In the Project Management FrontRunners infographic above, the Capability axis starts at 3.40 and ends at 4.20, while the Value axis starts at 3.40 and ends at 4.60. Scales may differ between quadrants in order to capture the relative positioning of the specific products in each category.
The FrontRunners quadrant, powered by Gartner Methodology, provides a data-driven assessment of products in a particular software category to determine which ones offer the best capability and value for small businesses. To qualify for consideration as a FrontRunner in a software category, a product must have at least 10 unique user-submitted product reviews across the three Gartner Digital Markets web properties: softwareadvice.com, capterra.com and getapp.com.
The FrontRunners methodology assesses products on two primary dimensions: Capability on the x-axis and Value on the y-axis. Products receive a score between one and five for each axis. Products that meet a minimum score for each axis are included as FrontRunners. The minimum score cutoff to be included in the FrontRunners graphic varies by category, depending on the range of scores in each category. For products included, the Capability and Value scores determine their positions on the FrontRunners graphic.
The Capability score is based on three criteria: user ratings on capability, a functionality breadth analysis, and a business confidence assessment.
For each of these data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated into a one to five score.
If the company's size and product's customer base are both significant and growing, then the likelihood that the business will invest in the product is higher than in the alternative scenarios. For each of these four data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated to a one to five score.
The overall one to five Capability score is a weighted average of the scores for user ratings, functionality breadth and business confidence.
The Value score is based on two criteria: user ratings on value and product adoption.
For each of these four data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated into a one to five score. The overall one to five Value score is a weighted average of the scores for value user ratings and product adoption.
Data sources include user reviews and ratings, public data sources and data from providers. The user-generated product review data incorporate into FrontRunners is collected from submissions to all three Gartner Digital Markets sites (softwareadvice.com, capterra.com and getapp.com). As a quality check, we ensure the reviewer is valid, that the review meets quality standards and that it is not a duplicate.
The business confidence and product adoption data comes from public sources, collected by either a third party data provider or by Gartner associates. As a quality check, we compare this data against data provided by the providers. We use this data to calculate a product's percentile ranking, which allows us to determine how products compare relative to one another rather than determine an absolute number.
The functionality breadth data is collected from the providers. We check the data provided and challenge data that seems inflated or unlikely. We use this data to calculate a product's percentile ranking, which allows us to determine how products compare relative to one another rather than determine an absolute number.
Project management software describes a range of solutions that allow individuals and teams to track the progress of complex projects from their conception to their completion and/or launch. Currently, there are hundreds of these programs on the market, ranging from basic free online programs all the way to highly complex products that allow the user to manage every aspect of the venture from lead generation all the way to final payment.
In order to help you navigate this complex market, we wrote this buyer’s guide in order to improve your understanding of the functions, features and buying decisions that need to be considered when you assess your options—and there are many. Here’s a brief overview of what we’ll cover:
These systems are designed to track the development of projects that take weeks, months or years to complete, providing managers and other team members a single access point for all the relevant information. The best software on the market will include (but is not limited to):
The primary goal is to increase company efficiency by making the entire project cycle visible to all team members. Team members are each given a unique login, allowing them to customize their view, report progress and monitor the progress of others.
Most employees find themselves to be more efficient in this environment; it allows people to identify problems before/as they arise, and it eliminates any question as to the current status of any outstanding tasks. It also provides a single access point for all company-related information, eliminating lost communication or documents.
Project status view in Workfront
Industries that commonly use project management and task tracking software include construction, large-scale manufacturing (e.g., aerospace), software, high tech, marketing, research and consulting/professional services. Help desk, quality control and customer relationship management are additional uses for certain types of project manager software.
|Project planning and task management||Most systems allow the user to define the scope of the project, establish deadlines and create, track and close essential tasks and deliverables. More complex systems include stronger planning software capabilities, described below.|
|Multi-user interface||Since the purpose is to allow multiple users to monitor their own and others’ progress, a system will have logins for each user with personalized functionality, different types of permission settings and ways to share and track relevant information between individuals.|
|Scheduling||Most systems include basic calendar functionality to allow users to schedule their projects out. More advanced industry-specific solutions build on this, providing specialized intelligent support based on the known phases associated with a typical project.|
|Document management||Another capability common to almost all solutions, this feature allows users to store documents in a central location, share them with the relevant parties, track changes and manage different versions of the documents.|
|Budgeting, time and expense tracking||For many companies, particularly those tracking large one-off projects (e.g., construction, large manufacturing or professional services), each project must be individually budgeted, with time and/or expenses tracked.These companies will likely require a solution that incorporates such functionality. Doing so allows bids, budgets, expenses and revenue to be directly connected to the projects they're associated with.|
|Billing and invoicing||The next level up from Budgeting and Expense Tracking, many products on the market also include full accounting functionality, allowing users the simplicity of using a single system for all functions related to the management and accounting of the project.|
|Resource allocation||Resource allocation allows managers to account for and assign all resources a project will require. Resources can include both inventory and personnel.|
|Risk management||Some of the more robust solutions provide the capability of identifying potential risks associated with projects or activities and raising flags to alert the relevant team members.|
|Customer management||For companies that consider each sale a task to be established, tracked and closed, customer management can be a valuable addition to the standard capabilities.This moves into the realm of CRM software, in which leads can be tracked and connected to product deliverables. This capability can help track and improve sales cycles.|
Individuals. Since project management for an individual tends to be a far simpler endeavor, there are a number of low-cost solutions that provide very basic scheduling, task management and file-sharing capabilities.
Small businesses. Companies with more than a couple of employees will want a system that allows for collaboration, but usually don’t want the added expense of advanced budgeting, invoicing, resource allocation or other intelligent features.
Development-oriented companies. This includes any business for which a single project, once complete, results in multiple sales (e.g., software) as distinct from single-project-single-sale businesses (e.g., construction). These companies will want very strong collaborative capabilities—including very robust document sharing, version control and bug reports—possibly with resource allocation as well. These companies typically will not want invoicing, customer management or other advanced features.
Large/specialty buyers. Construction is the best example of an industry that uses highly specialized project management systems, incorporating budgeting, inventory management and many other features to manage the life cycle of an entire project, from lead generation all the way through to final payment. Similar needs extend to other industries (e.g., custom IT solutions and large scale manufacturing), each of which will have highly specialized solutions specific to that industry.
Cloud-based solutions. With the growth of the Internet, more and more Web-based software companies are cropping up offering low-cost solutions based entirely in the cloud. These typically offer subscription-based pricing, rather than forcing companies to purchase, install and maintain their own solutions. This makes it available to businesses that otherwise might not have afforded it, including to self-employed individuals who need something more powerful than the basic tools they started with. For a more in-depth review of cloud-based systems, review our buyer's guide for online project management software.
Mobile applications. Many project managers need access to their software in the field as well as the office. As a result, many companies have developed mobile apps to accommodate this growing trend. Make sure to take your mobile needs and the availability of a mobile app into consideration when evaluating different systems.
For information on products particularly suited to Mac devices, check out our Mac project management software guide.
CA Technologies acquires Rally Software. In July 2015, CA Technologies completed its acquisition of Rally Software Development Corp., a leader in the field of Agile development software and services. The purchase signifies a strategic move by CA to advance its place in the Agile development sphere and application economy. The Rally platform will now be called CA Agile Central.
Atlassian splits JIRA into three. In October 2015, Atlassian announced a split of their flagship project-tracking system, JIRA, into three standalone products: JIRA Software, now a tool designed solely for software development; JIRA Core, a task-and-process management solution for business teams; and JIRA Service Desk, an issue and bug tracking system for IT help and service desks.
Basecamp launches Basecamp 3. In November 2015, Basecamp released the latest version of their communication/collaboration platform, Basecamp 3. Changes include unlimited projects, a new pricing structure (think internal teams and client-facing teams) and a vast array of new features. Existing Basecamp customers are not required to upgrade to the new version, but a $150 credit is available should they chose to do so.
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