Online Project Management Software for Small Business: Choose Wisely

online project management

According to findings, only 58% of organizations fully understand the value of project management. Meanwhile, a whopping 93% of organizations report using standardized project management practices. In fact, 77% of high-performing projects use project management software.

Between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of organizations using spreadsheets to manage their agile projects dropped from 74% to 67%. This is because these organizations moved to specialized project management tools.

When it comes to running a successful small business, you need a seamless project management software that helps you stay focused on your goals and achieve them without delays.

From getting through the early stages of planning, scheduling and communicating to managing critical resources, tracking costs and reporting, a robust project management program can make it all happen flawlessly. Further, it becomes easy to collaborate with utmost transparency in every process.

The main objective of small business project management software is to streamline and simplify tasks for project managers. It puts them in the driver’s seat where they get to decide on the whats, whens, whys, and hows of executing project-related tasks.

Thanks to easy collaboration, processes can be unified as different teams work together across several applications while staying abreast of the latest developments. Tasks such as file-sharing, task monitoring, reporting, and communicating can be carried out from one place.

In other words, a comprehensive cloud project management software will ensure that you’re always aware of the smallest details as well as the bigger picture.

Did you know that project performance has risen globally? In 2018, almost 70% of projects met their original goals or business intent, while around 60% were completed within the original budget. Both these numbers are up from 62% and 50% respectively in 2016.

Here are a few reasons why choosing the project management system that’s right for your business is of utmost importance.

  • While it is a challenging endeavor, using the right project management program can organize your business operations, enabling your organization to provide optimal outcomes through first-rate work processes.
  • In the modern business landscape, using manual and outdated tools such as paper-and-pen and spreadsheets to maintain records can prove to be highly ineffective and error-prone. These issues can be avoided with project management software.
  • Your clients expect high performance from your business. Missing deadlines, wasting resources, poor risk management, and similar issues can result in major trouble for you and may result in your project failing before even getting off the ground. None of this happens when you have an efficient project management system in place.
  • Effective client management is a critical aspect of growing a small business. The right project management tool takes care of this too.

Now, you might be wondering how to pick the right system for your small business, right!

Let me show you, How?

Take the below considerations in mind while choosing a project management software for your small business:

1. Best-in-Class vs Business Needs

A lot of small business owners make the mistake of buying high-end software that’s stuffed with features that promise to meet the needs of an entire enterprise. This type of software is usually promoted as “best-in-class.” However, you need to be smart and determine whether or not it is best for your business needs.

Usually, such a program ends up as shelfware. Business owners fall for shelfware by choosing from a couple of names based on top-of-the-mind recall. It is necessary to gauge the program’s features and benefits with regards to your business, and spend wisely on it.

While manual and spreadsheet methods may have served your business so far, you need to keep up with the changing times and harness technology to improve your project management processes and outcomes. While we do not recommended buying the next software you come across, we do suggest to determine the specific requirements of your business and select a program that plugs the gaps in the system.

2. Free Trials Are For You Only

It makes sense to actually try the project management tool at first to determine whether or not it fits your needs. However, don’t stop at one or two. Check out demos of 5 – 10 programs and shortlist a few to see how they work.

Take advantage of the free trials that most providers/vendors offer either under a limited account or for a fixed time period. If your provider doesn’t offer this facility upfront, feel free to ask about it.

Secondly, the software you choose should make communication and collaboration processes as flawless as possible. And, that’s why it is important to trail new software with team before buying it. Get their feedback on how the process is working for them. Doing so will also make your team feel involved in the decision-making process.

The duration of the trial should be long enough to allow you to gauge the software and feel convinced that it does fit your working style and business needs. Evaluate every provider to ensure that you don’t end up settling for a system, but get one that actually serves you well.

Most importantly, always remember to take the customer service and overall vendor responsiveness into consideration. Many times, even professionals make such small mistakes by overlooking the customer support which lands them into trouble later on.

Why you should never overlook the customer support?

In case, if you hit a roadblock or have certain questions on your mind and you contacted their support team but, you didn’t get the desired response. It will spell doom on your projects.

So, a wise move is to pose some queries and check their responsiveness in attending such queries, solutions that they provide. Doing so will enable you to see how receptive and co-operative they are.

3. Cost vs Capabilities

Regardless of the volume of the project, small businesses typically work within budgetary constraints. Picking software that best fits your unique business needs can, therefore, be a challenge. In such a case, it makes sense to get a program that offers you complete value for your money.

The cost of project management software varies from one provider to another. Some may cost as low as $50 while complex ERP solutions can set you back thousands of dollars. If you focus on getting quality software, you can consider your money spent well.

Some factors to consider include:

· What will be the ideal payment solution?
· Should you go for the subscription option or stick to monthly/quarterly/annual payments?
· How much will adoption and implementation of the program cost?
· Are you getting enough features/amenities for the price you’re paying?
· Will having the program cost more than running the business without the program?

The answers to the above questions will help you figure out whether or not the software can justify its cost.

4. Scalability For Future

Several small business owners end up buying a project management tool that caters only to their immediate current needs, overlooking the possibility of quick business growth. As they expand, they realize that their software isn’t flexible enough to accommodate the growing business demands and customer expectations.

This necessitates further expenditure on buying an advanced program. It is crucial to invest in a flexible and scalable project management system that grows as your businesses progresses. Make sure to get a program that allows you to add more features to it and upgrades as you grow.

5. Protection Against Cyberattacks

Underestimate the security aspect of your project management software at your own peril. Without a doubt, security is one of the most crucial factors to consider when investing in a software solution.

When your clients associate with you, they trust you with some of their most critical and confidential data. The last thing you want is to lose their trust and your credibility because a vested interest hacked into your software and stole/misused this sensitive information.

Apart from client data, your own business data, research, findings, patents and trademarks also need to be kept away from vicious online criminals.

Preventing/Avoiding Cyberattacks and other security issues should be high on your priority list from day one. Choosing a fortified and secure program will keep you safe from hackers, malware, viruses, and such.

It is recommended to check and recheck the security features of the software you’re planning to buy and gauge its reliability. Moreover, the vendor’s efficiency and dependability in backing up your data on a regular basis should also be factored into your decision. Determine whether or not they’re using a secure hosting platform to backup customer information, without hampering current operations.

Another consideration in this regard is the downtime. The project management solution you choose should be available at all times without any glitches. You don’t want keep your clients waiting because of problems with the project management tool and the inability of the vendor’s customer support team to respond to your queries.

6. Easy To Use Interface

One of the main reasons to invest in project management software is so business owners can stop worrying about daily operations and focus on business strategy.

With time being a luxury, the last thing you want to do is spend it learning the workings of your software, right!

It is crucial to get a project management solution that comes with a user-friendly interface and allows you work with it effortlessly without much training. The best programs require minimal training and enable users to work with them right away. This is because of their intuitive user interface.

One of the most overlooked factors here is that your software should minimize the risk of users getting it wrong and making costly mistakes. To ensure user-friendliness, your software should be:

  • Intuitive: The software should be easy-to-use even for novices, while being configurable by experts. Finding and changing software settings should be quick and hassle-free.
  • Accessible: The project management system should be easily accessible by both, on-site staff and remote staff with a login ID and password. Further, it should be accessible across devices and platforms.
  • Supportable: Features in cloud-based online project management software get upgraded regularly in order to maximize performance and boost outcomes. Your program should offer adequate maintenance and support in this regard either for free or at a reasonable price.

Conclusion

Choosing project management software that suits your specific business requirements is key to meeting your organizational goals. It can help you with enhanced decision-making abilities and customer satisfaction, resulting in unwavering success. However, don’t be fooled by fancy software making tall claims about its features. You may just end up with a higher cost and features that you don’t even need. Pay heed to the factors mentioned above, and you will be able to zero in on one that’s the perfect fit for your business, team, and clients.

Have you been using project management tools to propel your small business? Which feature(s) do you think is the most important? Tell us about it in your comments.

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Why Your Small Business Needs Time Tracking Software

Okay, so at some point, every young entrepreneur or small business owner wants to know which Time Tracking Software is best for their business.

But, there’s one more question to ask yourself.

When does your small business actually needs a Time Tracking Software?

Ever gave a thought on it? Not actually, right!

Well, that’s okay, in this post I’m going to show you WHEN to actually go for a Time Tracking Software and for which type, depending on your business.

small business working hours

Source

Setting up a small business is great, but running it is the real battle. Business owners go to great lengths to ensure smooth operations and optimal workforce management. Thanks to advancing technology, achieving these objectives has become a lot easier.

Time tracking has a huge role to play in streamlining work processes. Yet several businesses continue to underestimate it and use manual process and spreadsheets to this end. This can result in human error, duplication, and wastage of time, which in turn, can be disastrous for your business.

This is where a robust time-tracking software comes into the picture. It not only gets you real-time information, but also makes business processes transparent, error-free, and quick.

Here are a few other benefits of using time tracking software in your business.

Better Workflow

A comprehensive time tracking software enables you to be in the know of all the goings-on within your business. You will always know exactly how your business is running, what your employees are doing, which projects are taking the most/least resources, and more. This knowledge will help you streamline processes, organize projects, delegate responsibilities, track cash flow with ease.

Every business workflow is designed with one goal, i.e. profit. Another closely associated objective relates to cutting overheads. When you have an efficient time tracking system at your disposal, you are always equipped with the right numbers. Moreover, you are able to address the minutest issue in a timely manner.

Resource management becomes easier, which results in timely and quality output. A time tracking program can also help business owners allocate the right levels of resources among different projects, depending on the workflow. This helps in personnel management as business owners can gauge if they need to create certain permanent positions or simply outsource certain tasks to contractors.

The process of performance review and reporting can be simplified and expedited by having proper time tracking software in place. Further, it also becomes easy to minimize waste and increase operational efficiency. Reviewing workflow over a period of time becomes convenient as does identifying scope for error and improvement.

Improved Employee Productivity

Did you know, a whopping 70% of US employees are not engaged at work?

An online time tracking system is great for boosting employee productivity. It enables them to track the exact amount of time they’re spending on their projects and assess how productive they actually are.

Employees can easily monitor their tasks and calculate how much time they’re spending on each one. This helps improve their focus. If they find that their productivity is low, they can quickly take steps to improve their performance through better time allocation.

If they estimate a delay in the project’s delivery, they can inform their manager and clients along with a reasonable deadline, thereby feeling more accountable and in control of their work.

Further, employees can manage their vacations and sick days better. They will not need to wonder about their leave balance as the system will provide them with all the necessary information. This way, they feel more in control of their time off as well.

This provides another indirect benefit: when employees know about their holidays, they can schedule their work better. Employers need not to be surprised if they notice a reduction in the number of unplanned employee absences (sick days notwithstanding since these cannot be planned). Having a time tracking system will enable better time-scheduling and flag employees who are taking undue advantage of the system.

Superior Payroll Management

A well-equipped time tracking system will enable you to create error-free timesheets that can be used for payroll purposes. Almost all companies encounter pay-related issues where employees receive an amount that’s either lower or higher than their monthly remuneration. These kinds of problems can be eliminated with time tracking tool.

Sometimes, employees may be required to work in shifts or at odd hours. In such cases, it can be challenging for the payroll department to compute work hours and ensure accurate payments and/or deductions. Using time tracking software makes this easier and virtually error-free. All calculations are entered into the software, and employees can track their own time while receiving the right pay.

Eliminate Time Fraud

According to a recent study, the average employee steals approximately 4.5 hours every week from their employer, totaling nearly six full work weeks per year while costing businesses hundreds of billions of dollars every year worldwide.

Also, up to 10 minutes per day, per employee, is lost due to tardiness, long lunches and early departure, as per the American Payroll Association.

Simply put, time fraud refers to the practice of inflating the number of work hours. Sometimes, employees receive pay for the hours they haven’t worked. This means they accept money from their employer without giving anything back to the organization. Time theft is more common than we think and can affect a company’s budget, resulting in losses amounting to millions of dollars annually.

This can be prevented with the use of the right time tracking software as it registers every working hour of every employee. All they need to do click on the timer. A good time tracking tool can track billable hours for every project, bringing transparency in the process of calculating the time dedicated to them. This, in turn, empowers employers to make faultless payment for every minute.

Client Billing

Financial accuracy is crucial for running a lucrative business. However, client billing is a common problem that several companies grapple with. It is crucial that clients are accurately billed within the specified timeframe. Companies that don’t use a potent time tracking and invoicing software often experience difficulties in achieving this.

Some companies bill clients by the hour, while others may bill them by the project. This can be a perplexing task to perform manually. With time tracking software, you can remove the confusion from the process and charge every client the right amount.

Losing track of billable hours can lead to employees missing out on their wages. In fact, even businesses can miss out on bringing in revenue, resulting in losses of tens of thousands of dollars in every cycle. When billable hours are computed properly, it becomes easy for the payroll department to be timely and accurate. The entire process becomes simplified and efficient, and the cash flow becomes steadier.

Additionally, if you’re looking to reduce the length of the billing cycle, all you need is an efficient time tracking program. It can help you transform and modernize your billing cycle and improve cash flow. Currently, you may be taking a month or two to just bill clients and, in turn, receiving delayed payments. It’s time to bid adieu to these outdated practices.

Real-Time Analytics

Every business reaches a point when it has to consider increasing the prices of its offerings. To be certain of getting the pricing right, you’re going to need a time tracker that comes with the analytics feature.

Once you know the average time it takes for completing a task, you can deduct employees’ salary for that period and cut your costs to see if the current price is still feasible for your business. If you’re falling short, you need to raise the rates. This clarity can be derived only if you have access to accurate real-time data, which you can easily extract from time tracking software.

The buck doesn’t stop here. Your software should make it easy for you to view and comprehend the data. Managers will do well to have access to detailed business reports complete with a visual representation of data like charts and graphs.

Analytics features that can be customized according to your preferences can be like icing on the cake. Reliable data derived from analytics helps in arriving at the crucial daily and/or weekly numbers, and in generating visually-appealing reports.

Time-Tracking for Different Types of Businesses

No two businesses are the same and neither are their requirements. Business owners will do well to pick time tracking software armed with features that can meet their specific requirements.

For Freelancers

Freelancers tend to work at their own time with clients from various industries coming from different time zones. A simple time tracker that allows multiple time tracking options along with the ease of editing time entries and continuing tracking time will be ideal for them.

Because freelancers perform every business task on their own, it will be convenient for them to have easy accessibility to all their data and time entries in one place. At the same time, features such as reporting and sending/exporting files to clients are also essential so clients can track work progress and be in the know of each minute of the billable time.

For Remote Workers

While freelancers work independently, remote workers often have to collaborate with different teams as well as with their employer. They’re also required to account for their work hours to their managers, which is why they need a time tracker that allows them to do so.

A time tracker that is equipped with team viewing capabilities is ideal for remote workers so employers can always know what the team members are up to. Such a time tracker overcomes the hurdle of the lack of physical monitoring due to distance and keeps employers on top the latest in every project.

For Small Businesses

Small businesses may have fewer employees compared to large enterprises, but both perform almost all the same tasks. Further, small businesses also have smaller budgets, which is why they’re always looking for reasonably-priced yet effective solutions that are compatible across devices, and provide quick access and support to important business data from anywhere.

Team collaboration and management is a huge challenge for business regardless of their size. This is why small businesses need time tracking software that enables people to work together. Such a system will make it easy for business owners to create and delegate business-critical tasks so all team members are on the same page.

Conclusion

With a plethora of different time tracking systems out there, it can be bewildering for small business owners to pick one. At the end of the day, it all boils down to considering your business’s unique needs and expectations. The type of business you do, the devices you use, and your typical workflow will also guide you in making a sound decision. Remember, good software offers not only critical features, but also ease of use. Make sure you ultimately pick one that is efficient, affordable, and feature-rich.

3 Software Marketing Ideas to Increase Sales

The software industry is currently experiencing a development renaissance. This is great news for business owners looking to shop around for a new vendor, but it makes gaining market share challenging for software companies. Given the crowded apps marketplace and the prevalence of cloud-based SaaS solutions, it’s vital for software companies to market their products appropriately.

In order to scale past early adopters and into mainstream sales success, nearly 90 percent of SaaS companies reported new customer acquisition as a top priority. Lead generation can be a costly process, but with a solid software marketing strategy, growing companies can lower those customer acquisition costs and potentially increase sales. Let’s take a look at some software marketing tips that can boost revenue.

Focus on customer service
Customer service has become a cornerstone of brand strategy in a digital age where companies are cultivating a richer understanding of the impact of customer experience on the sales funnel. Customer service, however, is more than just responding to questions and complaints online. It’s about understanding the customer journey. What do they want? Where are their businesses headed, and how does a company’s software fit into that niche? How are they currently evaluating their vendor options? Questions like these can help segment the buyer persona more effectively. Answering these questions gives insights to marketing teams so they can more intimately understand how stakeholders make purchase decisions, allowing them to more precisely build marketing campaigns and target more qualified leads.

Another valuable element to SaaS marketing is examining the value proposition behind the product offering as a potential vehicle for marketing efforts. Identifying key elements like price, data storage, analytics, and other facets business owners are particularly interested in plays a role in developing solutions to fill those needs. Software CEO Mark Hurd echoed this theme by saying, “aligning technology strategy to better service customers becomes an essential path to revenue growth.” If software companies can isolate the most appealing aspects of their offering, thus reducing costs for their customers while remaining competitive in terms of function, they can translate their developments into better customer service. Outstanding customer service can act as a key differentiator and provide valuable marketing clout.

Optimize content marketing
Content marketing has experienced explosive growth across industries, especially in the SaaS sector, where breaking down more complex topics can be integral to converting sales. Two ideal places to offer such content are blogs and social media channels. A unified blog and social media strategy can extend the half-life of popular posts and drive organic traffic to target pages. Additionally, offering engaging content can help software companies build up an email list to send out newsletters and marketing material.

Businesses should offer relevant, expert content that appeals to their target audience’s particular set of interests and expertise. Content can take the shape of standard blog posts, podcasts, infographics, and videos. The idea is to create “explainer content” framing data or product information in an easily digestible and shareable format. Current trends in media consumption point to mobile devices as a leading source of paid and organic clicks, so focusing on content such as video and audio can help capture an audience who is always on the move.

Feature marketing is one SaaS marketing trend that can be augmented with content marketing. Many software companies develop side features, apps, and widgets that stand alone from the main product but provide added value to target buyers. These additions have the potential to confuse customers if they are not communicated properly. Yam Regev, a software content marketing expert, commented, “the fact there are lots of new features is just like having more content! Extra features enable marketing to better inform and engage targeted audiences.” Sometimes, companies develop features that become more widely used than the main platform itself. Savvy marketers will consider the development of new products and apps as valuable opportunities to attract new customers and upsell existing ones.

Crowdsource reviews/client testimonials
Customer testimonials are essential when building up credibility surrounding a software product. They are an important part of a brand’s presence and stand as a testament to what prospective clients can achieve, or “social proof.” Because 92 percent of e-commerce buyers stated they sought out and read customer reviews before making a purchase decision, positive testimonials are increasingly important to those considering a software vendor, which is a more nuanced purchase.

Marketers can encourage customers to leave reviews or identify and reach out to specific clients who are likely to leave a positive testimonial on their site. Case studies are a great example of leveraging client results to inform future purchase decisions and can be a valuable asset in a content marketing campaign.

Standing out in the bustling SaaS marketplace can seem daunting. The tips above can help software companies cut through the noise and communicate their product offering more clearly to prospective customers.