There is a lot of noise in the project management software marketplace. It can be difficult to find the right one for your small business. The funny thing about project management is that no matter how you dress it up with swirly gradients, ajax goodness, and other web 2.0 bells and whistles project management will always be a cumbersome aspect of any small business. Project management software is not sexy or hot or whatever racy adjective you want to throw at it. However, there are plenty of practical online tools to help get your project management needs under control. Consider these few thoughts when evaluating a hosted solution.
Form follows function
Although the user interface is a primary factor to take into account, it is secondary to functionality. What good is a great user interface if the web-based application does not do what you need it to do? This doesn’t mean that a bad user interface is acceptable, it means that you may have to stay away from the kool-aid when choosing an application, and go with something that is not “cool.” When social wisdom is pushing one product as the end-all-be-all of project management solutions because it looks so great, it’s probably a good idea to check under the hood.
Functionality and performance are most important
Online project management tools are as unique as the company who built them. Some are simplified and siloed to the point of covering one or two aspects of managing a project, while others have added so many features they are bloated beyond the needs of a small business. However many there are, it is these features that define the application. Look for a web-based tool that includes the essential features you need, and do some research to find out what features will be added in the future.
It’s about what works, not what is cool
Above all, the most important thing to consider is how well a project management tool fits the needs of your small business. With all of the options available, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one. It’s likely that you will have to adapt some aspects of your business to fit the application, but that is a good thing. Online project management tools are being used by a community of small businesses, all of whom are engaged in conversations with the company behind the product. This feedback cycle ensures that the tool you have chosen is applicable to your small business, because there are many other small businesses just like yours using the same application.
Meanwhile, good luck with the hunt :)