Managing projects in a small business setting can be deceptively challenging. And while countless tools and software offerings exist that promise an end to your project management and organizational woes, each is created for a specific type of use and may or may not work for your business. It’s important to find the right project management software for you and your team. A good fit can help you maximize output while juggling everything on your plate.
Best Project Management Software Solutions for Your Small Business: What to Look for
The internet abounds with comparative lists and reviews of project management software that can provide helpful guidance as you determine what might work best for your company. Besides the content and insight these comparative lists provide, they also divulge parameters that can help frame your decision process.
Project management software is often compared across a few distinct categories. These can include the following. This list may or may not reflect all the important features you’ll need for your business, but is useful to get you started:
- Usability and interface: How easy is it for you and your team members to learn how to use the tool? Are its features easy to find? Does it make sense?
- Project and task organization: Does the tool allow for different types of projects? Can tasks be organized and prioritized? Does the tool support things like tags, workflows, and deadlines?
- Communication and collaboration: This may look like chats, mentions, comments, assignments, and/or integrations with email or other communication platforms. Is it easy and intuitive to communicate amongst team members within the platform?
- Notifications: Notifications can be essential to ensure that tasks and projects don’t get lost in the shuffle. However, they can also quickly become overwhelming or unuseful if team members aren’t able to customize them. How does the tool handle notifications and what control does it give you over how they work?
- Integrations with other softwares: The more a tool can integrate with other systems you might have in place already or plan to implement in the future, the more effectively and efficiently it can help your team work. Do you already use other systems to manage client relationships, marketing, or payroll? Take stock of what integrations you might need and how well a tool you’re considering integrates with other softwares.
These categories can guide your assessment of your company’s particular needs. Every business and team is different. Thus, it’s absolutely ok if some of these elements don’t apply or if other functionalities not on this list are important to include in your search. But this creates a starting point that can help you narrow your options and choose strategically.
The Courting Process: Demos and Communication
When deciding on a new project management software, it can be strategic to leverage the normal software business sales funnel to your advantage. Software companies often use demos, sales reps, and an involved communication flow to engage with potential customers. This can become tedious, but if utilized effectively it can also be used to your advantage. Oftentimes, seeing a demo or speaking with a rep can answer your questions and give you insight about what it would actually be like to use that software rather than guessing, only to realize that it is not a good fit later. Though engaging with the process can sometimes take a bit of time and energy, sometimes it is well worth the investment to make sure you end up with a great fit rather than stuck with a tool that doesn’t meet your company’s needs.
The Full Package: Other Needs to Consider When Choosing Project Management Software
Project management alone can be a lifesaver for your business. However, when choosing project management software, it’s worthwhile to consider what other software implementations you need, whether now or in the future. Choosing a project management tool keeping future integrations in mind can save a boatload of future work and frustration.
While there are many types of software integrations you might need (some mentioned above include payroll or accounting software, marketing or digital ad platforms, or CRM’s), one of the biggest companion software types many businesses employ into their workflows is business intelligence or analytics tools.
Getting the Most Out of Your Business Analytics
Whatever your business or industry, chances are you are using, or could benefit from, data. The realms of data science and business analytics couch the process of collecting, analyzing, and applying relevant data to your business. This can take many forms. Data analytics can be applied to a number of business processes:
- Marketing and social media
- Sales funnel
- Market analysis
- Operations and internal processes
- Employee morale and productivity
- Events and promotion
- Customer relations
And many more. Data application to your business can be almost limitless. A large number of popular business analytics platforms and tools exist, and many of them offer integrations with project management tools. If you are currently using a business analytics software or plan to utilize one at some point, choosing a project management system that will accommodate integration with that software will save you significant time down the road.
Powerful Data Mining Tools & Techniques Small Business Owners Should Use
In today’s tech-saturated markets, having enough data is no longer the hurdle for most businesses. Data is often amply accessible whether within a business’s own systems or easily collected from social media platforms, directories, server logs, website analytics, and more. The question for today’s small businesses is not so much how to get data but what to do with it.
Working with large amounts of “big data” and processing it by any number of techniques and processes is often called data mining. The process of sifting and curating large amounts of data was virtually inaccessible to small businesses within even the recent past. However, a large number of data analytics tools and platforms available today at affordable price points make applying the power of business analytics possible for even small entities. Whatever the extent of your needs and available resources may be, there is likely a software solution on the market that can allow you to harness the power of data and apply it to your business and within your team. Looking for integration support when choosing business analytics software will help you tremendously.
Conclusion: Business Management Software Options for All
Implementing software systems within your business or company always involves time and resources, from choosing the right product to onboarding your team to trouble-shooting and perfecting the process so that it provides long-term value.
When choosing a software package for project management, it’s important to think through what other needs or software platforms you currently face or anticipate within the coming year or more for your business so that you don’t run into incompatibility issues down the road. Strategically choosing project management software in conjunction with other needs will streamline your integration process and set your business up for efficient and effective internal process flows.