Even best-laid plans are disrupted throughout the lifecycle of a project. The best project management software provides the proper amount of granularity and monitoring to keep projects efficient and on track.
As the name implies, time tracking software tracks the amount of time each project contributor spends on their assigned tasks. Besides simply measuring productivity, time tracking software also builds an archive of valuable data that can help businesses forecast completion dates for similar tasks or projects in the future. Time tracking is especially helpful when managing a team of remote or part-time employees. The image below shows the time tracking interface of Wrike.
Task management refers to the assignment of different responsibilities to various members of the project team. Being able to quickly determine who’s contributed to what part of the project lets managers better identify bottlenecks and stay on top of the project’s progress.
While the concept of task management is simple, the software can actually be fairly robust. In the case of large, complex projects that span different departments, tasks are very often interconnected or dependent on others. Certain project management solutions geared towards these types of undertakings will feature the ability to assign dependencies to tasks, which helps managers determine where a breakdown in productivity is occurring and assign the necessary resources to fix the problem. Task dependencies are often represented through Gantt charts, such as the one below:
Other common features of task management include notes and tags. Adding notes to a task helps keep track of specific changes to the project or provide references for the strategy associated with each task. Adding tags to tasks makes them easier to filter and find through a project management platform’s native search functionality.
Permission settings allow a PM to decide who can view, edit, or change tasks or sections of the software. A key part of managing a project effectively lies in vetting the access of each user on the platform. Judiciously metering out permissions also helps project managers avoid having to track down the sources of unauthorized changes to tasks or entire phases of the project.
Budgeting and expense tracking
Although software that budgets for projects, and businesses in general, comes in standalone versions, certain PM software vendors include budgeting functions as well as expense tracking. While budgeting software is somewhat self-explanatory, expense and project tracking software can provide PMs with the added benefit of knowing how team members accrue expenses throughout the lifespan of the project. Similar to time tracking, expense tracking provides valuable data that can be used to forecast future project costs.
Analysis and reports
Analysis and reporting functions let project managers view data in a form other than Gantt charts. Analysis tools can present metrics around productivity in a visual fashion that makes the information easier to digest. This type of data can be critical to making mid-project pivots. If a particular task needs additional resources or a specific department is moving slower than others, in-depth analysis features will help PMs rectify or leverage the situation.