By Brian Gresham
Projects for work come in all sizes; some are simple with a few back-and-forth emails and others become more complex with multiple internal and (at times) external groups becoming involved in a single project. The more factors, steps, and people that are involved, the more overwhelming a project gets. That is when a project manager (PM) comes into the mix to spearhead projects and ensure all steps are completed in a timely fashion, allowing each person adequate time to complete his or her task.
There are a few things that a PM can do to make his or her job run more smoothly. The PM can take pages of notes, have hundreds of emails that will need to be organized into appropriate folders, and have an amazing memory to remember each of the steps and where all the projects are, or the PM can convince his or her company to invest in project management software. It will improve each person’s performance and will take away the continual hunting for emails and continual reminder emails to each person. The PM simply logs onto the site, defines a job, and separates the project into tasks for each of the contributors.
From that point, most of the software is easy to use. Parameters can define how often the PM and contributors receive notifications regarding updates and completion of tasks, which can be sent via email and the application can be accessed on an Internet-connected computer or smart device. These project management software packages are detailed and most are customizable to suit the projects needs. Basecamp, Quickbase, and ProjectManager are three such web-based software packages.
BaseCamp has the look and feel of an email application. It has an overview section detailing for the contributor what responsibilities are involved in his or her task. A message tab displays notifications and updates for each step of the project. A milestone tab is available for the convenience of seeing what step the project is on. When milestones (major steps of the project) are completed, notifications are set out alerting the next person involved and the PM. Files are easily uploaded; and labels are applied for quicker searches for projects that have multiple files, and the labels enable the files to be more easily accessible for future projects. BaseCamp has developed a mobile app for its product. (For more information, see Basecamp website listed in reference section.)
QuickBase has customizable capabilities that work like a spreadsheet and send notifications, reminders, and alerts. QB allows the user to customize apps to match unique business processes and integrate data from existing user databases and software systems. Tables have been developed to output reports and charts, fields, table-to-table relationships, and forms–giving the PM and contributor the ability to know what step the project is in, how much time has been spent on each step, and how time can be managed more affectively. QuickBase has developed a mobile app for its product. (For more information, see QuickBase website listed in reference section.)
ProjectManager (Insert img) has all the same base capabilities of BaseCamp and QuickBase with a customizable dashboard with movable charts that you can hide with a click and drag of the mouse. The user can keep multiple dashboards open at once and not have to go back and forth on one interface while managing multiple projects. Also built in is a Risk Issue Changes feature that allows the manager to follow risks for each project, online storage, Microsoft Projects (all of the commonly used features of Microsoft Project), along with project expense tracking. ProjectManager has developed a mobile app for its product. (For more information, see ProjectManager website listed in reference section.)
These are a few of the features that are available with these applications. These features show why any company would want its project manager to have access to project management software: It saves time, creates reports, delivers expenses, and shows where and how the projects can be managed better with all of the available applications.
Basecamp. Basecamp announcements. Retrieved from http://basecamp.com/announcements
Intuit QuickBase. Online database applications. Retrieved from http://quickbase.intuit.com/online-database
ProjectManager. Project management features. Retrieved from http://www.projectmanager.com/project-management.php