Every profession has its set of go-to tools. (Don’t believe me? Even those stalwart enough among us to prepare for the fabled—or inevitable?—Zombie Apocalypse have their favorite whatsits and doodads).
Increasingly, however, the most useful tools—especially for those in project management in the A/E/C industry—are found in the technological and social ether (differing largely from, I would imagine, the axe- and sword-throwing preferences of the zombie-fighters).
With that in mind, here are 5 tools—some oldies, but goodies from 2013 and some new ones for 2014—that every project manager should be using.
Yammer: Yammer is a private social network for your company. Think Facebook, but just for you and those you work with. It allows you to collaborate securely across departments, geographies, content and business applications.
Benefits: Yammer touts that it allows you to get connected to the right people, share information across teams, and organize projects so you can go further, faster.
15Five: 15Five is based on the simple idea that each employee spends 15 minutes a week writing a report that takes their manager no more than 5 minutes to read. The app makes it easy for managers to discover the most important problems, insights, ideas, and success stories fast.
Benefits: 15Five turns all reports into conversations (think GChat or your Gmail Inbox), making information easy to follow. Updates are provided easily by employees and digested easily by managers.
VCS (or Virtual Classroom Software): More and more, project managers are beginning to learn through virtual classrooms. Training is undergoing a shift to Internet-accessible desktops, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices. Learning may take place through video, webinars, or formal online classes. Virtual classroom software like SlideShare, Saba, Adobe, and E-Lecta are asserting themselves as the new leaders in information dissemination.
Benefits: No more tedious flights to far-off cities, hotel bookings, and days away from the job.
Benchmarking tools: This may not be new information, but it’s more important ever—benchmarking is the key to success in 2014 as competition heats up. As ESI International states, “Benchmarking will now be placed into the forefront for many organizations … Just calling yourself world-class doesn’t make it so unless you’ve got some data to back it up.”
Benefit: Good benchmarking studies allow you to go beyond the hard data to give you the entire benchmarking picture you need to build a compelling business case for change at your firm.
Evernote: This “oldie” is still a goodie—in fact, one of the best. Besides being a killer note-taking app, Evernote can do just about anything you want: work as a bookmark, web clip, video recorder, audio recorder, repository for all of your information, all within a searchable database.
Benefits: The more notes and notebooks you have, the better Evernote works. You can create searchable tabs and tags, so you can find anything you need through a simple search. There are drag and drop features throughout the app to make navigation easier. You can archive business cards, recipes, receipts, website clippings—Evernote is your messy hotel room after it’s been cleaned by your fabulous OCD Four Seasons Hotel chambermaid, Lolita.