Small business owners do it all: juggle responsibilities, shift roles without a hitch, and stretch every dollar to do more with less, all while keeping their heads above water and their businesses afloat. It's not surprising then that more and more small businesses are turning to project management tools to become more competitive, efficient, and profitable. What are the top PM Tool features small business owners look for, and how do they choose from the pack? 

A recent report by project management technology review firm Software Advice records survey responses from hundreds of small business owners:

Why Small Businesses Turn to Project Management Tools

  • Outgrowing old methods: 46% of survey respondents monitor tasks and projects manually. Yep, almost half of small business owners are tracking everything by hand: either through email, spreadsheets, or pen and paper, and they've realized they need a more sophisticated tool. With manual methods there's always the risk of human error, and even applications like Excel lack clear visibility across multiple projects and workers.
  • Outsourcing: Small businesses are relying more and more on remote teams, contract workers and freelancers to contribute key skills and services with limited overhead costs. They need to be able to connect with their teams and manage work that's not being done in a central office, and that means one tool that everyone can use and access, no matter where they're located.
  • Organization: 41% of business owners say they turned to a project management system to improve efficiency and accuracy. Without a central workspace, documents are easily misplaced, communication is scattered or inconsistent, and teams resort to guesswork when it comes to responsibilities and work progress. Quality suffers and tasks take longer than necessary as teams scramble to coordinate efforts and stay on point.

What Small Business Owners Want in Project Management Solutions

Small business owners look for tools that help them streamline processes, use limited resources efficiently, and ensure that every project they take on is profitable. They want a quick, easy solution that will get them up and running ASAP.

Here's what's at the top of their wish-list:

  • Cloud Services: All buyers who stated a preference wanted a cloud-based application over onsite software installation. Small business owners want quick solutions they can start using in a snap. With cloud services, they can sign up on a website and get started right away, without the expense and delay of onsite configuration. And with the rise in outsourcing and reliance on remote freelancers, cloud services allow virtual teams to log in and access a central workspace from anywhere, on any platform or device, any time they’re connected to the internet.
  • Multi-Functional: 88% of survey respondents prefer software that incorporates several features over stand-alone tools. Almost all of them admitted having trouble tracking multiple projects across a handful of applications. Organizing all projects into one system makes it much easier to track progress across projects and team members — and create accurate reports.
  • Time-Tracking: It’s the #1 requested single feature in a project management tool. Time is money, and seeing where every minute goes helps small business owners simplify processes and improve efficiency. After all, doing more with less means a higher profit margin in project management. Time logs also help with planning, since managers can look at past projects to accurately predict how long certain tasks will take, estimate the number of billable hours, and determine whether a project will be profitable.

Do you own a small business, or work as a freelancer? How do you juggle your responsibilities, manage your team, and track all your work? We want to hear your top tips in the comments section below!