When you hear the word “transparency,” project management software probably isn’t what comes to mind. Maybe you think of the window next to your desk. Unless the blinds are closed, you can see clearly into your yard.

 It’s not much different in the work context: Unless you have a reason to block the light, you should be able to watch what’s going on from where you’re seated.

 Project management software is that transparent window. Without it, you can’t see what’s going on outside your own room.

 But transparency has more than one meaning. More than showing how different projects are coming along, project management software encourages open, productive team interactions.

 The result? A more open, productive company.

Project management platforms improve transparency multiple ways:

The best way to promote transparency is through strong communication. Clear, considerate, and concise communication facilitates collaboration by making it easier for team members to discuss ideas and issues.

 The ideal project management software gives team members multiple communication channels. Users should be able to leave comments for all to see, tag specific people, and send instant messages. The software needs ample storage to retain those notes in case users need to look back at them.

 Transparent communication creates an environment where people want to contribute their own ideas. And the more perspectives on a project, the better its chances of reaching its full potential.

The free-flowing communication enabled by project management software helps teammates and managers get to know one another better. This familiarity improves trust within teams, ensuring they feel comfortable voicing potentially controversial ideas.

 Don’t underestimate the importance of a trusting team. Those with high levels of trust have:

  • The ability to accept and provide tough feedback

  • The confidence to admit mistakes and be corrected

  • The tenacity to keep working after a setback

  • A willingness to help other succeed

  • A culture of joy and authenticity

Trust is not built overnight. It requires repeated, productive, personal, and helpful interactions. Those interactions can only happen in a transparent environment, digital or otherwise.

In transparent environments, it’s expected that team members will hold each other accountable. Project management software includes some key features that make that possible.

 In an online project platform, everyone can see one another’s project role. Beneath each person’s title appear the specific tasks they’ve been assigned.

 Consider what that means: Nobody is in the dark about who’s responsible for delivering what, and on what date. In that sort of space, there’s no point fingering — which can do a lot of damage to a team.

 Just as important is reporting. Workflow boards in project management software lay out the steps of a project in order of completion and keep track of what tasks have been finished. With a team’s worth of eyes on the software, nothing can slip through the cracks.

Transparency shouldn’t be limited to those within your organization. Project management software automatically tracks the metrics clients care about, such as billable hours.

 Project management software’s dashboards can be customized to provide a heads-up display of the figures that matter most. Organize yours by separating the ones that matter internally, such as task breakdown, from the numbers you need to know for client updates.

 Clients need to know that their money is being well spent. They have to be able to budget for future months. If a feature isn’t coming along as planned, they need to know that, too.

 Project management software makes it easy for teams to share those things with clients. And an informed client, more often than not, is a happy client.

Even on the most transparent teams, some things need to remain confidential. For the same reason windows have blinds, project management software comes with features to keep private information private.

 Customized permissions make it possible to restrict which users can view what. Perhaps only project managers and HR personnel need to see everyone’s project hours. Interns may not need access to billing information.

 These permissions can be applied to messages, projects, and tasks. They can be set for specific individuals or for groups. If needs change, they can be reset with a couple of clicks.

 Transparency is tricky: It’s important that team members can admit their mistakes, hold each other accountable, and feel a sense of trust across the team. But that doesn’t mean employees should be singled out in public or able to see each other’s private messages.

 Project management software makes that balance possible. And getting transparency right is something every contributor can appreciate.