Wondering how to build a project management software like Basecamp? We got the answer!
Whether you are a business owner, a C-level operations executive or just anyone charged with the task of increasing company productivity and organizing internal processes, this article is for you.
Having read it you will learn:
Did you know that year after year time-management seminars traditionally land in top-3 of the most popular training out there? Smart managers understand that the most precious resource their companies have is the time of their employees. Poor decision-making in allocating and distributing this resource can easily become a make-or-break deal for your business.
Sometimes it may not be obvious that you need help there but here are a couple of situations which are a definite sign that you should consider bringing a project management time tracking software on board.
Now that you have established the need for a project tracking software you are facing a choice: pick one of the existing turnkey solutions on the market or create a task management software from scratch.
Clearly define what tasks and features of the future project management software are the most important for your business needs before you start to. Get opinions of all departments that will be using this software - not just development or creative group, but also analytics, planning, operations, and whoever else might not be a part of the process per se but will use the data for reports and/or processing. After that carefully consider and organize all requests into two lists:
IMPORTANT: Do not confuse them.
A Pitfall to Watch Out For Here: your software specification document grows out of proportions.
How to avoid it: it gets messy fast when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Each department will consider their needs the most pressing ones. Your goal is to assess them with a cold head from a “big picture” point of view.
Then, use 80/20 in allocating resources for developing and implementing the requests from the lists: 80% should go to must-have features and only 20% – to nice-to-haves.
Document the existing process as thoroughly as possible. Go above and beyond: who does what, in how much time, how he/she gets notified about the comments or reviews, how they pass the process to the next team member, what deliverables they submit in a process and what documentation in the end – every single step.
Pitfall: your process can grow too complicated and instead of saving time will take more time to manage it in the system.
How to avoid: test, confirm, validate. Assign a team of beta testers who will follow the process from A to Z and assess if there are any redundancies that can be eliminated or whether anything can be streamlined with the new system in place. Once this has been established, test again.
Make sure that each and every team member who will be working with the software is 100% comfortable and familiar with the operations they will be performing there day in and day out.
Pitfall: Remember, that the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A project management software delivers the biggest benefits only when the project process runs its full cycle as it was designed to.
How To Avoid It: plan extra time for an implementation stage. Have multiple training sessions available for your employees and encourage them to take as many as needed to be fully comfortable working in a new system.
While all businesses are different, you might find it useful to know which features are the most commonly requested in a project tracking software.
As you can imagine, successfully moving your existing data to a new project management system is an issue of utmost importance, especially if we are talking about a significant amount of information like asset database or hard disks of documents in various formats. The tricky point here is that it is hard to predict. You can discover that your assets have lost their tags after transitioning or your data security has been compromised in the process – there is really no way to tell in advance.
Make sure that you talk this through with your developers and feel confident that they know how to manage something like this. You want them to have demonstrated the ability to handle this kind of job. For real-life example take a look at Transpose – a solution built to organize, store and pull insights from tremendous amounts of data.
Also, save that backup for at least as long as it takes to double- or triple-check that everything works fine. Better safe than sorry, right?
It goes without saying that different team member will use the system in a different way, thus, their level of access should depend on their functions.
You want to capture carefully all existing user roles and what each of them means in terms of access they need but also think about future-proofing your software and discuss the opportunity for expanding the set of permission levels as needed.
Here is a good example of how this was achieved by an internal project management system Olivia for a broker dealer firm.
A good project scheduling software doesn’t just send automatic notifications; it creates a cohesive collaborative environment streamlining all communications around any given project.
It should be designed with a thought in mind that a tight project team working closely on each individual project probably has different needs than a broader cross-departmental group.
Other important features include:
When you decide to build a project tracking software from scratch it’s easy to get carried away and forget that the ultimate goal is not creating a state-of-art project management system but a software program which your team will love using.
Have early testing sessions with team members and consider these three main questions as your usability criteria:
Two other important aspects of UI design are:
Some of the aspects you might want to think about here:
Here the main principle should be “less is more”. While you don’t want visually appealing bells and whistles distract a user, some design components are crucially important for good UX:
While a well-designed project managing software is great in gathering all kinds of useful data in one place, it is not enough. You want to have the right tools to process your data and prepare it to be shared with the broad audience.
Think about what kinds of reports you might need to generate, what business metrics should be included as variables, what formats will you be using to export them?
Consider a possibility that you may want to share the in-system documents like project specifications or email compilations of live dashboard like timelines or progress status.
Last but not least, this can be just another to-do item on your list or a huge challenge to face, depending on the role and nature of your business.
Carefully consider your data privacy requirements as they will affect multiple decisions you will have to make:
Should you consider a Software as a Service solution or a cloud-based server? Or, maybe, your own physical server in a secure location? Who is going to get it up and running and who will update and maintain it afterward?
These and other related issues can largely impact your business down the road so it is better to get expert advice. Hopefully, you’ve chosen a trustworthy development team that can do just that.
Speaking of, what should you pay attention to when looking for the right development company?
Here are the signs of a good software development company:
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