Managing projects is a tough job, but using modern tools can free up a significant amount of time. Project managers are often buried in tasks, which often result in their spending extra hours at work. With software tools, it’s easy to eliminate repetitive reporting and data management duties.
The last thing a project manager, who is responsible for running the whole project, should be doing is spending hours filling in Excel sheets, reporting in multiple databases, and not being aligned with the team. There still are project managers who spend 20–25% of their time managing such duties and tasks.
Below, you will find a list of useful project management tools that can help project managers stay on top of their tasks. These tools are affordable, and anyone can start using them, without any help from IT. Use them to save valuable time that can then be allotted to more important tasks.
#1 Trello—easy-to-use project management
Trello is a simple project management solution, with a to-do-list and task management tool for project managers.
It’s flexible when it comes to set-up, allowing customization according to your needs. The tool allows you to store project-related files, checklists, tasks, notes and comments. It can be accessed by assigning tasks, and it can be made accessible for anyone on your team.
The great thing is the ease of having your project management tool always accessible. You can use it with any mobile device or tablet, or while sitting behind a computer.
The price is also worth mentioning. Trello has a powerful free package, and if you want to upgrade it, it costs $9.99 a month.
It’s a pretty nifty tool for project managers. In addition to helping you organize your own project management jobs, it also allows your team members to keep collaborating, share tasks and stay informed.
#2 Slack—team communication
There are a number of channels that help individuals and teams to communicate, including phone, e-mail, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, SMS, Webex, Join.me, etc.
If you and your team members are using a number of these tools to communicate, chances are that the information is shared across platforms. This makes it hard to keep everyone updated, and there is no comprehensive record or history kept.
Now there is Slack—a great tool that helps keep your team’s communications in one place, and ensure that everyone is informed and information is accessible.
Slack allows you to maintain your project team’s communications in one channel. You can send private messages, files and emoticons. It also allows you to create discussion channels for groups of team members, among other additional features.
All the information is stored in one place and accessible in the future. Slack can be used with mobile devices, tablets or even computers.
#3 Google Spreadsheets and Google Drive – storing and sharing files
Google spreadsheets is an close to identical tool to Excel but with some great additions, it allows you to edit, share and access your spreadsheets online.
Google Drive is a great place to host all your important Google sheets, and it is basically an online equivalent of Microsoft Office. It allows all your stakeholders to have access to the very latest version of your documents, be it contract templates, invoices or budget files.
This Google product makes it easy to share files with your team, customers or subcontractors. Everyone uses the same version of a file, and there is a feature to keep track of all changes that have been made.
Google Drive is just one product in G Suite, which has calendar, e-mail, storage drive, conferencing and more, with prices starting from $5 a month (https://gsuite.google.com/pricing.html). The business package, which costs $10 a month and offers unlimited storage and archiving, makes it pointless to manage anything in your own servers.
#4 Dropbox—easy-to-access file folder and sharing
Dropbox is a powerful file storage and sharing tool that works across devices, and is just as easy to use as a regular folder on your computer.
The power of Dropbox is that while storing information in folders, it allows you to access the very same folder that you have at work from a computer at your home.
So whenever a computer crashes or breaks down, or you need to have access to your files no matter the device you are using, Dropbox ensures that there is always a backup. The price for 2 TBs is $16.58 per month.
#5 Planyard – easy way for managing project financials
Managing project financials can be a time-consuming process. Storing files in servers, budgets in Excel tables, reports in an accounting system, and all the communication that runs through e-mail might consume up to 25% of project managers’ working time.
Planyard makes it easy to manage your contracts, contract terms and invoices—all in one place. You can also automate commitments.
The whole finance management process is tightly connected, eliminating the need for recurring data entry. This also keeps information synced and makes it easy to keep up with project costs and profitability predictions.
Just upload your budget Excel sheet when the project starts, then add contracts, approve commitments and approve invoices.
BONUS #6 Smith.ai
Since project managers need to keep in youch with the customers and your subcontractors, it is critical that all parties get responded to quickly before and during a project, without incurring hefty staff costs & interruptions, by outsourcing call answering and receptionist duties to Smith.ai, a 24/7 virtual receptionist service.
You can have the most critical issues forwarded to you right away and have the less critical ones be collected for you. So that you can deal with them when it is not as hectic anymore with the critical challenges.