Our Secret to Staying Organized
The it Crowd: Project Management Software
As a full-service marketing agency with a huge variety of clients, we see so many different project management softwares – some that work but are crazy expensive, some that don’t work and some that you don’t even know how to organize and where to start. Whether you currently dread opening your computer on a Monday morning and have no idea where to even start your day or whether your company is growing and you just need some honest advice about what platform to switch to, we hope this article can help!
Lucky for you, our team at The it Crowd has spent hours on end researching the best platforms. Below, we’re breaking down exactly what project management software is, why it’s important, and the pros and cons of five different resources.
What Is Project Management Software?
Complex projects need to be broken down into numerous steps and parts, such as all the jobs that need to be done, who needs to complete them, and when these deadlines need to be hit. Project management software provides a streamlined way to manage all of this. Basically, project management software is a type of online collaborative app in which everyone who’s working on a project can log in and see what they’re supposed to do and when. Users can assign jobs to each other, record progress on tasks, and add necessary details like notes and feedback. For those who are managing any given project, project management software can provide a clear overview of the project and its overall progress from start to finish. As an individual freelancer or business owner, project management software provides a clear and simple way to stay on top of any given assignment at hand using the same methods and tools.
Why Is It Important?
Communication and organization are the keys to making every project or campaign a success! Project management software gives you tools for creating smooth planning and delivery of tasks during every stage of the process – from the creation of a new project and building a website to curating a content calendar and launching a finished social media campaign. The options are truly endless!
What to Look For
Now that you know what a project management system is, how the heck are you supposed to know which one is right for you? There are a wide range of project management software systems available, and they all have their own pros and cons. When searching for platforms, it’s important to consider things like the specific needs of your team, the cost, and user-friendly features.
Here are some of our key deciding factors when looking at options:
- Hierarchy – does the platform allow for us to use our current hierarchy? For example, as a full-service fractional agency that works with our clients on an ongoing basis, we have a different hierarchy and order of events that happens within the life cycle of a client than perhaps an ad hoc or project-based agency. Our project timelines and order of events is also likely very different from that of a financial firm or an engineering firm. It was important to us to be able to customize our process in our project management platform.
- Time Tracking – This is obvious if you bill by the hour. Even if you don’t and you are anything like us, this is super important if you are trying to collect data like where is my team’s time going? How long should a project take vs. how long does it actually take? What can I automate that my team does not need to be doing? Should I charge more to get the job done well? We love seeing this data and for more detailed timing, we actually integrate a separate software, Everhour, for this!
- Prioritization – Is there an easy way to set priorities – even if two tasks have the same due date? Is there a way to communicate to a team member that something is urgent vs. lower priority in case due dates need to be moved around?
- Project Health – Whether this be through reporting and dashboards or linked through the client or project’s tasks, it’s important to be able to identify the factors that make for a healthy client and the factors that don’t.
- In-app communication – Do you want to be able to chat one on one with a team member in the software? Should all communication be private or public? Is there a way to see if someone edited a comment or went back and updated a deliverable’s description? This was super important to us to be able to collaborate quickly and go back to notes and conversations when needed.
- Customizable Workflows – Everyone works differently! Being able to offer different methods of accomplishing tasks and projects, viewing your “to do’s” or changing your notifications to go to your phone, desktop or email – all of these things allow your individual team members to customize their workflow to best suit their productivity needs.
As an agency, we have spent more than an average amount of time researching softwares. We’ve tested out several different options and continue to use these platforms daily. So to take some of the research off your plate, we’re breaking down five project management software apps below.
Our project management software of choice? ClickUp! We recently started using ClickUp because of its many reliable and easy-to-use application features.
- Pros: Some of our favorite ClickUp perks include the implementation of team collaboration like real-time editing and comments, time tracking and time management for specific tasks, and the ability to integrate other productivity and communication tools natively into the platform. It puts everything in one place!
- Cons: ClickUp doesn’t have a CRM integration, which some companies consider an essential tool. While we love the amount of updates and improvements that they are constantly working towards, there can be some lag time and hiccups when you are working fast – the platform can sometimes have a hard time keeping up.
We used Basecamp for a little over a year – We love it for getting tasks done. It’s essentially a massive to-do list for you and your team and is extremely affordable.
- Pros: This platform helps workers become more productive, organized, and efficient because of its user-friendly interface and tools. It provides all the basics for managing and tracking tasks, making it ideal for small businesses or teams within a corporation who don’t have larger drawn out projects.
- Cons: While Basecamp’s simple user interface structure is great for everyday tasks, there isn’t much room for complex projects that need more flexibility. Additionally, there is no option to create subgroups within lists when it comes to things like priority level and other attributes. There is also no reporting feature other than viewing someone’s activity
Monday is a project management software that’s trusted by more than 125,000 companies, and we understand why!
- Pros: Based on our research of the platform, we can attest to the fact that the interface is well organized and even color-coded for easy access and implementation. Users are able to build their own templates as well as have unlimited calendars and groups, making it very customizable.
- Cons: It’s important to note that Monday does not offer on-boarding with a member of their team nor do they provide customer service phone calls. For anyone who is new to using project management software systems, this may be considered a hindrance to learning how to make the best use of the platform for you or your team. This was a dealbreaker for us since we highly value communication.
Asana is all about taking the busy work out of the campaign process. “From the small stuff to the big picture, Asana organizes work so teams know what to do, why it matters, and how to get it done.”
- Pros: This system is great because it’s easy to use and you can manage multiple large-scale projects at once. Plus, they offer a free version for individuals or teams on a tighter budget.
- Cons: If you opt for the free version of Asana, it has limited features and tracking capabilities. As a single-person business or start-up company, we understand that cutting costs is necessary to build yourself and your business to its highest potential. Therefore, make sure to consider these limitations if you’re interested in this particular platform.
Another favorable project management software is Teamwork. 20,000 businesses and 6,000 agencies use this platform to efficiently communicate within their teams and manage important assets.
- Pros: Teamwork provides all of the essential tools you could need, such as time tracking and useful high-performance templates, which makes it powerful when you need to manage multiple complex tools at once.
- Cons: Some Teamwork users have found that the mobile app of this project management software isn’t as user-friendly as the desktop version. This can be a detriment to employees who are always working on-the-go. Teamwork also tends to require more training, as the user interface is more intricate than some other, more basic project management softwares.
If you’re still unsure about what project management system is best for you, many of these platforms offer free trials and consultations. To learn more about useful marketing tools and how to take your brand’s outreach to the next level, don’t hesitate to contact The it Crowd team today!