All projects are over-flooded with daily tasks and even if project well planned you always will get urgent one that may put in danger your schedule. But hey, that’s why live people are hired to manage projects. Therefore I’m not going to tell you how to manage your schedule on day-to-day basis that’s up to you and your personal skills and preferences. Instead I’d like to mention and compare tools that was created to make our work easier.
Also I’m not going to convince you which one is better… hm… predictable! But surely I can tell pluses and minuses of the tools I’ve been using while managing projects. I’d like to mention next tools:
- Microsoft project
User has access to the projects he was invited to and of course one he has created.
All projects are nicely displayed in card manner with title, short description, last updated info and team members photo.
- It has user friendly interface. There is no need to look up any tutorials on how to use it;
- Project card interface shows all needed data in a manner that is easy to take and manage details quickly;
- Easy to create To-do list and divide it on tasks and assign on respective person;
- Make notes and receive feedback in every task;
- You can see all task that was assigned to you or some specific person by clicking “me” tab or on the person’s name to go to his to-do list.
Now, dark side of the moon:
- Huge projects, with complicated scope and more than 5 participants – will create a mess with hundreds of To-do’s and even more tasks, and you will lose concentration pretty fast while searching for the task that you need. What you’ll see will remind you a solid book with text that goes and goes forever;
- To download any attachment you have to click on it first and see all options in the pop-up… that’s cool that you can see comments, can view it in a full size and delete it, but when you have to download lots of files attached to different tasks… that way really eats too much time and can be a pain in the… basecamp;
- When choosing deadline for the project in the calendar you’ll see pretty long line from your start day till deadline. And sure thing there will be more that 5 projects… so your calendar will show nice rainbow;
- It has no time tracking tool, though you may install EverHour as an add-on to your browser and connect it with basecamp… only problem that it has delays and can track more that you actually worked on task.
It has everything to manage your project and more. To be honest, I still have a feeling that I have barely scratched the surface of this tool.
This tool greatly fits to different managing styles. You can select board types such as scrum or Kanban and you can set up the board dividing on the needed columns.
You can see following work, releases and reports, and reports is a thing that is made really great and you can pull out any information and divide it on the needed details as you prefer.
Also big plus that it has its own tracking system, that works better than EverHour because it’s already integrated.
A few minuses I can see is that if you are a new to this tool you’ll definitely spend some time learning how to use it, and you’ll spend even more to dive deeper, though that’s very exciting!
And there are too much diagrams I’m not sure you’ll ever use every one of them.
The simplest tool I’ve ever used. It has a board, it’s up to you how to set it up, whether Kanban or Scrum. How clean and nicely you’ll put cards with tasks it depends on the project and your own managing style. You can easily keep all description, attachments, to do’s and comments inside one card that opens in pop-up manner – that’s useful because you are staying undisturbed because of page reloading (that’s another Basecamp minus by the way).
When the task is closed, you’ll see percentage for accomplishment of all tasks.
And as always you have to sacrifice something to achieve simplicity – in this case you’ll receive pretty big mess when creating a card with check-list with lots of tasks and attachments… you will have to scroll down and up to match task to needed attachment because attachments goes only for cards in general, not to respective task.
So I think big project may be a bad idea for this tool in means of data storage.
That’s a managing tool that works more like a chat. Some sort of Slack but with additional side bar with members, tasks, links and attachments.
It has pretty interesting features, though I wouldn’t call it High-grade management tool. It’s more like tool to assign urgent tasks to the coworkers who are based all over the world and keep every task inside Team chat and assign to members.
Cool features are:
- Video chat, to make quick follow ups in case you’re tired of typing;
- All the attachments can be found not just in the chat, but also if you visit separate tab, you’ll see members with a number that refers to the attachment quantity. That’s pretty easy to find something attached long time ago in the project far far away.
And I’m afraid the biggest minus – it’s too simple and there is no functionality to manage projects and no reports at all.
That’s classic! Serious tool to handle waterfall projects. It’ll allow you to manage scope, deadlines, members overload, budgeting so in few words – manage project as PMBok says.
Definitely I’m not going to tell all the functionality… it’ll take ages to go over everything.
What looks cool:
- Project visualization using Gantt chart, web chart and similar – that’s awesome to visualize all tasks timeline and show to all team members connection between every task and why their work is important, what role they are playing in a huge project, and how success will influence other members and steps.
What doesn’t work:
- it’s a strict tool, and it’s impossible to be as agile as you may want to. And surely if you decided to use it for a short term project there won’t be use at all. Gantt chart will look sadly.
I’d recommend this tool for very big projects, and of course projects with predefined scope.
And to summarize everything
There is no bad project management tool, you just don’t know how to cook ’em. From my area of expertise every tool and management style has to be found and adjusted relying on such factors as:
- complexity and length of the project;
- special needs of the project;
- team you are working with. Every team member is a human being after all and we all have our own approach to handling work;
- personal managing style.
Experiment, combine and find the most suitable managing style in your company and implement tool relying on the style and needs.
That was my experience, and I enjoyed it very much, therefore I’d be glad to hear another opinion, ideas and comments, to learn from each other and complete this article with adding more useful information.