Some companies estimate an increase in production by as much as 30 percent after implementing a project management system. This means you could potentially accept 30 percent more projects and pull in more revenue using the same resources you have now. If your collection of spreadsheets and limited collaboration tools are becoming burdensome and inefficient, it is time to consider an online project management solution. Most top project management software works alongside your current business solutions, including Outlook, SAP, ERM, CRM, accounting software and Salesforce, either via direct integrations or advanced programming interfaces (APIs).
The best online project management services can help PMOs manage multiple projects, from the initial project request to the final invoicing. Nowadays, most of these services also provide mobile tools and modern social networking tools for time entry, expense tracking, status updates and secure team collaboration. The most capable solutions also provide free client interfaces so that your customers can submit requests and view projects' statuses. Global and remote teams can take advantage of always-available web access, and companies that need to control their own security can install the solution on-premise. Endless, customizable reporting options can help you easily prepare communications for your executives and clients.
If you need to justify a potential acquisition of a project management system and need to run some sample numbers, see our article "Cost Analysis: Determining the ROI of Project Management Solutions." If you are ready to check out our top choice, see Clarizen. For Agile SCRUM support and social media tools, see Genius Project. For custom integrations and high adoption rates, see AtTask. To learn more about project management, read our articles on online project management.
When reviewing these products, we considered their basic project management tools as well as their resource management and collaboration tools. This year, we stepped it up a notch and also evaluated the companies in general, because adding a project management solution is often a long-term partnership and it is important that the company has a proven track record of supporting its product and its customers. We asked each company what new features they have added over the past year and what new features are in development. We also considered their relevance, based on the answers to the following questions: Have they created a useful product that caters to market and customer demand? Are they evolving with emergent technologies? Will they answer your phone when you really need them? Will they fly in to train your team in person? The best companies value customer retainment and strive to provide exceptional service.
Below are the criteria that we used to evaluate online project management services:
Project Management Tools
Top online management solutions support traditional project-management ideologies and incorporate emergent technologies. For example, they should be able to easily handle traditional methodologies such as Waterfall, Agile, PRINCE2 and Chain methods and have the ability to create proprietary processes. We also evaluated whether the project management tools can handle all basic functions such as request management, budgeting, issues, risk assessment and task management. The best products also provide extensive reporting options and easy ways to share those reports with stakeholders and other interested groups.
We evaluated the tools available for project managers to manage and allocate resources, including team members, external resources, generic resources, documents and physical assets. In addition, this category includes the tools for tracking expenses and timesheets. We also looked for advanced search tools for filtering resources so that project managers can find resources that are not only available, but are also at the experience level and price that fits projects' requirements.
Although this comparison focuses on project manager tools, we briefly looked at how team members can interact and what tools there are for clients to monitor projects. Collaboration tools include features such as discussions or streams, social networking type tools, file sharing and announcements. We also looked to see if the services offer free tools for non-paid users, such as report viewing and read-only accounts.
Ease of Use
High adoption rates are directly related to ease of use. If the software is difficult to use, it may not be used, which will directly affect your company's return on investment (ROI). Also, inscrutable project management software may not be used to its fullest capacity. We looked for convenience features such as project templates, customization options, import tools, automated functions and more to determine how easy and convenient each project manager is to use. The service should also provide ample training through webinars, documentation, videos and even one-on-one training to help your team learn how to use the service quickly.
Integration & Professional Services
Implementing a project management solution is not a casual, one-time purchase; it is a partnership. It is imperative to find a company that will provide the services you require, such as custom integrations, on-site training and direct support options. The best services create customized implementation plans, provide one-on-one management training and connect you with a dedicated account manager (for large contracts). Support should be provided throughout the life of your contract, and the support teams should be dedicated and motivated to help you resolve all issues to your satisfaction.
Stop resource leakages, obtain visibility and quantify production efforts with a powerful project management solution. These comprehensive products greatly increase efficiency by centralizing requests, resource availability, issue tracking, communication, document management and scheduling – giving everyone involved greater clarity and better direction.
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