Project software is a tool that is used by many companies to schedule resources, estimate costs, track status and analyze results of their projects. There are basically two types of project software – Project Management & Project Accounting. This page is focused on Project Management software. (Please see Project Accounting Software Selection Tips for more information regarding Project Accounting.) While there are clear differences in functionality, as project software has evolved, project management software vendors have added limited project accounting functionality to their products and vice versa. Also, it is important to note that due to the team collaboration requirements of both Project Management and Project Accounting software, these solutions have seen widespread acceptance with the Cloud (or Software as a Service) software delivery method. This means that you have many mature software solutions available to you in both the Cloud and On-Premises scenarios.
In general, Project Management software enables the planning and management of a project including project planning, resource allocation, budgeting, scheduling, skills management, document sharing, light project accounting and other project management tools. Originally created to produce Gantt and PERT charts, they have expanded their functionality into very comprehensive and, sometimes, complicated project management tools that manage the resources of very large multi-national organizations.
The following lists some of the major functionality available in project management software that you should consider in your analysis of project management software solutions. Although this list is not comprehensive, it will give you a high-level overview of the capabilities of project software and how this functionality can be used in your business.
- Project Planning. Project planning offers the ability to set up a project, create a timeline, and set up the processes and key documentation for a project. This capability offers templates and tools to generate new project plans, including a methodology manager to set up best practice methodologies that all projects automatically adhere to. It includes the ability to create Gantt and Pert charts for scheduling of resources and tracking throughout the life of the project. It also includes calendars, task linking, task sheets, project versions, critical paths, and tracking of bottlenecks in the process. It provides sophisticated tools for “what-if” scenarios on multiple projects, including resource allocation, project timing, funding, availability, etc. This enables the project manager to put all of the pieces of a project together before it starts.
- Resource Scheduling & Allocation. After the setup of the initial plan, resources must be allocated to the project. This includes the allocation of personnel, assets, inventory, etc. to a project. It includes skills tracking, resource forecasting, availability of employees, employee utilization and project realization. Resource pooling can be done to make sure the project can be realistically completed with personnel that have the appropriate skill set. Resource leveling can be used to stretch out the time where a resource with a finite capacity cannot complete the task according to the original plan. Personnel or teams can be assigned to tasks or categories across multiple projects, and the model can identify over and under commitments, as well as utilization. It also tracks when key materials must be ordered to be available for the right moment in the project. Resource scheduling and allocation ensure that resource constraints can be properly reserved and planned for during the life of a project.
- Project Collaboration. One of the greatest advantages that modern technology has brought project software is enhanced project collaboration capability. Project management software offers the ability to bring together a project team, even if they are not physically located in the same building or even the same city. Web-enabled project software allows project updates to be posted to a secure web site where all members of the team can have access to the latest information on the project. This capability has increased productivity because tools, documents, and resources can be shared quickly and efficiently. Collaboration tools include email and alerts to notify team members of new developments, deliver documents and maintain communications. Calendar software is used to schedule meetings and events, and alerts can be sent to team members via wireless devices, such as smart phones, as reminders and to notify them of any changes to meetings or to the project. Workflow capabilities, such as online routing of documents and approvals, have also been a great advantage.
- Document Management. Document management is the ability to track required documents for projects. For example, government contractors and aerospace companies have certain documentation requirements that must be maintained throughout a project. These documents include permits, inspections, certified drawings, certifications, (UL labeling, FTC requirements, etc.) and other documents. The ability to handle documents and audit trails is very important for billing requirements and audits that occur in this industry. Document management functionality not only handles the industry requirements, but also streamlines the billing process because the required documentation is maintained on a continual basis.
If you would like more information regarding Project Management software selection or vendors you may want to consider, please call us at (425) 216-4030.