Do freelancers and consultants need project management software?

Do freelancers and consultants need project management software?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Project management is for everyone

Whether or not most of us realize it, we all do some level of project management. Every time we have an idea that requires planning, we begin walking through the natural phases of project process. You could say that everyone ends up being a project manager in some way throughout their lives.

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as being project managers, though. Entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers… whatever the title you ascribe to, you are also a project manager. The big difference from an “every day project management” is that you’ve moved into client/business task based project management.

Project management as an entrepreneur looks a little different

In a corporation, projects have several starting points depending on their customer base. These often look like initiatives, product development, feature development, product launch or even internal process updates or changes.

When you own your own company, projects may be heavily client dependent, business goal dependent, and the only person to report the work will be yourself. As your business and work/client complexity grows, it can start to become a lot to organize.

Freelance / solopreneur project management could look more like this:

  • Business growth or goals (things you’ll do to reach xyz by Q4)
  • Client tasks / work to dos
  • Product tasks (to dos for development) if you’re selling products
  • Website management
  • Financial management

And more. And while these are still concepts you find within larger organizations, they can often be much more separated. A product manager working to get a feature developed may never interact with the website or external clients directly.

Project management tools help business owners stay organized and reach their goals

Now just because you’re amazing at your business and love the work — it doesn’t mean you love to manage projects or that you ever intended to be a project manager. To optimize your outcomes and business growth, project management ends up being a necessary piece of a wear-all-the-hats pie.

Project management software built for freelancers should allow the entrepreneur to track their time, strategize, communicate concepts clearly to clients (when needed) and help to organize the work in a way that keeps the high level and detailed work in focus.

The more focused the work, the easier it is to operate lean — eliminating waste, creating more clear value, and operating more smoothly. This means more time to focus on the things that really matter to you as a business owner.

Finding the right project management system as a freelancer is hard

Project management tools are often not built with the freelancer in mind — even though your company is still in the B2B space. Systems often aren’t built to be inclusive from the beginning and when the features do get plugged in, they often get buried among the others.

When I met Marcel, my co-founder, he owned a 5 person web design agency in Arizona. Prior to that, he was freelancing and since I’ve known him, he’s had periods of freelancing throughout the last 10 years. When we’ve chatted about his experiences in finding project management tools that work for freelancers and even for his web design agency, he will say the experiences were awful.

The reality is that, just as your project process and use is different, so your system should have some differences too. Much of the software that exists is built around corporation workflows and so finding a solution can really take more time and work — taking away from the work that needs to get done.

Consider open source software for your project management needs

Having been there and lived the experience, we set out to create the non-project management solution and find that many of our open source users are freelancers, agency owners, and consultants. Why?

Open source software works for freelancing, entrepreneurs and consultants:

Freelancers are used to carving their own way. Self-hosted / DIY solutions make sense. You’re used to doing it all and you get more ownership and control

Open source software can have a better cost point. When you’re focusing on growth and driving all the work yourself, you need a system that you can afford and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg when you onboard clients to it too.

Opportunity for efficiency. Open source can often be customizable through the code base and so if you have software development skills, you have more room for control.

While we can’t speak to how other systems do it, here at Leantime, we focus on incorporating lean concepts into project management. Decreasing set up time means more time for you to do the important things.

So do they need project management?

Ultimately, the answer is a resounding yes. Business owners of all types can benefit from the uplift in time management and organization that a good project management system can offer. Open source software creates more opportunities across system flexibility and type.

If you’re not experienced in development or in setting up your own server, we recently launched our hosted version of Leantime. As we improve on the system, we’d love and value your thoughts and feedback on what matters to the work you’re doing too.


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