Eventually, nearly everyone has the opportunity to manage a project. Projects vary in size, complexity, and scope — from hosting a staff holiday party to building a skyscraper, but all projects share two features that make them different from other business endeavors.

  • Projects are temporary. All projects have defined beginning and end in time.
  • Projects are unique. Projects are not routine operations. Because of this, there are no codified routines and procedures that can be followed as part of the project. Project teams may be formed including people who do not usually work together, may work in different organizations — and may never meet each other in person.

Because all projects have these two features, projects have their own set of challenges that can be combatted with the proper project management tools for your small business. A project manager must account for five sets of processes that all projects require.

5 Processes of Projects

Initiation
Planning
Execution
Control and monitoring
Completion
Of course, these processes each have sub-processes and steps that must be managed in order for a project to be successful.

The basic rule of getting things done
The best way to complete any task is to break the task into sub-tasks and complete those sub-tasks in the best order to complete the final task. This means that even the smallest and simplest projects, like putting on a party, require planning — also known as project management. For extremely simple projects it may be possible to keep the plan in your head, but what happens when you forget an item? The project might still succeed, but odds are that it will fail. Even if the project doesn’t fail, forgotten items do get noticed and remarked on by others.

The key to success then is to use some type of project management tool to keep the project manager and his team on track.

Project Management Tools for Small Businesses
The most basic project management tools are paper and a pen or pencil, and for thousands of years, those basics served for all kinds of projects — the building of the Pyramids, the construction of the Empire State Building, and the birthday party your mom threw for you on your first birthday. The problem with paper and pen lies in the difficulty of sharing the information. Any project that requires a team means that the paper plans must be duplicated. Changes in a project required that new plans be drawn, duplicated and distributed to team members along with the phone calls, meetings and other personal contacts to ensure that the changes were understood.

The computer revolution changed all that. Project managers began to use software like Word or Excel to manage projects and the advent of email means that paper distribution really became a thing of the past — but those improvements still left some things to be desired. Use of multiple methods of communication were still a necessity — phone calls, emails and more.
Today, we have a new generation of project management tools that leverage the power of the internet and the worldwide web to provide a unified interface that builds communication, file management, and information distribution into a single unified interface.

Project Management Tools for Small Business

Monday.com
Monday.com hosts over 15,000 teams who use it to manage projects. It offers multiple project boards, project, and task tracking. Monday.com is searchable so it’s easy to find tasks that are completed or may be falling behind. Cue rates Monday.com at 4.2 out of 5 stars because of its sterling reputation, features, and support.

Process Street
Process Street integrates with thousands of other apps for a robust user experience. It is a home for process documents and can help you manage checklists. Tasks can be tracked via trigger-based workflows. Process Street’s integration of so many applications facilitates actionable collaboration among team members. Cue rates Process Street at 4.1 out of 5 stars for its outstanding reputation and features.

Wrike
Wrike has won multiple awards across the Project Management category. It offers robust project management features, including collaborative and communication tools. Projects can be easily adjusted with notifications to team members of changes. Another feature is a custom report builder for data presentation. Cue rates Wrike at 4.3 out of 5 stars with an excellent reputation, features and support.

Trello
Trello has 1.1 million users making it one of the most popular applications in the Project Management category. It features an attractive drag and drop interface and color coding along with easily sharable project boards. Trello syncs across mobile, web and applications so all users are always up to date. Trello is rated 4.1 out of 5 by Cue and has excellent scores in reputation, features and support.

All of these tools help project owners and managers to maintain a clear view of where their projects are while at the same time simplifying communication within a team. If you’d like to follow what is happening with Project Management Tools visit the Cue Marketplace’s project management software and services page.