Project Management Software Buyer Report

By: on February 25, 2019

Missed deadlines, exceeded budgets and poor team collaboration plague small to midsize businesses (SMBs) that often lack project management tools. This leads to over-allocating work to specific team members and weak project visibility, issues that project management (PM) tools can solve.

The advisor team at Software Advice speaks with thousands of businesses looking to invest in PM software each year. We’ve analyzed a randomized sample of 385 of these conversations from the past year to identify buyers’ needs, market trends and the top requested features.

This buyer report is intended to help you understand the buyer landscape and how you can improve your business operations with a new project management software tool.

Key Findings

  1. The need for collaboration throughout the life of a project is the top request from PM software buyers.
  2. Scheduling came in as a very near second for top requested feature, showing the need for better resource management and time tracking.
  3. Support for an agile project management methodology was not a feature requested often.
  4. Collaboration is the core need from most of the specific requirements desired, from resource management, time tracking and document management—the need for the team to have visibility into the project is key.

Growing Pains and Missed Deadlines Are Driving PM Adoption

Buyers are looking for project management software that bridges process gaps, improves communication and makes better use of limited resources.

what project management buyers are saying

Project Collaboration Is a Key Requested Functionality

Gartner reports project and portfolio management software for the North American market expanded by 15.7 percent in 2017. The market grew to $2.5 billion in total revenue during 2017.

Gartner also states that “project-centric organizations of all sizes are embracing improved collaboration” in order to drive profitability (full report available to Gartner clients). This trend is clearly going strong as collaboration is the top-requested feature in this report, too.

When a collaborative team culture is supported by the right tool and effective scheduling, the team’s productivity increases. Clients using today’s top PM tools state that their teams have increased delivery speed by as much as five times over.

The ability for team members to tag each other in comments and notifications of changes are a key feature to look for. Also make sure that collaboration features are available to all stakeholders involved in the project, from the core team to marketing, accounting and executives.

Scheduling and tracking the amount of time each task takes are also top requests among buyers. Knowing this information can inform future projects and help create a realistic timeline based on how long it took to complete similar tasks in previous projects. It can also help set each team member up for success by assigning a healthy workload.

 Key Consideration:  Some companies use another system for time tracking, such as the payroll or HR system. If this is the case for your business, consider if you need to integrate the PM tool and the payroll tool, rather than having employees entering time in multiple systems.

Buyers are Looking for Cloud-Based Subscription Tools

project management buyer budgets

The majority of the SMBs in our sample were looking for a cloud-based solution with a monthly subscription model charged per user. Even some of buyers included in the 55 percent who responded “not specified” are looking for this type of purchasing model.

 Key Consideration:  While the cost of a new PM tool is typically a significant consideration, be open to evaluating different pricing models. It’s possible that a cloud-based subscription will cost less than an on-premise solution which requires you to keep the software functional and updated.

Also estimate the number of users and their usage needs in order to know whether a licensing per user or a charge per usage model is best for your needs.

Executives and Project Managers Are Most Likely to be Looking for a PM Tool

pm buyers by job title

The majority of people performing the research for a PM tool were executives and the project managers themselves. As the individuals most expected to deliver the desired business value, they’re highly accountable for the success of projects. Executives are also responsible for the financial burden of budget overruns.

While others in the business may do research on PM software, their authority to make the final decision is often limited; therefore we typically see executives as the top buyer.

Buyer Market Demographics by Industry

project management buyer segments

Interest in purchasing project management software is rather evenly spread across myriad business segments. Segments not included in chart represented less than 1 percent of the sample.

Report Methodology

Our advisor team speaks with thousands of buyers who contact Software Advice. For this report, we analyzed a randomly selected 385 phone interactions with small to midsize businesses between January 2018 and December 2018.

These findings exclusively represent those buyers who contacted Software Advice for guidance on project management software selection, and may not be indicative of the market as a whole. Chart values are rounded down to the nearest whole number.

Now you know the buyer landscape for project management tools. But what about the actual software out there? Check out reviews straight from other SMB leaders here.

Have a question about this report? Email me at

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