A good project management system is one that enables anyone on the team to find the project information they need at their fingertips. These systems often include a digital "paper trail" that puts key info into context to get the larger picture of the current work.
There's nothing quite like scrambling through a cluttered inbox to find an email that contains vital information, which (you think) was sent about three months ago. Then you end up finding the email and acting on it, only to later realize that was in fact obsolete.
Time to Step It Up?
If you're able to successfully manage your projects primarily via email, that's great – but you may be in the minority. The next step up may be an Excel spreadsheet or a Google doc shared among the team, but even those more robust tools leave something to be desired. And pretty soon, one spreadsheet becomes three, and someone forgets to make a status update, and a deadline gets overlooked.
The next step up might be something a bit more automated, intelligent, and maybe integrated. Members of the CEDIA LinkedIn group are discussing their picks for project management software
. Services, apps, and tools mentioned in the thread include:
- Google Drive
Here at the CEDIA offices, our day-to-day work is surely quite different from yours, but we have found cloud-based project management systems to be a great productivity booster for various projects, including some that require vendor communication.
We use WorkZone for some projects and BaseCamp for others, and in both cases, we appreciate having a linear, time-stamped trail of communication on projects, or even on a narrow detail of each project task. Also helpful is a central repository for essential documents that can be accessed from anywhere, with clear indication of which version is most up-to-date.
What Will Work Best For You?
When evaluating project management software options, we asked ourselves a few questions:
- Who will need to use the software? Will we be adding vendors and project partners to the service? Is there a fee for going over a certain number of user licenses?
- What's the integration factor? Here at CEDIA, we like that we can respond to project messages via email for convenience and have the message contents scraped into a thread in the software for long-term safekeeping.
- What do you need the software to do? Keep an open mind here, because you may find systems that have functionality you didn't know you needed or didn't think was possible.
- How much training will the system require? Like any tool, the software is only any good if people use it – and the fastest way to make sure no one uses it is to pick something that’s non-intuitive. To that end...
- Who will be responsible for making sure the software is the system of record for all project management tasks and communication? The answer is easy if you have a dedicated project manager, but may be less so if you have a few employees wearing a lot of different hats.
But enough about us – let’s hear about your systems. Do you currently use project management software? Do you manage to handle all your project communication by email? Or do you get things done by stitching together a few different tools – calendar here, email there, and a couple of spreadsheets?
Let us know what works for you – or what doesn't! – by joining our LinkedIn group
and sharing your thoughts in the original discussion.
About Holly Keller
Holly Keller is CEDIA's Content Manager. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.