Ready to get your business organised?
In today’s post, I want to talk to you about project management tools and how to pick the best one for your business (and your team!)
If you’re ever Googled the term “project management tool”, you’ve probably been overwhelmed by the results. There are a LOT of project management tools out there that have been designed with online business owners like you in mind, making the decision process tough!
They all have their pros and cons, unique features and fun quirks.
Here are 5 steps to follow in order to choose a project management tool that suits you, your business AND your team.
1. WHY DO YOU NEED A PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOL?
Before we really dive into the details of the decision making process, let’s talk about why you need a project management tool in the first place!
The answer is pretty simple - to organise your business.
If you pick the tool that suits your business needs and your way of thinking, you can pretty much run your entire business from one central place (your project management tool).
So, if you’re guilty of having your business plans, notes, to-do lists, and more in 3 different planners, 100 post-it notes, on your phone, and an illegible scribble on the back of a receipt crumpled up in the bottom of your handbag, then you definitely need a project management tool!
Here are the main reasons that I LOVE using a project management tool for my business (and my clients’ businesses too):
● Everything is in one place - tasks, documents, attachments, etc.
● I can access everything no matter where I am (from my laptop, my phone, my ipad…)
● My clients and my team members can access everything no matter where they are
● I can assign tasks to clients and team members without having to write out lengthy emails and clog up their inboxes
● I can create workflows and SOPs which save me a TON of time in my business
● I never miss a deadline! I have a clear overview of what is due each day
● It cuts down on the number of emails I have to send
● I have a place to turn my big goals into actionable plans (and set deadlines to make sure they happen)
● It keeps me accountable - no one likes seeing overdue tasks staring at them
● It helps me to prioritise what to work on each day
● It’s a great way to stop procrastinating because you ALWAYS know what to work on next.
I used to think that I didn’t need a project management tool until I had a team working with me but that’s not true, it’s never too early to start using one.
2. WHAT WILL YOU USE YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOL FOR?
The answer here is NOT “to manage projects”!
You need to make a detailed and honest assessment of what you actually NEED from your project management tool. Whilst some of the features available on some platforms might be super cool, if you don’t actually need them, they will only serve as a distraction.
On the other hand, there will be certain features that are absolutely essential for you and your business.
Create a list of things that your chosen tool MUST have and a list of things that it SHOULD have. These might be features like:
● Being able to track progress
● Being able to attach files to tasks
● Can be used with multiple team members
● Must have certain views (e.g. list, table and/or calendar)
● Must integrate with certain other tools that you use.
It’s important to think about how your brain works too. For example, do you work better when things are colour coded? Do you prefer tasks with subtasks sitting below them or just one long list of tasks?
3. CHECK OUT YOUR OPTIONS
As I mentioned at the start of this post, there are a LOT of project management tools out there for you to choose from. So, once you know what you need from your project management tool, it’s time to start researching your options.
The main/most popular online project management tools include:
● Asana (this is what I use)
● Process Street
Other options that aren’t strictly project management tools:
○ Dubsado - more of a CRM, but you could make it work as a project management tool for small businesses with simple structures
○ AirTable - I use this in conjunction with Asana and it works great!
Whilst I always recommend Asana because it works perfectly for me and my business, I also always recommend checking out the alternatives before you make a decision.
Check out each of the tools listed above, watch their welcome tour videos if they have them, and check if they have all of the MUST HAVE features you listed out previously.
If you have a team that you work closely with, you might also want to get their opinion on the options too. For example, if you have an OBM or VA, choosing a project management tool that they are familiar with would be really helpful.
4. TEST THEM OUT
Most of the tools listed in this post offer some sort of free plan or free trial so take advantage of them.
Practice adding tasks, figure out how to add attachments and assign tasks to other people. Play around with all of the settings and customise the things that you can.
If there are a couple of tools that you like the look of and they meet your criteria, try them all and don’t just settle for the first one you log into!
If the length of the free trial allows you to, test the project management tool out on a real task or project to get a real feel for how things will work in your business.
List out the pros and cons of the different tools to help you assess which one is the best fit. For example, you might find a tool that you love but it carries a monthly cost of $100, it might be outside of your budget. On the other hand, you might find a free tool that ticks all of the boxes (like Asana does for me!)
5. START ORGANISING YOUR BUSINESS!
Once you’ve made a decision and selected the project management tool that is perfect for you, your business and your team (if you have one), it’s time to start organising your business.
Whenever I’m setting up a new project management tool for my clients, I start by creating sections for each part of their business e.g. emails, social media, courses/products, services, etc.
Then, within each of those sections, I create workflows and SOPs for the tasks that are carried out regularly within the business and creating templates for things such as emails.
If you have a team, I would recommend getting them involved in the setting up process to ensure that everything works well for them too. You might also want to consider offering your team members some training in how to use the new tool if they need it.
Setting up your project management tool isn’t a one-and-done task. You will need to update it continually and stay on top of tasks, workflows, templates, etc. on a regular basis.
If you’re interested in having someone set up your new project management tool and your SOPs for you, send me a message today!