As you grow your business, keeping things running smoothly while wrangling all the to-do’s, pending requests, and deliverables that go into every day, week, or month becomes more and more of an issue. While managing from your email inbox might be an option as a solopreneur (though even then I don’t recommend it), as soon as you introduce team members into the mix, it becomes way less feasible. Thus, a project management solution is a must-have!
Deciding which option is best for you can seem daunting since there are endless possibilities, and you’ll likely hear why *this* one tool is the one to use 12 times per day while you’re looking.
However, evaluating a few key factors can help you find the right project management solution for your brain and your business.
Start by evaluating how your brain works
One essential factor that I feel many people skip is considering how different systems will work with your brain. Many project management software options have some key features that work better for different kinds of learners or preferences. For instance, are you a more visual person, or do you prefer a more list-based set of features? Understanding this one preference can be a huge win in starting to sort out all of the options.
As you’re examining options, be sure to think about what you like and don’t like from a work style position. No matter how amazing the project management solution is, if it doesn’t work well with your brain, it’s not going to help you.
For example, Trello is a perfectly adequate option for many people. But, for me, it’s not even an option to consider. Trello has a very visual, card-based layout that makes my brain want to explode when I go in there. So, for my business, it’s a non-starter because I simply can’t fathom using it to manage my tasks. This doesn’t make it a terrible software, it just makes it one that I can’t use with any real functionality.
What about the money?
There are quite a few project management solutions out there that are free and even more that are paid. So, one of the first decisions to make is whether you’re willing to pay for the tool that you want. Depending on the specificity of what you need out of your project management solution, you may not have a choice but to go with a paid option. But, if you’re on a tight budget, and it’s really not an option to add another recurring expense, then limit your searching to free options.
Both Asana and Trello have great free options that many clients have used successfully for years. And, if you’re like me and a visual, card-based layout makes you want to scream, Asana has a more list-based, linear set-up option! For more on how we use Asana with some clients, check out this post.
Assuming you’re willing to pay for your project management solution, the next thing to consider is how the software’s pricing works. Many options charge by the user, and if you have a lot of users — whether it’s clients or team members — this can get very pricey very quickly. If this is the case, limiting your options to ones that charge by the account or by the project can be much more cost effective.
And others, like Todoist, charge by the individual user, so if you only need 1-2 seats, it could be even more cost-effective than a project or account-based option.
The message here is to be strategic about your current — and somewhat near future — needs. Once you get established in a project management solution, it’s a ton of work to change. So, if you plan to dramatically increase your team size in the next 6-12 months, taking that into account is especially important.
Bottom line: If you’re going with a paid option, consider both how many projects you manage at any given time and how many paid users you’ll generally need in order to help you determine which paid tool is the right fit.
How important is a mobile app to your business?
Depending on how much you depend on the mobile app, this may need to be an essential part of your decision-making process. If you do a ton of your work on the go using your phone or tablet, then the mobile app functionality is likely a deal breaker. If you only need to be able to occasionally look something up, then it’s not going to be as important.
But, again, your project management solution needs to work for your business and how you work. So, evaluate how important a factor this should be to help you sort through the options.
Be realistic in your expectations for adoption
Once you pick a project management solution, it’s time to get set up and start incorporating it into your business. I find this is often the most challenging time because there’s often a learning curve involved with any new tool. This is especially true if this is your very first foray into project management tools.
So, don’t expect miracles in the first week! Be realistic, and expect it to take a little time for yourself and your team to acclimate to the new setup. Be sure to build in time for everyone to do some training — whether it’s with an expert or with online tutorials. If you stick with it, you’ll start to see results in your workflow and productivity!