FrontRunners quadrants highlight the top software products for North American small businesses. All products in the quadrant are top performers. Small businesses can use FrontRunners to make more informed decisions about what software is right for them.
To create this quadrant, we evaluated over 415 Project Management products. Those with the top scores for their capability and value made the quadrant.
Scores are based largely on reviews from real software users, along with other product performance details (e.g., what features they offer, how many customers they have).
Every product in this quadrant offers a balance of capability (how much the products can do) and value (whether they’re worth their price/cost) that makes them stand out in the race for small business software success.
FrontRunners has four sub-quadrants:
Depending on the specific needs of a software buyer, a product in any of these sub-quadrants could be a good fit.
Why? To even be considered for this FrontRunners, a product had to meet a minimum user rating score of 4.0 for capability and 4.0 for value. This means that all products that qualify as FrontRunners are top-performing products in their market. They appear in the quadrant in relation to how their peers performed.
For some buyers, a specific FrontRunners sub-quadrant might be best. For example, products in the Pacesetters and Leaders sub-quadrants may offer more functionality than products in the Contenders or Masters quadrants.
This means that, while all of the products on the quadrant meet our minimum market criteria (in this case, task management, collaboration and project planning/scheduling, as well as at least one of the following: reporting/project tracking, time tracking or file sharing/document management), products in the Pacesetters and Leaders sub-quadrants may offer additional functionality, such as resource management, portfolio management and budgeting, and thus may be a better fit for larger organizations with more complex needs.
Conversely, products in the Contenders and Masters sub-quadrants focus more exclusively on the core Project Management functionality.
You can download the full FrontRunners for Project Management report here. It contains individual scorecards for each product on the Frontrunners quadrant.
You can find the full FrontRunners methodology here, but the gist is that products are scored in two areas, Capability and Value.
To be considered at all, products must have at least 20 reviews and meet minimum user rating scores. They also have to offer a core set of functionality—for example, task management, collaboration and project planning/scheduling, as well as at least one of the following: reporting/project tracking, time tracking or file sharing/document management.
From there, user reviews and other product performance details, such as the product's customer base and the features it offers, dictate the Capability and Value scores. Capability is plotted on the x-axis, and Value is plotted on the y-axis.
For more information about FrontRunners, check out the following:
Have questions about how to choose the right product for you? You’re in luck! Every day, our team of advisors provides (free) customized shortlists of products to hundreds of small businesses.
Check out the FrontRunners External Usage Guidelines when referencing FrontRunners content. Except in digital media with character limitations, the following disclaimer MUST appear with any/all FrontRunners reference(s) and graphic use:
FrontRunners scores and graphics are derived from individual end-user reviews based on their own experiences, vendor-supplied information and publicly available product information; they do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.
Providers listed as Runners Up were considered for inclusion in the quadrant, but were ultimately not included for one or more reasons: they did not have enough reviews; they did not meet the reviews score minimum; they did not meet the ultimate Value and Capability minimum scores; or they did not meet our functionality requirements for the market.
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 programs all the way to highly complex products that allow the user to manage every aspect of the venture from lead generation all the way to final payment.
In order to help you navigate this complex market, we wrote this buyer’s guide in order 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:
These systems are designed to track the development of projects that take weeks, months or years to complete, providing managers and other team members a single access point for all the relevant information. 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 and monitor the progress of others.
Most employees find themselves to be more efficient in this environment; it allows people to identify problems before/as they arise, and it eliminates any question as to the current status of any outstanding tasks. It also provides a single access point for all company-related information, eliminating lost communication or documents.
Project status view in Workfront
Industries that commonly use project management and task tracking software include construction, large-scale manufacturing (e.g., aerospace), software, high tech, marketing, research and consulting/professional services. Help desk, quality control and customer relationship management are additional uses for certain types of project manager software.
|Project planning and task management||Most systems allow the user to define the scope of the project, establish deadlines and create, track and close essential tasks and deliverables. More complex systems include stronger planning software capabilities, described below.|
|Multi-user interface||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.|
|Scheduling||Most 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.|
|Document management||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, time and expense 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.|
|Resource allocation||Resource allocation allows managers to account for and assign all resources a project will require. Resources can include both inventory and personnel.|
|Risk management||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.|
|Customer management||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.|
|Product management||Suited for companies looking to track the entire life cycle (growth, maturity and decline) of products including the planning, production, marketing and management.|
Individuals. Since project management for an individual tends to be a far simpler endeavor, there are a number of low-cost solutions that provide very basic scheduling, task management and file-sharing capabilities.
Small businesses. Companies with more than a couple of employees will want a system that allows for collaboration, but usually don’t want the added expense of advanced budgeting, invoicing, resource allocation or other intelligent 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.
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. 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.
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 it’s 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.
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