Choosing the right tool when it comes to project management isn’t an easy task. There are a lot of things to take into consideration and a huge number of tools out there.
What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another, different teams will have different needs and ways of tracking things.
However, the main goal will always be the same: to deliver the best possible work within the agreed timeframes and budget, but the route to get there can be tricky.
Where/how should I start?
Having a clear understanding of your main needs is what will help guide your search, so what’s the most important thing you need the tool to do for you? Whether you are looking to track the time spent on each task, or have the best/clearer timetable view, there are plenty of tools to fulfil each one of them.
If you read my previous post — Managing projects in a remote world — you are already aware I’ve been looking at different tools and what they can do for us. We’ve been using Monday.com for a while now, but that wasn’t really working well for us anymore.
We use Notion to store the majority of our documents and keep all the relevant information shared with the team. Recently Notion launched a PM (Project Management) area/board, which we were quite excited about and keen to try. After all, it would be way easier for us to keep everything in one place.
What could be better than having everything together, one tool for everybody and no need to train the team to look at multiple tools? It sounded like just what we needed, but here comes the bad news… it didn’t work for us.
Don’t get me wrong, Notion is great and for a lot of business out there it can be the perfect place to track your projects. But a lot of features that were most important to us weren’t available, or didn’t work as we would like them to.
For example, you couldn’t create parent tasks which is a big thing for us when you have multiple bugs under one main category. Another thing we needed was the comments area. For some reason, this wasn’t available on tasks within the project task list. Being able to communicate with other team members, discuss the work involved inside one specific task is just something we can’t compromise.
What to do now?
Well, we tried it and it didn’t work so let’s not worry about it and look elsewhere. As I mentioned, there are so many tools available and one (or more) will fit your criteria and your budget.
The cost of project management tools vary depending on the size of your team, or the amount of features you would like to have as part of your plan. Bigger teams will most likely need the most expensive plans available on each platform, but small teams who don’t have many specific needs could get a simple free plan.
Some of the tools available are:
…and many more
The majority of these offer comparison tables to show what’s included on each plan, which makes it easier when you are trying to see the options and what works best for you.
Another option is to start a free trial, which is also a great way to get a feel for how complicated it is to use the tool. You really don’t want to have an extensive training session (or even multiple training sessions) only to find your team still doesn’t understand the platform.
Moving our project management to Linear
After going through the cost comparison and doing the free trials, we decided to move everything to Linear. It fits our main needs, it’s more streamlined and gives us a clear view of projects, teams, timelines and all the communication.
It’s still early days, but we’ve been adding tasks to Linear and are happy with how things are going. We are now at the stage where we are introducing Linear to the whole team, everyone will need to learn the basics and we will be asking for their feedback afterwards.
It doesn’t mean we will forever use Linear. Our main goal is to keep using it for as long as we can. It works for us now and it should work for our future plans, but we don’t control everything and things can change.
What happens if you outgrow your project management tool?
We work with digital technology where every day there are new companies, tools, features and loads more coming up, which means we can only hope the tools we use now will follow the newest updates and continue to work for us in the upcoming years. But, as I mentioned, we can’t control everything, and that’s why we will always be reviewing and making sure we are happy with what we get from our tools.
The same happens with other things; a quick and easy example is our mobile phones. Every year there are new smartphones launching with better cameras, faster operating systems and new features we had no idea we needed. In a world where, according to Forbes, 50 million people consider themselves influencers (or digital creators) and their mobile phone is their main working tool, people are always looking to upgrade their phone to their latest model.
Don’t be afraid to review your PM tool and change it again if you have to. There’s no shame in realising that there’s a better tool out there that will make things easier for you.
TL;DR — Checklist for finding the best PM tool
Here’s a quick recap and checklist to help you with your search for the best project management tool for your needs:
Define your main needs What are the most important things you need from the tool
Select the tools Search for some options of tools that offer what you are looking for
Compare the features vs price Look at the comparison of how much you are paying for each one and what you get in return, a pros and cons list is also very helpful.
Make the most of free trials Select a couple (or a few) options to start the free trial (if available)
Make your decision You have the information you need, it’s time to decide which one works best for you
Review and improve Keep reviewing your tools whenever you feel things aren’t going as well as they were when you first started
Have you got a question about project management? Feel free to ask us!