Think about how you’d react if your car mechanic said, “Your car is leaking gas. But, in the short term, it’s cheaper to leave it as is. So make sure you refill more often!”
That’s essentially what companies are doing when they don’t take project management seriously.
A company that can’t control its projects is effectively leaking money, resources, and productivity. “Maybe later” is not a winning strategy.
If you want to avoid your business’ workflows becoming a sieve, the first step is investing in the right software.
In this article, we’ll show how to choose the right business project management software — not as boring as it sounds, we promise — and how to make the most of it once you’ve got it.
What is business project management software?
Project management software — software specialized for business purposes — goes way beyond simple to-do lists.
It includes real-time collaboration tools, tracking and reporting, Gantt charts, visualization, and much more.
Think of it like the Swiss Army knife your business’ project management needs.
Without access to the right data and features, managing projects can be a nightmare. Multiple email threads, spreadsheets, and a delayed chain of communication — the old way is bad news.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you currently don’t have control over your projects, a professional project management solution can help.
You can use templates and boards to manage workflows, track how your project is doing, and collaborate with your employees.
Plus, use data-based decisions for task management and resource management to keep your projects in line.
Why you need software to manage your business projects
Every year, American businesses invest billions of dollars into new projects, hoping to develop a new winning product, improve processes, or expand to new markets.
Unfortunately, 11.4% of all money that businesses invest in projects is lost due to poor management practices.
In other words, companies waste $114,000 for every $1,000,000 invested in a project of any kind.
By “maturing” your project management process, you can meet your project objectives within budget 21% more frequently — which is either a lot of advertising budget or the comfiest office chairs on the market.
What is project management maturity?
- You’ve standardized project management frameworks and practices throughout your company.
- You’ve got reliable ways of tracking and forecasting projects.
- You’ve got reliable processes and tools for managing staff and other resources.
Investing in software is the first step to improve your project management processes.
Would you start building a house without a solid foundation?
Of course not.
The right software solution will become the bedrock of better management, allowing you to start building on top of it.
What makes business projects different?
Business projects are fundamentally different from personal projects, like de-weeding your garden.
By understanding everything that sets them apart, you can better understand the type of software that will help your business get to the next level.
So let’s break those differences down.
#1. Scale of goals
The scope — or intended area of impact — of business projects is typically on an entirely different level.
The goal could be to invent a new product, completely revamp business processes, modernize a factory, or start selling to a whole new continent.
Unlike moving out of your house, recruiting some friends with beer one Sunday isn’t going to cut it.
#2. The number of people involved
When the number of people is low, management is easy. You can keep an eye on everyone and give them instructions directly.
Once you get beyond a handful of people, that’s no longer the case. Directly giving detailed step-by-step instructions becomes impossible.
Projects can involve dozens or even hundreds of different employees. To handle that, you have to create processes to help leaders divide and manage them as individual teams.
#3. The consequences of a failed project
The stakes are also a lot higher. The worst-case scenario for moving out is a scuffed wall or a dirty couch.
If you’re working on your e-commerce store, any little mistake could have fatal consequences.
Unplanned downtime costs Fortune 1000 companies alone up to $2.5 trillion a year, or $100,000 per hour.
Your company can’t afford to make these mistakes.
#4. Timeframe and resource constraints
When you’re undertaking something for personal reasons, you might try to finish by a certain date, but you rarely have strict deadlines (unless your partner is giving you an ultimatum).
Strict time and resource constraints are the norm for business projects. You’ve got X number of dollars and a final deadline breathing down your neck.
Now that we’ve covered the stakes and challenges of a business project, let’s look at how you can find the right software.
What to look for in business project management software
Don’t settle for the first and cheapest project management tool that you find. Instead, keep an eye out for the following when searching for project management software for businesses.
A 30,000-foot view of all projects
As a manager, you don’t want to manually check every project’s status in the pipeline, task by task.
You need a higher level overview that can give you all vital information at a glance.
In monday.com, we achieve this with things like our high-level projects overview template. It outlines which stage each project is in, the expected timeline, priorities, and more.
You can also use automations to link the overview with individual team boards. The board will show the real-time status of all projects.
Plus, you can use Gantt chart and timeline views to visualize the progress of every project.
That’s not all. You can also track KPIs in dashboards, pulling data from multiple sources.
Real-time KPI tracking and reporting
Unfortunately, there’s no way to “eyeball” project performance. Without a reliable way to track your key performance indicators (KPIs), how will your company know how your projects are performing?
If you’re serious about project management, choose KPIs and core milestones before starting projects.
Single out metrics like cycle time, planned vs. actual time spent, budget variance, and more.
Reliable tracking and reporting are must-haves to stay on top of this data.
In monday.com, we let each manager customize the dashboard to show their preferred metrics in real time.
For complex projects across departments, resource management is also vital. You might have to balance key talent between different teams to maximize overall productivity.
Advanced workflow and business process management (BPM) features
For recurring tasks and processes, it’s best to standardize and streamline them as much as possible. The ability to list out and assign tasks alone isn’t going to cut it.
If your company relies on an advanced approval workflow, you need software that can easily track every deliverable through the entire process.
monday.com offers 200+ freely customizable templates that are tailor-made for different workflows and frameworks.
For example, your creative team might use a typical multi-step design workflow when going from brief to mockup.
Something like this (from monday.com):
Being able to track where the project is at each stage makes it easier to intervene and assign talent where it’s most needed.
Internal team collaboration is all well and good, but that’s not the primary benefit of implementing a project management system.
Teamwork between departments across traditional functional lines is how you boost performance and speed up projects.
More than half of all cross-functional teams experience a significant performance improvement.
When done right, it has the potential to accelerate projects by eliminating bottlenecks and roadblocks. With all the talent they need in the same place, there’s no waiting for feedback or input.
Say hello to warp speed projects.
But not all project management software can handle that scale. Luckily, monday.com offers tailor-made templates to implement cross-departmental projects.
A high-level view will lay out the project plan across stages and departments, giving managers the tools to stay on top of everyone involved every step of the way.
Not to mention, we’ve got a range of different views and features to suit different workflows and help teams play nicely with one another.
With our standard grid view with color-coded statuses, a Kanban board, timeline, calendar view, and more, every team can freely customize their visualizations to keep everyone on board.
A project team is the most effective when it’s cross-functional and includes all skill sets needed to finish. Project planning should consider that.
Scalability and reliability
As a business, you want to invest in a solution that can grow alongside you.
Replacing a system after you’ve scaled your business is a lot harder than starting to use it in your early stages.
Look for solutions with user roles, permission control, and more to help you scale beyond a small team.
Unlike a basic project management app, monday.com is built for scale. With user roles and board permissions, you can show employees only what they need to see, while managers and analysts get access to everything.
Our largest clients manage dozens of projects and thousands of users.
And we take our 99.9% uptime service-level agreement (SLA) very seriously. We monitor our status 24/7, invest heavily in infrastructure, and have developers on-call around the clock.
We even publish our internal uptime reports for everyone to see online.
Our goal is to be as reliable as an old Volvo, but without compromising on design, comfort, or features.
Ease of use and adoption-friendly software
When you have more than a handful of employees, the ease of use for any new software should be a top priority.
The average employee isn’t as technologically savvy as you think. Almost half of IT managers report that users struggle to adopt new software.
Our developers go above and beyond to make monday.com the most user-friendly project management platform on the market. It’s probably why our users nominated us for and won us an award in 2019.
We’ve got the scalability of enterprise project management software without the clunky user interface that usually comes with it.
But don’t take our word for it. Entrepreneur.com switched multiple teams to our platform in a single week, and successfully increased its digital sales by 23%!.
Integrations with other tools and platformsWhen companies start using more SaaS applications, it’s time to add some structure to the madness. Choose a solution with robust integrations. Try to integrate as many of your existing apps as possible for a smoother workflow.
monday.com has 100+ integrations, with a wide range of popular SaaS tools and apps:
Some of the highlights of our integrations include:
- CRMs: Salesforce, Copper,
- Communication tools: Gmail, Outlook, Slack, Microsoft Teams
- E-commerce platforms: Shopify, WooCommerce
- Marketing: Facebook Ads, MailChimp, Hubspot
- Development tools: Github, Gitlab, Jira, Pagerduty
And that’s only a small subsection of them. Through Zapier, you can integrate with even more platforms.
monday.com isn’t just a simple tool. It’s a fully optimized Work OS that makes it easy for your team to get the data they need and get more work done.
Any company in 2021 can no longer afford to postpone fundamental workflow automation.
What’s at stake? Potentially 15+ hours of productive work from your managers and employees every week.
A basic, run-of-the-mill project management tool usually has limited automation functionality.
With monday.com, you can choose from hundreds of pre-made automated workflows or use our smart workflow tool to build your own from scratch.
For example, instead of having to manually create new items for your review or testing team when an item status changes to “review” or “test,” you can automate it.
And that’s only the beginning.
Here’s a quick list of just some of what you can do with our automated workflow builder:
- Create, edit, or update items based on events or data from other platforms.
- Automatically assign items or send notifications based on status changes, missed due dates, or more.
- Automatically create and fill out recurring items.
The options are endless. If you’ve ever wanted a robot butler, you’ll love what our automation recipes can do for you.
5 common mistakes to avoid when choosing new project management software
Getting your whole company to adopt new software is a big undertaking, so it’s best if you do it right the first time around.
1. Valuing price above all else.
Free project management software or cheap solutions might seem like a good investment on paper. But with the amount of resources in play for large-scale business projects, it could easily cost your business way more than you’ll save.
- A single miscommunication can lead to delays, a failed project, or even lost deals.
- One missed development due to poor reporting or tracking can lead to poor management decisions.
- Extended service downtime could stall your business (with no SLAs, you have no guarantee).
We’re not saying you should just open your wallet to the most expensive option either. Price should, of course, be a consideration, but not the only one.
2. Not giving usability the credit it deserves.
When choosing new software, most companies get caught up in price and functionality.
Sure, they’re important factors, but if the software isn’t usable, it’ll become a cost center for your business, not a productivity booster.
The average employee’s computer skills are a lot worse than employers and managers like to imagine.
Complex tasks that involve multiple tools are often challenging and can disrupt productivity for a lot of your workforce.
That’s why a single, easily usable platform that integrates data and automates complicated things like reporting is a must.
3. Rushing the decision and adoption.
When trying to solve an existing problem, it can be tempting to try to rush the solution as quickly as possible.
But this can create more problems than it solves.
Instead, take your time when choosing a solution. Consider integrations, usability, reliability, and more.
Once you’ve chosen the software, you need to give your company time to learn the new platform and make a smooth transition.
Of course, you don’t want to wait a whole quarter either. Just 1 to 4 weeks is probably the sweet spot here (unless it’s a company-wide transition).
Slow and steady might win the race, but there’s a difference between moving slowly with intent and standing completely still.
4. Not involving more varied viewpoints.
This software decision won’t just affect your managers and executives. It affects all end users, including every “regular” employee that works on multiple projects.
It could be virtually every member of your company. So, when you’re making the decision, involve as many viewpoints as possible.
Since different teams have different workflows, they may have varied requirements — that’s why we offer such a flexible experience with different views at monday.com — and it’s essential to try and give everyone what they want.
5. Not trying before you buy
In marketing materials like videos, landing pages, and ads, companies put their best foot forward (and who can blame them).
But you shouldn’t invest in new software with per-user pricing for your entire company without running a trial first.
That’s why we offer a free 14-day trial of our software. You can set up a small test-run for 1 or 2 teams, 100% free of charge.
5 tips to make the most of your new software
Not sure how to put the software to good use after choosing it? We’ll send you off with a few solid tips to help you make the most of it.
1. Make using the software part of company culture.
Once you’ve committed to a project management software, trying to ease it in while keeping your old one can be a bad idea.
It can lead to different information on the platforms, and vital people in projects can act without having all the data.
If you give people a chance, they’ll try to stick to their old ways. Instead, make using the software part of company culture. Schedule all meetings there, leave notes and takeaways, and include all workflows in the software.
It may be hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but the payoff is more than worth it.
2. Recruit change agents to help make it stick.
Depending on the scale of your company, changing a single system can be a big undertaking.
Preparing with a few workshops and meetings probably won’t cut it. Instead, single out change agents on every project team to help make the new software stick.
Figure out who on each team fits the profile of an early adopter. Think of an office worker who always shows up first with the newest gadgets.
Make sure you let them have extra time to “play around” with the new software, so they can teach everyone on their team how to make the most of it.
3. Use custom templates to standardize workflows and processes.
Instead of giving every team free rein to manage themselves, you should make custom templates to standardize workflows and processes.
They can help in implementing a framework or best practices throughout your organization.
For example, you can include a 3-person testing and validation chain of any new code to be committed.
In monday.com, it’s easy to change templates with our drag and drop interface. Saving them just takes a single click.
They’re like an invisible manager with a checklist looking over every team board created within your company.
4. Make full use of your new access to actionable data.
With more access to project data, you need to make sure you put it to use.
Set up dashboards that highlight essential metrics and share access with all decision-makers.
When making important decisions that impact the schedule or budget of the project, managers should have the latest reports at their fingertips.
If the data is sitting there, unused, it may as well be on printed paper in a warehouse. To benefit from it, you need to use it.
5. Find the right project management framework.
Once you have a complete platform for managing projects, you can experiment with new project management methodologies or frameworks.
You’ll have access to the data to see if it’s working for a team during a trial in real time.
Ready to get started?
Businesses invest a lot of resources in new projects each year, but much gets squandered away because of poor management and overview.
With the right project management software, you can minimize failed projects, boost cross-functional collaboration, and improve productivity.
Our high-level projects overview template will help you control a portfolio of projects better, and start undoing the damage of bad management.