But making it easier to put together charts and graphics isn’t the sole innovation which we can thank project management systems for. Here are some other ways in which project management tools have brought productivity to new heights — and which things we can confine to the history books.
1. Shouting Across The Office
Remember those days screaming across office partitions to make sure that projects were on schedule? These days project management tools make those a distant memory. The best project management software systems make it easy to take communication online. This makes collaboration easy. Many project management tools even include built-in VoIP and video chat capabilities for those that want to meet face to face (virtually) without leaving the app.
2. On Premises Servers
Businesses used to keep all kinds of servers in the office in order to allow employees to share documents with one another without having to connect to the internet. Remember squelchy dial-up internet? On premises servers date from around the same time. These days, companies don’t need to manage their own servers to take advantage of cool features such as real-time collaborative file sharing and project charting. Everything can be provisioned in the cloud instead! Many powerful project management tools are these days delivered through a software as a service (SaaS) model. That means that there’s no need to keep clunky noisy infrastructure on site. Teams can focus on managing projects instead!
3. The Fax Machine
Another relic from the past fast moving into the era of the history books is the fax machine. Just ten short years ago, it wouldn’t have been unheard of for teams working in separate offices to communicate key project information and charts over the fax. Think slow dial up phone connections and paper jams. Thankfully, these days there are much more powerful means of sharing information. Project management tools typically feature real time collaboration allowing users to chat in real time and append attachments to conversation threads. It’s sort of like sharing faxes … only it’s much better and happens in real time. Oh, and there’s no paper to get jammed.
4. Physical Scrum Meetings
Scrum meetings are a cornerpoint of the Agile development philosophy — although they’ve been embraced by non-development resources too. The idea of a scrum meeting is to follow a specific format and agree upon a sprint which can be tracked online in a project tracking tool. The beauty of today’s project management tools is that they contain all the functionality needed to run these meetings but entirely online. Physical scrum meetings haven’t actually become obsolete, but these days, teams can simply hold their scrum meeting in Zoom and then memorialize the information in real time in a project management tool. Many tools support both Kanban boards and task lists. There’s a format to suit every preference.
Email remains an essential tool for business communication. We’re not actually suggesting that it’s obsolete. But when it comes to managing projects, it’s now usually just as efficient to send task updates and communication within a project management tool than it is through email. If you’re working on a busy project with a lot of stakeholders, migrating communication online makes it easier to collaborate in real time and for cross-departmental silos to be broken down.
6. Writing Notes on Napkins
One major advantage of cloud collaboration tools such as project management software is that it makes it incredibly easy to memorialize information online. Team leaders need to do their part by sending out a clear message to project stakeholders that the project management software is where all project-related communication and updates must go. Once they do that, the results can be explosive. No more notes getting lost on the back of napkins. More efficiency and less … lost napkins.
7. Missing Due Dates
Anyone familiar with project management will likely have heard about task dependencies and critical path mapping. Although it’s certainly possible to compute these through manual means, most project management tools can do all the heavy lifting for you, manually updating expected task completion dates as dependencies change within the project. For instance, a manager can’t publish his article until the editor has reviewed it. But what happens if the editor is tied up with another project? Project management systems are designed to do all this computation — and managers can usually choose to receive alerts if things are falling behind schedule. The editor updates his status and the whole team can see when the article is going to be published. The result is better and more accurate task planning. Better team communication. And far fewer missed deadlines.
8. Calculator Apps
Many project management solutions offer integrated time tracking functionalities. These are great for freelancers who often need to keep track of time spent on specific tasks for clients and bill them accordingly. By integrating project management and invoicing functionalities, several solutions on the market give freelancers all the tools they need to bill clients by the hour. No more totting up Excel spreadsheets to get paid — project management tools make the job easy.
9. Instant Communication Channels
Instant communication technologies such as Slack are great and have their place in modern work cultures. But it’s not a good idea to rely upon them for keeping track of everything happening in an organization. If your team devotes considerable attention to planning and tracking projects, then it makes sense to operate a standalone solution for this purpose. Better yet, many project management tools integrate with all commonly used office applications, including Slack and email. This means that users can have the best of both worlds: a dedicated project planning tool and the live communication tool that they know and love.
10. Office Politics
If your office is dominated by politics and colleagues jostling for key positions on projects, then oddly enough project management planning might be the solution you are looking for. When it comes to planning projects, managers are used to seeing the world in dispassionate terms. Are your resources utilized or underutilized? Who has time and who doesn’t? Many PM solutions offer automatic task routing to intelligently figure out which team members might have room on their plate to take on more tasks. No more arguments about who’s responsible for what. Project management tools can let the computer decide!
Project Management Does More Than Just Track Projects
Project management solutions can make a huge difference in internal workflows by encouraging your team members to collaborate in real time and commit all their thoughts and information into one central information repository. Besides better projects, your organization can experience better collaboration and heightened productivity. That’s an advantage that few companies would turn down.
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