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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 about BigTime

4.6 (636 reviews)

53 recommendations

monday.com

monday.com is an award-winning work and project management platform that helps teams of all sizes plan, prioritize, manage, and execute their work more effectively. The platform offers solutions for a wide range of use-cases such...Read more about monday.com

4.6 (4663 reviews)

47 recommendations

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 about Smartsheet

4.5 (3227 reviews)

41 recommendations

Adobe Workfront

Adobe Workfront is a collaborative work management solution that addresses the challenges of disconnected teams, siloed tools, and the relentless pace of enterprise work. Workfront includes capabilities to capture and plan, assign...Read more about Adobe Workfront

4.4 (1429 reviews)

30 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 about Wrike

4.3 (2629 reviews)

24 recommendations

Ravetree

Ravetree is a cloud-based project management solution with integrated resource planning, customer relationship management and time and expense tracking capabilities. The solution helps users manage project workflows, task assignme...Read more about Ravetree

4.4 (22 reviews)

20 recommendations

Workzone

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 rep...Read more about Workzone

No reviews yet

14 recommendations

Project Insight

Project Insight (PI) is award-winning work & project management software that helps companies manage and visualize projects, allocate personnel, streamline accounting, and track what work is being done throughout their entire orga...Read more about Project Insight

4.4 (61 reviews)

11 recommendations

WorkOtter

WorkOtter is a SaaS project, resource, and portfolio management solution built for teams of 50-200 who demand a simple, sensible, and supportable PPM alternative. Touting over 50 gorgeous, configurable, and full animated dashboard...Read more about WorkOtter

4.9 (204 reviews)

7 recommendations

Kantata

The Kantata Professional Services Cloud is purpose-built to help organizations with 50 to 5000+ employees unify resource management, project management, financial management, business intelligence and team collaboration all in one...Read more about Kantata

4.2 (613 reviews)

3 recommendations

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 about Visual Planning

4.7 (39 reviews)

3 recommendations

Scoro

Scoro is a comprehensive work management software specifically designed to cater to the unique needs of service businesses that have grown weary of dealing with disjointed systems, unpredictable workloads, and shrinking profit ma...Read more about Scoro

4.6 (236 reviews)

1 recommendations

Proggio

Proggio is a project and portfolio management solution for professionals. -No more confusing waterfall charts that scroll endlessly down a page. Instead, understand the full scope of your elaborate portfolio in just one quick sn...Read more about Proggio

4.6 (43 reviews)

1 recommendations

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 about Trello

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 project r...Read more about Jira

Asana

Asana is a comprehensive project management tool that offers a range of technical features to streamline workflows and enhance collaboration within teams. With its user-friendly interface and robust capabilities, Asana provides or...Read more about Asana

Evernote Teams

Evernote is a web-based project management tool that offers project collaboration, scheduling and task management functionalities within a suite. This solution is designed to cater to businesses of all sizes. Evernote allows ...Read more about Evernote Teams

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 about ClickUp

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 about Confluence

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 about Notion

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

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.