What Do The Best Project Tracking Tools Have In Common?
There are already dozens, if not hundreds of project management and project tracking tools available to project managers and other professionals, but not all of them are equally effective. And if you’re a project manager dissatisfied with your current app or in search of a new platform for some other reason, it’s easy to be intimidated by the sheer diversity of project management tools on the market.
What makes one better than another? How are they even different?
While each tool is unique in its own way (and some are specific to a unique industry or niche), there are some commonalities that the best project management tools share.
Projects vs. Tasks
Too many “project management” apps these days don’t have enough focus on projects; instead, they’re focused on tasks. On some level, this makes sense; most employees focus on their work in a task-by-task system, and a task-centric platform allows them to create, edit, and manage those tasks easier.
However, if you want to be an effective high-level manager, you need to be able to manage projects with a different perspective. If you get too bogged down in individual task management, you’ll miss the forest for the trees—worrying too much about the minute details, and not enough about the broad-strokes progress you’re making. That’s why Project Central now offers project tracking, enabling you to keep tabs on your most important projects on a strategic level. Find out more about Project Central’s project tracking here!
Simplicity is also important. Many modern project management apps attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition by adding more features, more widgets, and more capabilities, but more isn’t always better. If there are too many competing features and descriptive items in your layout, your decision-making processes will be hindered, and you won’t be able to get to the data you need as easily.
That’s why the best project management tools tend to be simple; they offer all the features you need in a convenient package, without adding unnecessary distractions.
In a similar vein, your project tracking app should be intuitive—in other words, it should be fairly easy to grasp how to create new tasks, evaluate project completion percentages, and access other important features. Otherwise, you may not be able to use the tool efficiently, or may spend too much time learning the ropes.
Many tools attempt to mitigate this issue by offering in-depth tutorials or other learning guides, but if the app is straightforward and well-designed, you probably won’t need these. Similarly, your employees should be able to comment, manage, and organize their work within the tool without the need for an in-depth SOP. Otherwise, you’ll have multiple employees deviating from the “standard” process, or you’ll require several additional hours of training time to get everyone up to speed.
Data visualization is becoming a higher priority for almost any type of business software, but it’s especially important for project tracking for two reasons.
First, it enables project managers to make faster assessments about project progress. Rather than digging through an endless pile of previous tasks or trying to crunch numbers, they can simply look at a chart and get a fairly accurate estimate for how the project is coming along. It saves a ton of time, and makes decisions easier and more intuitive.
Second, it’s a valuable tool to showcase progress to supervisors, account reps, and clients. It’s much easier for a client to see a graph demonstrating 75 percent project completion than to give them a laundry list of tasks that still need to be accomplished.
Friendliness to Collaboration
Few projects are reliant on one person for completion; that’s why the best project tracking tools are friendly to collaboration.
This means different things to different teams, but in general, it means the platform should make it easy to upload, download, and manage files shared between workers. It means comments should be easy to leave and exchange. And it means everyone should have some visibility into project progress and the number of tasks remaining. Some tools are difficult to access, or make it hard for employees to freely exchange files and information.
Security and Backups
Most projects contain sensitive information—either because it contains proprietary secrets and client information, or because it would cause massive delays and setbacks if it were to be lost. Accordingly, the best project tracking apps have some measure of security and backups.
Security measures vary from app to app, but at a minimum, your data should be encrypted, and your app should have built-in features that prevent your app from being accessed by unauthorized parties. They should also have your data redundantly backed up, on multiple servers, in case there’s a natural disaster or something else to compromise the integrity of your data.
The best project tracking apps offer some integrations with other apps. For example, they might allow you to share files from other cloud-based storage apps, or they might integrate with your favorite chat tools. This isn’t a strict necessity, but it can make your life easier if your team is already using a suite of other apps.
Project Central is attempting to become a best-in-class project tracking tool by offering all these features in a single app—correcting the mistakes of the hundreds of project management tools that have come before us. For a limited time, you can sign up for Project Central for free! The app is still in its early stages, but it’s already shaping up to be one of the most robust and intuitive project management tools on the market. Take action now while you still can—you’ll never manage projects the same way again.