EXEC examines some of the best online project management tools out there to help you boost your team’s productivity.
Efficiency – this intangible monkey-on-the-back of most managers can thankfully be mastered and administered with the aid of helpful little software like Microsoft Project, Huddle, Liquid Planner and more. Complete your task in less time and more effectively, boosting your productivity levels (and consequently, your waasta) at work.
Microsoft Project: The big daddy of them all. Though small businesses tend to shy away from using this due its complexity and steep learning curve, it has loads of great features too good to be ignored. They also offer a 60-day fully functional trail for those wanting to test the waters.
Wrike: A no-nonsense software that boasts of distinct advantages for different segments of its customers, Wrike is scalable and can be made to work for projects of any size. You can assign tasks through email, which are then turned into helpful charts. The software also keeps track of to what extent each team member is contributing towards the project goals.
AgileZen: If you are looking for new and interesting way to spice up your project management, then this Japanese Kanban-based software may be the answer for you. With focus as the key, the software arranges tasks column wise that need to be dealt with progressively to complete the project. You can zoom out anytime for a bigger picture of where your project is headed.
Liquid Planner: At first glance, this is like any other project management tool out there – it has all the usual and necessary features and can get the job done. However the also offer something called Realistic Estimation. According to their website, “Traditional project management software relies on single-point estimates that hide the uncertainty that is inherent in today’s projects. That means that risk in your projects can be hidden until it’s too late. Liquid Planner solves this problem with ranged estimates and statistically correct calculation for realistic schedules you can trust.” Certainly, a deal-clincher.
5pmWeb: Their website spells out clearly what these guys offer – Task management, interactive time-line charts, a time tracker and mobile apps. They also provide e-mail integration, which lets you manage the project to a certain extent from your inbox.
Manymoon: Take full advantage of social networking with this nifty software that recommends people from your network for a particular task you have entered. Social productivity at its best, it integrates with Google Docs and Calendar. It also keeps an eye on what tasks are in progress and which have been completed which are summarised for you in a bulletin.
Smartsheet: This brilliant software, speaking the universal language of spreadsheet, hits all the right chords with managers and business owners, who love pouring over a nice table brimming with figures. The interface is familiar and comfortable and other features like file sharing, Gantt charts only increase the software’s appeal. The have even brought out an app for the Android market.
Zoho Project: This web-based app is the very epitome of the collaborative spirit. Team members are kept involved and focussed (with the ability to report and track anomalies) as well as accountable thanks to tools like time tracking. The real-time chat tools underline the basic tenet of Zoho Project – communication.
Basecamp: This web-based collaboration tool sticks to the basics. They manage your projects and do it well but anything more than that like versatile integrates and chat features, then you might have to take your business elsewhere.
WebCollaboration: A clean interface and powerful search options are WebCollaboration’s two big USPs. If you don’t remember the details of a projects or who was working on it, the robust search tolls helps to find it easily.
HyperOffice: Another heavy-duty app, HyperOffice appears to start from an intranet focus, which allows you to store and manage documents very easily. You can do everything from project management to business e-mail to using it as a Sharepoint or Exchange alternative.
DeskAway: This customer-service oriented app uses GetSatisfaction as one of their support tools, which is a popular service that makes it easier for the customer and the company to connect.
Teambox: Yet another app that has capitalised on social networking, Teambox allows you to login through your Facebook and twitter account. And for those who prefer it, a lite deskop app for Mac and PC is also available. You can also choose to make your project public, thereby inviting participation from members of your network or community.
Huddle: The first of this kind to move in the realm of social networking, the Huddle Spaces in sites like LinkedIn are an extremely popular way to share documents and collaborate with people who don’t necessarily work in the same company. They also integrate with other big social media platforms and can be access from smart phones.
Project Spaces: The tool is big on giving each team member his own space and boundaries to keep the workflow smooth and efficient. ProjectSpaces offers check in/check out functionality so you know when others are working on a particular file or task.
OfficeMedium: In OfficeMedium overcomes the challenge of managing a project through email with event and e-mail interaction. With each project task, you are automatically creating an organized archive of what’s happened on the project. You can then search and filter these to find that certain employee or which files were used to complete that financial report in March. Your data, combined with built-in, intelligent tagging, tracking and organization features, becomes an invaluable resource.
Central Desktop: In addition to offering all the standard and premium features required of a project management tool, the app also features a Case Studies page which allows you to see how other users are putting the software to better use.
AtTask: Very similar to Microsoft Project, its complexity can be excused for its robust features. The democratic software evaluates each team member’s schedule to make sure that tasks are distributed evenly and reliable completion estimates are made.
Comindwork: This software is filled to the brim with features – about 250 of them, all of which are listed and carefully detailed on their website, to give you maximum control over the application. Each project can have its own wiki and blog and you can view other team members’ status and “mood.”
Insightly: Aside from its regular project management duties, Insightly has a very intuitive Address Book. Not only does it add email IDs from your inbox but also goes online to get from information about the contact from their Insightly profiles. It digs out hidden connections but analysing the From, To and CC fields, making it easy to get work done by the right people. It comes free with Google Apps.