Dear beginner, after we educated you about the terminology, it’s time for the Web Development Project Management tools. Every project should be tracked and communicated within some PM tool. Through my #AgencyLife period (almost eight years) I used various tools such as BaseCamp, Trello, Asana, and Active Collab but for the last two years, we use Productive.
Let’s be clear; all of these project management tools are good. Difference between them is in the details. Which software you choose depends on some unique features or pricing (but as far as I know, pricing is around 10USD/per user for most of them, so there is no significant difference).
I would like to suggest following tools, which works best for my team and I believe will work for you.
#1 “Static” PM tool such as Productive
Why static? It is less dynamic than chat tools. Productive is equipped with a timer, tasks, invoicing, With different views as well. Also, I have been using Trello for some projects. It is also a great tool to start. It’s free but simpler than Productive, and with significantly fewer features. You can check comparisons for project management software here.
#2 Chat – dynamic PM tool such as Slack
WhatsApp or Viber? Slack is similar to those tools, but it’s built for business purposes. You can create a room or a group for the team on a project. That is an excellent thing if you want to communicate faster.
Also, it gives you an ability to connect some other tools with it. For example, if your website is down, a notification will arrive to chat room immediately. Or when someone completes a task, etc.
Here you can check other project management tools similar to Slack and choose what is right for you. Slack has a free version which is good enough for start.
#3 Video communication tools such as Skype or Appear.in
If you work remotely or you want to skip commuting to your client, there is always a way to have meetings. Video call is necessary on every project especially in some specific situation that you can’t solve through a PM tool or chat. For example, you prepared three versions of website homepage design. And this task is a significant milestone, and you should talk with the client about your idea.
Appear.in call with the client
#4 Wireframing tools
I learned one key thing in the last seven years. People prefer visual, and everybody could understand the things they see much better. Certainly better than the words. Especially when we talk about different terminology between designers, developers, and clients. Not only terminology but experience also. Wireframing is a great way to start a project.
#5 MS Excel
Some projects require complex workflows. MS Excel, for example, is an excellent way for such project specifications. I will give you an example below:
#6 MS Word
All specifications should be written down. Everything concerning dealing with the client especially. And you can use versioning of documents.
#7 Cloud storage
Some files will be so large that you can’t upload them to your tool such as Productive. Cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox or OneDrive are excellent for file organization and sharing. An option we like is file versioning – you can always restore previously saved versions. You can connect cloud storage with other tools (such as Productive and slack).
Why Project management tools, not e-mail?
Please stop here. E-mail is a mess, and you should never use e-mail as a Project Management tool. I have had the opportunity to see how email communication looks. I know how agencies work with clients, and this is the best way to miss a deadline and to break a budget.
#1 What if your client forgot to put your developers/designers in cc?
Most common issue. Client forgets to put the designer in communication while replying, a designer doesn’t receive information during the design process, and the conversation goes in the wrong direction. The project manager has to lose more time on communication in these situations.
#2 What if you don’t see all changes, emails and client requests?
As a project manager, you should have a clear picture and control in your hands. If you don’t see request, you will lose profits! If you’re not aware of the requests, you might miss a deadline.
#3 What about communication between your team and client reporting?
Let’ say, your team is composed of back-end developer, front-end developer, designer and you. That’s four people plus the client. Communication through e-mail will destroy your team productivity. Transparency between people will decrease, and a lot of pieces of information will disappear.
#4 What about task tracking?
Every project has tasks. If you work with e-mail, should your team track time on paper? And will you collect them and send them to the client daily? No. For example, here in Kontra, we track our projects regularly. We report to our clients every day. That’s great because a client is informed and our PM has a timeline and budget control.
#5 What about task diversification?
For example, we encounter some bugs; a particular function in the application isn’t working. How does one track tasks like that? Through e-mail? What should we do with this case after fixing the bugs? What happens if we have a reopened task – same bug?
#6 What about tasks dependencies?
A lot of tasks are in dependencies, and your project could miss a deadline without controlling milestones. Let’s go with an example. A copywriter is responsible for content delivery. He missed his deadline; this deadline directly impacts the designer who is responsible for design delivery to a front-end developer etc.
Task dependency is a vital thing on your project. You can predict problems with deadlines; you can see who is within your team a problem or has a problem. And this is the reason why you need the PM tool.
What is essential within Project Management tool? Why?
Everything that impacts your projects is crucial. There are several things I will mention in this article which might be helpful for a beginner.
#1 Projects (& Tasks)
You need separated projects, primarily if you work on more than one project. When you start a new project, you always invest some time on estimations and budgets. Later you can track your estimated VS tracked time in your reports.
You should break every project into tasks/milestones etc. Every task has a responsible person, time, communication with a client.
Also, there are different tasks views; you can use depending on project management methodology. Check this guide if you are interested in more information.
#2 Time Tracking
If you want to stay profitable and accomplish deadlines, you can’t do this without time tracking. As I mentioned before, almost every task has an impact.
Also, you should report to the clients and your company board.
#3 Roles delegation
I like this option. You can assign clients, managers, and employees.
Great thing to track the timeline of your project or employees timeline.
# 5 Real-time reports
If you want to stay billable and meet deadlines you need real-time reports.
There are a lot of project management tools and philosophies. I wanted to give you some essential tools that work for me. I worked with a lot of experienced teams that don’t use these tools, so they have a lot of problems. First, focus on the fundamentals, then move on.