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Regardless of the size of your project, project management tools can be challenging. Projects have many moving parts and pieces to track, which can be overwhelming for beginner project managers.

With a good set of visual project management tools, however, project managers can spend less time putting out fires and more time on the things that really matter – helping the organization reach its strategic goals and objectives.

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Project management tools make it easier for project managers to plan, organize, and manage projects.
Project management tools make it easier for project managers to plan, organize, and manage projects.

If you’ve ever managed a project, you know all too well some of the pain points that project teams experience. Most are the result of some sort of change in the project that impacts the team.

Visual project management tools have emerged as one of the best ways to manage changes within a project. Let’s look at how they can help.

What are Project Management Tools?

Just as the name suggests, project management tools help with managing projects. They allow project managers and teams to plan work, complete tasks, and manage assignments more quickly and with a smaller margin of error.

Everything from spreadsheets to printouts of schedules and project plans have been used as project management tools. These days, companies need a project management solution that can keep up with the pace of modern business. That’s where visual project management tools come in.

Visual project management tools allow project managers, stakeholders, and team members to visually analyze data.

Popular visual project management tools include:

  • Gantt charts and roadmaps
  • Kanban boards
  • Scrum boards
  • Charts and graphs for reporting

The primary advantage of visual project management tools is that most people can express and understand complex visual data easier than words and numbers. As a result, they allow organizations to save time and resources by allowing teams to work more efficiently.

Why Use Project Management Tools?

Visual project management emerged as an alternative to text-based project management solutions. They are designed to help project managers improve planning, communication, and collaboration by letting them visualize processes and workflows.

Visual project management tools help resolve:

  • Breakdowns in communication
  • Lack of collaboration
  • Too many status meetings
  • Starts and stops

Most people process and understand visual data easier than text. Having a visual representation of resources and tasks as they move through the workflow allows project managers to stay organized and make informed decisions during every phase of the project.

Below are some of the key benefits that come with using these project management tools.

1. Enhanced communication and collaboration

With remote and distributed teams becoming the new norm, good communication is more important than ever. Communicating too frequently with teams can create a stressful work environment where they feel overwhelmed and unable to disconnect, while extended periods of radio silence can steer your project off course.

Finding the perfect balance of communication that keeps teams informed without inundating them with information isn’t as impossible as it seems. With the right project management tools, you can communicate and collaborate with your teams more efficiently. Instead of searching for emails in a cluttered inbox, you can bring the conversation directly to your team.

Integrated communication tools let you communicate directly with teams. You can share information with everyone participating in the project or narrow the focus down to people working on a specific task. Everyone gets relevant information without being overwhelmed with a constant stream of messages and alerts. This leads to fewer distractions and better communication, creating an environment for good collaboration.

Project management tools that support in-app communication let project teams collaborate in the context of their work, instead of in a different tool.
Project management tools that support in-app communication let project teams collaborate in the context of their work, instead of in a different tool.

2. Ability to meet timelines while staying on budget

There’s no denying it: spreadsheets are an inefficient way to track projects.

It takes a lot of unnecessary time and effort to scan through rows of data to find what you’re seeking. Additionally, manually updating spreadsheets increases the chance of making a mistake. You may input incorrect data, or you could accidentally skip over important information, which could lead to bigger problems like missing deadlines and going over budget.

Switching to project management tools like Projectplace or LeanKit reduces the chances of human error. Both solutions allow you to measure the status and progress of your projects using visual data. Features like Gantt charts and Kanban boards bring more visibility to your workflow, making it easier for you and your teams to see:

  • Tasks in progress and those not yet being worked
  • Who’s on schedule and who’s falling behind
  • How tasks relate to the bigger project picture

For project managers, this means being able to identify potential problems before they turn into costly mistakes. Visual project management tools let you identify and respond to challenges faster than with a spreadsheet-based solution. And better response times mean fewer setbacks that could throw you behind schedule and eat away at your budget.

3. Reduction in work-related stress

Overwhelmed project managers make mistakes. Whether you’re an accidental project manager in charge of leading a team on select projects, or a certified professional responsible for all organizational projects, one thing’s for sure: project management can get overwhelming.

Being in constant contact with teams and stakeholders means responding to countless messages throughout the day. This can leave you mentally drained before you have a chance to fulfill your other obligations, like monitoring processes and addressing any bottlenecks in your workflow.

This is where effective visual project management tools like Projectplace and LeanKit can help. These solutions make it easier for you to keep a watchful eye on your processes by streamlining the way information is delivered, without oversimplifying project data. As a result, teams and project managers can collaborate without feeling overwhelmed from too much information.

Kanban boards elevate typical project management tools into systems for visualizing work, improving processes, and more.
Kanban boards elevate typical project management tools into systems for visualizing work, improving processes, and more.

4. Improved processes and workflows

While some people thrive under pressure, others work better in a stable environment where tasks don’t feel insurmountable. When you and your teams feel overwhelmed with work, performance suffers. Working in an overloaded state makes it harder to plan and prioritize work. Productivity decreases as a result.

Now for the good news. One way you can prevent you and your teams from feeling overwhelmed with work is by introducing the pull system.

The pull system is a workflow management system that acts as an alternative to the traditional “push system” to which most professionals are accustomed. Instead of pushing a massive to-do list of tasks onto teams, work sits in a visible queue and is pulled by teams.

Some benefits of using a pull system in project management tools include:

  • Tasks can be organized and completed based on their priority
  • Team members are required to direct their focus to one task at a time, reducing the chances of human error
  • Project managers can easily see which tasks are being worked and whether teams need additional support

Ultimately, the pull system removes clutter from the workflow and makes it easier for teams and project managers to accomplish their goals and objectives.

Assigning priorities to cards in project management tools enables teams to immediately understand the most important work in their system.
Assigning priorities to cards in project management tools enables teams to immediately understand the most important work in their system.

While it’s not exclusive to the Agile method, more organizations have adopted the pull system when adopting Agile project management. It’s commonly used with Kanban boards, so any project management tools that support Kanban systems can also support the pull system.

Under this method, teams are encouraged to limit work by completing one task at a time. This is known as limiting work-in-progress (WIP).

Visual project management tools like LeanKit and Projectplace let you set WIP limits so team members can’t take on more work than permitted. Once the work is completed, team members can pull a new task from the backlog.

Why Visual Project Management is Important

When it comes to improving communication, collaboration, and risk identification, visualizing processes and workflows go a long way. Project management is a data-heavy job that demands that practitioners engage with various data points like:

  • Capital and operational expenses
  • Performance metrics
  • Risk profiles
  • Cost-benefit analyses, and more

For project managers, it can be especially difficult keeping up with the speed of business. The rate in which data is exchanged is constantly accelerating, making it difficult for project managers to monitor an ever-growing collection of data points.

On top of that, the stakes for managing a project are high. Project managers need to make informed decisions that ensure the success of their project while managing stakeholder expectations.

Studies show that the human brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds, which is believed to be more than 65,000 times faster than text-based information. This means that practitioners using spreadsheet-based project management aren’t working as effectively as they should.

Not only do spreadsheet users spend more time reading through columns of data, there’s a greater chance they’ll overlook something important. Because of this, many practitioners turned to visual project management tools to help them lead and manage their projects more efficiently.

Unlike project management tools that feature a visual component and update in real time, spreadsheets are list-based, static, and quickly go stale.
Unlike project management tools that feature a visual component and update in real time, spreadsheets are list-based, static, and quickly go stale.

Projectplace or LeanKit?

Projectplace and LeanKit are both excellent project management tools that you can use to enhance productivity, deepen collaboration, and manage your projects more effectively. But which platform is right for you and your teams?

Let’s look at some key features of both tools and how they can fulfill different needs.

Projectplace

Projectplace is an all-inclusive solution that combines an effective team collaboration platform with visual project management tools. You can use Projectplace to plan, execute, and manage your projects from start to finish. The platform lets you visualize your work through Kanban boards and Gantt charts, making it easier for you to adopt an Agile, waterfall, or hybrid approach with your projects.

Other Projectplace features include:

  • Secure file sharing and document management tools that ensure teams have access to all relevant project data
  • Zoom integration for quick, in-project access to one-on-one or team meetings
  • Advanced tracking tools for measuring progress and identifying bottlenecks
  • Project templates that let you lay the groundwork of your project in minutes
  • Dashboard reporting for monitoring the progress of your projects in real-time
Good project management tools will often include one or more dashboard views, like the one shown here.
Good project management tools will often include one or more dashboard views, like the one shown here.

Projectplace is designed to handle all types of projects, but it works especially well with initiatives that require a greater sense of collaboration. Projects that include cross-functional teams and / or external collaborators perform work especially well when using Projectplace.

As an all-in-one platform, Projectplace has everything teams and project managers need to plan, communicate, exchange data, and complete tasks. Its powerful, yet intuitive, design makes Projectplace powerful enough to meet the needs of certified project managers, but easy enough to assist accidental project managers leading teams on ad-hoc projects.

LeanKit

LeanKit is a visual project management solution that enhances collaboration through Lean and Agile delivery.

Combining project management functions with a visual work delivery tool, LeanKit is one of the most effective visual project management tools for Lean and Agile teams.

Project managers can use LeanKit to plan, organize, and execute projects, as well as deepen collaboration between teams. LeanKit uses Kanban boards to visualize the workflow, making it easier for project managers to see who’s working on what and the status of tasks in the process.

But LeanKit is more than a simple Kanban board. It also includes several features designed to enhance collaboration and optimize the way projects are managed. These features include:

  • Organizing and prioritizing upcoming work, so the most important tasks are completed first
  • Work collaboration tools, such as card comment threads and document sharing
  • Advanced reporting capabilities, including Agile and Lean analytics
  • A collection of Kanban board templates for various processes
Project management tools that include Kanban boards, like the one above, enable teams to optimize the way projects are managed.
Project management tools that include Kanban boards, like the one above, enable teams to optimize the way projects are managed.

LeanKit works well with all industries and types of work but is designed for teams that are following Agile and Lean methods. As such, the platform is best suited for iterative, recurring work, and for initiatives that support continuous improvement.

How to Find the Best Project Management Tools

Now that we’ve covered the basics, what else should you look for in a project management solution?

The best project management tools are easy to use so accidental project managers can ramp up quickly, but powerful enough to meet the needs of professional project managers.

Here are some key features to look for in project management tools:

  • Familiar user interface: Drag-and-drop task creation and assignments, visual work boards, and an intuitive placement of controls that first-time users can quickly learn
  • Friendly layout: User avatars, effective iconography, and social features that encourage users to foster connections with their team members
  • Advanced features that do not stand in the way of basic functionality: For power users, looking for reporting and tracking options beyond what is relevant for most users of the software
  • Communication tools: Real-time chat capabilities and comment features allow teams, stakeholders, and project managers to stay connected and on the same page throughout the project lifecycle
  • Mobile support: Cloud technology and mobile apps let project managers and teams access the platform from their office computer or their mobile devices, so they’re always a click away from your project

With remote and distributed work on the rise, the need for effective project management tools is greater than ever. Project managers need a solution that doesn’t just help them keep up with the speed of modern business.

They also need something that encourages good communication and collaboration, so teams have the resources necessary to complete their tasks on time and under budget. This is where Projectplace can help.

Projectplace is a powerful project management tool capable of handling projects of all sizes. It comes loaded with all the tools you need to manage your projects and stay connected with your teams.

Bringing it All Together

The role of a project manager is complex: As you’re working to maintain the pace, scope, and budget of a project, you’re managing teams and stakeholders — many of whom may work remotely. Visual project management tools like LeanKit and Projectplace can support you in managing both the work and the people involved in a project.