Project management software is known for helping teams improve their productivity and efficiency. But to what extent? Well, it depends largely on whether the software contains tools suited to your team.
Some project management software contains just a few basic tools for meeting deadlines or sharing files with one another. Other platforms contain a full suite of project management tools – with everything from automated workflows to high-level user permissions to integrations with third-party productivity apps.
Here ‘s our list of the top 10 project management tools you need to improve the productivity of your team.
Custom workflows are at the heart of all good project management platforms. Each project begins with a template (or “board” or “table” or “sheet” or “app” – the terminology varies from platform to platform). Then you configure the template with the columns, rows, or fields you need, and presto! Now you have a workflow for your next project.
Synchronous project timelines are essential to the productivity of your team. The top project management platforms offer numerous visualization options, and the most popular one is the Gantt chart. A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart that shows a list of tasks to be performed on the vertical axis and time intervals on the horizontal axis. Whenever someone updates the chart, all other people involved in that project or task sees the changes in real-time.
As the project management software market has become more competitive, the top players have stayed ahead by adding more visualization options – such as Kanban boards. The typical Kanban board starts with just three or four columns, i.e. To Do, In Progress, and Done. But the top project management software providers allow you to configure your Kanban boards with other fields, such as priority (e.g. low, medium, high), and estimated time to completion (e.g. 3 hours, one day).
Customized dashboards enable managers to track and analyze how teams are performing and make data-driven decisions – and this ultimately leads to better productivity. A good dashboard lets you create custom reports, choosing the metrics that you think are most important. These days some platforms even allow you to create a “dashboard of dashboards,” essentially an all-in-one dashboard that combines data from multiple dashboards to give you a 360-degree view of your team’s performance.
Lost files are a major cause of lost productivity in the workplace. This is because people spend an inordinate amount of time looking for files they thought they shared or received, or on figuring out how to securely transfer files to colleagues. Thankfully, project management platforms let team members securely share and search for files. The best project management platforms offer seamless integration with Microsoft SharePoint, Google Drive, and other third-party file-sharing apps – allowing your people to share files from these external apps without ever leaving their platform. The result: a reduction in time lost and an increase in productivity across the team.
Further to our point about file sharing, good project management software encourages collaboration between team members. Collaboration tools allow users to comment on and edit each other’s work in a central workflow, accelerating the feedback loop. Often, files from external collaboration tools (e.g. G-Suite, Figma) can be imported and accessed from inside the project management platform, eliminating the need to move between different software programs.
Time-tracking tools are used to keep track of time invested in a certain task or project. Once recorded, the time can then be added automatically to payroll or client invoicing, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual entry. Time-tracking tools are also valuable for improving internal processes. By tracking each team member’s time, you can measure their efficiency and productivity. Based on these measurements, you can then adjust how people work – leading to improved productivity.
More than 40% of employees spend at least a quarter of their work week on repetitive tasks, according to a survey by Smartsheet. Thankfully, repetitive tasks can be eliminated by automations, e.g. alerts or reminders about upcoming deadlines, assigning people to tasks, or automatic requests to approve content. Good project management platforms let you build custom automated workflows using sets of triggers, conditions, and actions. The result: an instant rise in productivity across your organization.
Alerts are such an important productivity tool that they deserve their own mention. Before the birth of project management software, people had to manually check their calendar or wait for a colleague to remind them when something was due (or overdue). With custom alerts and notifications, team members can now create reminders for themselves or others – and have the reminders sent to their preferred channel (e.g. email, alerts tab of their project management platform). When people get reminders, they meet their deadlines, and when people meet deadlines, productivity rises.
The final productivity tool on our list isn’t one tool but thousands of tools. All the top project management platforms let you integrate with 3,000+ web applications from Zapier, including 399 productivity tools (at last count). Simply give your team members access to Zapier and let them pick the productivity tools that help them.
A project management software platform is only as good as the tools it contains. The best project management programs contain tools that reduce the amount of time wasted on useless tasks and increase the efficiency of your entire team. Pick the right project management software and you should see an instant burst of productivity across your organization.