Part 5 in a 5 part series
Get online with easy-to-use, comprehensive project management software—and use it!
Whether it’s off-the-shelf project management software, an affordable hosted solution such as our software, Intervals, or your own internal system, every web design and development company (including freelancers) benefits greatly from good project management software. Not only does it help avoid going over budget on a particular project by giving you a running count of time and resources spent, it also helps you better budget for future projects by summarizing how time was spent on past projects. It also reduces paperwork, facilitates collaboration through group task management and document sharing, and makes billing easier. Make it a requirement, not just a suggestion, that your employees or freelancers use the system as part of their work process.
When shopping around for the best project management, time tracking and task management software, we recommend you look for the following:
- Strong time tracking tools with useful reporting
- Intuitive task creation, assignment and management
- Unlimited user accounts—don’t pay higher fees for having a larger team
- Analytical/productivity tools and reports that let you run the numbers on your project from a variety of angles
- Financial tools in the form of financial reports and invoicing features.
- An elegant and easy-to-use user interface—you’re a design firm; your project management software should reflect that
- Client access—the ability to allow clients to view or access part or all of the system so they can track your process and progress. While it may be a bit unnerving at times to allow clients “in,” if you value accountability all your potential client arguments will be instantly supported by your numbers.
How Pelago learned this the hard way
We started work on a large contract that required hiring several subcontractors. We hammered away at the project for weeks, not tracking a single minute of it. When our subcontractors invoiced us at the first milestone we were shocked. It was twice the amount we had budgeted. Our profits from the project were reduced to nothing. Tracking our time would have alerted us to the project going over budget. Not all was lost. From this fiasco was born our search for a viable project, task and time tracking solution. We tried paper timesheets, Excel spreadsheets, open source projects, and a few online project management apps, before rolling our own web-based software. Intervals proved to be invaluable for tracking our time on any project, large or small, by accounting for all of our billable time and alerting us to overages before they happened. Now that we are more disciplined at time tracking and task management at Pelago, we have experienced far fewer mistakes and increased our billable hours and proficiency. If small businesses can learn from our mistakes, why not also learn from our solutions?