After you’ve ensured a system for real-time communication and video-conferencing, the next thing on your company’s to-do list should be finding a system for keeping task of everybody’s to-do list. Sound like a job for a top project management system? Yes, it does. Here’s what you’ll need to get one set up — step by step.
Step 1: Outline Your Requirements
There are a lot of different project management solutions on the market. But naturally, different tools have different features.
- Does your team need to coordinate a technical project such as software delivery? In that case, a project management tool that integrates with JIRA and a code-base might be the best tool for the job.
- Does a Kanban-style drag-and-drop interface with different columns for different statuses sound more to your liking? Many project management tools make this the core of their feature set.
If your team has individuals with specific training in project management responsible for coordinating these efforts, then your team might prefer a tool with specific features such as Gantt charting and Work Breakdown Structures (WBS).
Make a list of what you need out of a solution before looking at what’s on offer.
Step 2: Make A List of Users
If your company doesn’t have an organizational chart, then this would be a good time to create one.
Many project management tools have group functionalities so that every task or project within a certain work group can be shared with that group of users.
You’ll need to both map out everybody in your organization who will need to be connected to the project management software and then plot out reporting hierarchies and department structures.
Once you’ve done this you should be able to determine how many “seats” (active users) that your company will need on the software. People come and go within organizations, but it’s important to leave some room for growth if your organization is expanding.
Step 3: Determine What Limits Your Employees Have
In addition to figuring out what functionalities your software will need to have, it’s also a good idea to liaise with your workforce in order to determine whether there are any other limitations that you should keep in mind when choosing the right tool.
For instance, is the project management tool based in the cloud or is it accessed via a desktop client? Remember that unless everybody has company-issued devices, your remote team is going to be accessing the tool from whatever computer they have in the house to work remotely during the corona crisis. If your team is using a mixture of Windows, Linux, and Mac, then a solution which has key components that need a Windows client isn’t going to be of much use, for instance. A fully cloud-based solution is usually the safest bet as everybody can access it irrespective of what operating system they’re running.
Additionally, it’s worth checking whether the tool has a mobile app. For remote workers, a laptop/desktop interface is probably going to be most useful, but if you want your team to continue using the solution beyond the current crisis then a smartphone app would certainly be an important thing to have.
Step 4: Onboard Your Users And Transition Gradually
Simply subscribing to a new technology platform and then announcing its arrival isn’t the best strategy for a successful implementation. In fact, it’s one that’s doomed to failure!
If your team has been doing things one way for an extended length of time, then they have likely become extremely familiar with a certain way of doing things. Every software deployment — including setting up a project management tool for remote work — should ideally be accompanied by an onboarding program.
Appoint a team member (or yourself) who has the knowledge and ability to lead a successful onboarding process. This might require you using the solution for a few weeks to get up to speed before rolling it out to other users. If you’re deploying the solution to a large install-base, then the software might provide you with a dedicated account manager who can serve as a point-person for all deployment-related questions. But if you’re a smaller operation then this is unlikely to be the case and the responsibility will fall on your shoulders.
When it’s time to begin the process of transitioning from your existing solution, it’s best to do so incrementally rather than switch tool overnight. Does your project management functionality have a feature for mentioning or tagging other users? Consider setting a directive that users can communicate project updates through your existing means (say email or Slack) for two weeks after implementation. Then, after two weeks, all status updates need to be made within the project management tool. Set a hard deadline and stick to it in order to guarantee compliance from your team members.
Our Top 3 Recommended Tools
Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the project management waters for the first time or have already tried a solution and are looking for a new one to help keep your team coordinated during this crisis, these are three tools that we think you can’t go wrong with.
If you like task boards, then monday.com is the tool for you. It features beautiful customizable tables, workflows, and projects designed to make it both obvious and visually easy to understand where all your team’s projects stand at any given moment. monday.com also features code-free automations to automatically route tasks according to priority and area of expertise.
For those that like spreadsheets and Gantt chart-like functionalities but who want to keep everything within a cloud-based platform, Smartsheet is a great option. Smartsheet also allows users to create portals for viewing all project-related information in one place. For teams that want a cloud-based project tracker and knowledge-base this is a great choice.
ProjectManager is another cloud hub for bringing together colleagues to manage projects online. ProjectManager is trusted by many major enterprise brands including Volvo, Ralph Lauren, and Avis. It’s a great choice for teams that use the Agile methodology to plan spring-based workflows and also features a time tracking tool that can automatically generate timesheets for those that are paid based on hours worked.
Get Coordinated, Now
Although the novel coronavirus crisis has struck suddenly, there is a huge wealth of great project tracking tools on the market ready for you to take advantage of. If your team has gone fully remote, then the time to make the switch-over is now. Follow our guidelines and choose one of our recommended moves to make the transition a success.