Project management software is software designed to track the development of projects that take weeks, months or years to complete, providing project managers and other team members a single platform for real-time updates on the project's status.
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NetSuite OpenAir offers buyers a collection of applications designed to support every stage of the professional services delivery lifecycle. Offered as Software-as-a-Service, the platform includes applications to manage project...
Workzone is a project management solution that offers document management, project collaboration, customizable reporting, resource and task management and time tracking. The software is cloud-based and offers automated emailed ...
BQE Core is a cloud-based solution that offers integrated business accounting, project management, and business intelligence. It can support the operations of a variety of industries, including legal services, architecture firm...
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The intuitive software aggregates data from hig...
Using Clarizen’s leading collaborative work management solution for the enterprise, businesses can solve challenges far beyond traditional work, project or resource management. With Clarizen’s enterprise-grade solut...
Quick Base is the smoothest way to manage complex and strategic projects involving many stakeholders in different departments and roles. Quick Base is a cloud-based low-code application development platform that is highly custo...
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 expe...
FunctionFox is a cloud-based time tracking and project management application, offering timesheets and estimates, as well as scheduling, task assignment, and reporting.
FunctionFox’s capabilities are su...
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 r...
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 w...
Nrby is the smarter way for field teams to execute tasks and workflows from any location. Nrby is a collaboration platform with over 150+ communication workflows that drive operational efficiency with better task management and...
KeyedIn Projects is a cloud-based project management solution for enterprise-level companies offering a suite with features, such as program management, professional services automation and project portfolio management applicat...
Designed to eliminate rigid departmentalization and streamline strategic execution, MPOWR Envision helps organizations build an execution strategy using open communication and organizational alignment. As a cloud-based executio...
Sciforma is a cloud-based project and portfolio management solution for enterprises that allows to strategically track and analyze project data and make relevant decisions. It can be sold as a stand-alone portfolio management, ...
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...
Cora Systems provide enterprise project and portfolio management solutions to global organizations and government agencies, such as Honeywell, Elanco, PwC, City of London and the UK’s National Health Service. Their soluti...
Forecast helps midsized Agencies, Consultants, Software teams and Architects kick their spreadsheets to the curb and start delivering profitable projects every time.
The platform provides an intuitive interface to manag...
Workfront is the leader in enterprise work management. Workfront connects strategy to delivery, integrating people and data across the enterprise, and manages work from start to finish for the delivery of measurable outcomes, a...
inMotion ignite is a creative project management software built specifically for the needs of creative and marketing teams. Combining the most powerful elements of task and workflow management with the collaborative features of...
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Last Updated: January 13, 2021
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 task trackers all the way to highly complex project management tools that allow the user to manage every aspect of the project from business case all the way to final payment.
In order to help you navigate this complex market, we wrote this Buyers Guide 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:
Project management software is software designed to track the development of projects that take weeks, months or years to complete, providing project managers and other team members a single platform for real-time updates on the project's status. 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, track time, and monitor the progress of others.
Most project teams find themselves to be more efficient in an intuitive and user-friendly project management platform; it allows people to identify problems before or as they arise and view due dates, and it eliminates any question as to the current status of any outstanding tasks. It also provides team members with a collaboration tool to share task progress, set up Kanban boards, and manage to-do lists.
Project status view in Workfront
Industries that commonly use project management software and task management software include construction, large-scale manufacturing (e.g., aerospace), software development, high tech, marketing, research and consulting/professional services. Help desk, quality control and time tracking are additional uses for certain types of project management software.
A Comparison of Top Project Management Software
There are many popular project management software solutions on the market, and it can be hard to know what distinguishes one product from another and which is right for you. To help you better understand how the top project management systems stack up against one another, we created a series of side-by-side product comparison pages that break down the details of what each solution offers in terms of pricing, applications, ease of use, customer support and more:
Most systems allow the user to define the scope of the project, establish due dates and create, track and close essential tasks and deliverables. More complex project systems include stronger project planning capabilities and other described below.
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.
Most project management software 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. The number of project team members and complexity of resource management could determine which is the best project management software for your business.
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, expense and time 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.
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.
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.
Suited for companies looking to track the entire life cycle (growth, maturity and decline) of products including the planning, production, marketing and management. Support for agile projects with kanban boards and project team scrum scheduling is also common.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Individuals. Since project management for an individual tends to be a far simpler endeavor, there are a number of low-cost solutions that provide the basic project management tools, such as basic scheduling, task management, gantt charts and file-sharing capabilities.
Small businesses.Companies with more than a couple of employees will want a system that allows for team collaboration, but usually don’t want the added expense of advanced budgeting, invoicing, resource management or advanced portfolio management 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.
Market Trends to Understand
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 (aka, an on-premise solution). 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. Also, not all mobile apps will be compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
Recent Events You Should Know About
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 its 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.