Project Management Evalutation Criteria Blog
October 7, 2017

3 Project Management Evaluation Criteria for Project Management Tools

Project Management

If you’re an open-minded project manager, and you’re looking for the best Agile project management tool for your team, you may feel like walking a tightrope. You need to balance many elements:

  • Your projects can be approached with different mindsets — from highly structured and control-oriented Waterfall to more flexible Agile approaches and everything between.
  • Some tools excel at certain practices (Microsoft Project Manager for Gantt charts), while others are best for certain tactics (Trello for visual boards, for example).
  • Your team members have their own habits and preferences. You want to help them be more productive, but can’t lose all control or visibility.
Image Solutions Agile Project Management Scales RD

Find Equilibrium Among Project Management Tools

Can one project management tool provide equilibrium?

If so, how can you find it? What we’ve learned at Helix Plan (formerly Hansoft) — having developed a tool used by some of the most innovative project managers in the world — is that a good decision is a balanced one. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast legacy project management tools, such as Microsoft Project, and lightweight project management tools, such as Trello.


Criteria 1. Balance Control and Collaboration

If you simply need planning structure offered by Gantt scheduling, and you’re fine being the only one that updates it, then Microsoft Project is a worthy, if expensive, solution.

For many project managers, however, this strict sense of what needs to be done rarely applies to the way modern teams work: quickly, transparently, and collaboratively.

In fact, it is partly because of this lack of collaboration and transparency that a major tech company switched from Microsoft Project to Helix Plan. With it, both hardware and software teams had access to important planning data and could make decisions in real time.

A tool like Trello, which is extremely easy to use — and therefore suggested by naive but well-intentioned team members to project managers all over the world — offers the exact opposite challenge. While collaboration is fluid, it lacks the overview and structure you need for fast-moving projects with hard deadlines. More than that, team members using Trello have little understanding of the consequences of not completing their work on time. So, accountability doesn’t get distributed as it should.

Image Blog Body Evaluating Project Management Tools Criteria Control Collaboration

The shared, scalable product backlog in Helix Plan is just one of many features necessary for today’s cross-functional teams.


Criteria 2. Balance Agile and Waterfall Methods

There are numerous ways to manage teams these days. On one end, pure Agile. On the other, pure Waterfall. Then, everything between: Water-scrum-fall, wet Agile, and more.

Whether your company is dipping its toes in Agile, or scaling to large Agile frameworks, your project management solution should flex and scale with you and your team.

As mentioned, Microsoft Project is not native to Agile methods and difficult to use for it. Besides, at the rate of change we’re seeing in technology and development best practices, your company may be transitioning to other delivery methods.

The disadvantage of Trello is that it does not scale beyond one team. The byproduct? Various teams risk creating silos of information in the organization.

With Helix Plan, you can do both at the same time. You can view a high-level roadmap side-by-side with detailed team plans in sprints or boards. Truthfully, seeing high-level Gantt and sprints together can be extremely useful, particularly when you’d like the option to communicate fixed milestones and what leads up to them.

Image Blog Body Evaluating Project Management Tools Criteria Agile Waterfall

With flexibility to show Gantt charts and sprints side-by-side, Helix Plan helps you communicate fixed milestones and what leads up to them.


Criteria 3. Balance Needs of Teams and Executives

Teams and executives often ask for the same core insights from their project management tool:

  • Where is the project?
  • Where was the project?
  • Is the project on the right path?

The challenge is that the team, stakeholders, and executives (and you) all measure success in different ways.

Team member? A to-do list to tick items off as DONE.

Stakeholders? Real-time status reports and insights into potential blockers and enablers.

Executives? Clean, simple KPI dashboards, and backlogs aligning the organization towards common goals.

You? A burndown chart. So you can make quick changes when priorities, requirements, and scope changes without being held back by the tool.

A thorough and conscientious project manager can spend much of their time putting together all these reports!

As we all know, every project, each with varying stakeholders, scope, time, team members, etc., is different. One of the most misleading aspects of many project management tools is that they say there is a “one size fits all” method for creating a shared understanding of a project.

Not true.

A visual board is a great way to quickly communicate status and understand where bottlenecks exist. But, if you have thousands of work items across multiple teams, you can end up overlooking systematic risks and challenges within a project. A balanced tool, like Helix Plan, tightly integrates flexible reports and dashboards for all users — within and across projects.

Image Blog Body Evaluating Project Management Tools Criteria Teams Executives

Dashboards and reporting features in Helix Plan deliver customized insights to everyone.


Looking for Project Management Tool Equilibrium?

Consider Helix Plan, the Agile planning tool for happy, productive teams. Free for up to 5 users, it provides project managers a perfect balance of control, flexibility, and insights. Your teams will appreciate working their way. Your executives will appreciate getting the information they need for better decision making. Most importantly, you’ll start delivering better projects faster.

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