Collaborate More Effectively, Manage Projects Online
Have you ever struggled trying to manage projects with multiple people, maybe in multiple locations, even countries, tracking their task status, discussing task issues, keeping track of project documents like designs or specifications, discussing matters with clients?
Maybe you use Excel, Word, email for your communications but soon the files start growing in number, the versions get confusing, attachments are flying all over the place, team emails are mounting up, critical emails and information get buried under so many other communications from other projects, other colleagues, your boss or irate customers?
Sure, working with traditional office software will work for a couple of projects, if they are small enough and if teams are fairly localised. But what about when the projects grow in size and number? What about when your team size grows? What happens when you want to bring in Contractors to the project, how do you keep them informed of relevant project decisions? And the list goes on.
Switch to a Web Based Project Management Solution
How will this make things easier?
The key benefit of working with a web based project management tool is that there is a single, centralised database. All project users access the same system and, if used regularly and infused into the corporate culture, everyone gets on the same page and project status reporting is made a whole lot easier.
Cloud Based Project Management Software
Some businesses of course want to control their hosting, software, hardware, maybe they are concerned about data security, maybe they have a corporate policy that does not allow cloud software. As a result they may choose to host their project management software in their office, using their own in-house IT infrastructure. That's fine, but not for us! We deal in cloud software so lets talk a bit about that.
Cloud software allows you to get started with a web based project management solution, without the need for investment in any hardware, software. The cloud service provider handles everything, from the software that you will use, to the hardware it resides on, plus the data security, data backups and everything else. All you need is a browser (IE, Chrome, Firefox etc) and an internet connection and you can get started.
There are many cloud based project management solutions available on the market: Clarizen and BaseCamp are a couple and they are excellent. Another is Zoho Projects, which is an affordable online project management solution from Zoho, providers of over 25 business software solutions.
More Effective Collaboration
Using a cloud based collaboration tool such as Zoho Projects you can greatly increase the effectiveness of your team and your ability to get insight and report on the status of your project. High level functions area as follows:
- Tasks are centralised and can be assigned to one or multiple owners.
- Task owners can track due dates, overdue tasks, task status and be alerted on due Tasks.
- Task owners can log time on tasks, timesheets are available to Project Managers (PMs).
- Billable time can be invoiced to the client with the integrated invoicing solution Zoho Invoice.
- Timesheets can be shown in reports and exported to Excel
- Conversation threads can be added to Tasks, followers can be added so people are kept in the loop.
- Documents can be uploaded and centralised ad even synchronised with DropBox.
- Clients can be added as users, so that they can review external tasks and also add documents such as completed requirements questionnaires or creative briefs and also comment on forums to discuss project matters in one place.
- Contractors can be added too, so they can be managed from the same place.
- PMs can switch between projects, meaning each project is separate and its own 'entity', but cross project reporting can also be done
Extensive Activity Reporting
Recently Zoho Projects announced the integration of Zoho Projects and Zoho Reports, the online reporting and business intelligence solution.
This is an exciting development because Zoho Reports really comes into its own and allows users to design complex, dynamic reports and superb graphs and charts that use the data synch'd from within Zoho Projects.
Zoho have even provided a number of standard reports and charts as part of the synchronisation, such as:
- Tasks Assigned Trends
- Tasks Completed Trends
- Billable Hours Trends
- Milestones Completed
- Milestones Completed Trend by Users
- Overdue Milestones Age
- Pending Tasks Across Milestones
- And more
These reports can be customised and added to and then can be published for internal reviews or clients via scheduled emails or via the web in blogs and wikis, such as Zoho Wiki, online intranet software.
Mobile Project Management
The best part of this is that all of the above can be done using your mobile device, ie. you can manage you projects, in the cloud, directly from your mobile phone or tablet, connected to the internet. Records are updated in real time and all functions such as alerts and notifications will be done in real time too meaning your team will be notified of any updates or comments you make.
Using Zoho Projects mobile edition, which is free for all users you can upload documents, comment in forums, update task status, comments on tasks and even log time on work done, particularly useful if that work has just been done on site and you want to log the time before going back to the office.
Agile Project Management
This type of software is useful if you are tying to implement an Agile Project Management methodology in your company as it forces collaboration and iteration between the project team and also with the stake holders and customer.
As stated in the "Manifesto for Agile Software Developers":
The Agile Software Development Manifesto© is an intentionally streamlined expression of the core values of agile project management.
Use this manifesto as a guide to implement agile methodologies in your projects.
"We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work, we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more."
©Agile Manifesto Copyright 2001: Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, Dave Thomas.
By using Zoho Projects online project management solution you are able to increase the efficiency of your teams and deliver projects more effectively.
Mangoho are Zoho Alliance Partners UK and provide online business solutions and Zoho consulting in Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Contact us for more information and ideas on how Zoho can be implemented in your business.