Note: This is part three of a three part series. You can view parts one and two here:
This report is the third in a three-part series, and examines some of the best project management (PM) tools managers can use to maintain project schedules and timelines.
In a recently published Software Advice e-book on PM software tools for project risk management, we surveyed project and team leads. We discovered that just 18 percent of respondents successfully complete projects by the original deadline:
- 53% of respondents report that 1 to 10% of their projects are unsuccessful at meeting deadlines
- 16% say that 11 to 20 percent of projects suffer from schedule overruns
- 10% say that between 21 and 50% of their projects run past the scheduled due date
Frequency With Which Projects Run Past Deadline
Schedule mismanagement is often a direct cause of budget overruns. Sticking to a schedule is key—not just for invoicing at the final project closeout, but also for closing out important milestones along the way (which can often be invoiced as they are completed, if the project was set up under such terms).
In addition to missed invoice opportunities, when time is logged after a due date has passed, it decreases profit margins. Projects are launched with a projected return on investment (ROI), but if additional hours are required to finish the job, the added labor cost is subtracted from the ROI. This, in turn, can have a domino effect, interfering with other projects the team members working on the overdue project are scheduled for.
Therefore, it becomes critical that managers know how to effectively plan and maintain project schedules. They must also communicate accurate project status updates to clients and stakeholders, while catching any potential issues early enough to institute corrective action. Some valuable strategies for doing so include:
⇒ Managing scope, outlining the project’s critical path and breaking down the work to be done through subtasks, dependencies and milestones;
⇒ Allocating resources appropriately (for example, high-tiered personnel with advanced skill sets will cost more, but often take less time to complete tasks); and
⇒ Tracking task completion and monitoring progress made on deliverables through dashboards and status reports.
We’ve put together a list of PM tools with schedule management capabilities that can assist managers with these strategies. These systems are, according to survey data and actual user reviews submitted to SoftwareAdvice.com, some of the most popular and highest rated (see full methodology below).
Note that the functionality discussed is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather, serves to emphasize several common software capabilities that can be beneficial for managers when setting and maintaining a project’s timeline and milestones.
Clarizen’s Schedule Management Capabilities
Project planning: Automate project planning using pre-built or customizable templates, and create project roadmaps with set due dates, milestones and deliverables. Additionally, managers can use planning functionality to map out tasks and interdependencies.
Calendaring and resource management: Assign personnel with the right skills and schedules to current and future projects. Managers can also view all projects and tasks assigned to team members, and make changes as needed. Automatic notifications then alert team members of any new changes or assignments.
Task and time tracking: Clarizen acts as a centralized workspace for project teams, letting managers assign tasks and delegate ownership of project phases. Using the “roadmap view,” managers can assess project status and ensure teams are on track to meet milestones and deadlines. Team members also get a list of actionable items each day that managers can track progress on.
Dashboards and reporting: Clarizen dashboards and status reports provide managers with a bird’s-eye view of impending milestones, deadlines and progress on deliverables. Managers can track projected versus actual time to complete certain tasks and phases, and can add or reassign personnel as needed to stay on track to meet due dates.
Asana’s Schedule Management Capabilities
Project planning: With Asana, teams can centralize communication and collaboration. Users create projects, share them with team members and assign tasks and due dates, then keep all project communication and updates within that space. Team members are automatically updated of any changes to project milestones or due dates.
Calendaring and resource management: Users can view team members’ calendars, tasks and priorities, which helps both managers and team members alike when adding people to projects, assigning work and setting deadlines.
Task and time tracking: The Asana inbox acts as users’ update center, showing all task- and project-related activity, such as new assignments and impending due dates. Users are updated when tasks are completed, deadlines are changed and comments or attachments are added.
Dashboards and reporting: Users can view project summaries for projects they create, are a member of or follow. This helps team members keep track of project changes and updates and stay on schedule to meet deadlines.
The best strategy for keeping your projects on track to meet timelines and due dates is by:
- Maintaining the agreed-upon scope
- Scheduling team members by the appropriate skill set and/or time constraints
- Keeping tasks and project phases up-to-date by setting and managing milestones
- Maintaining open channels of communication with clients and stakeholders about project status
PM software can help managers plan for and maintain project calendars and schedules. In just a few minutes, our Software Advisors can help you fine-tune your search and provide you with a list of the best PM tools to assist with schedule management.
To collect the data used for the chart “Frequency With Which Projects Run Past Deadline,” we conducted an 18-question survey, which ran over several days, and collected 114 responses from current PM software users. We screened our sample to include only project managers, engineers and team leads within the business services and information technology, construction/engineering and manufacturing industries within the United States (based on our previous BuyerView data, these industries most frequently use PM software). Software Advice performed and funded this research independently.
To arrive at the information used for product comparisons, we looked at survey data collected from real software users to learn which systems they’re using (we screened our sample to include actual users of PM software). We then looked to the number of reviews left by users of these products on Software Advice’s website, choosing only those with a high number of reviews (20 or more reviews and four or more stars). The software capabilities discussed in these feature highlights may not be available with every product package and/or pricing tier.
Results are representative of our survey sample, not necessarily the population as a whole. Sources attributed and products referenced in this article may or may not represent client vendors of Software Advice, but vendor status is never used as a basis for selection. Expert commentary solely represents the views of the individual. Chart values are rounded to the nearest whole number.
If you have comments or would like to obtain access to any of the charts above, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.