wise rollout of different features.
- Enable users to graduate from basic features (say activity planning, financial planning and document management) to advanced features at their own pace.
While there may be numerous of the project management tools available, very few of them are comprehensive and robust as highlighted above.