Managing complicated projects is nothing new — look at the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Egyptians managed to build the pyramids without so much as a spreadsheet.
So why do over 80% of projects fail to fully meet their objectives?
A few years ago, The Project Management Institute (PMI) cited 7 key reasons for project failure, including inconsistent processes for managing project checkpoints and inadequate planning at the beginning of the project.
Failing to provide the project team with the right tools for the job makes the list at number 7 (weird theme going on here).
In our opinion, the right tools should be at the top — simply because with the right tools, checkpoints and early-stage planning are made simple.
But we are, perhaps, a bit biased.
Either way, this article is all about how to develop the best project management programs to guarantee* your next project success.
[*Don’t hold me to this. Even the PMI says that sometimes projects fail for no reason. Let’s not even talk about the Leaning Tower of Pisa.]
What even is a project management program?
As your business grows, keeping your projects organized and on-track can become more and more difficult. Project management programs give you a way to digitally plan, track, and manage different workflows no matter how complicated they get.
And it’s important to get it right, because poor project performance wastes nearly 10% of every dollar invested.
As you might imagine, there are a number of different project management programs on the market. So how do you differentiate between them?
Any decent project management program needs 5 basic things:
- An ability to plan and delegate tasks to the right people at the right time
- A way to track project progress against KPIs
- Somewhere to store your project files so everyone can access and edit what they need
- A space for easy collaboration so your team can solve problems and ask questions
- An ability to communicate with each other in real-time to make changes and share knowledge
If you’re managing a more complex project you’ll also want:
- A way to control project expenditure, so you can stay within budget (no burying your head in the sand here!)
- A time tracking feature to identify areas where productivity could be improved
- A cloud-based functionality, so your team can work from wherever they are (for dispersed project teams)
A great example is monday.com’s high-level project plan which allows you to see, at a glance, who is working on what, when tasks are due and overall project progress.
Who uses project management programs?
Perhaps a better question would be — who should use project management programs?
And the answer won’t surprise you.There’s a direct correlation between project performance and project management software.
87% of high performers report using it.
But, as we talked about above, what kind of project you’re running should influence which tool you use.
You’ll want to consider:
- The size of your team
- The complexity of your project (including scope, risk, and budget)
- Whether you want to follow a certain project methodology
- What level of reporting you need and, dependent on your own know-how,
- How much customer support you need
For example, if you want to use Agile project management, being able to organize your tasks using a Kanban board would be a key feature to look out for.
Cost is, of course, another factor.
A program with a shared workspace to store and collaborate on documents, and basic task tracking may be all that smaller, simpler projects need. For larger teams and more complex, higher-risk projects, investing in a more comprehensive solution is likely to be money well-spent.
Finally, choose something easy to use.
Projects can be stressful enough without a tool that’s as frustrating as finding the start of the sellotape (hmm, just me?).
Drag-and-drop functionality, seamless integration with other tools, and even cheerful colors (hint, hint) can all make the day just that little bit brighter.
For instance, monday.com’s project overview board, which meets all these criteria and more:
Which project management program is right for you?
#1. monday.com: a Work OS
First up is monday.com (surprise!), which offers a range of options to suit every project and budget. For only $8/user per month, your team can organize tasks, build a project management plan using one of monday.com’s 200+ customizable templates, collaborate on documents, and brainstorm ideas on a shared whiteboard.
For more complicated projects, monday.com’s Pro solution at $16/user per month provides all the functionality you need for a successful project.
There are several ways you can keep on top of things, including powerful automations, auto-assigning tasks via Kanban boards, viewing the project timeline or calendar views, and tracking both time and workload to ensure efficiency.
monday.com is super simple to use, colorful as a toucan and all plans have monday.com’s brilliant 24/7 customer support.
#2. Trello: for Kanban
A well-known task management platform, Trello only uses Kanban boards to organize work.
Kanban is a framework used within the Agile methodology so if that’s your jam then Trello is a great option. If you’re managing your project using waterfall methodology, then a different tool might be a better fit.
Trello will also help you manage simple workflows, create lists, and collaborate within a small team. It does have a free option but, for anything more than the simplest projects, you should go for its Business Class option which starts at $9.99/user per month.
Trello offers customer support by email within one business day.
#3. Asana: for project management
A powerful project management tool, Asana has effective task, document, and workflow management capabilities.
Like other project management software, Asana has multiple view options including board, list, and timeline.
If you’re a project manager leading a small team, Asana has a free option that allows you to collaborate with up to 15 teammates which is good value. For larger teams, their Premium option starts at $10.99/user per month. To get workload management you’ll need their Business version at $24.99/user per month.
Like monday.com’s webinar hub, Asana has a training academy to help you use the platform. It also has online support during business hours.
#4. Wrike: Gantt charts and multiple views
Wrike has some key project management features and a structure that lets project managers track tasks and manage dependencies easily.
There are a number of ways you can view progress, such as Gantt charts or via the project calendar, and it has both a time and workload-tracking tool.
The Wrike project management app has a number of customizable templates which are helpful when you’re starting out as its feature-packed platform has a steeper learning curve than other options.
For teams up to five people, Wrike has a free option which allows simple task management and file sharing. For more advanced features including reporting, calendars and time tracking you’ll need Wrike’s Business version for $24.80/user per month.
#5. Jira: for software developers
Jira is a project management program that started life as a way for software developers to track issues. Its core market is still software developers and their teams but it has enough functionality to also support non-software project management.
Jira is a good fit for agile project teams looking to organize and assign work, and track and manage issues. The platform is set up to support Kanban, Scrum, and hybrid models. It doesn’t have time or workload tracking but agile teams using sprints are probably on top of this.
Jira has a free option for up to ten users and its Business option, at $14/user per month, is good value for projects with a mature Agile methodology.
For a comprehensive look at all the project management software on the market today, check out our resource, “The Complete Project Management Software List for 2021.”
By now you should have a clear idea of how project management programs can improve projects in your business. It’s no coincidence that the best performing projects use tools to plan, track, and get things done.
There are a number of different options out there. We believe that large or small, simple or complex, monday.com is the perfect fit for all your project needs. So, go forth. Start building those pyramids.
Or, if that sounds a bit exhausting, start here, with monday.com’s project planning template.