This FrontRunners analysis is a data-driven assessment identifying products in the Project Management software market that offer the best capability and value for small businesses. For a given market, products are evaluated and given a score for the capability (x-axis) and value (y-axis) they bring to users. FrontRunners then plots the top 25-30 products in a quadrant format.
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.
All products that qualify as FrontRunners are top performing products in their market. The quadrant positions a product relative to its peers in the market. Each product falls within a designated quadrant based on their axis scores. Dependent on the specific needs of the software buyer, a product placed in any quadrant category could be a good fit. Each quadrant category has a distinct description for placement.
Upper Right = Leaders: Leaders are all-around strong products. They offer the highest value and capability in that market.
Upper Left = Masters: Masters may have fewer capabilities, but end users value those capabilities highly. Depending on the functionality needed, a product positioned in the Masters quadrant might be a better option to consider than products positioned in other quadrants.
Lower Right = Pacesetters: Pacesetters may offer a strong set of capabilities, but are not rated as high on value. For example, a Pacesetter might have a breadth of functionality at a higher price point.
Lower Left = Contenders: Contenders are strong-performing products that have not yet achieved the value and capability of the products in the other quadrants. For example, products in this quadrant may be more suited for companies that need more specialized functionality that comes at a price.
Download the full FrontRunners for Project Management report.
The FrontRunners methodology assesses and calculates a score for products on two primary dimensions: Capability on the x-axis and Value on the y-axis.
The Capability score is an overall weighted average of scores including:
The Value score is an overall weighted average of scores including:
Markets are defined by a core set of functionality, and products considered for, and included in, FrontRunners must offer that core set of functionality. Additional related functionality can contribute to the capability score for a product. To qualify for consideration in FrontRunners for 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 two 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 technology vendors. The user-generated product reviews data incorporated 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 submitted 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 technology 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.
See FrontRunners frequently asked questions (FAQ) for more information on the methodology.
Providers must abide by the FrontRunners External Usage Guidelines when referencing FrontRunners content. Except in digital media with character limitations, the following disclaimer MUST appear with any/all FrontRunners reference(s) and graphic use:
FrontRunners scores and graphics are derived from individual end-user reviews based on their own experiences, vendor-supplied information and publicly available product information; they do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.
Providers listed as Runners Up were eligible for inclusion in the FrontRunners quadrant, including having 10+ product reviews, but their value or capability axis score was not high enough for positioning on the FrontRunners quadrant.
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. Companies that manage concurrent, complex projects may want to explore project portfolio management (PPM) suites.
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.
PPM market estimated to reach nearly $5 billion by 2020. Research from MarketsandMarkets estimates that the project and portfolio management (PPM) market will reach $4.63 billion by 2020. Key areas of growth stem from the the rising bring your own device (BYOD) trend, an increasing demand for mobile and cloud technology and the rising complexities within projects that call for greater resource optimization.
Atlassian acquires Trello. In January 2017, Atlassian acquired Trello, a visual project management solution that uses a board or a card-wall to organize tasks. Atlassian offers similar visual management tools within its suite of JIRA products: JIRA Software, Core and Help Desk. However, while JIRA includes a comprehensive list of features and capabilities designed to serve an array of user needs, Trello rose in popularity due to it’s simplicity. It will be interesting to see how this acquisition impacts both products over time.
Microsoft releases visual PM tool: MS Planner. In June 2016, Microsoft officially launched Planner, a visual project management (PM) tool now part of the Office 365 suite. The work management solution is designed to allow teams to better organize tasks, track progress and collaborate on a shared board. Users organize tasks in columns or “buckets” based on status or who tasks are assigned to. Whereas MS Project is designed for advanced project and portfolio management needs, MS Planner will serve small teams who need a simple collaboration and task management tool.
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