Is your small business already using a project management tool or are you looking for one for the first time? In either case, it’s important to know how to select a tool that will meet the requirements of your organization.

In making your project management software comparison, there are a number of factors to take into account. There are things you should expect your selection to do. A primary responsibility of project management software is to make project management easier. It should minimize the amount of time they spend on repetitive tasks and free them up for high-level work

For starters, a project management tool needs to do budget and task tracking. You must be able to set up all the tasks for a project and assign personnel and expenses to them. The system has to track utilization against those tasks on an ongoing basis. You’ll need to know whether you’re on schedule and within budget so you can make adjustments if you aren’t.

With the right software, dependencies and the critical path become clear. You’ll be able to identify whether there will be bottlenecks that will impact the overall success of the project. You can make adjustments to reassign workers and modify task priorities to meet all the required milestones.

Project management tools should offer workflow management. That should include the overall workflow of the project as well as the workflow of the activities needed to support the project. Those would include workflows for administrative tasks such as time tracking and budget reporting.

Integrations into your current systems and processes is vital. The software must work with your accounting system, your billing system, and other systems that support project completion.

Another big factor is visibility. You’d like to see the status of every project summarized in one place. There should be Gantt charts and reports that make project status obvious. The information should be out there where everyone who needs to can see it.

Top 10 Project Management Tools

If you search the reviews for the best project management software, you’ll find that top 10 list writers don’t always agree. Some of the tools that come up on multiple lists are Trello, which is a highly visual product that prides itself on collaboration, Zoho which boasts flexible work allocation and Teamwork Projects, which is commended for its ability to manage multiple projects. Some of the most widely used project management tools specialize in supporting agile development, in workflow support or in their ability to integrate.

BigTime has all the features that a project management tool needs, and it’s especially impressive as an integrated system that ties together project management with all the project financials. It’s particularly effective for small businesses that specialize in architecture, engineering, accounting, IT services, or any kind of consulting.

Another thing BigTime can do is integrate with other software that does some aspect of project management particularly well. For example, Jira is noted for its issue reporting and tracking features, and BigTime can pull Jira issues into a project plan so they can be assigned and tracked as part of the project.

Project Management Tools Examples

There are a number of free project management tool examples, or at least tools that have a free version. Some names you’ll see are Asana, ClickUp, Trillo, and Basecamp. Most of them offer much of what your business will require in its project management software. Some are free up to a limited number of users or with less than their full functionality.  

BigTime is not free, but we’re confident that it’s the best project management software for small teams, and we offer a free trial. BigTime is not just for small teams, but it will scale up to more users and projects as your business grows. With some “bargain” project management tools, you may find it’s an effort to install them, to integrate them with your current systems and processes, or to modify them to meet your needs as your requirements evolve.

With BigTime you get the full gamut of project management capabilities, including budget tracking, task tracking, workflow management, flexible reporting and integration with your accounting system. When you install BigTime, you may find yourself looking at your projects in a whole different perspective and learning new ways to improve them.

Project Management Tools and Techniques

Successfully running a project depends on using the most effective project management techniques, and the best project management tools for small teams support the best techniques. One of the prime techniques is to break down large and complex projects into more manageable pieces. Once you have a project divided into tasks, it’s necessary to understand the critical path and use that in prioritization and decision making. Graphic information such as Gantt charts are particularly helpful for this.

It’s a combination of the best process management tools and techniques that ensure the success of a project. Essential project management tools are the ones that align with techniques and make it easy for managers to employ the proven techniques.

One important technique is setting up and managing project and process workflow. Another is reviewing the latest information in both tabular and graphic presentation to assess project status and make changes if necessary. Yet another technique is analyzing the gaps and overlaps in the assignment of resources to tasks. A system such as BigTime, which ties together all aspects of project management, makes it easier to identify where resources need to be redeployed and to readily set up all the new optimized assignments.

Microsoft Project Management Tools

Microsoft has a presence in almost every aspect of business software, so it’s inevitable that they offer Microsoft project management software. It’s called Microsoft Projects, and it comes with some of the advantages and disadvantages that you might expect from a Microsoft product. One of its pluses is that the home screen will look familiar to anyone who has ever used Office or any other Microsoft software. MS Projects has a time-tracking feature, custom reporting and a resource management capability. It also scales well. 

One of its drawbacks is that it doesn’t integrate easily with other software. It coordinates quite well with other Microsoft packages but not so well with outside systems. Another disadvantage is that it has a bit of a learning curve. It’s been described by reviewers as being “not for beginners”.

For many people, there’s a level of comfort for staying within the Microsoft family. However, most small businesses will find an advantage in stepping beyond what the big player has to offer and looking at software from vendors who specialize in project management. They’ll benefit from a relationship with a company such as BigTime, a company that from day one has focused on how to improve project management for small businesses.

Most Popular Project Management Software

There’s a lot of software available in just about any small business arena, and that’s especially true with project management software. In most spaces, reviewers will talk about the best five or best 10 tools, but project management software reviews often name 20 or 40 or 50 packages that small businesses can consider.

This includes project management software examples we’ve already mentioned and scores of others including such project management software examples as Wrike, Nifty, Workfront, and Smartsheet. Every one of them purports to be the best project management app and to enable you to work faster and better.

Some are popular for their flexibility or ease of setup. Others claim a short learning curve. Some boast of simplicity, others of scalability. There are those that tout their collaboration support or their workflow capabilities.

You might want to know which packages are most popular for businesses in general, but what really matters is what’s most effective for you. Consider the functions you expect a project management system to bring to your company. For most business owners, that’s a combination of task and budget support, flexible big-picture and detailed reporting, process and workflow management, and integration with whatever is already in-house.

Client Project Management Software

An important part of project management is managing the relationship with the client. BigTime is noted as project management software with a client portal. This facility shows clients where they stand with respect to all the projects and tasks you’re undertaking for them.

It’s called BigTime Wallet, and it’s an invoice and payment system that makes life simpler for both you and your clients. It encourages prompt payment and helps your cash flow. It integrates the billing and invoicing systems so there’s never any redundant entry or rework in presenting an actual bill to the client.

BigTime Wallet allows clients to pay any time from anywhere. They see all their invoices with the amount, due date, and status of each. They can select which ones they want to pay and also save their payment method so they can quickly and easily use it again.

Best of all, it saves you time in creating invoices and accepting and processing payments. Both the invoice creation and the payment processing integrate nicely with BigTime and your accounting system. With BigTime Wallet, you easily prepare professional-looking invoices, and once the system is in place, it’s no effort for you to collect payments on a timely basis.