If you have ever been handed the title of “project manager,” either formally or informally, you know that assessing the ever-growing list of project management tools can be a task in itself. Building and delivering a successful project is much like constructing a building. You need planning, oversight and most of all…the right tools for the job. These days, there are an overwhelming number of project management tools flooding the marketplace, most promising to be just that – the only tool you’ll ever need.
Of course, any good builder knows that each project is different and may require specific tools, for a specific purpose. More importantly, any one tool that promises to do everything cannot possibly meet the needs of a real crafts person. I think of project management as a craft. Over time, an experienced manager has many tools in his or her toolbox, knowing how to choose the right one for the job. And, like any good crafts person, you learn to use your tools well, adapting only when the latest and greatest features greatly outweigh the benefit of user experience or personal style.
Assuming that you are free to determine how best to manage your project, here are some key components to consider when choosing a project management tool:
How large is my team?
What type of information do they need access to?
What kind of communication does each team member require to stay on track?
How comfortable are my team members, and potentially the client, with project management tools and methodology?
Most importantly – what tool(s) work for me…the project manager?
After all, a tool is only as good as the person who is using it. A good builder doesn’t need the most expensive or sophisticated tool – just like a good manager knows how to manage projects efficiently and without reliance on extra features that don’t add value to the process. How many projects are planned, executed and delivered using email communication and a spreadsheet , simply because the manager was skilled at building a project from the ground up? The reality is this: a true crafts person sees their tools as an extension of themselves, and the manager becomes the cornerstone upon which any successful project is built. As any good builder knows, you must choose the right tools for the job, become familiar and comfortable with them, while making sure to hone your craft…one project at a time.