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Ready to get your business organised?

In today’s post, I want to talk to you about project management tools and how to pick the best one for your business.

If you’ve ever Google the term “project management tool”, you’ve quite possibly been overwhelmed by the results. There are a LOT of project management tools out there that have been designed with online business owners like you in mind, making the decision process tough!

Well, you don’t need to worry about that anymore, here are 6 steps you need to follow in order to choose one that suits you AND your business.

6 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Project Management Tool

1. Why you need a project management tool

Before we dive into the details of the decision-making process, I just wanted to talk about why you might need a project management tool in the first place (this is for those of you who don’t see the point in them!)

The answer is pretty simple – to organise your business.

But for real, if you pick the tool for your business needs, you can pretty much run your business from one centralised place.

So, if you’re guilty of having your business plans, notes, to-do lists etc. in 3 different paper planners, 100 sticky-notes, some notes on your phone and an illegible scribble on the back of a receipt that’s not crumpled up in the bottom of your handbag, then you need a project management for your biz.

Here are the main reasons that I LOVE using a project management tool for my businesses (and my clients’ businesses too):

  • Everything is in one place – tasks, documents, attachments etc.
  • I can access everything no matter where I am (on my laptop AND my phone)
  • My clients and team members can access everything no matter where they are
  • I can assign tasks to clients and team members without having to write out emails and clog up their inboxes
  • I can create workflows and SOPs which save me a TON of time in my business
  • I never miss a deadline! I have a clear overview of what is due each day.
  • It cuts down on the number of emails I have to send
  • I have a place to turn my big goals into actionable plans (and set deadlines for each step)
  • It keeps me accountable – no one likes seeing overdue tasks staring at them
  • It helps me to prioritise what to work on each day
  • It’s a great way to stop procrastinating because you ALWAYS know what to work on next.

I used to think that I didn’t need a project management tool until I had a team working with me but that’s not true, it’s never too early to start using one.

2. What will you use your project management tool for?

The answer here is NOT “to manage projects”! I’m looking for a little bit more detail!

You need to make an honest assessment of what you actually NEED from your project management tool. Whilst some of the features available on some platforms might be super cool, if you don’t actually need them, they will only serve as a distraction.

On the other hand, there will be certain features that are absolutely essential for you and your business.

Create a list of things that your chosen tool MUST have and a list of things that it SHOULD have. These might include features like:

  • Being able to track progress
  • Being able to attach files to tasks
  • Can be used with multiple team members
  • Must have certain views (e.g. list, table and/or calendar)
  • Must integrate with certain other tools that you use

3. Check out your options

As I mentioned at the start of this post, there are a LOT of project management tools out there for you to choose from. So, once you know what you will be using your chosen tool for, it’s time to start researching your options.

The main/most popular online project management tools include:

  • Other options that aren’t strictly project management tools
    • Dubsado (more of a CRM, but you could make it work as a project management tool for small businesses with simple structures)
    • Airtable (I use this in conjunction with Asana – it’s not strictly speaking a project management tool but it can be used as one)

Whilst I always recommend Asana because it works perfectly for me and my businesses, I also always recommend checking out the alternatives before you make a decision.

Check out each of the tools listed above, watch their welcome tour videos if they have them, and check if they have all of the MUST HAVE features you listed out previously.

If you have a team that you work closely with, you might also want to get their opinion on your options too. For example, if you have an OBM, choosing a project management tool that they are familiar with would be really helpful.

4. Test them out

Most of the tools listed in this post offer some sort of free trial so take advantage of them.

Practice adding tasks, figure out how to add attachments and assign tasks to other people. Play around with all of the settings and customise the things that you can.

If there are a couple of tools that you like the look of and meet your criteria, try them all and don’t just settle with the first one you log into.

If the length of the free trial allows you to, test the project management tool out on a real task or project to get a real feel for how things will work in your business.

5. Weigh up the pros and cons

As with anything in life, there will be pros and cons to each of the tools you test out.

Whilst you might have found one tool that you love, if it carries a monthly cost of $79 (I just made that up), it might be outside of your budget.

On the other hand, you might find a free tool that ticks all of the boxes (like Asana does for me 😉

6. Start organising your business!

Once you’ve made a decision and selected the project management tool that is perfect for you, your business and your team (if you have one), it’s time to start organising your business.

Whenever I am setting up new project management tools for my clients, I start by creating sections for each part of their business e.g. emails, social media, courses/products, services etc.

Then, within each of those sections, I create workflows and SOPs for the tasks that are carried out regularly within the business and creating templates for things such as emails.

If you have a team, I would recommend getting them involved in the setting up process to ensure that everything works well for them too. You might also want to consider offering your team members some training in how to use the new tool if they need it.

Setting up your project management tool isn’t a one-and-done task. You will need to update it continually and stay on top of tasks, workflows, templates etc. on a regular basis.