Is managing your project like trying to juggle Jell-O? Frustrating and you just know things are going to get messy?

Projects are complicated and keeping on top of all the moving parts can be a headache. There are deadlines to meet, people to manage, stakeholders to engage, and sanity to maintain.

If just the thought of spinning all those plates makes you want to bury your head in the sand, you need a project management system.

Read on to find out more about project management systems and how they’ll leave you more zen than yoga.

What is a project management system?

A project management system is a set of tools — documents, software, apps, meetings — that can help project managers keep their projects on track.

A good project management system helps at every phase of the project life cycle, from project planning to effective task management and scheduling, and clear visibility of the project status throughout.

We’ve got all you need to know on the project phases in our article over at but, in summary, there are 5:

  1. Project initiation
  2. Project planning
  3. Project execution
  4. Monitoring and controls
  5. Project closure

At the project initiation stage, your project management system will contain documents like the project charter which outlines the project scope, high-level budget, and overall project duration. It should also identify the project sponsor and other key stakeholders.

No prizes for guessing how it helps in the project planning stage.

If you’re following a waterfall methodology, you’ll be breaking down the project scope into deliverables, tasks, and milestones and sequencing the work that needs to be done. For agile projects, you’ll be building the backlog and planning what to tackle in your first “sprint”.

Note: if that last sentence was gobbledygook to you, check out our article on project management methodologies.

During project execution, a good project management system helps keep you organized through a number of different tools and apps. For example, the project schedule helps you assign tasks, stay on top of deadlines, and manage the workload of the project team.

screenshot showing deliverables on a timeline and also status of project tasks

And when work needs doing, collaboration tools mean different members of the project team can easily view, share, and contribute to tasks right in the platform..

Project management software is vital for effectively monitoring and controlling your project (the 4th stage).

It can help you present project data in accurate, visually appealing ways to keep stakeholders engaged with project progress. Tools such as a risk register and cost management software can also help you monitor project risk and keep an eye on your budget.

As you close the project down, a project management system can help you to assess project success through a variety of metrics. You can also include documents to track what you’ve learned from the project and what you’d do differently next time.

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Why use a project management system?

There’s a reason — well, 4 actually — why 87% of the highest-performing projects invest in their project management system.

1. It increases visibility

A project management system makes sure that all stakeholders can clearly see the status of the project at any particular time.

This means both the project manager and project sponsor get early warning if the project isn’t progressing as expected and can make timely decisions about what action to take to bring the project back on track.

Project management tools, such as this pretty Gantt chart, can be arranged to show projects being delivered over time. Color-coded to show their current status, it’s an easy way to immediately spot issues, such as overdue tasks.

screenshot of a Gantt chart showing current task status

2. It provides accountability

Documents such as the project charter mean that roles and responsibilities are clear from the beginning.

This means no fighting over resources or claims that you had no idea someone was already promised to another project.

As tasks are assigned to owners, it’s also clear who’s accountable for which tasks and who you need to speak to if you face a roadblock or something’s delayed.

3. It drives engagement

A well-organized project management system also has tools and plans in place about how to communicate with stakeholders outside the project team.

This can be crucial to project success, especially if there is resistance to the project. You might even invest in a collaboration tool that enables stakeholders to make direct contributions to project work, building engagement further.

4. It builds organizational project management maturity

Getting project managers, and business stakeholders, to engage with an effective project management system builds their capability in project management tools and software.

Project sponsors and senior management have to become comfortable in interpreting the information a project management system can provide. These things, in turn, increase organizational project management maturity.

This is important as organizations with higher levels of project management capability waste 21 times less money on their projects. Yet only 35% of organizations are satisfied with their project management maturity.

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How do I choose the right project management system?

As discussed earlier, a project management system can be made up of many things: documents, software, apps, and meetings. There are a number of factors to consider when implementing your system:

Project size

The larger the project the more comprehensive a project management solution you probably need. If there are a lot of different people working on the project, it also needs to be flexible and easy to use.

Project complexity

If you’re managing a complex project, or running multiple projects, having a well-structured project management system helps streamline and bring clarity. Project management software can be used to synthesize lots of information and support effective decision-making.

More advanced platforms can also automate some of the more administrative tasks leaving you the time and thinking space to concentrate on managing the project.

Project methodology

For a waterfall project, the most important element to control is project scope so a project charter and project plan will be critical, whereas time tracking per task might be less so.

For agile projects, tools to manage any fixed criteria, such as cost or budget, are important, as is software that allows effective team collaboration.

screenshot showing project team collaborating on project work via messenger tool

Organizational culture

Consider the business you’re delivering the project within.

For a more traditional organization, all-singing, all-dancing project software might be a step too far.

Whereas, for a data-driven digital marketing company, you’ll definitely need attractive visuals and robust metrics.


There’s no getting around it, some of these options are going to be more pricey than others. Get clear on your requirements, and your budget, and pick an option that doesn’t compromise either too much.

Considering these factors should help you decide if you need a full-scale, project management solution, a specific tool, or some good basics.

If you’re still struggling to choose, remember that project success is traditionally judged on 3 factors known as “the iron triangle”.

Nope, not the output of a blacksmith’s first day at ironmongery school. This actually means delivering your project:

  • To the scope outlined in the project charter
  • On time
  • Within budget

So, at a minimum, make sure your project management system enables you to keep an eye on these 3 biggies.

Iron triangle, check. What else would help?

I’m glad you asked. Project management systems are best underpinned by top-performing project management software. Like — don’t pretend you didn’t know it was coming!’s Work OS can support all of these requirements and more.

So, if you’re dealing with larger, more complex projects, need a tool that will grow with your business while still being super user-friendly, or just want to get a little more fancy, we can help.


In this article, we’ve covered what project management systems are and how you can use them to better organize your project.

In our humble opinion,’s Work OS is the best software out there to support your system and bring project success.

Why not give it a try? Join over 100,000 other teams getting things done with

Hopefully, it’ll mean less Jell-O, more neatly arranged apple pie. Or any other well-ordered baked good you can conjure up.

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