Sometimes managing projects and processes in your business can feel like herding cats. That’s where project management process tools come in. These specialized tools manage all the people, projects, tasks, and files that make up your business.
When you build your project management processes around the right software tools, your business starts firing on all cylinders. Your team feels empowered to work hard until you cross the finish line.
Project management process tools are incredibly valuable, but there’s just one problem: it’s tough finding the right platform for the job.
Here, we explain why these tools are so valuable, share our favorite tools for growing businesses, and explain why you need a strategy to back up your software.
What Project Management Process Software Is—and What It Isn’t
Project management process software is what project managers, employees, and business owners use to plan, execute, monitor, control, and close tasks and projects. It’s a valuable tool that empowers teams to work more efficiently and effectively to save time, money, and sanity.
But to understand what this software is, we have to look at what it isn’t. First, PM tools aren’t a to-do list—they’re much more. If you want a to-do list, use the free Reminders app that comes on your iPhone.
PM software offers structure and support for your business’s big, audacious goals.
This software can handle:
- Project planning and goal setting
- Task assignments and scheduling
- Team collaboration and communication
- Resource management
- Time tracking
- Quality control
- Monitoring and reporting
Keep in mind that project management process software isn’t the same as customer relationship management (CRM) software. Sometimes people try to force their PM software to be a CRM, but this isn’t the place for that. If you need a CRM, create a HubSpot account and manage your customer relationships there. (As a HubSpot partner, BTC is happy to help you get that set up. Just contact us before you sign up.)
We love chat tools like Slack, but these aren’t project management tools. Email and Excel spreadsheets aren’t project management tools, either.
Why Every Business Needs Project Management Process Tools
Spreadsheets are fine to manage projects and process at first, especially when you’re small. But they aren’t scalable. Without the right systems in place, you lose visibility across all of the projects in your business. You can’t see what resources you have or when you have the capacity to take on more projects.
PM tools, on the other hand, have features to manage:
Plus, you can manage these aspects of your projects from multiple locations around the globe and set multiple access levels for team members, clients, and others.
Let email, Slack, and Excel do what they’re designed to do, but don’t use them as a PM tool. When it comes to managing projects, go with the right tool for the job. You wouldn’t use a hammer to screw something into the wall, would you?
The Two Best Project Management Process Tools for Professional Services
The right project management process tool depends on your team’s workflow and the nature of your business. The two best tools for professional services groups, in our experience, are Teamwork.com and Asana.
Check out the next section if you need more specialized PM software or if you work in trade services.
Beyond the Chaos is Teamwork.com’s biggest fan. As a Certified Partner, it’s the number-one PM tool that we recommend to our clients because it handles just about everything. (We became partners because it’s so great; we don’t recommend it because we are partners.)
- Workload management
- Task management
… and a lot more.
Teamwork.com includes advanced features, like People, where you can track the basics of the people involved in each project. Teamwork.com allows for dependent tasks, milestones, and templates, so you’re free to set up the platform for your needs. You can even use it to build, roll out, and manage processes.
The challenge is that you need to set up Teamwork.com correctly. BTC can help you set up project and task templates that auto-populate project details every time you open a new project. It’s the best way to get value from your investment in a platform with this much firepower.
If you’re not into Teamwork.com, Asana is a solid second choice. Because it’s so simple, Asana is better suited for simple work. It’s essentially a to-do list on steroids, so it’s a great tool if you need a more advanced type of to-do list app.
If you’re a visual person, Asana gives you the ability to visualize your workflow. You can choose between either a Board or List view in Asana, although you can’t display tasks in both views, as you can with Teamwork.com. Asana also lacks affordable budgeting features that come with Teamwork.com’s base product.
Asana is a solid tool, but you may need a few clever workarounds to leverage the platform if you want to use it for process management. With an experienced team like BTC, you can find the right setup for your team’s needs.
Specialized Project Management Process Tools
Teamwork.com and Asana are great for professional services teams, but they aren’t the only PM software on the market. In fact, there are plenty of specialized PM tools for you to choose from.
For example, there are solutions out there if you do field service (such as Jobber) or others if you run a gym. While BTC is happy to research options for you, these two specialized PM tools are a good starting point.
Technically, JIRA isn’t a PM tool. It was originally an issue-tracking product that allowed bug tracking, but it also does Agile project management for software development.
JIRA is highly effective for software development, especially for Agile teams. Its biggest benefit is the fact that it aids in software versioning and managing which features go into a solution.
The downside is that JIRA has a steep learning curve, so your team might struggle to learn how to use the system at first. Confluence is its “collaboration tool” and it’s not easy to manage, especially across teams and projects, as other collaboration tools.
Keep in mind that, as great as JIRA is at managing software, it won’t manage projects very well for you. It’s best to pair JIRA with an actual project management process tool—like Teamwork.com—to keep your projects on track.
Microsoft Project is a little bulky, but it’s ideal for enterprise teams. If you’re a Microsoft organization and a large company, this PM solution aids in creating extremely large and complex projects.
It includes features for:
- Gantt charts
- Task management
- Invoicing and budgeting
The platform can be cumbersome, though, so you need a full-time project manager to oversee big projects in Microsoft Project.
Project Management Tools Alone Aren’t the Answer
We often hear business owners say they tried PM tools, but they didn’t work. Sorry to break it to you but, the truth is that it’s not the tool that’s the issue—it’s how you’re using the tool.
If you have a hammer and a nail and a picture, the picture won’t automatically get hung on the right wall, at the right height, centered properly, by magic. You have to properly use the tools you’re given and follow a process.
No matter what you choose, remember that the software doesn’t manage projects for you. You still have to work the software. You will have to build schedules, assign tasks to your team, and communicate clearly.
It’s a tool, not magic.
Make the Right Choice: Get Fractional Project Management for Your Business
Choosing a project management process tool is a big decision. But as a business owner, you might not have the time to find and implement the right option on your own.
That’s where we come in. BTC works with you to identify the features you need and the right processes to make PM tools work for you. It’s helpful to have an outside consultant come in and set up the tool and train your team members so they use it consistently.
No tool is perfect, and there’s always going to be a gap. We solve that through process optimization or by adding tools to boost the value you get from a PM solution. Even if you have a unique business model, we’re here to support you. BTC has the experience of working with 150+ small business owners, so we’ve seen it all.
Get unstuck and start getting back to business. Contact Beyond the Chaos now to find the perfect project management process tool for your business.
For more self-guided resources, visit our complete guide to successful small business operations.