Why Should I Use Calendars In Project Management Software?
Calendars are useful tools for keeping track of upcoming meetings, deadlines, and milestones. They can help you visualize your schedule and remind you of important events, such as holidays and vacation time.
It’s no wonder that people often have a variety of calendar tools to choose from, including everything from a paper calendar on their office wall to a calendar management tool, such as Calendly.
The problem is that people too often manage multiple calendars at once. When these calendars aren’t integrated with your work and synchronized with each other, this can lead to mass confusion, headaches, and missed deadlines.
Why you should use a project management software calendar
If you’re already managing and updating one or more calendars, you may not consider calendar functionality an important feature of project management software. However, a project management software solution that includes calendars offers several benefits that other calendar options do not.
For instance, traditional calendars are great for planning your day, but terrible for planning, visualizing, and sharing project work.
While your online calendar may remind you of an upcoming deadline, it’s not designed to tell you what tasks are required to meet the deadline, who’s working on them, and what their current status of completion is. You would need to go outside that program (or send an email request) to find that critical information.
Project management software calendars answer these underlying questions by linking directly to project progress and information.
Here are seven functions that project management calendars offer that traditional ones do not:
- Enable you to track and plan critical work manually
- Automatically track specific work for projects, teams, or folders
- Color code by status, channel, audience, and more
- Allow you to layer calendars to get the big picture across multiple projects or folders
- Let you view calendars by month, quarter, and/or year
- Enable you to open project tasks directly from the calendar
- Allow you to easily share real-time calendar updates with other stakeholders
Project management software calendars allow you to view scheduled tasks that contain all related information, files, and conversations. This functionality lets you easily jump from the calendar right into work without navigating through other tools or applications.
Plus, having a shareable project management calendar allows you to view tasks and project plans for multiple teams and projects throughout the business. This visibility helps you identify potential conflicts and coordinate work across individuals and teams.
Project management software calendars allow you to share up-to-date information quickly with internal and external stakeholders. This functionality means that executives and customers can easily access a bird’s-eye view of your project schedule and upcoming key dates, all in a simple, visual format.
How project management calendars work
Unlike traditional calendars, project management software calendars connect directly to underlying projects and tasks within your software. This means that the calendar will automatically update as tasks and schedules change.
Plus, these calendars offer two-way sync. This means that if you need to delay or reschedule a task, you can make the change right in your calendar view. All you have to do is drag and drop the task over to the new date. Not only will it update the task, but it will also automatically adjust all dependent tasks.
Any task or project changes are instantly reflected in both your project schedule and calendar in real-time, which means you never have to worry about conflicting data, and your whole team can operate relying on one single source of truth.
Another way that project management software calendars allow you to maintain one source of truth is by supporting the creation of individual calendars without duplicating data. For instance, you can create separate calendars for all sorts of different views such as:
- Different projects, teams, or departments
- Separate project phases
- Work by target audience
- Work by channel
- Different workflow statuses
Every calendar is still pulling from the same data source, so any change in the project will still be instantly reflected in all calendars.
This capability allows you to simplify calendar views so that the amount of data doesn’t become overwhelming and nothing is missed. Plus, you can pull the separate calendars together to see the big picture.
Classic vs. smart calendars
There are two types of project management software calendars:
- classic calendars
- smart calendars
Classic calendars are manually created by you or your team. They offer a flexible solution that allows you to display only the tasks that you’ve individually selected.
Classic calendars are useful if you have a lot of tasks spread across multiple projects and you only wish to monitor the most important or high-priority ones. Likewise, team members can choose to create their own classic calendar so they can manage only a narrow array of tasks, such as their own tasks and the ones directly preceding theirs.
Smart calendars automatically create calendar views that display all tasks within a specific project or folder. You can also use filters to create smart calendars that only meet specified criteria — for instance, if a team member only wants to see their assigned tasks.
Smart calendars are useful if the tasks you wish to monitor are all within the same project or folder and if you can easily filter for the tasks you wish to track. The biggest benefit of smart calendars is that they can be created with only a few clicks and can update as the project changes.
For example, if a new task is added to your project, a smart calendar can pull it into your display (assuming it meets the filter criteria.) Whereas with a manual calendar, you would have to manually add that new task to your calendar. This increases the risk of new tasks being overlooked.
While a project management calendar offers a lot of additional functionality and benefits, you may still wish to use your current calendar tool, especially if you’re also tracking non-project-related events, meetings, and deadlines.
For this reason, it’s important to select project management software that’s capable of integrating with popular calendar apps like Google Calendar, Outlook, and Apple Calendar. This integration will allow you to maintain your own calendar without having to manage and update two separate tools.
Keep in mind that traditional calendars are not designed to handle all the detail a project management software calendar can offer. You should look for a solution that allows you to select what level of detail is published to your traditional calendar. For instance, in your online calendar, you may only wish to see task due dates or you may want to exclude subtasks.