Jennifer Seitz, TechnologyAdvice.com
As a small business, it’s likely that you closely (and wisely) assess each and every new investment your business makes for a tangible ROI. When considering an investment in project management integration tools, you’ll want to understand if it’s a necessary investment or something that could be handled just as easily without adding another tool to the toolbox and another expense to the balance sheet.
Project management (PM) is an essential part of your small business’s operations for many reasons, such as:
- Instilling a shared vision and goal.
- Reducing project “clashes” that can disrupt your workflow.
- Creating visibility to output that is measurable and holds accountability.
- Exposing obstacles to achieving goals.
- Eliminating mindless tasks by attaching every task to a project and then rolling them up to high-level objectives.
Project management is important and worth the investment for a bevy of other reasons that may be specific to your unique industry or business model. A lack of a solid project management tool to support your efforts can derail your management’s effectiveness, lead to unclear and unattained objectives, and leave your team frustrated and unmotivated. Your goal for project management is to get your team working at its best, with its collective, proverbial eye on the ball.
Should your small business go the way of the cloud for the best PM integration?
The definitive answer is, in a word, probably. Cloud computing is widely permeating throughout businesses both large and small, with a projected increase in investment from $67 billion in 2015 to $162 billion by 2020, chalking up a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent, as reported by Forbes.
The use of the cloud for PM integration is a near-perfect fit for most small businesses for many key reasons.
Typically, your small business will gain access to an enterprise-level software tool without the large price tag. The subscription-based model allows for a lower initial investment and often a trial opportunity.
It requires limited hardware.
An additional cost-saving factor falls into the hardware category. Typically, your cloud-based PM integration tool will require zero hardware or infrastructure and no maintenance.
It brings security.
Maintaining the level of security required in today’s volatile environment may be unattainable for the small business. From security breaches to power outages, network or hardware failures, and even random human errors, security concerns are often better addressed by the resources behind cloud-based PM tools.
It’s accessible even without in-house tech expertise.
Easy to obtain and implement, cloud-based PM options are perfect for the SMB that has limited (or maxed out) tech resources.
It integrates seamlessly with other important software.
It starts with choosing the right tool for your small business — one that offers out-of-the-box integrations with your existing software tools, so integration is a breeze.
It’s poised to scale with your business.
With usage-based pricing and varying levels of features and functionality, the cloud-based project management tool is ready for you in the startup phase and as you begin to grow.
Before you make any decision, it’s a good idea to perform some due diligence. Your PM software’s integration with tools used in the everyday operations of your business is essential. Be sure to take inventory of the technology tools currently in play, and then assess the integration functionality of your PM software choices, including:
Your accounting software.
Budgeting, forecasting, and billing become streamlined with the integration of a project management tool with your accounting tool.
Your business intelligence software.
Data is the key to good decision-making. By integrating your business intelligence tools with your PM tools, you’ll create the ultimate win for your small business. Using data to drive your projects will ultimately increase the success of your business.
Your marketing and marketing automation tools.
Take the 360 view of your marketing initiatives, from SEO metrics to email KPIs to customer reviews, alongside your PM tool. In one fell swoop, you’ll gain insight into how projects are moving forward as well as how they are performing.
Consider other tools that may be critical to integrate with your PM software. You may use a CRM, industry-specific tools, customer service platforms, social listening apps, or other time-saving apps. Be sure to consider the importance of these tools and how their integration (or lack thereof) might affect your operations.
As a small business, you may be holding off on the investment in a PM tool. You might feel your team is humming along fine without the need to introduce a new tool and a new expense, but you may have a false sense of security. Your current processes may not be efficient as you assume, and they may not be ready to scale. But the visibility that a good PM tool brings to your SMB can take you to the next level.
Jennifer Seitz, MBA, is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a marketing and content strategist with over 10 years of experience helping businesses develop their voice and brand and improve their marketing strategy. She specializes in content development to achieve SEO KPIs, improving the user experience as well as reinforcing the overall brand. Jen has a background in large corporations and scrappy startups, and she currently hangs her hat at the agency she founded, the Content Workshop.