Project Management System: Definition & Key Features
Managing a project involves keeping track of a hundred and one things – project tasks and activities, multiple files and documents, deadlines, milestones, project resources, budgets, you name it.
This can be done on paper, or even using spreadsheets, but with time, things get too complicated, and some critical elements of the project start getting overlooked.
A better way to keep track of all aspects of your project is to use project management systems.
Project management software boosts you and your team’s productivity by providing you with a central place for managing your project, and allowing you to automate your project workflows.
But is it really worth it investing in project management software? If you choose to invest in one, what key features should you look for? What are some of the best project management software available in the market?
Read on to find answers to these questions and discover why getting project management software could be the best investment you’ll make this year.
What Is A Project Management System?
Project management system refers to a set of software applications and tools that allow project managers to accomplish their everyday project management responsibilities easily, effectively, and quickly.
With project management software, project managers can easily break down projects into manageable tasks and activities, manage multiple projects simultaneously, manage project resources, and assign tasks to team members.
Project management systems also allow project managers to track and control project spending, enhance collaboration within the project team, and get access to data that allows them to make better decisions.
Some of the functions and activities that a project management software can simplify for you include…
- Creation and assignment of project tasks
- Project scheduling and deadline tracking
- Cost estimation, budgeting, and cost control
- Project communication and coordinating team collaboration
- Creation of project reports
- Resource allocation
- Project risk management
- Document sharing and management
- Time tracking and management
- Bug and error management
- Project performance analysis
- Change management
Why Use A Project Management System?
Project management systems are very beneficial to project managers, which is why they have become so popular. Below are a couple of reasons why you should consider using a project management system on your next project…
1. Increased Productivity
Project management systems allow you to automate administrative project work, such as assigning tasks to team members, passing work down the line, and sending out notifications and reminders. This leads to increased productivity, since you now have time to focus on more meaningful tasks.
In addition, project management software makes it easier for you to identify bottlenecks that would have held back the project and resolve them before they become actual problems.
2. Better Visibility
Project management systems provide you with a central place to maintain oversight over your entire project.
You can view the progress across all project tasks, compare actual progress against planned progress, monitor resource allocation, and track team performance in real-time.
3. Improved Accountability And Transparency
With a project management system, all team members can see all project tasks, the team members assigned to these tasks, and the status and progress on the tasks.
This kind of transparency leads to improved accountability and better team performance, since team members can monitor each other’s actions and hold each other to account.
4. Improved Communication And Team Collaboration
Instead of having disjointed communication across multiple platforms, project management systems provide your team with a central place for all project communication.
You can add comments to project tasks, tag the relevant team members, attach files and documents to tasks, make project-wide announcements, and so on.
This means that it is very unlikely that something will get overlooked, since all the communication is done in one place. It also makes it easier for team members to understand the context behind every piece of communication, since they can easily refer to previous threads within the project management system and access task attachments.
Key Features Of Project Management Systems
Your choice of a project management system will have a huge impact on the success of your project, so it’s important to make sure you’re choosing the most suitable solution for your needs.
Some of the key features you should look out for when choosing a project management system include…
1. Ease Of Use
The main reason you’re getting a project management system is because you want to simplify your work. It would not make sense, therefore, to pick a project management system that is complicated and difficult to use.
Instead, you should look for an intuitive project management system with features like a user-friendly interface, easy functionality, drag and drop capabilities, and fast and responsive customer support.
2. Planning And Scheduling Features
A good project management system needs to have features that allow you to plan your project tasks and schedule how these tasks should be executed. You should be able to set deadlines for tasks, assign tasks to team members, set recurring tasks, set different priorities for tasks, and so on.
A reliable project management system also needs to support project dependencies, which allow you to visualize the relationships between different project tasks, and how delays in one task affect the completion of other tasks, as well as the entire project.
3. Custom Workflows
Most project management systems come with some pre-built workflows. However, each project is different, with its unique requirements and its unique deliverables.
The same applies to project teams – each team has its own unique tools and techniques. It would be impossible for different teams working on different projects to use the same workflows.
When choosing a project management system, therefore, you should go for one that supports custom workflows. This gives you the freedom to build your own workflows that are best suited to your team’s unique techniques and processes, as well as the unique requirements of each individual project.
4. Team Collaboration Tools
Projects typically involve teams made up of a handful of people, or sometimes, hundreds of people, depending on the size of the project.
Regardless of the size of the project team, a good project management system needs to make it easy for team members to work together and collaborate with each other.
Some of the team collaboration features that you should look for include…
- Messaging and instant chat features
- Task commenting
- Discussion boards
- User tagging using @mentions
- File-sharing capabilities
- Shared calendars
- Team dashboards
5. Third Party Integrations
The average business today is highly digital, with almost every task handled using various digital tools – sales and marketing, customer support, order fulfillment, invoicing and billing, you name it.
Rather than being another separate tool that you have to switch to and from during your day to day activities, a good project management system should act as a bridge that brings all your other tools together.
For instance, instead of having to switch from your project management system to your email app to notify a team member about something, a good project management should instead allow you to send an email right from within the system.
For this to happen, your project management system of choice needs to support integrations with commonly used third party business tools and enterprise software. These include:
- Team collaboration tools
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
- Business process management (BPM) software
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software,
- Marketing automation tools
- Email marketing software
- Business intelligence (BI) tools
- Document management tools
6. Resource Management Features
Allocating and managing project resources is one of the tasks of a project manager. When choosing a project management system, you’ll therefore want to go for one that gives you access to resource management features.
Some important resource management features to consider include the ability to estimate the resources required for a project, the ability to view how these resources have been deployed across the project to avoid underutilization or overexploitation, the ability to calculate the cost of using the resources, and so on.
7. User Role Management
Projects usually involve lots of information – customer information, business strategies, financial data, market research information, and so on. Sometimes, some of this data does not need to be accessible to everyone involved in the project.
A good project management system allows you to create different roles for different users, effectively limiting access to sensitive data by unauthorized users.
For instance, you can give full access rights to the project manager and business executives, edit and comment access to your team members, and guest access to clients.
8. Reporting Features
Data access is very important in project management. Data tells you how the project is progressing, and allows you to pinpoint shortcomings that could affect the project. It also gives you insights into project performance, allowing you to improve performance in future projects.
This is why it is very important to ensure that your project management system has reporting features that allow you to collect data about your projects and present it in an insightful, easy to understand format.
Examples of project reports you should be able to generate from your project management system include team member performance reports, project budget and expenses reports, planned vs actual project value reports, completed task reports, missed deadline and schedule variance reports, and so on.
Best Project Management Systems With A Free Plan And Free Trial
If you want to try a project management system, but are not willing to put down your money on one yet, below is a list of our top free project management systems.
All of these project management systems come with a free plan or a free trial, allowing you to test how they work and their features before upgrading to a paid plan.
Best Overall Project Management System With Strong Visualization Capabilities
Monday.com is our top project management system, owing to its powerful set of features, excellent visualization capabilities, and ease of use.
- Customizable project templates
- Multiple project visualization options
- Real-time data and insights
- Custom workflows and automations
- Support for third party integrations
- Color-coded task labels
- Built-in time tracking
- Strong 2FA security
Monday.com offers a free forever plan that is limited to 2 users, as well as a 14-day free trial on premium plans. Premium plans range from $8 to$16 per seat per month.
Best Project Management System For Effective Project Tracking And Seamless Collaboration
ClickUp is a very reliable and efficient project management system that provides an easy way for teams to collaborate on projects, while giving project managers access to robust features for planning, organizing, and tracking their projects.
- Easy workflow automation
- Multiple project views
- Robust collaboration tools
- Powerful integrations
- Customizable project templates
- Real-time project dashboards
- Smart notifications
- Custom task statuses and task priorities
- Assigned comments
ClickUp offers a free forever plan that supports unlimited team members and an unlimited number of tasks. Paid plans start at $5 per member per month.
An Intuitive And AI-Powered Project Management System With Enterprise Grade Features
Wrike is a versatile project management system and workflow management tool that provides project managers with complete project visibility and allows seamless project execution and progress monitoring.
- Seamless task management
- Multi-project assignments
- Strong collaboration tools
- Intuitive project dashboards
- Seamless email integration
- Customizable reporting with real-time analytics
- Customizable workflow automations
- Department-specific customizations
- Support for 400+ integrations with Wrike Integrate
Wrike has a free forever plan that supports unlimited users and up to 2GB of storage per user, as well as a 14-day trial on paid plans. Paid plans start at $9.80 per user per month.
Best Project Management System For Simplicity And Ease-Of-Use
Teamwork is a highly intuitive project management system that is very simple and easy to use. Despite its simplicity, it offers an advanced set of features, allowing you to easily monitor project progress, track time and costs, and manage your teams, all from one platform.
- Robust project planning tools and task management features
- Excellent collaboration features
- Time tracking
- Custom automations
- Support for third party integrations
- Workload management features
Teamwork has a free forever plan with support for up to 5 users. You can also try their premium plans with the 30-day free trial option. Premium plans start at $10 per user per month, with a minimum of 3 users.
Best End-To-End Project Management System For Small And Medium Enterprise
Scoro is an all-rounded project management system that combines project planning and monitoring, team collaboration, quoting and billing, reporting, and customer relationship management. Scoro is best suited for consultancies, agencies, and professional service firms.
- Powerful work scheduling tools
- Business management, sales and CRM tools
- Workflow automations
- Time tracking features
- Support for 1000+ integrations
- Resource management capabilities
- Financial management features
Scoro does not offer a free forever plan. However, you can try the premium plans with the 14-day free trial. Scoro premium plans range from $26 to $63 per user per month.
Best Project Management System For Issue Tracking And Resource Management
Celoxis is an all-in-one project management and task management tool that gives you access to unlimited customizations, dynamic dashboards, and other enterprise-grade features. Celoxis is particularly suited for resource management and issue tracking
- Scheduling and resource management
- Easy task management
- Team and client collaboration
- Project request tracking
- Project budgeting and accounting
- Time tracking
- Powerful app integrations
- Portfolio management
- Risk management
- Unlimited customizations
Celoxis offers a 30-day free trial on the cloud version, which starts at $22.50 per user per month, with a 5-user minimum requirement.