Many elements go into completing a project successfully. Among them are clearly defined goals, open channels of communication, the right team, and engaged stakeholders.
Project scheduling is another critical element. It has been defined as a comprehensive outline of project phases, tasks, and dependencies. It also considers skills, resources, and milestones. Naturally, a timeline is essential to a proper schedule.
Most project managers rely on project scheduling software. Several project management scheduling tools allow you to monitor progress, identify issues or concerns, and keep team members on the same page. The best ones include project time tracking so you can properly plan and schedule activities.
Let’s explore the best project schedule tools and their leading features and benefits. So, you can successfully manage your projects, from the initial brief to the final handover.
Benefits of Scheduling Software
A conference paper at the Project Management Institute states that the primary focus of any project schedule should be: “Is the schedule executable?”
The chief advantage of scheduling software is that it gives the project manager an answer to that question. The other advantages are:
Efficient Resource Management
As every project manager knows, resources are never unlimited. Proper project management tools can allocate resources efficiently. They can indicate budgets and team members needed at each stage. Bottlenecks can be spotted and deficiencies addressed.
Better Collaboration And Sharing
Those who work on projects can be separated by skills, locations and levels. Yet, it is important that all of them collaborate together. Communication gaps and delays can jeopardize projects. A project scheduler enables such collaboration at every step. Timelines and project status can be accessed by all. Updates can be promptly shared. Important documents can be circulated on time, and feedback delivered promptly.
Effective Risk Reduction
With the proper inputs, project management software can identify bottlenecks and suggest alternative methods. Project managers will be aware of any pitfalls that can come up and can create plans to handle them. This leads to a better allocation of resources and effective deployment of teams.
Facilitating On-Time Goals
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of project scheduling software is time tracking. Every project has many moving parts. With a project scheduling tool, managers can instantly check on every stage. They can keep an eye on progress reports, graphs and milestones to see if the activities are on track or not.
Features of Scheduling Software
A project plan has many components that chart the project from start to finish. These include the broad goals, budgets, roadmap, deliverables, and time for execution.
Therefore, any efficient project scheduling software needs to incorporate these aspects. In general, this is what you should keep in mind.
- Task scheduling and management: The software should have the ability to assign tasks to team members, along with priorities and deadlines. Notifications should be sent before due dates, as well as reminders. Shared calendars with time slots are a part of this. In case the project depends on certain portions being completed first, the software should take this into account while handling priorities.
- Communication: As we have pointed out, proper communication enables projects to flow smoothly. That’s why communication features are essential for scheduling software. This provides clarity about the project status, reassures stakeholders, and sets the stage for ongoing discussions. Teams should be able to comment on tasks, get real-time alerts, and access documentation.
- Resource and budget tracking: The right software can effectively track how resources are being utilised and whether any re-ordering is needed at any stage. This feature ensures that the right number of people and the right amount of support is provided. The way that budgets are being used is obviously also important. Project tracking software enables managers to see what is being spent on what section of the project. It prevents unnecessary over-utilization.
Project Scheduling Software Applications
The right software depends on the nature of the project, its complexity, and the experience of the manager and the team. Here are some of the most popular.
Basecamp is one of the best-known project management tools. Features include the ability to track projects and task progress, store and share relevant documents, communicate with the project team, and facilitate collaboration.
What sets it apart: Basecamp is especially good for projects that involve remote work and in cases where there is a wide range of activities to be tracked and managed.
Pricing: There is a 30-day free trial, after which a Basecamp Business application can be used at USD 99/month.
Trello is widely used across projects. It is great for simple projects and uses Kanban boards and pre-set templates to make the learning curve easy. It gives you the ability to customize lists and add tasks as visual cards in terms of importance. It can be made more powerful by using integrations that link to other apps.
What sets it apart: Trello’s simplicity and ease of use make it great for start-ups.
Pricing: The basic level is free, which goes up to the enterprise level at USD 17.50/month.
Wrike is ideal for project managers who use the Scrum method. It can streamline Agile workflows, too. Both of these will maximize sprint planning. Wrike enables task prioritization, real-time collaboration, and automated reporting. It includes timers as well as pre-set templates.
What sets it apart: Progress can be monitored in real-time with deadlines and critical path analysis available in one click.
Pricing: The basic plan is free, and the popular business plan is USD 24.80/month.
This project management tool takes care of your needs from start to finish. It has several unbeatable features that let you involve stakeholders and track requirement changes through a traceable feedback loop. You can streamline schedules and define deliverables with powerful time tracking abilities.
What sets it apart: Xebrio provides all you need to track and manage projects from initiation to deliverables.
Pricing: Basic task management abilities are at USD 10/month, which goes up to more features at USD 40/month. You can get more information about project management resources.
As a project manager, you know that projects have several elements such as separate tasks for an overall goal, their connections with each other, and the milestones to completion. Successful project scheduling with online project time tracking software lets you handle all of these and more.