Finding software can be overwhelming. We've helped project teams choose the right planning software so they can roadmap projects and set baselines for scope, budget, and timeline.

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BigTime

BigTime is an online time and billing solution designed to serve professional service firms like accounting, engineering, government contracting, legal and IT services. The integrated solution offers features like time and expense... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 36 recommendations

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Easy Projects

Easy Projects is a cloud-based project management platform suitable for midsize organizations and enterprises. Easy Projects provides every contributing team member, project manager, executive, stakeholder or customer with ac... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 22 recommendations

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Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a work execution platform and collaboration tool with a familiar spreadsheet-like interface that helps teams plan, track, and manage projects in real-time. Smartsheet features include a range of project management to... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

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Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ that is suitable for both large enterprises and SMBs. It supports remote work for various teams. This solution comes with Gantt charts, calendars, workload view f... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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monday.com

monday.com, an award-winning collaboration and project management platform, helps teams plan together efficiently and execute complex projects to deliver results on time. monday.com team management and task management tool allows ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 6 recommendations

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Mavenlink

Mavenlink offers services and solutions for project management, resource planning, collaboration, and project accounting. Mavenlink combines the robust functionality of a Professional Services Automation solution with intuitive us... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Unanet A/E

Unanet’s ERP solutions are purpose-built from the ground up for Government Contractors, A/E, and Professional Services organizations. 3,100+ organizations utilize the power of the Unanet software to gain insights, make more strate... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Forecast

Forecast is a full suite solution that helps professional services organizations finetune operations and finances with the help of intelligent project automation. With a focus on increasing predictability and making projects profi... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Visual Planning

Visual Planning is a hybrid resource management and scheduling platform that helps businesses to manage their assets and day-to-day operations. The solution can be deployed on-premise or hosted in the cloud. Visual Planning o... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Trello

Trello is a visual collaboration tool for planning tasks and projects. While commonly used by agile software development teams, the solution is also used in other departments such as marketing, sales, support and HR. The web-based... Read more

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Jira

Jira Software is a business process management tool used by agile teams to plan, track and release software. Jira Software supports Scrum, Kanban, a hybrid model or another unique workflow. Jira enables users to create projec... Read more

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Asana

Asana is a cloud-based project and task management solution that enables teams to collaborate, communicate, and manage several tasks and projects. It can help teams meet project deadlines while tracking the completion of all tasks... Read more

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ClickUp

ClickUp is a cloud-based collaboration and project management tool suitable for businesses of all sizes and industries. Features include communication and collaboration tools, task assignments and statuses, alerts and a task toolb... Read more

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Confluence

Confluence is a project management solution that enables organizations to create, collaborate, organize and review project documents. The system offers both cloud-based and on-premise deployment. Confluence’s editor feature a... Read more

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Float

Float is a collaborative resource management software for real-time project planning and task scheduling. Features include an intuitive interface, drag-and-drop features, keyboard shortcuts, reports, and analytics, and editing too... Read more

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Samepage

Samepage is a cloud-based collaboration software solution that helps teams eliminate project bottlenecks and communicate seamlessly with team members. Samepage provides a suite of project management tools, communication featu... Read more

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ProjectManager.com

Projectmanager.com is a project management software solution that offers applications including budgeting, time tracking, task management, document management and reporting. Projectmanager.com also offers Gantt chart function... Read more

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Miro

Miro is a cloud-based collaboration tool for small to midsize businesses. The solution features a digital whiteboard that can be used for research, ideation, building customer journeys and user story maps, wireframing and a range ... Read more

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Resource Guru

Resource Guru is a cloud-based resource scheduling application that is suitable for organizations of all sizes. This application enables booking and rescheduling through the calendar feature and a drag-and-drop scheduling tool. Th... Read more

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Notion

Notion is a digital workspace that lets small to large businesses streamline and manage notes, tasks, projects, records, calendar and more. Key features include portfolio tracker, designer templates, database management, documenta... Read more

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Buyers guide

Whether or not a project is successful largely depends on how well the project is planned. In fact, in a recent analysis of project management (PM) software buyers who contacted Software Advice in the past year, 66% requested systems with project scheduling and resource management capabilities.*

We've created this guide to help buyers better understand project planning solutions and how they factor into the larger PM software market.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is project planning software?

Project planning software is a specialized tool that helps project managers and stakeholders map out and visualize a project plan, helping to optimize resource allocation across a complex project and/or multiple projects. The project planning management tool helps plan the sequence of activities and tasks required to complete a project and identify the best project team based on availability and skills set.

This high-level "roadmapping" process helps managers:

  • Identify key resources
  • Pinpoint project tasks’ dependencies and constraints
  • Determine essential project milestones
  • Set baselines for the project’s scope, budget, and timeline (the three benchmarks used to determine project success)

Businesses can purchase stand-alone project planning/project scheduling software or invest in an integrated PM suite. A comprehensive project management software solution typically contains project planning capabilities in addition to other core PM functionality, such as:

Among the best project planning tools are Gantt charts, which are used to visualize a project's schedule and determine the critical path. These digital charts are vastly less labor-intensive to update than Gantt charts created using manual methods.

Now let's get into more detail on planning tool features.

Common features of project planning software

The following are some common capabilities of project planning tools:

Gantt charts Used to determine the critical path of tasks, identify task dependencies, and potential risk areas. They can also help track performance and progress on tasks once projects are underway. Represented as cascading bar charts across a timeline or calendar (see screenshot below table for an example).
Resource scheduling Provides project managers increased visibility into team availability and skill set. Managers can schedule resources to tasks and projects or create a “placeholder resource” for roles they know they’ll need but haven’t been able to schedule yet.
Project timeline planning Visualize the full project timeline based on task durations and dependencies.  Project managers can create a project schedule, manage employee scheduling, and track project status (see screenshot below table for an example).
Risk identification Allows project managers to track and manage potential risk areas, such as dependent tasks (e.g., if task B can only start once task A is complete, these tasks would be flagged).
Automatic alerts Provides PMs and their team the ability to schedule in-app or email alerts. These can be used to notify the team about upcoming task due dates or to alert an employee assigned to a dependent task that the preceding work item is nearing completion.
Collaboration tools Helps facilitate team collaboration among users via in-app comments, in-task chat streams, or discussion forums. For example, users can comment and add status updates directly to tasks or flagged risk items or loop in a team member on a question posted to a project discussion board (see screenshot below table for an example).
Zoho Projects software Gantt chart
Gantt chart in Zoho Projects (Source)
Project time planning in Microsoft Project
Project timeline planning in Microsoft Project (Source)
Basecamp project team collaboration
Project collaboration in Basecamp (Source)

Benefits of project planning software

There are many benefits of using project planning software as opposed to manual methods. These benefits include:

  • Increased visibility: View, track, and manage individual and team workloads, their skill sets, and current and future availability. This benefit is best realized when using a comprehensive PM suite with both project planning and resource management capabilities.
  • Improved communication and collaboration: Project planning tools act as a shared hub where managers, team members, and stakeholders can store all project-related communication. This provides a permanent record for important decisions and project changes.
  • Early risk detection: Using visual planning tools, such as Gantt charts and timelines, project managers and stakeholders can plan risk management strategies ahead of time and mitigate any potential obstacles.
  • Maintain historical archives: The information in project plans and status reports can influence future business decisions. Managers and stakeholders using planning software can look back on previous projects to see why decisions were made and to compare timeline and budgetary measures.

*Analysis was performed on software buyer calls asking about project management software from March 10, 2020 through March 9, 2021.

Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.