Tilting at silos

John Reeve | June 11th, 2009 | , , ,

Web-based project management software: tilting at silosThe web-based project management software landscape can be described as a scattering of silos, oversimplified online tools that focus on one component of project management — time tracking, task management, invoicing. While holing up inside one of these apps may work well for some small businesses, many are finding them inadequate for their needs. Or their small business is evolving beyond the capabilities of the project management software, which feigns indifference to their growing needs.

There are some small businesses who have enough in-house time and expertise to string a few of these siloed apps into one complete tool, but still with moderate shortcomings. Most small businesses, however, don’t have this luxury. They are ready to move on, but not so far that they have to struggle with some bloated enterprise-level do-it-all software package. They need something in the middle. They need software that hasn’t really existed up until recently; middle-weight project management software that compiles the best features of the siloed apps into one online tool. The result is a more comprehensive project management application that can handle their business workflow from beginning-to-end, from starting new client projects to sending over the final invoice.

Considerations to take into account before spreading your business across multiple hosted silo applications

  • Multiple monthly payments
  • The group of silo apps used may or may not communicate with one another
  • Multiple logins. One login per app, and per person using the app.
  • Remembering which app does what. It might seem trivial to you, but will employees remember which app to use to track their time, and which app to use for sending invoices, and which app to use to update the last task they completed?
  • Beware of the hype. The online hordes have a tendency to uphold each siloed app as the best and simplest project management tool ever. Listen to others, your Sancho Panza, who see the imaginary giants for what they really are.

Considerations to take into account before adapting your business to a more comprehensive hosted application

Project management is an elusive term that can mean multiple things to different people. Keep the following in mind before committing to an online productivity tool.

  • Because they are more comprehensive, the workflow within an app is already loosely, sometimes rigidly, defined. Evaluate every feature to make sure it is a good fit for your small business.
  • Evaluate the future of the app. Do they have a roadmap? How do they specifically address the shortcomings of siloed apps?
  • Make sure your team is on board. Just because you love it doesn’t mean everyone else will. Get everyone on board and you’ll be far more productive.

Whichever route you take, be sure to consider the long term goals of your company and the portability of your data. Otherwise, you may end up committed to project management software that is not a good fit for your small business. Transitioning out of one app to another is a lot more difficult than starting out with the right one in the first place. Fortunately, there are more apps available online then there have ever been. Never has a small business had more options for finding the best project management software for needs.

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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Braden Jones
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Braden Jones

Braden is a co-founder and strategist at Pelago. His blog posts draw from his worldwide business travels and forays into the retail apparel industry. Braden loves to surf and recently adopted a Doka named Moose.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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