5 Must-Have Project Management Software Features for SMBs
by Juliette Lagerweij on December 17, 2021
The best features of project management software are the ones that directly affect your productivity and/or your cash flow in tangible ways.
While all the bells and whistles of tech solutions can serve a purpose and even entertain productivity nerds if project management features are not—
- Making your money,
- Saving you money,
- Boosting your productivity,
- Boosting your efficiency
— in ways that can actually be measured, you’re probably wasting your money as a small business.
Onboarding a project management solution is an excellent path forward to growing and scaling your business. But small businesses, in particular, need to know what to look for so that their project management software can offer the best value for the money.
When perusing the internet and online reviews for project management tools, you’ll come across a barrage of common features. To help you hone in on what’s important, we’ve put together a list of the 5 no-holds-bar, totally 100% necessary features small businesses and solopreneurs need from project management software. If your solution covers the following bases, you’re on the right track.
The biggest feature for small businesses that want project management software has got to be invoicing. SMBs, startups, and solopreneurs usually don’t have the cash flow to have invoices floating in space, and even if they do, it’s a needless risk. Without a system in place– aka using the good ol’ Excel spreadsheets for invoicing– things get missed. If your project management tool has invoice management included, you can use automated alerts and lightning-fast invoice templates to make sure you and your team get paid on time, every time. This will also improve the billing experience for your clients, who will now know what to expect in a streamlined format.
2. Task management
A close second in must-have project management features is task management. Task management is just what it sounds like— it’s the way in which your organization manages tasks between different parties. Task management allows you to easily assign tasks to different people, prioritize tasks, assign due dates and dependencies, and track tasks across multiple projects. Even freelancers can benefit from a task management feature that will keep their to-do’s organized. The bottom line is that task management as part of a larger project management solution is critical to keep workflows clear and compartmentalized.
3. (Smart and easy) time tracking
Time tracking is a basic component of managing your team and your projects, but it’s historically an error-fraught category of project management. The key to time tracking for small businesses is to make it smart and easy so that everyone can become more billable and more productive. How do you make time tracking smarter? Make sure your time tracking solution connects to your invoicing; that way your team gets paid faster. Also, you can leverage self-driving time tracking that will automatically enter time-based on what you block out on your calendar. In this smart scenario, no one has to literally track their time at all, saving time, money, and errors. Finally, easy time tracking means it’s accessible: look for a browser extension and mobile app so that people can track their time accurately wherever and however they are working.
4. CRM integration
Many small-to-medium-sized businesses use platforms like HubSpot, Salesforce, and Dynamics 365 to manage their sales. These are all powerful CRMs that offer a lot by way of functionality and help you scale your business. However, without a CRM integration with your project management software, the sales-to-project handoff can get messy. That’s because a two-way integration with your projects and your CRM will ensure that your data lives in the same place. The sales side and the project side can easily stay on the same page, and you can even get started on projects before they officially begin. If your project management integrates with your CRM, you’ll:
- Save time on data re-entry
- Prevent errors
- Make the sales-to-service handoff smooth
- Keep your data more secure
- Be able to invoice, track time, and manage tasks within the CRM environment
- Save money on siloed solutions in your tech stack
5. Financial backend integration
Finally, small businesses can save even more time and money by connecting their project management solution with their financial backend. It sounds like a no-brainer, but if your solution doesn’t connect with what you use to pay the bills, you’re not going to be able to benefit as much from a lot of automation and other critical features like invoicing. If you use Quickbooks, make sure your project management solution integrates with it. The same goes for Xero, Moneybird, or whichever platform you use. You’ll save time with the automatic connection, get paid faster, and keep your data more secure by keeping it all under the same digital umbrella.
Final tip: Remember the acronym MOTIQ for project management
Small businesses need affordable solutions that have all the functionality to manage their projects, especially when working on asynchronous, global teams. You want to be more efficient and productive, but you also don’t want to waste money on complex platforms that you don’t need. What small businesses really need from a project management tool, at the core, includes:
- Task Management
- Time tracking
- CRM integration
- Financial backend integration (Quickbooks, etc)
To wrap up our picks for the 5 must-have project management software features for small businesses, remember the definition of project management and what actually needs to be managed in the first place with MOTIQ:
Money- Invoicing and financial backend integration are the software features that will help you manage money.
Organization- A task management feature in your project management tool will help you specify roles and to-do’s to execute each project.
Time- Smart, easy time tracking will help you and your team get paid accurately and on time for all the hours you put in.
Information- Task management lets you share files and post comments to give everyone the information they need to complete tasks. At the same time, a CRM integration with your project management software will also manage information and keep it together, so no stone is left unturned.
Quality- OK, so project management software features theoretically won’t directly impact the quality of your deliverables. HOWEVER, because these features leverage automation to save you time and streamline a lot of your processes, you can open up more space for your team to focus on quality.