If you are responsible for large, complex projects involving far-flung teams, overlapping deadlines, and many tasks and activities, you have definitely outgrown physical project management solutions such as to-do lists, sticky notes and whiteboards.
Fortunately, there are many online project management tools that can help you plan, manage, monitor and coordinate large, highly complex projects.
These tools offer tracking mechanisms so that you can keep track of all the moving parts and ensure that everything is going forward, as well as organizational and monitoring capabilities that enable the project team to deliver a successful result.
Many online tools have robust planning and assessment options. Their powerful interactive communication and feedback capabilities are especially useful for projects with variable, indeterminate or risky outcomes. They generally include reporting, budget and expense tracking, resource allocation, people management and customization features. Pricing is often based on the number of users and monthly usage.
That makes them affordable for small and midsized enterprises, startups, and solopreneurs. Most offer free intro packages and a range of tiered options.
Here are a few of the more popular project management tools available. Note that these and other online project management tools differ in that each has specific advantages for different types of project management challenges.
(http://basecamphq.com) Basecamp has an array of dashboard tools that give the project manager a bird’s-eye view of a project’s various moving parts. The Basecamp website provides videos that explain the tool and show how businesses have used it.
(www.centraldesktop.com) This is a wiki-based online collaboration suite that allows users to open, save, edit and co-author files stored online. Central Desktop for Office allows users to collaborate directly on Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Videos on the site describe the tool.
(www.aceproject.com) The tool is a cloud-based service that includes project management, document management, time tracking, reporting, HR management, budget tracking, invoicing and more.
(www.zoho.com) ZOHO has more than 20 add-on features such as customer relationship management, collaboration, business and productivity applications. The applications are delivered over the Internet. ZOHO maintains and secures your data on its servers.
(http://quickbase.intuit.com) QuickBase allows you to create custom applications for your own business processes and integrate them with your existing systems, thus enabling business teams to collaborate efficiently.
(https://docs.google.com) Google Docs is a suite of products that lets you create various kinds of online documents, work on them in real time with other team members and store the documents online. The data resides in the cloud so you can access your documents and files from any computer, anywhere in the world.