When you think about project management, the first idea that pops into your mind is probably an expensive software suite that a big corporation uses to coordinate hundreds of employees. Or, maybe you’re not even sure what it is or how it works? Regardless of the situation, project management is just as important for large corporations or smaller startups. In fact, there are some factors that make project management even more important for startups.
We’re going to take a look at some of the reasons why startups need project management along with the key features that you should look for.
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to pick out the best tool without breaking a sweat. We’ve even made a few suggestions for you. Let’s get right into it.
The importance of project management in a startup
Even if your business is still in the startup phase and you only have a handful of people working with you, project management can be extremely important.
With a smaller team, each member has more on their plate and thus project management can go a long way with helping everyone focus on their individual tasks. Project management is a key player in keeping everyone productive and happy.
You might think that project management is a complicated affair, but it’s actually surprisingly simple thanks to the modernization of the process through the advent of intuitive software.
While the tech industry has received the brunt of the benefits that digital project management brings to the table, other industries can get just as much use out of the recent developments if they leverage them properly.
In summary, project management can be the difference between chaotic workflows and harmonious collaboration.
Why you should start early
If you’re the only person in your business you should still set up a project management system as it will help you overcome the early obstacles of launching a startup.
Personal task management will keep you more productive thus putting your business on the fast track to success.
Furthermore, by establishing the project management foundation early on, you’re essentially laying the foundation that you can build upon later.
Whether you’re trying out a new social media marketing tool or working on your SaaS marketing, getting a jump on things is very beneficial — and the same logic applies to project management.
Ask any business owner and they’ll tell you that setting up a project management system right at the start made it far easier for them to scale up when the time came.
The features that define the best project management software for startups and small teams
Now that we’ve enlightened you on the importance of project management and why it pays off to get an early start with it, you’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to pick from the countless options available.
Fortunately, we’ve outlined some of the most important features that you should look for when choosing a team management software.
Of course, at the heart of every project management software is its task management capabilities. Poor task management capabilities are the equivalent of cardiovascular disease and will have the same result — increased delay and/or risk.Any team management software should make it easy for you to assign tasks to specific members, set deadlines, and update the status based on its progress.Being able to track the time of each individual task is also a plus so that you can tell if one of your team members is spending too much time on a certain aspect of the project.
A big part of getting your work done is knowing what everyone on your team is doing. If your designer is created a mailer for an outreach campaign, but you have no idea where he or she is in the process, it doesn’t help you manage them or the rest of your team.
This is where standups come in. Automated standups allow you to get a better picture of what everyone on your team is working on. Ideally, you’d want to cover the three topics of an Agile standup every day:
- What did you work on yesterday?
- What are you working on today?
- Are there any roadblocks impeeding what you need to do?
By doing this, you get a perfect view of your teams progress and can help where there may be a need.
This one may seem obvious, but making sure your workflow is in order is key to finding the right software. You have to look at how you want to complete projects and, in turn, this will help inform what software works for you.
There is normally a few types of workflows, the two most traditional being Kanban and Sprints. Now, sometimes you can find an application that utilizes both of these, but more often than not you’ll have to pick.
Think about how you want to get your work done — would you prefer to notify people as you move projects from board to board or would you prefer to see things laid out in a timeline week to week. By deciding that up-front, you’ll be better able to decide what’s best for your team.
This feature is arguably one of the most important for your startup.
Not only does it help you keep tabs on your team and see how much time they’re spending on a specific project but it also boosts their productivity. Our brains are simply wired to work faster when we’re being timed.
Even if you’re picking out project management software for solopreneurs you’ll still benefit from time tracking capabilities as it will boost your own productivity and help you get tasks done faster. To learn more about the benefits of time tracking check out the full story here.
Another crucial feature that any team management software should have is the ability to monitor productivity. Regardless of the size of your project, being able to see how each member is performing will make it much easier to keep things running smoothly and get ahead of problems.
If a project is nearing the deadline, you’ll be able to see which team member is bottlenecking its progress. You might also notice that some of the members on your team are lagging behind.
This could be due to excessive workloads, burnout, or a myriad of other reasons, but being able to identify it early is the first step to clearing out the clog.
Nobody works for free, and as such, your team management software should make it easier for you to pay everyone at the end of each month.
Fortunately, any PM software worth its weight in gold will allow you to make payments based on the time tracked for each employee.
This is why picking a team management app that supports both time tracking AND payroll is paramount — otherwise, you’d have to manually look at data from a third-party time tracker then send out the appropriate amounts.
Your time is valuable, so don’t waste it calculating work hours and paychecks.
The last thing to take a look at before picking a team management software for your startup is whether or not it can accommodate integrations.
No one software is perfect and thus you’ll likely need to expand its functionality through the use of various integrations. Compatibility with Slack, Dropbox, Google Sheets, MailChimp, Evernote, and other apps will simplify the collaboration process across your entire business.
The best project management tools for startups
Okay, so project management is essential. But, when it comes to finding the right solution for your startup, you may be thinking, “I have no earthly idea where to start.” There are several project management tools out there, each with their pros and cons, and each fit for different kinds of teams.
Let’s run through some of our favorite project management tools and see which could be best for your startup.
1. Hubstaff + Hubstaff Tasks
Okay, so this one may be a little biased. But, we do believe that our two sister tools work seamlessly together to create the perfect PM tool for any sized business.
Hubstaff makes it easy to track your employee’s time, no matter where they are from our desktop, web, and mobile apps. This means, regardless of if you have remote team members or employees in a traditional office setting, everyone can still track time and get paid for all the hard work they do.
While your team tracks time with Hubstaff, our lightweight application will track what they do with activity tracking and optional screenshots. That way, you can have a better understanding of how your team spends their time and keep tabs on their productivity.
Hubstaff also makes payroll a breeze. At the end of each week — since your team will have already tracked their time with the app — all you have to do is approve their timesheets with one click, and your team members will be paid based on pre-set pay rates. Plus, with over 30 integrations like PayPal and Gusto, you can pay your team however you choose.
So, all that admin stuff is great, but what about project management tools? Well, our other application, Hubstaff Tasks, is everything your team needs to get work done more efficiently. Hubstaff Tasks perfectly integrates with Hubstaff, so your team can track time towards any project their currently working on, and you can see how long it takes to get specific tasks done. This makes it easier to stay on budget and even quote future work.
Hubstaff Tasks utilizes the best of the Agile methodology, so you can move your tasks through the agile workflow and assign team members automatically, all with one click. Plus, with both a Kanban and Sprints view, everyone can see what they need to get done each week and plan for the week ahead. And, we made sure to jam-pack Tasks with every feature a startup could need, including:
- Automated standups
- Custom labels
- To-do checklists
- Document uploads
- Unlimited assignees
- Individualized task chats
- Task notifications
- Geofences and location tracking
- Simple and easy-to-use interface
- Emojis (who doesn’t love Emojis)
Hubstaff and Hubstaff Tasks are easily the best tools for any startup looking to, you know, startup. Not only does it make managing your projects easier, but it helps avoid confusion, complete projects on time, and keep efficiency a top priority, all while making payroll, onboarding, and time tracking a breeze.
If you don’t take our word for it, see what these businesses have to say about using Hubstaff.
Agile + time tracking = maximum startup productivity
Hubstaff Tasks is the ultimate Hubstaff companion
This project management tool is a great one for beginners, but may not have all the features everyone needs to get work done efficiently.
Inside Basecamp, you can set up both to-do lists so everyone knows what needs to get done and message boards to keep everyone in the loop. Additionally, you can set schedules, upload documents, schedule check-ins, send direct messages, and a few other features.
While these things are beneficial, not all are necessary. For one, if you’re already using a chat platform like Slack, then there’s no need to have more places to have a conversation within yet another application. That’s a quick way to create confusion within a small startup. Additionally, while they have a fun color palette, Basecamp’s layout isn’t the most user-friendly and can be seen as confusing and not simplistic enough for everyone.
The one plus side to Basecamp is their client’s viewing feature. Basecamp allows you to set specific projects to be viewable only by your team or also be visible to the client. This makes it easy to pass along work to receive feedback from your clients.
All in all, Basecamp is a useful tool, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
As an industry leader, Asana has served as a project management solution for several businesses for a while now. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the right solution for everyone, especially a startup.
Now, Asana has some great features. They allow you to set up individual projects and create a workflow that works for your team. Additionally, you’re able to move projects through sprints and see a timeline for each project, making it easier to visualize when things need to get done.
But, these features only go so far. For one, sprints in Asana can only have set due dates, and are not organized by a weekly system. For another, in lieu of a standups feature, Asana allows you to run reports to see tasks that have been completed, which doesn’t account for any ongoing projects or possible roadblocks unless you set that up yourself in a board.
Asana works well for some but isn’t a solution for every startup out there.
Of course, project management isn’t the be-all-end-all. There are still other things that you should do to ensure your startup succeeds such as creating a product roadmap or leveraging social proof tools to build credibility.
That being said, getting the right project management software at the start will make everything else a whole lot easier. Scale later but set the foundation right now to save yourself some trouble down the road.
Now, go close that deal!
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Olga Mykhoparkina is Chief Marketing Officer at Chanty. With 9 years of experience in the digital marketing field, Olga is responsible for Chanty’s online presence strategy, managing an amazing team of marketing experts and getting things done to change the way teams communicate and collaborate.