A project is an attempt to achieve a unique goal by temporarily focusing people and resources on creating a result. That result can be a product, service, organizational change, software application or any other result that brings value to the project’s sponsor.
Project managers apply skills, tools, knowledge, and methods to the activities performed on behalf of the project in order to meet its requirements. Only by effectively applying all of this can a project succeed. It starts with a strategy on how best to bring into reality the project manager’s vision, ideas, and goals. The decision on method and tools is critical to the project’s success. The increasing availability and lower cost of digital solutions allow powerful tools and methods to be used in even the smaller projects. There is no longer a need to manage a project exclusively with tools such as sticky notes, paper, and whiteboards. The increasing understanding of collaboration to achieve results and the use of virtual teams demand new tools and methods for managing projects.
Today, if your project result is a software application, the methodology of choice is agile. Agile is a widely adopted method used for many years now. It applies incremental iterations in a flexible and interactive manner with the end customer to deliver over several releases a solution or application that meets customer requirements. Agile development emphasizes collaboration and a non-hierarchical management structure between developers, product managers, and customers.
Until a few years ago small businesses and organizations would not have the budget or inclination to purchase information technology systems and tools for exclusive use in managing projects. The capital costs, investment in training and maintenance costs were factors that prevented their widespread use.
But things began to change when cloud-based solutions and tools for project management lowered the entry costs and training requirements, providing anywhere, anytime access with zero maintenance costs. You don’t have to develop and purchase IT infrastructure. The user interface and procedures are designed to be easy to learn and intuitive for any individual with a basic understanding of personal computers. Those are the prime reasons why more and more businesses and organizations are opting for solutions based in the cloud.
If you are tasked with developing and managing software application projects here are four examples of cloud-based tools for managing projects.
Developed by Atlassian, it was initially created and marketed as an issue tracking tool. Today it goes beyond that and it’s one of the most popular tools for managing agile software development projects and encouraging collaboration between teams and individuals. It can be customized to a particular project or work culture and has over 25,000 customers around the world including some of the largest corporations such as Walmart. It provides functions for managing projects and tracking bugs, issues, and tasks throughout the full agile development life-cycle.
Asana is advertised as a work tracking tool with agile project management features. Used mostly for web and mobile applications development, it started as an internal tool developed at Facebook for improving the productivity of its employees. It has functions that allow users to manage tasks and projects online without the need of external communications such as e-mail. Teams create workspaces and those workspaces can have projects and projects can have tasks. To each task, users can add comments, notes, and tags that allow all team members and managers to instantly know task status and issues. Followers of a task can get updates on their workspace inbox.
This is the calmer, saner and better-organized way to communicate and manage projects enterprise-wide according to Basecamp marketing. It has a reputation as a user-friendly tool requiring little training on how to use most of its features such as sharing ideas, getting status reports on your e-mail account, finding and recovering files easily and managing user access. It’s lacking in time management and analytical tools.
By now you have realized that collaboration is at the heart of the agile way of doing things. Trello is for many the tool of choice in this regard. Managers can organize projects into boards and in a glance know what’s being worked on who is doing it. It also shows where a task is in the process workflow. It has a beautiful graphical interface for creating and organizing the boards, lists, and cards that are at the heart of Trello’s organizational capabilities.
Pivotal Tracker breaks your project into manageable chunks that you can prioritize, organize, and collaborate. Agile tools such as backlogs and user stories are explicitly supported. Project managers and team members can quickly find out on status, task responsibilities and what’s next.
Another online tool for enabling users to manage workflows and schedules while collaborating with one another. Multilingual project teams will be pleased to know that it supports Japanese, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Russian and Italian. A free version with limited features is available with task creation, task assignment and task status markings for a basic but still powerful workflow management tool.