The right project management software can be a significant driver of success for a small business, where time is of the essence and resources are often limited. Project managers may handle less complex projects, but they face the additional challenge of fewer resources.
Project management software helps small companies allocate resources, stay on schedule, and track project success, whether working remotely or in an office. This essential tool centralizes information, conversations, files, and assets in a single source of truth. Read on to learn the features and benefits of project management software for small businesses — you'll also discover how to:
- Integrate project management software into your small business
- Upgrade project management software as your team grows
- Choose the best project management software for your business
How to integrate project management software into a small business
Integrating project management software into a small business helps to codify workflows, speed up operations, and keep projects within budget. Outline how your business currently operates — include resources, project scope, production process, and other useful information. This helps to identify inefficiencies in your business process before integrating project management software. Then, follow the steps below:
- Outline internal processes and workflows: Before choosing a project management tool, outline your processes and workflows. List every task, dependency, and resource needed to complete your work. Outlining your processes helps discover and prioritize the features you need from your project management software.
- Identify problems and inefficiencies: A common mistake businesses make is integrating project management software without clear goals. If you can't identify the challenges project management software can help you overcome, you may find it difficult to find the right solution for your business.
- Write down your requirements: Once you know your weaknesses, write out your requirements for project management software. Maybe your business needs better resource management to share employee workload efficiently. You could benefit from a project management software that offers a Gantt chart feature to look into tasks and timelines and identify where you have slack resources.
- Find the best project management software for your needs: Later in this article, we’ll share some features you should look for in project management software for small businesses.
- Don't complicate the process: Another mistake often made in integrating project management software for small businesses is trying to reinvent the wheel. This often leads to broken workflows, disconnected teams, and a disorganized workspace. Keep things simple. You don't have to overhaul your business operations to use project management software. Instead, use it to complement what's already working.
- Prepare your team for changes: Train your team to use your new project management tool. Explain the benefits of the change, and show them how to improve performance using the software. Make time to answer questions and set a deadline for moving existing work, data, and projects to the new software.
- Ensure security is in place: Check your application settings and ensure you set up security for your teams and data. The best project management software offers two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect your business. Alternatively, you can look into third-party authenticator applications if your project management software doesn't provide this feature.
How do small businesses benefit from project management software?
Nailing a repeatable process and scaling efficiency is of high priority in small businesses. Project management software helps to achieve these and more. Below are other benefits of project management tools for small businesses:
- Aligned goals: Project management software helps to align projects with a business's overarching goals. Team members can see how tasks fit into the bigger picture and how they're contributing value.
- Project breakdown: Project management software breaks projects into smaller tasks and subtasks with clear deliverables and due dates. This helps to spread work evenly in a team and ensure projects are completed in time.
- Workflow management: Project management software for small businesses simplifies assigning and scheduling tasks in a team. It also provides reports that show how long it takes to complete a task, where bottlenecks occur, and other critical metrics.
- Process control: Project management software minimizes unmitigated errors and discrepancies. Robust project management software like Wrike reschedules tasks and prompts team members when a deadline is approaching. This helps avoid disorganization and breakdown in trust and confidence within teams.
- Team accountability: Clearly defining roles and assigning tasks can make completing a project smooth and efficient. Team members know what they're responsible for, so fewer tasks are left incomplete. Good project management software keeps project progress transparent and encourages team members to do their part.
- Reports and insights: Project management software creates reports and insights from completed projects, providing valuable information on how to improve things next time. These insights help you evaluate company-wide performance and make changes for the future.
- Templates: The best project management software for small businesses offers templates to save time, work faster, and guarantee best practices are built into your business process. Templates reduce rework and serve as a starting point for new projects.
Which features should you look for in project management software for small companies?
Most project management software includes tools to facilitate planning, collaboration, and schedule management. Listed below are essential features to look for in project management software for small teams.
The best project management software allows in-app communication, sending notifications to team members and using built-in chat features to facilitate secure collaboration.
Dashboards provide an overview of progress at an individual, team, and department level. They display useful metrics on ongoing projects and highlight problematic areas. Pin important projects and choose what to monitor in your dashboard.
File sharing in project management software makes it possible for managers and team members to share, store, and work on digital assets and documents in a centralized platform.
The best project management software for small businesses offers multiple views to manage tasks and timelines. This allows team members to work according to their tastes and view projects from different angles. Project management software typically has:
- Table or spreadsheet view
- Gantt chart or timeline view
- List view
- Board view
Good project management provides cloud storage, so your information and data are easily accessible whenever you have an internet connection (and accurate security access). Team members can upload files and other information from your project management software directly onto the cloud. This encourages flexibility and productive remote working. Tasks get done faster regardless of where your teams work from.
With teams working remotely and from home post-COVID, the right project management enables you to oversee projects on the go. Small business managers and teams can work from different locations and not miss a beat. Project management mobile apps ensure you don't have to be sitting in front of a desktop to contribute to a project.
Many project management software programs include templates you can customize to avoid starting from scratch with every new project. The most popular project management templates help small businesses with ticketing, product launches, service delivery, marketing campaigns, project planning, goal-setting, and tracking.
Team roles and permissions
As you invite teams and external contributors to your project, it's essential to set customizable project permissions. Some people may need view-only access, while others need full admin rights. The best project management software for small teams grants user, role, and access permissions to determine what information specific users can view and edit within the software.
Your project management workflows are the core of your business operations. The best project management software tools connect and integrate easily with your other work applications — e.g., Salesforce for sales teams – to create a secure and centralized platform for your business data, projects, and reports. Without integration, you would have to pull data out of separate applications and manually combine them to synthesize insights, increasing the risk of errors.
What pricing plan should you expect from a small project management software account?
Project management software pricing typically varies depending on the number of users, features, and billing frequency, e.g., annual or monthly billing. Most project management software offers freemium plans or free trials.
When you have outlined your business needs and requirements, you’ll have clarity on what you need from your project management software. With this information, choose software that provides the project management features you need at a reasonable price. You should also calculate the cost of training your teams to use the software.
Is it possible to upgrade project management software for small teams once they grow?
Start with a free version of your chosen project management software and upgrade as your team grows. The best project management software platforms provide options to add more users, features, and support for small businesses and teams as they expand.
Depending on your business requirements for project management software, you may need to contact the support team of your chosen project management software provider to get a custom quote and product demo before upgrading. Read online reviews and testimonials before investing in premium project management software for small businesses.
Are project management tools for small businesses good for remote companies?
Whether you're working in an office, from home, or in other remote locations, you can make your project management software the remote HQ for your business. Invite team members and collaborators to join your digital workspace. Ensure that you assign them appropriate permissions to communicate, work, and gain visibility into relevant aspects of your projects.
What is the best project management software for small businesses?
Our top recommendation for project management software for small businesses and teams is Wrike. In addition to the basic features most project management software offers, Wrike provides:
Real-time activity streams
Activity streams combine project management with real-time chat and updates, empowering small business managers and teams with fast, interactive features for remote and in-office collaboration. Wrike activity streams give a big-picture perspective of ongoing projects. Team members can edit tasks and project information with all changes saved in Wrike automatically, so there's no conflict between users' input.
Small business managers and teams can navigate between live project updates and details of a particular task. When anyone finishes a task or updates a project, it's automatically shown in the activity stream. Wrike's activity stream keeps everyone in the loop with each other's progress, enhancing collaboration in real-time.
Work intake and dynamic request forms
Dynamic request forms allow you to create and assign tasks based on your business needs. For example, a small construction company would have request forms with different input fields than a small digital marketing agency. Wrike request forms allow you to capture various fields and manage inbound requests as tasks, projects, or projects from a template in Wrike.
The form questions change based on information the requester provides as they fill it out. This ensures small business teams easily get the information they need to get to work quickly without asking unnecessary or repetitive questions. Wrike’s dynamic forms automatically assign tasks to the right team members as soon as a request form is submitted.
Integration with 400+ work apps
Wrike integrates easily with Salesforce, Google, Microsoft, Slack, and many more essential work applications. The Wrike Integrate add-on connects to cloud-based and on-premises apps and enables custom automation to Wrike. This vastly reduces the time spent transferring information and switching between work applications. It also ignites the power of automation and helps to create an unbroken workflow.
Integrating with other work apps helps to extract reports and insights that improve your business. Wrike's integrations and automation capabilities go beyond one-off, haphazard integrations with little benefits to provide in-depth customization for your business needs and powerful workflow automation, eliminating manual effort.
Proofing and approval functionalities
Wrike offers proofing and approvals functionalities. Collaborators can see each other's comments and work through conflicting feedback in real-time. Assigned reviewers and approvers can make changes in a document, digital asset, web content, or website page. Edits are crossed off as they're made and the corresponding task marked as "reviewed" or "approved."
Wrike's proofing feature increases the ease and ability of the review and approval process across a small business, accelerating project progress and eliminating the risk of errors. Feedback, comments, and approvals are tracked and stored in one centralized location. Internal and external stakeholders can weigh in on a work-in-progress without email back-and-forths or lost communication and time.
360° visibility into projects and teams
Certain projects can get lost in the flurry of daily business activity as more urgent tasks are prioritized. Sometimes important but not urgent tasks are forgotten about until it's too late. Wrike alleviates this problem by providing 360° visibility into every ongoing project as well as a summary overview. The ability to showcase both high-level and detailed information on ongoing projects – how many projects are in progress, who's working on what, how often deadlines are met or missed — helps small business managers stay on top of things at all times. Go deep into your projects, tasks, and reports generated in Wrike to measure team efforts, project progress, and other critical metrics. This helps you keep your business objectives on track and make decisions based on real-time data.
24/7 customer support
No matter how easy software is to use, you're likely to have questions and issues. Most small businesses do not have dedicated IT teams, and this is where Wrike steps in. Wrike provides multiple forms of support for users:
- FAQs and resources: Visit Wrike's robust FAQs page, regularly updated library of resources, and blog to find answers to questions
- Live chat: Find Wrike's live chat easily within your dashboard and on the Wrike website
- Email: Email support is available for all Wrike users
- Phone: Paid users can contact Wrike directly by phone. Phone support is available 24/7 for users with the premium support plan and 24/5 for all paying Wrike users
- In-app support: Access Wrike live chat easily while using the app
- Help center: The Wrike help center is detailed and constantly updated
- Community forum: Wrike's community forum provides even more support to users
- Training: Wrike regularly offers training webinars for users
With a new free plan that allows unlimited users, free 2GB of storage, and subtask management (in addition to the usual task management capabilities), Wrike's project management software for small businesses saves teams a lot of time and energy. If you're a small business owner or manager struggling to get your employees to work efficiently and in sync, start with a two-week free trial of Wrike's software today.