The truth is out there somewhere in the vast SaaS market or not? Well it’s complicated. Before start googling for the ideal PM tool - the one silver bullet - you should take a deep breath sit back and relax. As with all tools, one must first have a clear idea of the actual need and of the actual purpose, (in other words the WHATs and HOWs). Answering first these two, it is essential for increasing the chances of finding the right tool. This is common knowledge since the days we were hunting mammoths.
So, fast forward to today, Project Managers are literally bombarded with ads of project management tools that guarantee Project & Resource tracking, Portfolio Monitoring, Templates, Dynamic Reporting,Effective Collaboration with powerful Tasks Management and so forth. And yes, most of these tools, deliver what they claim. As project manager, you should already know the nature, the complexity and the size of your projects. Normally, the majority of your projects should fall into a specific category i.e: Simple, Short, Complex, Agile, Duration hard lined, Budget driven etc. If that is the case, then 50% of the googling is already done. Just focus on your most frequent category and there you have your first keyword.
Task management vs Project Management
If that is not helpful enough, then you should consider your approach at handling your projects. Maybe you only need task management tools and you haven’t realized that yet. This is not something you should be embarrassed about. This realization can actually save you money and time (more money). You should be aware of some tools that even if they are tagged as “Project Management”, they only provide flexible collaboration, workspace creation and primitive task management. Task management is not Project Management. This is a new belief, with many disciples converting the “ignorant” ones, evangelizing that a project is a collection of a number of tasks and thus it should be treated accordingly. This is not valid. Above many reasons, it’s due to visibility and responsibility level. A task leader is not (and should not) be aware of the project‘s whereabouts, while a Project Manager should at all times.
To cut the long story short, if you just require a tool to organize your team members and allocate some daily tasks before you morning espresso then your keyword should be: “SaaS Task Management tool”. On the other hand if you want to have a complete tracking and monitoring control of your projects you should be prepare to invest heavily. You should also be prepared to have a quite steep learning curve, which is not bad considering the medium-to-long term effects. Project Managers in hunt of Complete PM tools have fewer options as there are less than a dozen of true “full monty” tools out there. Just google based on Project Management ranking and feature coverage and you should be fine.
Hope you get an idea. Next post will be dedicated on effective use of Project Management tools and CRM. Stay tuned.
Androklis Mavridis is an expert in Project Management, Software Quality Assurance, Real Options and decision making in S/W investments