Nowadays project management technologies are becoming more and more popular since their main aim is to assist managers in supervising projects, ensuring deadlines, keeping the project within the agreed budget, planning risks and performing other not less important functions.

One of the project management necessary tools is a software product without which sound planning and real time reports as well as task tracking are not possible. In any organization project planning is carried out at several levels and, consequently, the project management system has to be chosen so as it can assist in managing projects at all the levels in the company where it is used.

As a rule, project management systems can be divided into the initial level systems (for small companies with local aims) and the professional project management systems (for coordinating big projects and multi-project management). Thus, these systems can be used in different ways. For some companies, a project management system is a tool for modeling projects and calculating the consequences of the taken decisions before their realization; for others it’s a means of displaying results and generating reports. The choice of the software system depends mainly on the complexity of the project and its tasks. In order to choose the optimal software solution for managing projects, it’s necessary to have a clear idea of the system functions and requirements.

What do we expect from modern project management systems?

• Project and tasks: every project should contain an unlimited number of tasks which can be gathered in milestones with a possibility to discuss and negotiate them. All the changes in the project should be received by e-mail or RSS

• Companies and contacts: we’d like to have not a simple list of contacts but the list with a possibility of grouping contacts by companies. After entering any contact or company, one can see the list of related elements.

• wiki-elements: some kind of a folder for creating documentation on projects, FAQs, option descriptions and so on with a shared access. The ideal variant will be with an API for exporting the final result to the chosen site.

• internal messenger for exchanging messages inside the project or the whole system

• tracking the task execution time: it is desirable to be able to track the time spent on executing every task and the project as a whole. A manager can see what each employee is doing and how much time is spent on each task.

• budget tracking: also it’s necessary to track how and how much money has been spent on the project and how much money has been received from the client

• billing: there’s an option of generating payment bills based on the already introduced tasks, milestones or based on the time spent.

• reporting and selecting data based on various parameters from the whole database

• access right control: it has to be flexible

• cost: it has to be reasonable and affordable for purchasing by a small company

You can say that the given functionality is far beyond the limits of common project management systems, and you will be right. But the reality requires not only following the task statuses but also tracking payments, billing immediately from the system, making real time reports, tracking sales and much more.

Most of this functional is already realized in existing CRM systems, but a CRM system is not an application in the ‘getting real’ style. The interface in such systems leaves much to be desired.

How do we choose project management systems?
Of course, choosing by the number of supported functions is not a good idea. Some giant with a great number of options is likely to win, but probably it will have a completely inconvenient interface and its usability will be close to zero.

At present the choice of project management systems is great: Basecamp, Jira, ActiveCollab, Confluence, Comindware, Zoho, Assembla, etc.

You can choose one system or introduce and use two or three of them simultaneously. If you ask my opinion, I’d recommend a comparatively new but rather powerful Comindware task management solution.

Thanks to the innovative technology ElasticData, Comindware tracker is an extremely flexible tracking system that can automate your business processes and save much time. It is easily installed and doesn’t require any special training. The user interface has the familiar Microsoft ribbon style and is easy-to-use as other similar MS Office applications. Using Comindware, you get a complete control over the project and the tasks being performed and already completed. The system allows generating various reports in real time by means of convenient charts and graphs.