Project management is best done with the proper tool to plan, execute and close a project within budget, and maintain the expected quality. The simpler the project requirements are, the simpler the tool can be. At first, a start-up might just stick to Excel lists and check off projects done. I have used Excel lists, but the more complex the environment around the project becomes, the faster the Excel course begins to show its limitations, and you will need more.
Let me start by saying that there are some great tools out there – but looking at them from the viewpoint of an entrepreneur working in a start-up, they lack some essential features that can easily be added to a pure project management tool.
The Entrepreneurial Tool
We at The Cecily Group are planning to build a tool that covers project management – and so much more. Being a start-up ourselves and using some of the tools out there, we have defined what is missing for ourselves.
At its core, our Entrepreneurial Tool will offer essential project management components, such as a list of projects to be done, by whom, by when, and at what cost.
We will link this information to time-tracking tools and swim lanes.
We will take it a step further and asks employees to judge the projects they were working on about their unique abilities. And this is where it gets interesting: unique abilities are defined per employee and the aim is to be able to assign projects that tap into those abilities to make working on the projects both more efficient and more rewarding.
Our tool will also include checklists and guidelines in an ever-extending library to make it easier for an entrepreneur to start a business. The biggest difference to the other tools out there though is that we include defining the mission, the vision, and the values of a company in our Entrepreneurial Tool and we keep the employees and their unique abilities close at heart.
Alternative project management tools
Now let’s look at some of the more prominent project management tools out there. in the end, we’ll compare them to The Entrepreneurial Tool of The Cecily Group:
New on the market is ClickUp.com. The tool is very pleasing to the eye and offers many features like to-do lists, reminders, spreadsheets, and resource management as well as pure project management. Data from other tools can be easily integrated into it, and it offers customizable views.
Also very pleasing to the eye is Trello.com. It is very easy to use and can be extended by add-ons. It offers boards that can then be filled with information. This information such as who works on what until what deadline can then be visualized in Gantt charts or calendars. Trello can be connected to apps already used by a team.
Jira software offered by Atlassian.com combines project management of tasks with different ways to view and keep track of them using the Scrum, Lean, or Kanban methods. Information related to the projects, timelines, and people can be given in detail and visualized on boards or customizable reports. Capabilities can be extended by adding apps, such as time tracking over Tempo. There are other Atlassian products than can be integrated, such as Confluence or Trello.
Asana.com is a tool that is widely known and focuses more on collaboration and task management, bringing all the information together and visualizing it in boards and timelines. It is capable of integrating other tools rather than offering those kinds of capabilities itself (such as Slack for communication).
Monday.com is a tool that is easy to set up and use. A requires no training. It also offers templates and covers basic topics such as timelines, prioritization, and ownership that can be set up on boards. Data can be viewed from anywhere, and automation functions can be used for deadlines, etc. to easily keep track of things.
One tool that focuses on making remote work possible is Basecamp.com. They even wrote a book on the topic. Their main focus is to bring together all information sharing from emails, spreadsheets, task lists, etc. into one tool and aim to simplify project management. This works for simpler projects in smaller teams.
Another project planning management tool out there is Sciforma.com. It focuses on project planning and visualization of outcomes. It allows you to visualize projects according to your project methodology of choice. It looks more technical than some of the other tools, but it covers the basics needed by smaller or bigger projects, including benchmarking, KPIs, and financial reporting.
Workzone.com has been a big player for some time and offers various products out of the project dashboard automatically, such as to-do lists, status alerts, re-calculation of end-dates if tasks move, etc. It also gives an overview of the workload per person. Customers also praise the support given by the company.
Kissflow.com focuses more on the core tasks of project management. Even for an inexperienced project manager, starting up projects is easy. Projects can be visualized in different forms to keep track of things. The tool also allows for reports to make future decisions easier. Automatic reminders do not miss any deadlines, and centralized communication is also part of this tool.
Zoho Projects combines planning and tracking of projects and team collaboration. It can break down and visualize the projects into milestones, and task lists and create time sheets out of the hours logged. Gantt charts can also be used. Apps can be integrated, and it has an integrated chat function.
Another tool created to keep track of projects is Notion.so. Creation of tasks is easy, and so is following them up. Collaboration over different teams and notifications is possible, as well as adding other apps.
Bitrix24.com is another tool that helps to visualize projects using Gantt charts and Kanban boards and allows for time tracking as well. Additionally, it connects the data to CRM, provides support to customers over social platforms, and it even offers website design to its customers.
ProjectManager.com, with a name that answers all questions, is a tool for planning, tracking, and reporting projects. The main difference to the other tools listed here is that it offers various ways to visualize the projects, and especially people working with the Kanban method will love it. Various business apps integrate with ProjectManager.
Wrike.com is a project management app that offers project planning, tracking of work and deadlines, and easy collaboration with all stakeholders. It helps with prioritizing tasks, but I find it is not the easiest to use. Other business tools can be integrated into it.
Proofhub.com allows for planning, collaborating, organizing, and delivering projects in one place. Different views can be used as well as boards for different topics. All communication happens within the tool. Reports on workload and resources are possible.
The list would not be complete without TeamGantt.com. Many project management tools use Gantt charts to plan and visualize project timelines. TeamGantt also offers Kanban boards and calendar views on top of the Gantt charts themselves. A built-in resource management system keeps track of the workload.
The Entrepreneurial Tool will offer so much more
When scanning the market for tools that might compete with our Entrepreneurial Tool (which is currently under development), we found some companies that offer project management tools, and the most prominent ones are listed above. Most of them are very usable for pure project management– but if issues arise, the tools are only capable of solving the symptoms. The Entrepreneurial Tool will be different because it allows you to search for the root cause of the issue.
To be fair, all the tools mentioned do declare themselves as project management tools. The idea behind our Entrepreneurial Tool is to cover project management and more.
What they all lack in comparison to The Entrepreneurial Tool:
- They do not ask you to spend time on work on the mission and vision and think about the values of the future company. This is very important as it sets the tone for the company and makes it easier to find the right team members. Mission, vision, and values are the foundations of a company and if not communicated properly, they will not be lived.
- They offer no help in setting up the company in the form of checklists or guidance. They assume the founder has the projects ready to go, and only offer solutions to setting up projects and running them, and monitoring them. The Entrepreneurial Tool will offer all sorts of checklists and guidance for different stages of the company’s
- They also do not focus on the employees as contributors with skills and unique abilities. Constant feedback is very important and is easy to take care of by using The Entrepreneurial Tool: constant feedback is received from the team members on their unique abilities: are their unique abilities utilized, how did a project go, what did others think about it? Listen to your employees and document it in a tool for everyone to see.
- In a sense, the other tools on the market that we looked at fall between the needs of an employee (feeling of being controlled without a wider sense of the “why”) and the founder and the managers (being caught up in small details, whereas the big projects that “move the needle” do not get the attention they need to succeed next to non-engaged employees).
- The Entrepreneurial Tool covers the full spectrum of the stages of entrepreneurship: it’s perfect for someone who is inexperienced but with a great product in mind. But also for an entrepreneur who is experienced, and simply in need of some help creating a self-managing team. The Entrepreneurial Tool guides the founder along the way and pushes the founder to spend time on creating the mission, the values, and the goals for his/her company to make sure the mindset is clear and to see to it that filling the company with the right employees is easy.
- The Entrepreneurial Tool aids the seasoned founder with the tools needed to efficiently set up and manage a “self-managing” company, with a strong focus on relying on each person’s unique ability to create high-performing teams.
- The Entrepreneurial Tool focuses on the employees themselves, asking the right questions at the beginning to find the best fit for the tasks at hand and keeps asking for their feedback as the projects move along. No other tool out there takes the employee that visibly into consideration.
- Based on the 4 areas of the tool, here are some findings related to competitors:
- Mission: mission dashboards exist for various purposes, from a dashboard showing initial company targets to large-scale mission statements. The Dashboard to be created by The Entrepreneurial Tool is designed to show at any time the values and goals of the company but also show the progress on ongoing projects, designed in a uniquely accessible way.
- Checklist: there are numerous companies out there offering checklists such as Asana, Talentlyft, Todolistsoft, or Sampleforms – but the ones we intend to offer will be simple, grouped by topic, interlinked, and lead from one to the next.
- Task management: The Entrepreneurial Tool task management system is primarily built upon the knowledge and experience of the use of an OKR-related approach. It is fine-tuned with details that make the individual cards highly useful.
- ERP: there are various tools out there to register the hours (like Clockify) and link them to the progress of tasks. The Entrepreneurial Tool will go beyond that, since it considers employees’ unique abilities, and aims for constant improvement to raise the number of tasks within the unique ability to the highest level.
To conclude, there are good tools available for project management but if you are willing to go a step further and aim to organize a self-managing company, The Entrepreneurial Tool is the tool you need.
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