Comparing the Top PM FrontRunners Products for IT Professionals

By: on October 25, 2016

Information technology (IT) professionals account for roughly one-fifth of all the project management (PM) software buyers who contact Software Advice each year. This makes IT services and related software and technology fields our largest buyer segment within the project management market.

Our research indicates that IT buyers have more advanced PM needs than the market as a whole, often requiring portfolio-level resource management and reporting in addition to more common task and time management functionality.

Keeping these specific needs in mind, we’re taking a closer look at the top five products recently featured in the beta release of our PM FrontRunners quadrant:

In this article, we’ll discuss each of these products’ placement on the quadrant (including their specific capability and value scores) and offer insight into how each platform stacks up for IT buyers, in particular.

Must-Have IT PM Capabilities

Using Software Advice data from leads, we recently identified the must-have PM features IT buyers are looking for in new solutions:

Must-Have PM Software Features for IT Buyers

We also found that 21 percent of IT professionals are looking for advanced project portfolio management (PPM) capabilities. PPM provides managers and stakeholders greater oversight and helps them manage planning and tracking for multiple concurrent projects across their organization.

This percentage leads us to believe that IT professionals are looking to achieve both project specific and portfolio-level governance with a solution that offers these must-have features.

As such, we’ll be focusing on this functionality as we compare the top five products from our PM FrontRunners beta.

FrontRunners for Project Management, September 2016
 
 
Source: Software Advice FrontRunners for Project Management,
September 2016 beta release
 

The Software Advice FrontRunners quadrant, powered by Gartner Methodology, evaluates a market’s leading solutions to assess which products offer the best capability and value for small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

  • The capability score is derived from user ratings on product capabilities, an analysis of the product’s breadth of functionality and an assessment of business confidence.
  • The value score is determined by user ratings on product business value and an analysis of product adoption.

The user ratings used to score the products pull from reviews posted on each of Gartner’s Digital Market properties: SoftwareAdvice.com, Capterra.com and GetApp.com. For more information on FrontRunner methodology, please visit our FrontRunners page.

Clarizen

Clarizen is a Leader in our Q3 2016 FrontRunners. It has the highest collective score of 8.45, with a capability score of 4.13 and a value score of 4.32.

It is probably the most comprehensive out of these top five products, meaning that it has a broad range of functionality that can support various types of businesses and PM processes.

IT professionals can modify the platform to align with IT-specific workflows using both free and paid applications in Clarizen’s app marketplace. Additionally, Clarizen is sold in two editions, as well as various license types, meaning teams can configure the solution to exact user needs.

However, Clarizen is geared more toward growing SMBs and enterprises, which might put it at the higher end of a small business’s budget.

Here’s what reviewers on Software Advice have to say:

Do you use Clarizen? Write a review here.

IT Operations dashboard in Clarizen
 

Must-Have IT Features in Clarizen

Task management Monitor the status of tasks, project schedules and due dates, then assign or reassign as needed. Includes support for IT-specific task management, such as help desk tickets, change requests and bug/issue tracking.
Time tracking Track time for individual tasks or projects. The corresponding billing rates for resource level, task or project will auto-populate for those hours on the timesheet.
Resource management Assign staff to projects based on skill set and availability, then track user workloads and bandwidth for additional work items.

The integrated resource capacity planning application allows managers to balance resource capacity with project demand. This allows them to more accurately forecast timelines for pending project initiatives and increases governance over the entire portfolio.
Reporting and analytics Dashboards and reports are highly configurable and offer insight into various business operations and trends. IT-specific report options include project- and portfolio-level issue tracking, resource planning and change requests.

Reports can be shared with both internal and external stakeholders, which is key for IT teams who work in sprints and need feedback from clients/customers after each iteration.

Targetprocess

Another Leader in our PM FrontRunners quadrant, Targetprocess has an overall score of 8.33, with a capability score of 4.01 and a value score of 4.32.

Whereas Clarizen has a broad range of functionality that can support IT professionals, Targetprocess is a visual PM solution designed specifically for IT teams. It supports both kanban and scrum workflows, as well as custom workflow processes.

As such, IT buyers may find an easier user adoption and implementation process with Targetprocess, since it will require fewer configurations and modifications to match their existing IT workflows.

At the time this report was written, Targetprocess has not yet been reviewed on SoftwareAdvice.com. Here’s what reviewers on Capterra have to say:

Do you use Targetprocess? Write a review here.

Portfolio overview dashboard in Targetprocess
 

Must-Have IT Features in Targetprocess

Task management Teams organize tasks on boards, but also have the option of viewing tasks in list or timeline views. The information on each task card can be customized according to the needs of the team, but likely includes a label, e.g., “task” or “bug,” story points (for scrum teams), owner and due date.
Time tracking Once turned on from the project process settings page, users can report time spent and remaining for user stories, tasks, bugs, test plan runs and requests. Managers can run a weekly time sheet that shows time logged per user.
Resource management

“People allocations management” allows managers to assign staff to projects based on skill set and availability. This feature also has a resource capacity planning element, in that managers can specify what people/job roles are needed for a project, what percent of their total working hours they can be available and the date range for the project. This helps managers more accurately road map future project initiatives.

Managers can also set work-in-progress (WIP) limits on boards to ensure teams work at their ideal capacity and are not overextending themselves.
Reporting and analytics Targetprocess has several agile report and dashboard options including cumulative flow diagrams for kanban teams and burndown charts for scrum teams.

Users can share boards and reports with both internal and external users and have the option of sharing data in a “view only” mode.

Wrike

Wrike is also a Leader among this year’s FrontRunners. Wrike has an overall score of 8.32, with a capability score of 4.10 and a value score of 4.23.

Wrike is available in several editions with capabilities increasing as packages scale. However, to get all the must-have IT features, teams would need to purchase the business or enterprise versions, which, because of block-user pricing, can get expensive for small businesses (see reviews below).

Wrike has been reviewed 125 times on Software Advice at the time of this report, making it the most-reviewed PM product on the site. Here’s what a couple of these reviewers have to say:

Do you use Wrike? Write a review here.

Custom workflow dashboard in Wrike
 

Must-Have IT Features in Wrike

Task management Includes both task and subtask management wherein users can break large milestones into small, actionable items. Includes Gantt charts for project planning and tracking.
Time tracking Business and enterprise plan users can track the time spent on specific tasks with the automatic time tracker or manually add a time log entry.
Resource management Assign tasks to users, view project schedules and critical path with Gantt charts and resolve or reassign users to resolve scheduling conflicts.
Reporting and analytics Business and enterprise plan users can create custom reports using the “report builder,” which includes options for report type (projects or tasks), source data, filters and layout.

Managers can share report data with external users and collaborators by taking “report snapshots,” which essentially makes them a static, view-only readout.

QuickBase

QuickBase is a Master in our PM FrontRunners quadrant. It has a collective score of 8.21, with a capability score of 3.74 and a value score of 4.47.

QuickBase is unique in that teams configure the solution using pre-built business applications to better align the solution with their workflows. The QuickBase app database has over 800 applications that users can choose from, with over 75 designed to accommodate IT workflows.

IT professionals needing all the must-have PM features would likely purchase either QuickBase Premier, which includes up to 50 customizable apps, or QuickBase Platform, with up to 100.

Some of QuickBase’s featured IT management apps include a feature and bug tracker, which has four out of five stars and over 800 downloads, as well as an IT help desk app, which has four out of five stars and over 1,700 downloads.

Here’s what reviewers on Software Advice have to say:

Do you use QuickBase? Write a review here.

Report dashboard in QuickBase
 

Must-Have IT Features in QuickBase

Task management Using the help desk app, use “smart forms” to automate workflows and repetitive tasks. Create personalized dashboards or workspaces that show all active to-dos and due dates.

Highlight approaching deadlines and priority work items so users know what to work on next. They can also schedule notifications and reminders to alert users of impending due dates or changes to task or project status.
Time tracking Several time tracking business apps are available that allow users to track time logged for tasks and projects.
Resource management Several resource management business apps are available that offer managers greater oversight into staff workloads and current and future availability.
Reporting and analytics Create personalized dashboards and reports for both internal and external stakeholders. Visualize project data and performance through summary reports, timelines and charts.

Trello

Trello is also a Master in this year’s PM FrontRunners. Trello’s overall score is 8.17, with a capability score of 3.66 and a value score of 4.51.

Trello’s value rating is the highest out of these top five, meaning users give it high marks for how valuable it is compared to the price. This makes sense, as Trello’s basic edition is free. It includes unlimited boards and users, with one “power-up,” i.e., integration, per board.

However, IT professionals would likely need to purchase Trello Business Class or Enterprise for more advanced features, such as larger file attachments, unlimited “power-ups” and priority support (guaranteed one-day response time).

Similar to Targetprocess, Trello is a visual project management tool that uses kanban-style boards to organize tasks and structure workflows. This method is useful for IT professionals, especially those in software and technology fields who deal with various development stages within the life cycle of a feature or issue, i.e., planning, development, testing etc.

Being able to organize and visualize each step within these stages helps streamline handing work off between teams and increases productivity, as each member can see where a task has been and where it is going next.

Here’s what reviewers on Software Advice have to say about the platform:

Do you use Trello? Write a review here.

Project planning board in Trello
 

Must-Have IT Features in Trello

Task management

Task cards include labels, due dates, owner, checklists etc., and users can upload attachments and add comments which are stored in the task history. Users can create task cards from email, by emailing the project-specific email address (attachments will be included).

Users can set up in-app or email notifications to alert them of being assigned a new task, impending deadlines, being looped into a task discussion and more.
Time tracking Time tracking is currently not available within Trello, but teams can use a third-party application, such as Hubstaff or Toggl.
Resource management Trello business or enterprise edition users can use the “collections” feature to group boards together by team or project. They can also use the “members” tab to view when users were last active, what boards they are a member of and what cards they are assigned to.
Reporting and analytics Business and enterprise class subscribers can export team boards as CSV files and can also share links to board and specific cards within Trello. Managers can also share boards with external stakeholders by adding them as an “observer,” which gives them view-only access to the board.

Next Steps

For more information about the solutions outlined in this article or to discuss other tools available for IT professionals, email me at eileen@softwareadvice.com. I’m available to answer any questions you might have and can get you set up for a demo or price quote if you’re ready to start comparing PM products.

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