10 useful tools that every Project Manager should know about

By - Asya Karapetyan, tech writer and blogger

The product manager has a complex role. Not only does he have to formulate team objectives and manage teamwork, he also has to study market needs, conceptualize the final product, and monitor concept observance at all stages of its development. All this, in addition to other important tasks! This makes it virtually impossible for him to insure high quality projects without the aid of special tools and software. Fortunately, there is a wide array of applications for project managers that fit their specific requirements whether they are team collaboration, time tracking, chart drawing, note-making or troubleshooting.

In this article you will find the TOP 10 tools used by project managers.

1. Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project has been created to help project managers in planning development, distributing resources, tracking progress and analyzing work volumes. Despite its apparent complexity, the MS Project has an intuitive interface. It is a highly regarded software solution which can greatly contribute to your project's success. It operates three blocks: Tasks, Resources and Calendar via connections among them. The software is essentially a database with quite simple automation possibilities.

The main advantages of using Microsoft Project are:

  • Efficient organization of work using MS Project scheduling
  • Complete and convenient tracking of all changes and project developments
  • Highly customizable schedules to comply with specific projects
  • Various possibilities for representation of projects, adding ideas, filtering data
  • Prediction and prevention of risks
  • Summary reports and efficient management of records

Microsoft Project is a great choice for organizations, especially where projects require frequent interaction among different departments.

ms project number one tool for project managers

2. Skype for Business

Skype allows project managers to immediately connect with their team, colleagues and clients, wherever they are. It supports four types of conference calls: web conferencing, video and voice conferences, conference with telephone connections, and conferences with instant messaging. Skype for Business can connect users from virtually any device, help them collaborate on documents, share desktop screens and access particular desktop applications or files with other conference participants.

Skype for Business is designed specifically for the corporate sector in order to facilitate business communication and save on long distance and international telephone calls. All sessions on Skype for Business are protected by authentication and encryption algorithms, so it is a safe tool for PMs to interact with their clients and colleagues.

3. Trello

The Trello system is built on the Japanese management "kanban" principle, which involves consistent monitoring of all production phases. It is a great tool for standard projects and is convenient for both command directives and individual assignments. The interface consists of different boards, which represent projects or processes in the company. Each board consists of lists of tasks, cards with descriptions, comments, files, color tags and deadlines. The menu can be displayed as a calendar. The basic functionality of Trello is free and allows you to work with almost no restrictions.

4. Evernote

Evernote is a tool that can help build a huge knowledge base for project managers. It can be used to create to-do lists and store all kinds of information about your projects in files and notes. In addition, Evernote can be supplemented by other tools needed by PMs. It is a cloud-based project management tool, which you can access from any device - smartphone, tablet or PC. There are several tools in Evernote, which in combination enable you to manage your tasks effectively. Evernote provides assigned access for different users. For personal tasks, you can use an individual notebook. If you work with a team and want to challenge your employees, then it is better to work on a pad with public access, allowing you to determine the levels of access for different kinds of colleagues.

5. Microsoft Visio

MS Visio is a vector graphics application created for Windows OS, and is widely used by project managers. It is a powerful tool for presenting complex information in the form of diagrams, shapes and flowcharts.

Even if you are not gifted with design or technical skills, Visio will help you translate your thought processes into the best visuals. Visio is often used to quickly sketch your concept by using a set of diagrams to simplify and enhance the visualization of abstract processes. Whether you want to create an organizational chart, network or process diagram, you have a variety of ready-made Microsoft Visio templates and shapes from which to select your design. Furthermore, with Visio you can interact with others users and succinctly illustrate certain points. For instance, from an organization chart you may want to highlight a "hovering" problem and discuss its solution, which can then be applied to a new project. With Visio you can also import data from MS Excel to produce clean and clear graphics for your public presentations and reports.

6. VSDX Annotator

VSDX Annotator is a Visio Viewer for those who work on Mac. It is widely used by project managers to collaborate on Visio files in a multi-platform environment. It has 12 annotation tools that allow you to make changes in a drawing right on a Mac as well as add your notes, questions and comments. You can then save as a PDF or Visio extension (.vsdx) for further editing in Visio by colleagues. This app renders all the drawing content and displays visually sharp images.

7. SmartDraw

SmartDraw is one more tool for creating a variety of graphs, charts and presentations. With this app you can quickly and easily construct flow charts, PowerPoint presentations, mind maps and other images. The program offers more than 70 of these types of material. SmartDraw provides a set of templates for a variety of goals such as project charts, decision trees, genograms and many other types of visual data. It supports cloud service, so you can share graphs, charts and diagrams with the team. SmartDraw is much easier to use than Visio and comes in both MS and macOS versions.

8. JIRA

JIRA is a project management application developed by the Australian company Atlassian. This web-based tool gives project managers the ability to manage multiple teams, projects and workflows more efficiently. The key concepts in JIRA are projects and tasks. Projects are used for grouping tasks. Tasks are created within the projects so that performers can be assigned to these tasks. Tasks can also have sub-tasks and be linked with other issues. As projects are completed, task status is automatically changed. This tool works well for sizeable teams and organizations, where employees and managers cannot humanly visualize the project as a whole, and may sometimes overlook certain necessary tasks.

9. Slack

Slack is a web-service, and application is available for desktop, iOS and Android. The aim of Slack is to create opportunities for individuals or groups to interact with colleagues or customers on any issues concerning projects. This is a simple application with a very simple and intuitive user interface. You can create a profile, send files, and send and read messages. Private groups are called "channels" and the messages sent within the channel are visible only to the participants of that particular channel. Slack supports more than 100 web services, including the popular Dropbox, Twitter, Google Docs and even Trello, mentioned above. You can use Slack to integrate any of these services and get notifications when there are any changes and activities.

10. GanttPro

GanttPro is software solution based on Gantt charts. It allows you to plan and manage your projects online, visualize processes, create and assign tasks to team members, set deadlines and view the percentage of individual tasks completed against anticipated timelines. You can share the Gantt charts you have created with the team and customers, assigning to dedicated users the right to view or to edit. GanttPro has a set of key features, some of which are compatible with Agile methods, for example:

  • scheduling tasks based on priorities
  • distributing tasks among project participants
  • analyzing critical paths to speed up progress
  • automatic scheduling
  • tracking current progress to know the stage of project implementation

With such a wide selection of apps for project management you can find absolutely any software suitable for your own and your team's needs. We hope this list will help you choose the right software and increase your productivity!
Happy hunting!

Asya Karapetyan, tech writer and blogger

 
 
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