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What to Look for in an Effective Project Management Tool

Mar 11, 2022 | By Susanna Williams | 0 Comments

Topics: Project Management

A project management tool is designed to help you finish projects on schedule, within scope, and keep collaborators in the loop along the way. Project management (PM) software also enables you to improve your reporting capabilities and communication across the team.

Keep reading for information that will help you learn about the benefits of project management tools, how to define your team's needs, and the most popular PM software features for your firm. 

What is a Project Management Tool?

A project management tool helps organizations define, organize, monitor, and execute their projects and tasks more effectively. Project management software offers a centralized, transparent way to see the status of your work, communicate updates, and spot any at-risk milestones, so you can proactively respond. 

Features like task tracking, resource management, and analytics are critical to ensure your business workflows operate efficiently. As you’re probably all too aware, repetitive tasks kill productivity. A project management tool can help you streamline and automate away mundane to-dos, leaving your team to focus on higher-value, more stimulating work.

Why Does Your Firm Need One?

If you primarily manage your project using Excel, Google Sheets, or Gantt charts, you’re overdue to try a dedicated project management tool. This type of software is a better fit for firms that often work on complex, large-scope projects, have multiple stakeholders involved, or combine numerous teams and departments working together.

Project management software is built to keep many collaborators on the same page, foster progress, and allow visibility into project performance and profitability. Real-time reporting that’s ready in seconds from a shared dashboard will enable you to reduce human error and save time generating and emailing reports back and forth.

It’s difficult to accomplish your goals if you aren’t sure of the progress you’ve made. When you use a project management solution, you know exactly how each employee, project phase, and the overall project is performing. Still, 54% of organizations don’t have access to real-time KPI tracking. That’s a group you don’t want to be part of.

If you’re still unsure if your firm actually needs to implement a project management tool, ask yourself these ten questions:

  1. Does my team spend too much time on emails, messages, and meetings and not enough time moving project delivery forward?
  2. Do we use several different tools to track and work on a project?
  3. Is it easy for all stakeholders to access the information they need, when they need it?
  4. Do I often have to remind my collaborators of an upcoming milestone or deadline?
  5. Am I aware of project issues and risks before they happen?
  6. Does my current technology cause inefficiencies that hurt my projects or frustrate my employees? 
  7. Do I receive project updates and have adequate visibility throughout every project stage?
  8. Is it easy for my staff, clients, and vendors to collaborate?
  9. Is it difficult to onboard newcomers to my current technology?
  10. Do I spend too much time pulling data and creating reports?

If your answers to these questions highlight an issue with communication, transparency, difficulty of use, or the ability to work efficiently, a project management platform can help you implement guidelines, procedures, and safeguards to keep your projects organized and done on time.

What to Look for in a Project Management Tool

With so many project management software programs on the market, it isn’t easy to narrow it down to the best fit for your firm. To choose, you first need to define your project goals, requirements, and preferred working style. Otherwise, you risk adopting the wrong technology and trying to adapt to something that doesn’t fit your needs and causes more inefficiencies. 

Forget choosing the newest, trendiest, or most expensive solution. To understand which tool will best fulfill your project management needs, keep these two criteria in mind. 

Number one: Your PM tool should have all of the features that your team needs. 

Number two: It should be user-friendly so your entire team can be onboarded quickly and feel comfortable using it daily. The best way to ensure you hit both of these requirements is first to Whado a free trial of the software you’re interested in.

If you’re just starting your search for effective project management technology, we recommend asking colleagues and project managers in your industry if there’s a tool they’ve used before and liked. It’s also a good idea to read plenty of real user reviews on the software you’re considering and look for recommendations from industry thought leader websites, whether you’re in engineering, accounting, law, or architecture.

Other notable criteria that will affect your search include cost, scalability, security and privacy concerns, and, perhaps most importantly — features. Below are some of the most vital features to look for when comparing project management tools.

Real-Time Data

Finding a solution with real-time reporting will save your organization significant time and deliver unparalleled accuracy that helps you make more-informed business decisions. It also keeps everyone on the same page because they’re aware of the current status of a project, the resources that remain, and the percentage of work that still needs to be completed. When everyone has a clear overview of all project or task activity, they’re clear on the next steps and primed to meet their deadlines. 

A PM tool that offers a high-level view of up-to-the-minute metrics and KPIs helps you hold your staff accountable, mitigate risk, keep high-priority tasks top of mind, and identify areas where you're lagging or spending too much money.

Automatic Report Delivery

Receiving predefined or custom reports automatically allows you to analyze performance and visualize progress, but saves time you would’ve otherwise spent assembling that data. With a tool like BQE CORE, you can create sophisticated reports for the metrics tracking that matters most to your business.

Automated report generation is far superior to doing it manually because you reduce the time and effort around it while receiving more accurate information that's always on time. Using Excel or Google Sheets for reports means there are no automatic checks for accuracy, doesn’t always reflect real-time updates, and isn’t always stored in a location that’s available to your collaborators. 

CORE’s reporting feeds tracked project data related to expenses, employee time, budgets, resource allocation, performance, and more, so it’s always accurate, up to date, and easy to find via shared dashboards.

Time and Expense Tracking

A project management solution with built-in time and expense tracking helps you monitor how much you’re spending on a project or particular task, whether it’s via employee time or tangible resources. PM tools with smart timesheets can simplify your payroll and client billing, are accessible for your employees to use, and allow you to understand if a project’s time estimates were sound, so you adjust in the future.

With CORE, it’s easy to record expenses and receipts and link them to projects for billing and accounting purposes. Thanks to CORE's mobile app, team members can document a receipt in seconds even if they’re on the go. This information then feeds into streamlined expense reports and approval, so payments and reimbursements are issued promptly.

With time and expense tracking, your firm can spend less on expense processing, speed up the expense reporting process, better predict project costs and schedules, and help employees improve their productivity. 

Billing and Accounting

Improved billing and accounting processes ensure you maintain accurate financial records (so important year-round, but especially during tax time), keep your billing precise and on time, and save your staff hours on manual review, reporting, and approval. When software handles much of your financial management needs for you, you save money and reduce costs related to accounting personnel.

Some popular features within a project management tool's accounting functionality include automatic billing, invoice management, tax reporting, payroll management, cash flow tracking, and budgeting.

Resource Management

Resource management helps you oversee all of the planned resources for a project, so you can calculate the cost of their usage, make sure you have enough to complete the project adequately, and ensure you make a profit. In this context, resources may refer to employee time and availability or the physical materials needed to complete a project. 

Resource management is an important part of project planning and monitoring because it helps you predict a lack of resources before it happens, prevents employee burnout, offers visibility into your firm's bandwidth, and helps you plan more efficient projects. A project management tool will help you allocate resources for a project, see real-time costs, and zero in on areas where you’ve miscalculated resources. 

Integrations

A cloud-based project management platform is vital because it’s built to seamlessly connect with the other tools you like using. An integration-friendly PM software is a priority to many business owners — notably, 73% say that ease of use and integration are their top requirements when choosing a project management tool.

While an effective project management tool will override the need for several other business apps, there may be some programs you don't want to give up, whether it’s for file sharing, scheduling, or payments. CORE integrates with and makes it frictionless to use QuickBooks, Stripe, Dropbox, OneDrive, and many other popular platforms.

Communication

Projects are doomed without effective communication, and PM tools go a long way to support clear and fast team collaboration through task tracking, document sharing, message boards, and more. Giving your team an internal location to share data and files saves them the time they’d spend sifting through folders and emailing responses. It also creates accountability, keeps data secure, and ensures everyone sees every update that comes in.

Unfortunately, 63% of workers admit that they’ve missed information because it went into a siloed communication source, such as another person’s email inbox, which is why it’s so crucial that your team has an internal communication tool. That way, everyone can stay organized and receive notifications when someone else shares an update.  

Why Choose BQE CORE for Project Management?

CORE is an all-in-one project management tool that will improve how you manage your work, how your team collaborates, and how your data is used. It allows you to seamlessly stay organized and informed about all details related to your projects, tasks, clients, expenses, employees, resources, and more. 

Say goodbye to missed deadlines, communication gaps, inaccurate reports, and unprofitable projects. With CORE, you get more than just a project planning tool. You gain cloud-based accounting, time and expense tracking, billing, resource management, and performance updates. 

For better collaboration and less confusion, start a free trial of CORE today to build more robust project practices in no time.

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The Author

Susanna Williams

Susanna Williams is the Content Marketing Manager at BQE Software. She has spent 10 years in the marketing field writing and researching for industries that include software, engineering, architecture, health and wellness, legal, education, and more.

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