Project management is rewarding, but it’s also hard work. Even when things are going well (your team is doing stellar work, milestones are being achieved on time, there are no unexpected changes to accommodate), there are so many moving parts to oversee. On any given day you might have to:
- Send a reminder to a supplier whose deliveries are habitually late
- Inquire about a missing deliverable
- Review your schedule and reassign tasks to balance out the team workload
- Send yet another status report to stakeholders
How can you attend to these various project manager duties without losing focus? The answer is: project management tools.
Project managers have always used tools to simplify and organize their work. The Ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramid (archaeologists say that each of the four sides had its own manager). Henry Ford developed an assembly line for his Model Ts. And, more recently, England and France collaborated on the Channel Tunnel project. Now it’s 2018, and these 5 tools are available to make your project manager duties easier.
1. Toggl Plan
Toggl Plan is a simple tool with powerful and sophisticated features. This popular project management app makes planning ahead easy, with a team calendar that keeps your entire group organized and on the same page. Other convenient advantages include:
- Assigning tasks and making changes is as simple as dragging and dropping.
- Managers can color code tasks, milestones, and projects for an easy visual overview.
- A Chrome extension makes it simple to integrate Teamweek with any other project management tools you may be using.
- A real-time overview of what everyone is working on at any given time allows managers to adjust responsibilities as needed.
Praised for both its simplicity and its wide range of project management capabilities, Toggl Plan is a firm favorite for teams of all sizes.
2. Gantt Charts
The brainchild of early twentieth century mechanical engineer Henry Gantt, the Gantt chart has been making project manager duties easier for over 100 years. They use horizontal bars to illustrate the following key project elements:
- Tasks and their dependencies
- Timeline progress
- Completion dates
While some project management tools such as Trello use Kanban boards that make them especially effective at the task level, Gantt charts provide a valuable overview of an entire project, which is convenient for managers of large or multiple projects.
We all love lists because they are ideal ways to organize information, from today’s groceries to your plans for an upcoming project. Asana is a web and mobile tool that simplifies team-based work management and it includes- you guessed it- a to-do list.
My Tasks, as the feature is called, is organized into four sections:
- New Tasks
Each of these lists acts as its own project, with associated tasks listed beneath. You can even add a category tag to each task, attach files to it, and assign sub-tasks. These to-do lists are also shareable, so you can easily see how your team is planning its workload.
Asana has been praised for its user-friendliness, and it’s easy to see why. You can switch between calendar view, a Kanban-style board, and a to-do list for the same project, so everyone on your team can monitor their tasks in the way they prefer.
Trello is a widely used workflow platform tool that makes it easier for you to track both projects and tasks as they move toward completion. The typical layout is a Kanban board with card so that you can visually monitor work in progress. Adding a new project is as simple as setting up a new board where you can:
- Create and assign tasks
- Assign team members to a task
- Attach files
- Make comments
If you often work with the same team members, inviting them to a new project / board is as easy as a single click. They will receive an email notification that alerts them to your invitation and grants them access.
Yes, Trello is really as simple as it sounds. It presents project information in a visual format that makes even the most complicated assignments easier to manage.
Tracking everyone’s time makes it possible to charge the client accurately, so that no project comes as a loss the agency. One of the most useful features of Paymo is the time tracker that appears in the bottom left of your screen. Once individual team members receive direction from you, they can ‘punch’ the clock and track their time down to the last second.
Additional time-tracking features and capabilities:
- The start and end times for each task is saved to enable accurate time reports.
- If you work offline, your timesheet will be automatically synchronized with your online account once you’re back online
- The PaymoPlus feature automatically monitors and tracks your work, which is great for those who might forget to start their clocks first.
The attractive dashboard helps you manage multiple projects while making sure that all work -even last minute ‘rush’ requests- is accurately invoiced.
Which Tool Will You Use to Make Your Project Management Duties Easier?
Managing multiple projects with multiple team members may not always be stressful, but it can be time-consuming. Whether you’re managing a single project or have several assignments on the go simultaneously, your job will be much easier if you use project management tools that:
- Simplify task management
- Make communication more organized
- Support file sharing
A well-rounded system will create a repository of all the tasks, milestones, conversations, and files associated with your projects. Not only will this help you, but if any new people join your team mid-project, they will be able to get up to speed and down to work more quickly.
Finding the right solution might involve a little trial and error, but we hope that this article has given you some insights into what you need to make your job easier and where to find it.
Rose Keefe is an author and technical writer who has over ten years’ experience in supporting project managers in the manufacturing and construction sectors. One of her primary responsibilities was developing product manuals that supported efficient use of industrial equipment. She continues to write on the subject of time management and commercial productivity for trade websites and publications.