Project management is important for all businesses, but for small tech teams with big goals, it’s perhaps even more important. You’re David, and your competitors are Goliath. To achieve outsized outcomes, your team needs a secret weapon that supercharges its productivity.
The answer lies in project management software. These tools help teams stay organized, keep projects on track, and collaborate more effectively.
Without the right approach to project management, it’s easy for work to grind to a halt. Deadlines will be missed. Work will be duplicated. Miscommunications will become common. Many teams manage projects in spreadsheets or complex email chains that create confusion, not clarity.
Fortunately, these are all problems that can be solved with the right project management software. But choosing the best project management software for your team can be difficult. There are a lot of options out there, but few are built for the needs of small tech teams.
Why do small teams need project management software?
No matter what type of business you’re in, we bet you have projects that need to be completed. Whether it’s shipping a new feature, integrating two existing systems, or releasing a software update, projects can be complex. Effective project management is key to a successful outcome.
But without the right tools, effectively managing projects is impossible. Manually managing projects, whether in your mind or a spreadsheet, often leads to disappointing outcomes. Several issues drive this, including:
- Inaccurate estimates: estimating the time and resources that go into a project is vital to aligning expectations between different project stakeholders. Without a system to guide you, you’re essentially guessing when it comes to making estimates.
- Lack of accountability: it can be easy for team members to get confused over who is assigned to tasks within a project. That can lead to certain tasks being done twice or not at all – neither of which are desirable outcomes.
- Difficulty sharing resources: for your team to succeed, they need to access all kinds of resources – whether wireframes or customer journey maps. Not having the ability to easily share these resources leads to serious inefficiencies.
- Challenges in collaboration: projects require team members to work together, but that’s a major challenge without a central platform that brings people together.
The answer to these challenges lies in adopting a project management software tool that fits your team perfectly. But how can you pick the best tool?
Selecting the best project management software
There are all kinds of considerations that team leaders need to bear in mind when selecting the best project management tool. Four of the most important include:
- User experience: focus on finding a project management software that’s easy for your team to use. It’s helpful if the software has been designed specifically for the needs of small teams and comes with a series of helpful setup guides.
- Feature set: consider the features a software tool must have to be valuable. Depending on how your team works, this could be anything from visual project management tools like Kanban boards and Gantt charts to task hierarchies enabling your team to work on complex projects.
- Integrations: you shouldn’t have to change the way you work to adapt to a new project management software – it should integrate with your existing workflows. Look for options with built-in integrations to tools you already use, like Slack, Google Sheets, or Microsoft Teams.
- Cost: project management software is important, but it’s not an investment that should break the bank. Look for tools with pricing plans that make sense for small teams, and offer free versions to determine if it’s a good fit.
When a project management tool satisfies these criteria, it’s much more likely to be adopted by your team. Tools that offer a simple experience, sophisticated feature set, and useful integrations at an affordable cost can be tough to find, but don’t worry – you’re in the right place.
Introducing Backlog: the best project management software for small teams
Backlog is an industry-leading project management software designed for small technical teams. It’s the perfect match for teams looking for a simple yet powerful solution, offering a robust variety of features and an intuitive interface that’s easy to learn.
Backlog is designed to make it easy for teams to collaborate seamlessly on a variety of projects, enabling communication, file sharing, reporting, tracking, and much more. As we’ll demonstrate in this guide, Backlog ultimately powers teams to spend less time planning and more time doing.
How to streamline project management processes with Backlog
Your team might be small, but we bet its to-do list isn’t. Backlog helps your team simplify complex workflows, breaking large projects down into more actionable tasks and subtasks.
Improving your team’s processes to complete projects is critical to unlocking increased productivity. But process improvement isn’t a matter of your team working harder – it comes from working smarter.
Backlog’s features help small teams streamline their project management processes. Tasks can be assigned checklists, priorities, statuses, and categories to make it easier for team members to break down projects into smaller, more actionable chunks of work.
It’s simple to search, filter, and sort tasks using Backlog’s built-in search features. Whether the user is searching for a project wiki or trying to find a previous task for reference, Backlog’s powerful search tools help users quickly find the information they need.
There are also features specifically built for tech teams, including issue tracking, version control, and code review features. Developers can manage their code and documentation right alongside their project work with built-in code repositories, pull requests, and powerful Jira and Redmine importers.
Tracking project progress in Backlog
Using these features ensures that individual components of projects can be managed more effectively, but it’s also essential to zoom out and see the whole picture. Any project contains countless moving parts. Managers must be able to track each of these and understand how they impact the project as a whole.
Backlog also offers users several ways to create and organize their team’s projects and tasks, including Boards, lists, and Gantt charts. These tools make it easy for teams to assess the current status of their projects, identify bottlenecks, and adjust their plans. By specifying milestones and deliverables, project managers can understand the progress of their team’s work and identify where additional resources might be needed.
How to improve communication with Backlog
Unless you’re a team of one, projects don’t happen in a vacuum. Your team members need to be able to communicate with each other and collaborate on a variety of tasks.
Backlog functions as a central communication and collaboration hub for technical projects. Team members can comment on any task within a project, tag other team members, add file attachments, or change the task assignee.
Another important feature is project wikis. A wiki allows every team member to access and edit shared resources and information concerning the project. Users can add text, links, file attachments, and links to individual tasks within Backlog.
Notifications in Backlog
When something changes in a task or project, all subscribed users will receive a notification altering them to the change. Notifications are delivered both within Backlog and through email. If your team wants to minimize the number of emails they receive, they can customize their notification and email settings to only be alerted to the most important changes.
There are many different ways users can opt to receive email notifications. These can be customized for each project. If a team member is only loosely involved in a project, they may turn off notifications and choose to get a weekly summary instead, but if they’re more actively involved, they might want to get an email every time there’s an update.
How to enhance quality with Backlog
All teams should constantly strive to increase the quality of their output. But that’s easier said than done. Quantifying the quality and accuracy of your team’s work can be a challenge – but not with Backlog.
For development teams, tracking and resolving bugs might be a key focus in ensuring that a service continues to deliver a great user experience. Backlog makes it easy for teams to capture, assign, prioritize, and resolve bugs quickly. Here’s how it works:
New bugs are documented in an issue template built to capture all the details your team needs to know to address a bug. It’s even possible to automate the creation of these issues from customer support request emails. Teams can then prioritize these issues, quickly assigning issues that are severely degrading service quality to a developer.
Changes made by the developer are captured in Backlog, meaning that teams have visibility into every pull request, merge, build, and update.
As developers make changes to the code, other team members can review their code changes and pull requests directly from Backlog. There’s no need to navigate to an external tool: all the work occurs in Backlog, making for seamless collaboration. Users can make inline comments and also view differences.
Monitoring quality metrics in Backlog
High-performing teams aren’t afraid of quality metrics; if anything, they embrace them. Backlog enables team leaders to monitor a range of metrics, including bug resolution rate, code coverage, and test results.
On each project home page, you’ll find a summary of the progress of that project. You’ll be able to see how many issues remain open, how your team is progressing toward its goals, and whether certain milestones are being met.
User experience: How to navigate Backlog
Backlog is designed to be a simple, intuitive platform that’s easy for all teams to use. Every user’s Backlog dashboard will look something like the one below, with four key sections: Projects, Pull Requests, My Issues, and Recent Updates.
The Projects section lets users click into a specific project – for example, Quality Assurance or Development.
Technical teams with Git enabled will see up to 10 pull requests, with users able to filter by pull requests assigned to them and those they created.
The My Issues tab shows all tasks currently assigned to the user, serving as a clear to-do list of what the user has to work on.
Recent Updates shows all the most up-to-date activity on projects the user is a part of, helping enhance visibility between different team members.
From this dashboard, it’s simple for users to navigate to specific projects, issues, or pull requests that need their attention.
Customer success stories with Backlog
Backlog is a popular solution among small tech teams across the world. Today, more than 15,000 companies use Backlog to power better project management. Here are a couple of our favorite success stories:
Easylive, a cloud-based live streaming service, has a team of just 11 but has clients including the NFL and Paris Saint-Germain. They rely on Backlog to manage their projects, from dealing with bugs to addressing client requests. Backlog has enabled Easylive to provide more dynamic customer support by streamlining communication between the sales and software development teams.
At Softbank Robotics, Backlog has been instrumental in reducing the number of tasks falling behind schedule. The team used Backlog to eliminate busy work like sifting through emails or formatting spreadsheets, freeing team members to focus on tasks that moved the business forward.
Get started with Backlog today
Managing a small but ambitious tech team is a challenge, but the right project management tools can make it much easier to achieve your goals. At Nulab, we’re passionate about building project management tools that help small teams achieve big dreams.
With a range of powerful features tailored to the needs of small teams, Backlog is the perfect project management solution. By using Backlog, teams can benefit from improved communication, enhanced quality, and seamless collaboration that helps deliver successful outcomes.