"Project Management Software (PMS) is a term covering many types of software, including scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, collaboration software, communication, quality management and documentation or administration systems, which are used to deal with the complexity of large projects." ~ Wikipedia
Have you heard someone say "that file's in Basecamp?" Well, they weren't talking about a tent somewhere on a mountainside filled with frozen flash-drives. They were talking about a PMS. More often than not, a PMS is browser-based software that acts as a location where projects are developed, built, tested, approved, tracked, QA'd and ultimately released to be launched.
"Well this is a web thing, Justice. We do mostly print and television, this doesn't apply to me. Go on! Run along now."
OK, so rather than have a place that all your PDF comps live and the client can speak to them in a linear fashion, you'd rather push them back and forth by email, cell phone calls and endless WebEx meetings. And in that time, you've never deleted an email have you? You've never had a client approve something verbally only to tell you, "I never said that." You've never had scope creep or been pinned to a deadline with no way of proving that they did, indeed, delay production by not getting back to you by an agreed time? Well I invite you to submit a change order to those moments and tell me how it goes. <evil grin>
Are you starting to see that a universal repository for all communication during the approval process not only protects the client but protects you as well? If you're new to this thinking because 'this is the way it's always been done,' I invite you to try one project within any of the outlined systems below and see if you can find benefit. Look, change is hard. It sucks and your staff will hate you for it initially, but they hate you anyways 'cause you have a nicer office and cooler mustache, purse, seashell collection or whatever. The bottom line is whether you're a single-person freelancer that wants to manage your accounts better or you're a LARGE agency that needs to get everyone back into a structured environment, I would highly recommend you look into a PMS without delay.
The benefits are endless:
- Collaborative communications
- Built-in list-serves
- Robust calendars with milestones and to-dos attached to calendar systems you current posses
- Linear communications
- Project segmentation
- Quality assurance tools
- Better perceived customer experience and account management
What to look for in an PMS:
- Look for a system that holds hands with your current process theology
- What's the easiest AMS to migrate into your current production process?
- Which AMS is the best fit for your clients' needs?
- Does the user interface (UI) experience feel like a product of your company?
- Customization of the UI?
- Does it have a supporting iPhone application?
- Does it integrate time tracking?
- Do you require expenses and budgeting within your system?
- Do you require gantt charts & tracking tools?
- What level of scheduling features will you require?
- Will you need project portfolio management within your system?
- Do you host the project files or is that done externally?
- Is it web/browser based and does it need to be?
- Is it an open or proprietary system and should that matter?
Full List Of PMS With A Comparative Chart
A Quick-Hit List Of PMS's:
- Creative Office Pro
- ZOHO Projects
Sharepoint Based PMS: