Choosing a Software Development Project Management Software? Top 7 Things to Consider (Checklist)

Asit Bhagat By Asit Bhagat

Choosing a software development project management software can be a daunting task unless approached methodically. Know what you need to look for in a project management software, and follow the right steps to identify the best tool for your needs.

Project management software applications are as important to software development projects as any of the team members. They are indispensable tools not just for project managers or project owners, but for developers, architects, and testers too.

On average, medium-sized businesses pay around $16.88 per user per month for a project management software. Considering that the business is subscribing to the tool for its software development project that is expected to fetch at least $50K per month, this is just a tiny investment.

Cost is thus not always the concern when choosing the best software development project management software. We need to analyze the tool from multiple angles to evaluate its aptness before we onboard it for our project. This blog is focused on helping you understand that essential criteria for selecting project management software.

What to look for in project management software

The software development project management software must help in managing the entire lifecycle of the project. As a result, as a comprehensive package, it should be a combination of multiple features, which you must strictly consider when making project management software selection. Here, we take you through those critical features. These are all intertwined with each other, but we need to see them separately to understand the importance of each of them.

Scheduling and planning

The first key thing to have in a software development project management software is a strong scheduling and planning capability. The tool must be infused with strong timeline visualization features, so that tracking tasks against defined timelines becomes easy for project stakeholders.

Strong scheduling and planning features streamline the process to achieve deliverables and help the team remain on the goal track. Visualization tools like Gantt charts and Kanban boards help in keeping the team members on the same page. Helping you keep yourself abreast of task durations and milestones, these features help you build roadmaps for successful long-term strategies.

Team collaboration

Your project may have internal and external team members, who might be working remotely. Coordination is immensely important in a distributed setup, and it is here team collaboration features of software development project management software comes into picture. Apart from email functionalities, you need group chats that streamline communication and encourage collaborative planning.

You need conversation threads to offer feedback straightaway and save good time in making revisions. Synchronizing project calendars with your personal calendars must be possible so that you are aware of what’s in the pipeline for you. Additionally, this also simplifies the process to schedule online meetings.

Task Management

Another crucial aspect while selecting project management software for your software development project is task management. The software must equip you with the capability to assign tasks to each member and immaculately track its progress.

However, task management features should go beyond the traditional ideal of assigning and managing tasks, extending to allowing project managers to monitor the progress with respect to each task.

A quality software development project software comes with Kanban boards that bring all tasks in one place, and thus improve the visibility into ongoing task status. Other important features that you must keenly look for include the ability to personalize tasks and automated notifications concerning tasks.

Real-time Communication

Collaboration becomes possible in a true sense only if your teams can communicate with each other in real time. A generic statistic shows that 52% of employees across the globe work remotely at least once a week. And in software development, the need to have robust real-time communication capabilities becomes more pronounced as often team members are diversely located.

The chart shows the percentage of people who work-at-home by industry. [Global Workplace Analytics’ special analysis of 2016 ACS data]

As a result, real-time communication is one of the key criteria for selecting project management software for software development projects. Apart from chat rooms, content sharing, content searching, and live group discussions are other important functionalities that the tool must be incorporated with to complete the notion of real-time communication.

Document management

From process documents, plans, budget estimates, code scripts, system documentation, and UI/UX designs to end-user manuals, tens and hundreds of documents and scripts are generated and shared amongst team members during the entire software development life cycle. A software development project management software should thus have a good repository to systematically manage and store, and enable quick access to technical and business documentation.

You should focus on the version control efficiency of the project management software, as it will help you judge how effectively the application can track revisions. Another important aspect is controlled access, which means project leaders should be able to define access rights. Last but not the least, auto-backup is what you must not miss considering. The tool should keep a backup of all your documents, lest you lose them due to any sudden disaster.

Workload and resource management

Software development project management software doesn’t restrict itself just to the idea of tracking the project progress. However, it must also come as an effective tool for effectively managing project workloads and efficiently allocating resources for tasks.

The resource management capability of the tool will be reflected in its potential to manage individual workloads and optimize resource use. This functionality will offer the project manager a clear insight into workloads to be managed and available resources – man, time, money, and infrastructure.

The reason why you need to pay close attention to whether the tool has a strong resource management feature or not is that it allows you to not let the resources get burdened with workloads. Simultaneously, you are assured that resources are not underutilized. So, overall, optimal utilization of resources is what the software development project management software must assure.

Monitoring and reporting

We have learned why it is essential for a software development project management software application to be capable of tracking the progress of project activities. This will usually be accomplished through dashboards provided by the tool. The dashboards must be customizable so that you can add and track KPIs relevant to your project.

Dashboards should offer a good user interface so that the insights can be easily gathered by project stakeholders. It should allow each member to get into the project’s performance, at a given moment, right after they glance through the reports of the dashboard.

Features like Kanban boards also work as performance monitoring tools and prove useful in allowing team members to identify the bottlenecks and improvement areas, and define the further course accordingly.

Integration

While working on a software development assignment, project stakeholders have to use diverse tools, which must interact with each other. Thus, the chosen software development project management software must integrate with all essential tools which you are using in your software development environment.

For instance, it is common for project stakeholders to use Google Documents, Google Sheets, and Dropbox during the project life cycle. When the project management software easily integrates with these tools then managing processes becomes quite easier for project managers. Also, in DevOps projects, project management applications must integrate with tools like GitHub, so that the project progress is expedited.

Risk Management

Software development project management software applications now come with risk management features that allow project stakeholders in identifying and managing risks associated with their projects. This feature spans the spectrum that includes risk identification, risk analysis, risk monitoring, prioritization of risks based on their probable impact, and strategy suggestion for risk avoidance and mitigation.

Risk notifications allow team members to remain updated with risk status and triggering advance warnings can help project managers and project owners to keep the project on track. Your idea of the best project management software for software development thus shouldn’t let risks go ignored, as managing them with an efficient project tool will save your time and efforts.

Support

A well-established software project management software will offer 24×7 support. In addition to the company’s expert reaching out to you to resolve your doubts, you will also get to participate in a dedicated community. The community will expose you to a vast array of the tool’s users, and so you can get your issue addressed quickly and rightly.

A good support functionality offers a process to create a support request, which helps in addressing issues in a proactive manner. However, comprehensive software documentation will well cover the details of troubleshooting. Most importantly, support shouldn’t revolve around just issue resolution, but help users in learning as well as upgrading the project management software for software development.

Security

Working in an ecosystem, where your software development project management software continuously interacts and exchanges data with the external environment, the security of data, code, frameworks, and documentation is crucial. A robust project management software while executing its operations, will reliably store the files and prevent unauthorized accesses.

The best way to evaluate the security effectiveness of a software development project management software is by ascertaining that it meets accepted security standards. For instance, the application must be SOC 2 and SOC 3, and PCI-DSS certified, and FedRAMP authorized. It must meet SAML 2.0 SSO standards, ensure data encryption for in-transit data and offer encrypted backups of data.

Issue Tracking

Issue tracking is one of the key functionalities of a software development project management software. It is a critical functionality for developers and quality assurance engineers. By allowing project stakeholders to identify, track, report, and take follow up on issues, issue tracking streamlines documenting bugs and issues, and thus makes issue monitoring easy for developers and testers.

So, by resolving code issues, issue tracking benefits the entire software development project life cycle. It adds to the efficiency of the project management framework and down the line, the impact becomes visible in software quality. Issue tracking is a key attribute of agile teams and so you can never afford to miss it in the prospective project management software.

Criteria for selecting a project management software

Having got a hang of all the essential features that you must have in your software development project management software, there is a set of criteria for evaluating the best choice after you have shortlisted all your options. Let’s have a look at these selection criteria.

Ease of use

The software development project management software you are considering for your team must be user-friendly, so that team members can get fast accustomed to it. However powerful the project management capabilities, it is only user-friendliness that helps leverage the power of the tool.

Project planning capabilities

If you shortlist five different tools, not each one of them will demonstrate the same project tracking and planning capabilities. You must check how they are helping you create and monitor tasks and if you can exercise control over tasks and teams using the features of the tool.

Time tracking efficiency

In software development projects, you constantly need to track the actual completion against the planned completion to not fall behind the schedule. And so, you must critically evaluate the accuracy of time tracking efficiency of a software development project management software.

Time optimization potential

Can project management software help software development teams optimize the development time? Yes, definitely. Through a host of predictive features that offer timely alerts on behind-schedule tasks and risk zones, a good tool will help you remain on track throughout the software development lifecycle.

Scalability

The software development project management software must be capable of managing projects of all sizes, as the magnitude of each project will not be the same. The tool must be able to accommodate changes and adjust to newer complexities that different software development projects will bring along the way.

Customization

A strong need of today’s agile software development team, customization allows team members to leverage the software development project management software to build their own project planning system. Check if tools offer features that can make customization easy for your team members.

Pricing

Build a product-price matrix comprising elements like per-user price, entry-level price, and the total annual cost to arrive at the right choice against your budget. However, remember that quality and not price should be your focus when selecting a software development project management software. Investing a few dollars more is always better than not availing some key functionalities.

How to choose the best software development project management software

To further simplify the process of choosing the right tool, here we have outlined for you the steps for choosing the right project management tool for your software development projects.

Choose an all-in-one software development project management software

With no dearth of viable software development project management software tools, the task of shortlisting the options and choosing the best one for you is a bit challenging task. We have eased that process for you through our comprehensive take on project management software selection for software development.

Remember, a project management software application is a game-changer for your projects and defines your long-term success. As a result, you must carefully and consciously evaluate each tool considering what your team and project need to arrive at an all-in-one project management software.

As mentioned, the tool while being stuffed with powerful features must offer an easy learning curve and should easily adapt to each project’s requirements, which is when it is qualified as the most viable option. You can partner with us for your software requirements, our in-house team is adept at managing projects of all sizes.

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