The most important thing in project management is to avoid surprises. The danger is that the work you started has no logical end.
When I worked in a big software company, my biggest fear was for two things: that someone would assign me work that could not be completed before the deadline, and that someone would assign me work that had to be completed by the deadline but had no logical end. These are exactly the kind of work projects get assigned: work that has no end, so you can just keep going.
One way to avoid surprises is to plan. Software projects usually involve writing a lot of documents. As soon as you know you need something, start planning. Software projects usually end up over budget, too. If it does, it will probably be because you haven’t planned enough. But you have to avoid being too conservative. You have to plan enough so that you know all your options, but not too much so that you know you are never going to have to make a decision. Another important rule: you have to finish work before you start something else. Many software projects go on and on, partly because they are so complicated.
Project management means many things to many people. To some it means managing a project like building a factory, so that everything goes according to plan, on time and on budget. To others it means overseeing a group of people like Lego, making sure that all the pieces fit together. To still others it means managing oneself, like making sure you do all the work that has to be done, every day.
Having a diversity of perspectives is useful. But if you understand them, they aren’t that different.
A project is about managing people in a way that lets them do what they do best. Project management software for teams is a tool that helps you do that. It defines roles and processes, and suggests ways of organizing project work. It lets you track who does what, and who reports to whom. It lets you plan the work, distribute the work, report the results, and make decisions.
In short, it is aimed at the people who do the work. Software for project managers is directed at the people who do the work. So don’t confuse the two. But project managers aren’t the only ones who need to manage projects. Project management software is directed at both project managers and the people they oversee.
The project management software you buy today will probably be for project teams, not project managers. If you’re managing a project team, you need software that will help you do your job: track who does what, keep everyone informed, manage the work, make decisions, and report the results. Everyone on a project team needs that kind of software. And everyone on a project team needs software to help them do their job.
Software is messy. And software is inexpensive. Both of those make it tempting to try to manage the work yourself, by hacking together whatever tools you can find.