In an age when we’re expected—nay, required—to collaborate seamlessly with our colleagues using the latest and greatest technology, collaborative project management software is a must for any company, no matter how large or small. But that doesn’t mean that all project management software solutions are created equally.
In fact, choosing the right collaborative project management software for your company relies heavily on the various types of solutions that fall under the project management definition.
Choosing the Right Tools
A better understanding of what’s available can help you find your company's best collaborative project management software solutions. Here’s a closer look at what’s out there.
1. Basic Stand-Alone Tools
Nearly everyone is familiar with this style of project management software. Some of the standard software you use on a daily basis can actually be classified under this collaborative project management tool category.
Tools that allow you to communicate easily with the rest of your team and collaborators, spreadsheets and scheduling devices that keep you on track with your coworkers, and software that allows you to quickly and easily share data all fall under the project management umbrella. Typically, these collaborative project management tools focus on one project, per user, at once.
2. Collaborative Tools
Collaborative tools have a lot in common with basic, stand-alone tools. But while basic, stand-alone project management tools may have many different uses (and not all of them having to do with project management), collaborative tools are specifically designed to lead your project team's communication and sharing. These collaborative project management tools allow coworkers to work and share simultaneously, often on multiple aspects of a project.
Expect the focus of collaborative tools to be slightly narrow, however. One might be great for scheduling, while another is excellent for file-sharing—rarely will you find jack-of-all-trades software in this category. If you do, don’t expect it to be particularly powerful or customizable.
3. Mid-Range Project Management Tools
Mid-range tools may well be jack-of-all-trades software solutions, and they generally represent a compromise between collaborative project management tools and software that is suitable for enterprise-level organizations. Their features and options cover a broad range, and you’ll need to plan a deployment and training strategy before going live.
However, these collaborative project management tools are constrained by the scale at which they can function optimally. Don’t expect to be able to handle/schedule/collaborate on dozens, let alone hundreds or thousands, of projects with these tools without encountering significant and sometimes insurmountable difficulties.
4. High-End Project Management Tools
High-end collaborative project management tools may be similar to mid-range project management tools. They differ in their scalability and the ability to customize them to particular needs. These differences ultimately result in the market providing more extensive training to prospective users.
Collaborative project management software requires users to devote the time and energy—and companies to dedicate the resources necessary—to exploit these more advanced tools to their fullest potential with project management resource planning.
5. Project Portfolio Management Tools
When your company's projects become numerous enough, and their reliance upon others’ success becomes indisputable, it may be time for your organization to consider PPM (project portfolio management) software.
This is the best collaborative project management software type if you need a way for senior management to efficiently examine related projects and how they relate synergistically. PPM suites represent a shift in your company’s strategy and vision.
The Best Collaborative Project Management Software
Let’s compare some of the market's best collaborative project management tools.
Trello is a collaborative project management tool that best resembles the Kanban workflow. This collaborative project management software automates tasks with its automation assistant, Butler. Trello is a collaborative project management tool that can be integrated with other third-party software tools to create a cohesive workflow between departments.
Monday.com is a collaborative project management tool that can be used with minimal training. With its user-friendly collaborative project management interface, you can easily toggle back and forth between multiple projects to keep up with them at a glance. Manual tasks can be pre-set to create workflow automation that keeps the collaborative project management tool running smoothly. Monday.com can be integrated with other third-party business solutions to streamline how all departments use your collaborative project management tool.
Asana is a collaborative project management software that acts as a centralized platform to assign, track, and analyze the daily operations of a project. Repetitive tasks can be automated to save time, and project managers can keep up with the process using real-time professional Gantt charts. This collaborative project management tool can also be integrated with other third-party software solutions.
Basecamp is a collaborative project management software that offers centralized dashboards on a cloud-based platform for everyone to collaborate easily. Shared calendars and other tools to keep your whole team coordinated are Basecamp’s specialty.
Smartsheet is a scalable collaborative project management software that can be customized to fit your needs. This collaborative project management tool with product integrations can also streamline content management.
Choosing the Software that Fits Your Company’s Needs
One way to decide what type of collaborative project management software your company needs is by listing the last five or ten projects you’ve embarked upon and what features or options would have made those projects more successful. There is no one correct answer in the collaborative project management software scale. Once you’ve determined the collaborative project management software solution you need, other aspects may be objectively better or worse for your company.
Look at how responsive the collaborative project management vendor is and how long they have pledged support for the current version of their software. Do they offer materials that can help you effectively train users? Are their costs manageable, and do you expect a reasonable return on investment for your collaborative project management software?
These and other issues (discussed in depth in our collaborative Project Management Software Guide) can make choosing the right collaborative project management software solution far more straightforward than you might imagine.