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Project management software suggestions

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Stephen Pickering
Project management software suggestions
on Apr 22, 2016 at 5:56:14 pm

Hi there,

I need some advice on how to manage projects. Unfortunately, I don't have a project manager (the "business" is my wife and me with occasional freelancers). Right now I'm just using Excel, but I'm wondering how other small teams are managing projects.

Here's my wish-list for what I would like to track, but really deadlines and milestones are the most important:

1. Deadlines and milestones (so at-a-glance I can see what I need to be focussing on for the week).
2. Status of project. ie. started, completed, postponed.
3. Notes
4. Invoiced
5. Paid
6. Proposal cost.
7. I don't need to manage employees or even have them involved via "meetings."

I've never actually used a project management software before, so I'm not sure even what I need (as I'm sure you can tell!). I understand much of the above (notes, cost, etc.) could easily be managed in a Word Document. I've tried Asana and will keep learning my way around it in the meantime. Maybe that's the right choice. I don't know.

Right out of school I jumped into this stuff, so I have little "real" training on project management and have always just made it work. But my head hurts now and I would like a little more peace of mind knowing I'm not overbooking or underbooking.

I'm sure it's "to each his own," but do you have any suggestions on how to handle projects?

Thank you,

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Andreas Zeitler
Re: Project management software suggestions
on Apr 24, 2016 at 2:17:45 pm

I don't have a particular suggestion to you, but I can tell you what's been working for me, and what's not.

When I started I thought I needed a big management software for all the clients that are coming in, so that I could keep up. With the years I discovered that is not what I need. I don't have so many clients that it's very awkward to write an invoice or two. So I created an invoice template for Pages, which I can also use in Google Docs and Word, if I so desire. It contains a couple of tables, with address, and something that calculates the taxes. It's not fancy, it's just an invoice.

To keep track with clients we currently use Trello. We have several boards there. One is for our sales pipeline, one is for long-term and running projects, our website, office stuff.

Tracking the time that we have been working on sth. is not that fancy either. I personally track my time in a calendar. I use the non-fanciest, easiest, dirtiest thing that I can find. It's a simple calendar. While I do agree that a fancy tool would keep things a little more coherent across projects, I found that it's not that useful. When a project is over, I look at the calendar to get an estimation what I've been working on. For the next project I might change notation, or not. It's not important because the client will never see it, and I will only need that information for the next invoice. After that this information is irrelevant. If there are problems I can search for it, and will find it. That is all not that complicated.

I hope this is what you've been looking for.

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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Project management software suggestions
on Apr 26, 2016 at 1:19:08 pm

I have been using a two-pronged approach for a while now. I use Easy Time Tracking (there's a free version to try out) to track my actual time spent on projects. It has a nice database, is easy to set up, and you can bill with it, although I don't:

I then use MS OneNote for all of my project client contact and tracking communications - it's part of MS Office, but it can run entirely independent of Office, which is how I use it. When I get a client email, I drop it in to OneNote, from oldest at the bottom, to newest at the top, the I make notes on what I've done in response to emails, put designs in the page as they're approved, and can quickly have an entire track of the whole process; AND it all syncs automatically to any devices I have it on. I have it on my phone, desktop PC, laptop, and it's also a web page if needed, so I can access it anywhere. And since updates sync automatically, it's always up to date on all of my devices.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media

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Elizabeth Mason
Re: Project management software suggestions
on May 13, 2016 at 7:01:34 pm

I've been interested in but would love to hear more from people who have first hand experience with it.

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