Still relying on spreadsheets and email to manage your small business projects? Maybe it’s time you took it up a notch, writes Nina Hendy.
Running a small business can be increasingly challenging over time. As your business grows and resources are stretched thin, there’s less time to micro-manage projects.
An online project management tool could be the answer, particularly given that the growth of a small business largely depends on increasing efficiencies and systems.
Which is why so many small businesses are ditching the Excel spreadsheet and opting for a solution specifically created to simplify the project management process.
The growing number of web-based project management tools on the market can be accessed from your desktop or mobile. Some are free, while others could cost a small, monthly subscription fee.
Project management software is a category of online tools designed to make project management more efficient. They allow you to assign tasks to specific people, share project milestones, create to-do lists, collaborate with other team members and even gather feedback from clients – all in one spot.
Melbourne-based online wine retailer Vinomofo has been focusing heavily on its project management processes over the last three years.
The business has grown to a team of more than 100 since launching eight years ago, and expanded into New Zealand and Singapore.
“As you can imagine with this fast growth, we’ve had to implement some robust project management tools,” Vinomofo’s chief financial officer Krista Diez-Simson explained.
“As the business matures and we invest more of our time and resource in executing our key strategic initiatives, we’ve been managing all our projects internally within our operations team.”
The business uses Trello religiously to manage team communications, deadlines, documents, checklists and reporting, she says.
The key tips for using project management tools are:
Here are eight great project management tools for you to consider:
Gives you a shared perspective on any project with this very visual tool that allows you to see all your tasks laid out on the screen. Allows you to create boards that include lists. You can upgrade to Business Class for a few dollars a month. For free at the basic level.
Ideal for small businesses, this tool helps you stay organised when you outgrow email and with plenty of useful tools included. Great for delegating tasks to your team and for a detailed overview of all activities. From $7/month.
This tool makes it easy to track features tasks, projects, conversations among team members and has a handy dashboard. You can see progress for any project at a glance and turn conversations into actionable tasks. This is a very simplified tool without as many features, so could work best for smaller businesses. For free at the basic level.
This feature-rich tool can help you manage your tasks with to-do lists and streamline all that office communication in handy message board. It also allows you to set deadlines and milestones and sends direct messages to your team. Starts from $29/month.
If you’re wanting to prioritise tasks and keep your team on the same page, give this tool a shot. It includes task lists, milestones, schedules and the ability to track time.
There’s also a customer relationship management feature, meaning you can keep track of contacts and leads within this tool. Starts from $23/month.
For one-man operators or freelancers, this affordable tool could be a great way to manage and schedule your projects. It enables you to keep time sheets and invoice from within the tool. From $19/month.
This online tool offers a shared calendar, team collaboration, time tracking and reporting and is a great way to manage more projects in less time. The platform claims that users can expect productivity gains of 20 per cent or more, saving an average of one day per week.
With more than 100 colourful templates to choose from, this tool enables you to customise any template to make it work for your small business needs. Allows you to zoom in on the nitty-gritty details, or zoom out to see the big picture. There are also dashboards and multiple view options. Starts from $34/month.