6 Considerations When Moving to a Web-based Project Management Tool

Like many web workers, I cut my project management teeth on applications like Microsoft Project (s msft) and OmniGroup OmniPlan — I respect the role of the Gantt chart. However, project management is no longer just the domain of the project manager — it should involve everyone on the team. Web-based project management tools like Basecamp, LiquidPlanner (reviewed by Mike), Team Effect (reviewed by Charles) and Teambox (reviewed by Meryl) democratize project management data and make it available for everyone.

If you’re moving to a web-based project management tool from MS Project, which one of the many available do you choose? Here are some considerations to take into account:

  • Microsoft Project compatibility. The first thing is to ensure that you choose a web tool that is compatible with Microsoft Project so that you can use your existing project data.
  • Multiple views into project data. In my experience, the Gantt chart can seem intimidating to some team members. As such, I recommend looking for a web-based project management tool that has a wide selection of views into project status (like calendar-, task- and timeline-based views), besides the venerable Gantt chart.
  • Flexible subscriptions. One of the limitations of Microsoft Project can be the expense of the licenses. Many web-based project management tools like LiquidPlanner and Zoho Projects work on a subscription model, which offer a level of flexibility you just can’t find with traditional desktop software licensing. Project teams can scale up and scale down their subscription as members join and leave the team. If you rely on contractors and freelancers, you can set them up with a subscription and close it out when their project work is complete.
  • Social media component. With social media becoming a growing element of project team communications, it should be an integral feature in web-based project management tools. I recommend looking for a web-based tool that has social media components to augment team communication about project status and scheduling matters. Developing an internal dialog about project scheduling and status is one of the best ways to keep the project on track.
  • Online document storage and collaboration. Today’s projects generate a lot of project artifacts and documents. While it can be easy to let your project team stash documents in their email inboxes and local hard drives, choosing a web-based project management tool with its own document storage and collaboration features means that project artifacts can be accessed easily and won’t get lost.
  • Mobile client/accessibility. Considering a web-based project management tool that has mobile accessibility or even its own mobile client means you and your team can stay in touch with the project at all times.

What are your requirements for a web-based project management tool?