One of the most important parts of a project is keeping the client informed and engaged with everything that’s happening. Project management software is an ideal way to maintain the relationship with your clients throughout a project, and can help streamline communication as well. Many project management software solutions are cost-effective (some are even free) and offer a number of tools to encourage active client participation. Web Portals Many PM options offer some sort of web portal for client participation. In most cases, this is simply a scaled-down version of the same dashboard that you see internally while working on the project. Depending on the solution you choose, you may have the option of turning features on or off for the client, allowing for the interaction you desire while also facilitating important internal communication. Notifications Notifications are a great solution for the endless number of emails that a project can generate. For example, in ActiveCollab, clients are able to participate in discussion threads, which are organized by topic. Every time a new comment is added to a discussion, you or the client can determine who receives a notification or alert. This helps keep the most important members of each team in the loop, without distracting other employees with needless email. In Basecamp, you can choose how you’d like to be notified, whether that’s instantaneously every time a new message is posted, or via a single daily digest of project activity. For some project management solutions, if you have downloaded the app associated with the program, these same notifications can be delivered via push notification to your mobile device. Asana, which is a free project management solution (for up to a certain number of users), uses such mobile push notifications to keep team members involved, even while on the go. Bugs and Support Tickets Some project management solutions – specifically those tailored to technology projects – allow for both internal team members and clients to file bugs or support tickets for investigation. This is a great way to have the client assist in the QA process of a new build and helps them begin to take ownership of the product you’re constructing. If support tickets aren’t necessary in your project, you can still encourage feedback on the project through a discussion forum or other communication tool within the platform. Document Sharing One of the biggest advantages of using a project management software solution is the ability to upload and maintain documents in a single location. Clients can upload pertinent project information to the PM account. Those files are then maintained within the context of the rest of the project’s communication, allowing for a transparent workflow. Encouraging clients to upload documents early in the project is a simple way to begin engagement both on the project and the platform itself. It’s a simple task that will help the client become more comfortable working within the software. Reporting and Timelines If it is feasible within your project, you may want to give the client access to the project’s overall timeline. This can help ease any confusion with how long a particular aspect of the project is going to take. It also allows the client the opportunity to provide feedback on the timeline and ask questions. Again, by maintaining all of this communication within the project management software, the amount of email is reduced and the continuity of the project is maintained. Depending on the PM software you choose, there are a wide variety of additional tools and tactics available to you, from live chatting to social integration and private messaging. Be sure to do a thorough investigation of all of the tools available to see how you can best leverage them to increase client engagement. Remember – active and engaged clients are vital to a project’s success! Images: ”Project Management concept with globe on blue world map background/ Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.