Businesses across industries are increasingly looking to adopt project management (PM) software. Indeed, between 2014 and 2015, the number of first-time, small-business buyers who contacted Software Advice in search of a PM system rose 14 percent.
Prospective buyers have several purchase considerations, including which operating system (OS) the software supports. While Windows products previously dominated the workplace, the increasing popularity of iPhones, iPads and iMacs means that more and more businesses are looking for project management software for Mac devices.
Additionally, with the prevalence of cloud-based PM platforms (the majority of which can run on any operating system), dedicated Apple users have more options than ever before.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
Native Mac products are designed to run on the Apple operating system, and provide a consistent user experience across Apple devices. This means the user interface (UI)—how people experience, interact with and understand the product’s content—remains largely unchanged across Mac devices, so as to deliver a uniform look and feel.
There are some industries, such as software and technology, which tend to lean more heavily on Apple products and find a greater return on investment with native Mac solutions. However, many PM software vendors are now designing cloud-based, OS-agnostic solutions so as to reach a greater audience; as a result, there are relatively few Mac-only PM tools available in the market.
Thus, buyers who are looking for PM solutions that will work on Apple’s operating system should consider OS-agnostic products hosted in the cloud.
Cloud-based PM platforms, which deliver “Software-as-a-Service” (SaaS), are accessible through an Internet browser on any compatible device, making them extremely versatile tools. These systems have a lower upfront cost, since buyers don’t pay for the license to own the software outright (typically, a monthly subscription fee is paid, priced per user, to use the software). Traditional on-premise solutions tend to be more expensive up front, since the user pays for the license to own and operate the software in perpetuity.
However, as you can see in the chart below, the long-term costs for both licensing models eventually converge.
Another cost consideration: Cloud software is hosted offsite, on the vendor’s servers, and the subscription fee normally covers maintenance, updates and limited support. Conversely, on-premise software is hosted on the user’s servers, and additional fees typically apply for updates, maintenance and so on. This means that less (if any) of an organization’s internal IT staff and resources are dedicated to software upkeep when a cloud system is used.
To estimate the total cost of ownership for deploying a cloud-based or on-premise solution at your business, check out our Total Cost of Ownership Calculator.
Some PM tools are stand-alone (or “best-of-breed”) systems, specializing in one aspect of project management, such as task management or time tracking. However, most are comprehensive suites helping to support all stages of the project life cycle, including:
Additionally, these systems act as a centralized hub, storing files and project communications, which makes it easy for teams to view a project’s history. This is especially useful for all organizations practicing project risk management. It can also help specialized teams in certain industries, such as design firms or software developers, that need access to decisions surrounding version changes, new releases and issues or bug fixes (among other things).
With the expanse of PM tools on the market, it’s important to keep the following considerations in mind when selecting a system that fits your needs:
Integration options. PM software should easily integrate with existing business applications (e.g., email, accounting and data storage programs, such as Dropbox). Integrating your PM system with your accounting platform is especially important, as it will help streamline your project financials, including budgeting, job costing, billing and invoicing. Be sure to discuss any integration requirements with vendors prior to purchasing a system.
Industry needs. If your organization uses Apple hardware and software, then native Mac project management software might be right for you. However, if your industry is one that experiences frequent change and/or your company is growing, then a cloud-based solution may be a smarter investment: You’ll find a greater variety of options that can be used across multiple platforms.
Mobility/remote access. With remote work becoming more commonplace, cloud solutions facilitate a working environment that is standardized, collaborative and transparent and that keeps remote workers accountable. Cloud solutions can be accessed from multiple devices, helping project teams stay connected. And features such as activity streams and in-app or email notifications help team members stay apprised of project updates and changes.
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