Best Project Management Software
For all kinds of businesses and firms, the best project management software plays a key role in the development of a project and it’s punctual delivery to the clients. While a majority of the contemporaries uses best project management tools; GoodFirms researches and curates a list of top project management software platform available in the market. The automation of such a complex and crucial task helps to plan, organize, manage resources tools and generate resource estimates. With the help of project control software, one can monitor tasks and projects, manage customer relations, supervise inventory, build documentation or administrative work, resource allocations, and much more business operations for efficient and simpler conduction of the project.
Buyers' Guide to Project Management Software
Regardless of the business size and type, whether a start-up or a large enterprise, it has to positively manage many projects, tasks, operations, plans, and people. Some decades ago, project management was exemplified by three things, a pen, paper, and a strategy. After that, email and spreadsheets were used for project & task management.
However, technology evolves with time, and so do the customers' expectations and competition. Gone are the days of managing projects using spreadsheets and whiteboards. Businesses are now looking forward to providing excellent customer experience and stay ahead of the competition, and so are adapting the best project management tool to streamline their workflow.
With so many options in project management software available, it can really become quite confusing as to which one to deploy for the type of business you own and manage. So, this guide would throw some light on some commonly searched queries on project management, as given below. This guide is aimed at helping you gain knowledge about the basics of project management and picking the best project management tool for your business.
What is a Project?
A project is an activity that has a start and an end and is undertaken with an aim to create a unique product or service. The project progresses in steps and continuously evolves to achieve the goal for which it was intended. For example, the construction of a building is a project which needs to be completed within a specific duration. Every process needs a strategy and is executed in a pattern to get the end result.
What Are The Objectives of a Project?
The objectives of a project are based on three main aspects -
- Time: The objective of the project is to complete certain tasks within a specific time frame
- Performance: The objective of the project is to optimize performance for high-end results
- Budget: The objective of the project is to complete tasks using a certain amount of money
What Are The Different Types of Projects?
Every project is different and can be classified based on different aspects as given below -
- Construction & Architecture: Building residential & commercial properties etc.
- IT: Software & mobile app development
- Entertainment: Producing movies, plays, songs, etc.
- Manufacturing: Development of unique products and services
- Art: Creating paintings or handicrafts
- Quality Assurance: Ensuring high-quality products and services are delivered
- Management: Managing a marketing campaign, trade exhibition, or an event
- Business: New business acquisition, products reselling programs
- Easy when there are not many tasks, team members and stakeholders involved in a project
- Complicated when the project is huge, involving many different tasks, team members and stakeholders
- Production: The purpose of the project is to manufacture and produce a product or service used for a specific purpose
- Social: The purpose of the project is to improve the lifestyle of the people
- Imparting Knowledge: A teaching project whose prime objective is to impart knowledge to the communities
- Research: Prime objective of this type of project is to gain knowledge
- Organization - When the entire organization is working on a project
- Department - When a particular department of an organization is working on a project
- Multiple Departments - When people belonging to more than one department of an organization are working on a project
- External - When an organization outsources some or all the tasks of a project to an external team or a company
What is Project Management?
Project management pertains to applying knowledge, skills, tools & techniques to achieve the pre-defined goals within a specific time. Project management is all about evaluating the requirements, designing the strategy, cost management, development, and analyzing the end results successfully.
Project management excellently explained by G. Reiss - “Project management is like juggling three balls: time, cost and quality. Program management is like a troupe of circus performers standing in a circle, each juggling three balls and swapping balls from time to time.”
What is the Process of Project Management?
Every project, whether it is about developing software or constructing a building, has to undergo a certain process. The below-mentioned project management process applies to almost all the projects regardless of the industry or the type of outcome required.
Determining the project concept and feasibility is the first step towards accomplishing the goal. During this phase, various tasks are done, like defining the project scope, selecting project managers and stakeholders, calculating an estimated budget, ascertaining the deadline of project completion, and identifying potential risks.
The next move would be to create a blueprint of the plan as to how to go about it. This will include the scope of the project, required resources, financial strategy, communication methods, execution plan, and proposal for ongoing maintenance. A well-designed project plan also helps in attaining proposals from the key stakeholders if required.
Executing the project is the most important phase, which requires proper resource allocation to ensure that the project is being carried out within a specified budget and timeframe. All the tasks are being done on time and in an organized manner. It requires systematic communication between the managers, team members, and stakeholders and solves issues that arise along the way.
Monitoring and Control
During this process, the project managers, team members, stakeholders, and whoever associated with the project closely monitor the growth of the project to ensure that it is on the right path and developing the way it has been planned. Monitoring helps in detecting even minor errors in the project so that the right action can be taken at the right time to eliminate any risk.
The closing process starts once the project has been completed and delivered. In this phase, the stakeholders validate and approve the results of the project; the project manager would end the contracts with the people temporarily associated with the project like suppliers, consultants, etc. The final project report with complete analysis is generated, which helps planning business strategies in the future.
History of Project Management
Today there are many project planning software and applications available which have made seamless for the project managers to allocate resources, control costs, manage tasks, communicate, maintain quality, and make informed decisions. But, do you know how technology has replaced the manual methods of managing the projects?
Back in 1896, Harmonogram was introduced, which is considered as the foundation for the project management software even today. Then came the Gantt chart in 1912, which is the part of many project management systems being used even today. The initial phase of the project management tool was in 1977 when Oracle and Artemis launched their project managers.
After 2001, when the Agile project management concept was introduced, the use of project management software became much more prevalent among businesses. From 2010 onwards, most of the project management tool has been cloud-based, allowing users to access information from any location and device. In 2012, the first project management app was introduced, which facilitated users to manage their projects on the go.
Today, due to the increased popularity of IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning, highly featured project tracking software are being introduced, which are much more focused on providing advanced functionality and security features to the users.
Why is Project Management Important?
As per the Pulse of the Profession 2017 report - Projects are likely to be more successful when proven project, program, and portfolio management practices are implemented.
Interestingly, even before people came to know about the term "project management," its basic concept was already being used in the form of Gantt Chart. This itself proves that how important is project management. "Why is project management important?" is a very interesting question, asked by many business owners because it adds to their overheads and taxes. So, here are the reasons why systematic project management can make a project successful.
Aligned Strategic Planning
Every project has specific goals, and project management ensures to achieve those goals through aligned strategic planning. Project management helps in defining a clear path from starting to the end and organizing chaos due to the emerging risks in between.
Every project requires a project manager who can lead, guide, and motivate the team to accomplish the pre-defined goals. A project manager helps the team in overcoming all the hurdles throughout the project and inspires them to deliver the best performance.
Established Schedule and Deadlines
The project management helps in establishing the tasks schedule and defining the timeframe within which those tasks need to be completed. This helps in streamlining the project and ensuring that it gets completed within specified deadlines.
Proper Use of Resources
Resources, whether people or money, if not used for the right purpose, can prove to expensive. Project management ensures that the resources are being used efficiently and economically to maximize ROI.
Change is inevitable in any project. Project management helps in predicting those changes in advance and preparing well for the future. Managing change is a complex task, which becomes easy with proper project management.
Project management helps in identifying the problems in the process and maintaining the quality in the end-product or service. This results in delivering high-quality products or services to the clients and the growth of the business.
Integrating Business Processes
The success of a project is not possible without integrating different business processes. For example, you cannot create a sales system without integrating it with marketing and accounting processes. Project management helps in identifying and managing the integration.
A project costing crossing a specified budget can become a liability for a business. Project management can help in determining the projects crossing the budget limit and control the cost from the initial phase of the project itself.
Learning from Success and Failures
Projects can succeed or fail. Project management helps in learning from the failures and successes, ensuring that the right strategies are applied and the same mistakes are not committed while commencing projects in the future.
As per Winston Churchill - “Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan.”
Types of Project Management
Selecting the right project management type is the most crucial driving force towards completing the project successfully. A wrong project methodology can result in slowing down the project or sometimes never reaching the finishing line. It is just like choosing the wrong fuel for your car. The engine of your car would start but not reach the intended destination. Do you want that to happen for your project? Of course, not. Here, we have listed 7 different types of project management methodologies, which you need to choose from depending on your project type and desired results.
Waterfall Project Management
This method is one of the oldest project management methods. This style involves working in steps, where the next step depends on the previous step. Until one step doesn't complete, another one cannot start. This method is ideal for projects requiring predictability and a structured way of working. It can prove to be time-consuming if something goes wrong in initial steps, and you come to know at a later stage.
Agile Project Management
Agile project management refers to breaking down the entire project into small sections. Each section is delegated to a different team so that the entire project can be completed quickly. The benefit of using Agile methodology is that you can address issues in the project as and when they arise, which ultimately saves resources and help you to deliver a successful project.
Scrum Project Management
Scrum is the subset of agile project management, which is based on time-based pieces. Scrum follows the method of delivering the incremental builds to the clients is usually 2-3 weeks. This method is used in projects requiring rapid changes.
Kanban Project Management
Similar to scrum, kanban is another variant of agile project management. Instead of time, kanban focuses on the number of tasks in a project. It is a method in which the tasks are divided into small groups, streamlined, and reduced, if possible, to complete the project as quickly as possible.
Lean Project Management
Lean project management is based on a customer-centric approach. It is all about how the tasks in a project can be trimmed to deliver the best quality, affordable, and timely experience to the customers.
Six Sigma Project Management
The six sigma project management focuses on improving the quality of the project results. On the contrary to lean project management, where the project results are found less than satisfactory, Six Sigma is emphasized towards providing high-quality results for the customers.
PRINCE2 Project Management
PRINCE2 project management is based on achieving high-level efficiency and minimizing risks and errors in the entire process. It is all about breaking down the entire project into product-based steps, which are tackled one at a time, ensuring that no stone is unturned throughout the process.
Major Project Management Challenges
It is very well said by Greg Cimmarrusti that “Being a Project Manager is like being an artist, you have different colored process streams combining into a work of art.”
The task of managing the overall project is not as easy as it seems to be. There are some major project management challenges, which, if we fail to overcome, can become the reason for project failure. Let us have a look at those challenges -
The task of keeping all the team members and stakeholders of the project on the same page is critical; otherwise, it may cause chaos. This can waste your time, money, and resources as the roles and tasks to be done are not communicated, and the project may not see the finishing line.
Are you struggling to meet the deadlines? The problem is unrealistic deadlines have been served to the clients before the commencement of the project. Knowing the in-depth criticalities of the project is important before defining the deadline of a project.
Poor Team Skills
Even if the project manager is outstanding at their work, if the team they are leading is not skilled, the project outcome may not be satisfactory. Acquiring the right team members as per the project requirement is one of the biggest challenges, project managers face these days.
Lack of Accountability
The team members working on a project should be accountable for their tasks and the role they are playing for the success of that project. It becomes very difficult for the project to complete successfully when the team members are not ready to hold accountability for their tasks and responsibilities.
Many times the projects don't go as per the expectations, and that becomes a big issue with which the project manager has to deal with. These risks can be uncertainty in the financial market, scarcity in resources, or any other external factor which cannot be controlled.
Changes in Client Expectations
All of a sudden, the client comes up with extra demands at the same price. Unpredictable and new changes can often put the project managers and team members in a difficult position and lead to project failure.
The Key Takeaway
Project management is all about analyzing these challenges and finding new ways to deal with them. A well-featured project management tool can help in overcoming these challenges. With the help of project management software, you can -
- Assign tasks to the team members based on their skills
- Analyze each detail of the project in-depth to provide realistic deadlines
- Eliminate miscommunication by keeping the team members and stakeholders on the same page
- Foresee the future risks and take action at the right time
- Get task visibility and track time, so that the team members become accountable for their roles and responsibilities
- Document the project scope & tasks and communicate with clients to avoid their unrealistic expectations
What is Project Management Software?
Project management software is a comprehensive set of tools that are used for planning and scheduling projects, allocating resources for those projects, and managing changes like an increase in the cost of a specific product or service, and sudden unavailability of particular resources. It helps project managers to manage costs and ensure that the projects are completed within the committed time frame and meet the standard quality guidelines. Moreover, it is also used by project managers, users, and stakeholders as communication, collaboration, documentation, and knowledge sharing tool.
Benefits of Using a Project Management Software
Regardless of the size and type of the business, project control software has become a fundamental way of achieving efficiency and effectiveness in the projects delivered. Still, when it comes to investing in a project management tool, businesses are not sure about investing in one. So, here are a few benefits that will help you make a decision to invest in project management tool for your business -
Easy Collaboration on a Real-Time Basis
Many tasks require the collaboration of the team members from different departments and geographical locations. A project management tool helps team members and stakeholders have complete information about the completion of tasks on a real-time basis. Moreover, it also allows them to share documents, messages, information, notifications, questions & concerns relevant to that project using a single interface.
Effortless Delegation of Tasks
A project manager can effortlessly delegate tasks to the team members. Instead of briefing the details of the tasks to be done by each individual, the manager can easily feed the instructions in the software for each team member, which saves a lot of time and effort. It also becomes easy for team members who need to access the software and get complete information about what, when, and in how much time the tasks are supposed to be done by them.
Provide Better Customer Support
With the help of a project management tool, your clients can easily access the status of their projects. They can also provide their feedback, suggestions, and instructions, which can help you in completing the projects quicker than the possible time. Serving your clients efficiently from different geographical locations and time zones is not a big deal now if you are using a project tracking software, as it allows you to maintain transparency in your services and provide better support to your customers.
Monitor & Control Project Costs
By keeping track of the tasks, deadlines, and manpower, it becomes easy to identify the areas where the time and money is being spent unnecessarily. Thus, the project management tool allows managers and stakeholders to keep an eye on the costs and ensure that it doesn't cross the budget allowed for that particular project.
Seamlessly Managing Changes
What if a team member resigns and a new team member joins onto a project halfway? A project management tool can provide the complete information from the start of that project to the newly joined team member. Moreover, the new team member can get directions from other team members, managers, and supervisors to gel in the project seamlessly and provide an effective contribution and support towards completing the project successfully.
Using project control software, you can track and monitor your projects on a real-time basis. Moreover, everyone working on a single project is having complete information about the project, which reduces the chances of misunderstandings, communication gaps, and errors occurring. This helps in streamlining all the processes in a business and working in a professional manner leading towards better productivity and profitability.
Must-Have Features in a Project Management Software
After going through the benefits of deploying a project management tool for your business, you must be in a perplexity about which one to select when there are so many options available these days. Not all project management tools are equal, and thus the key to success is to find the one which suits your business so that you get the maximum benefits out of it.
To ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the important aspects, we have listed out some must-have features of the project planning software as given below -
Planning and Scheduling
While managing a project, it becomes important to plan and schedule the tasks delegated to the team working on it. You need to prioritize and set up deadlines for clear communication and transparency within the team members and the clients. Everyone associated with the project should be on the same page and aware of which tasks are delegated to whom, and when are those tasks supposed to be completed.
Communication & Collaboration
A project can involve tens or hundreds of people, each working on the tasks they are experts at. A project management tool should be able to help these team members to share their documents, calendars, contact lists, customer data, etc., and communicate with each other quickly in an organized manner, to ensure that high-quality and error-free projects are delivered to the clients.
Resources like money, people, machines & equipment, and time are required to complete a project. Probably, the most difficult part of completing a project successfully is to manage resources in such a manner that there is minimum waste of resources and maximum output in terms of productivity. The project management tool should include tools that can help you in identifying the availability of resources and task priorities, enabling you to take required action at the right time.
Project Budget Management
While handling multiple projects, it becomes important to track the expenses to ensure that none of your projects go over budget: the weekly and monthly reports showing your project expenditures. The project management software should also provide real-time updates about your project expenses so that you can take immediate action if unnecessary expenditures are impacting the profitability of your projects.
Your project management system should work as a centralized hub for storing and accessing all the documents relating to the projects planned, completed, and in the process. Having all the data in one place means you can share the information and knowledge relating to the projects with your team, which can be accessed with a few clicks. This can eliminate the chances of errors and improve collaboration within the team members working on the same project.
To manage the projects successfully, it becomes imperative to have complete knowledge about the shortcomings and issues that require quick attention. A project management software that provides insightful reports becomes a necessity. For example, your task report is showing that a particular team is taking more time to complete a specific task. In that case, the required steps can be taken at the right time to motivate and encourage the team to complete their task within the committed time frame.
Cost of the Project Management Software
Some vendors mention the project management software price clearly on their websites, whereas some ask for the detailed company or business requirements before sending the quote. In both cases, the companies consider price as the most important aspect before making a buying decision.
Basically, there are two pricing models which project management software providers offer -
Licensing - In this case, the companies buy the software license straight away from the software providers and host it on their server. It can be either a one-time payment for the software or annual payment for the support or regular upgrades in the software. This option is mostly chosen by large enterprises having security issues and thus requiring to host the software on their server.
Subscription - Generally, this type of pricing model is applicable for cloud-based software hosted on the software provider's server. The price needs to be paid for weekly, monthly, or annual subscription. This type of software is also available on a free trial basis with some limitations so that you can check whether it has features that suit your business or not before purchasing it.
Additional Costs to be Considered
Most of the services are included in the one-time license purchase or subscription price of the project management software. Still, there are some services for which the software providers might charge extra, and those are -
Software Implementation - Some software providers charge extra for implementing the project management software or integrating with other systems already being used in your organization. These charges may vary depending on the software provider and complexities at the time of implementation and integration.
Training - Many software providers provide free training but some charge for this service, especially if the training is held at your site.
Support - Most of the time, email, and chat support offered by software providers are free of charge. Some software providers offer advanced support like a dedicated service manager, which can be on a chargeable basis.
Besides investing in project management software, you can also go for free project management software. There are many free and open-source project management software available online. These solutions are free to download and can be customized as per your business requirements. But, these free project management software may require technical knowledge to implement, integrate, and customize to make it work the way your business requires. You may even have to hire a software developer having enough technical knowledge to deploy that software for your business, and that again would require some amount to be invested.
Which one to choose - Free or Paid?
Selecting the free or paid project management tool depends on the features you require and the budget of your organization. And if you are planning to invest a huge amount in a project management software, make sure it has a trial version so that you can check whether it works as per your business strategies or not.
If you are looking forward to investing in paid project management software, there are several solutions available ranging from $2.99/month to $99/month. Here, we have given two examples with minimum and maximum price packages, for your selection as per your budget. You can also go through the complete list of project management software here to view their prices, as well.
nTask is a project management tool at a starting price of $2.99/month. It offers 100mb storage and allows adding unlimited tasks, and workspaces at this low price. You can also add unlimited users if you opt for this package. They also offer other packages with upgraded features at $7.99/month. Also, you can contact this software vendor for a customized quote based on the features you require.
Basecamp is one of the most all-in-one project management software that can replace a bunch of tools like Asana, Slack, DropBox, and GSuite. It can cost you $99/month for your team. Whether you have 5 people or 50 people in your team, the price remains the same. Moreover, this software is highly scalable, and so no looking back even if your business grows at an exponential level. It also offers 30 days free trial period, so that you can check whether it suits your business or not before making a huge investment.
Factors to Consider While Buying a Project Management Software
With so many project management software available having different features, it might become overwhelming to select the one. So, below-mentioned are the factors to consider while buying a project management software -
Easy to Collaborate
The project management software you select should be easy for the project manager, team members, and stakeholders of the project to collaborate so that they can work together, whether on-site or remotely, to accomplish the common goals.
Easy to Customize
You cannot change the workflow of your entire organization to accommodate a new system. Just make sure that the project management software you buy can be customized as per your business logic and requirements.
Ability to Scale
Your business cannot be stagnant even for a while, so why should your project management software be? Select the project management software whose features can enhance as your business grows.
Many project management tools are difficult to use and require several days to train people using it. You need to ensure that the project management software you choose should be quick to learn and easy to use.
Reporting on a real-time basis would help you in determining the problems on an instant basis and take required action at the right time to avoid failures and losses. Thus, you need to ensure that your project management software facilitates you to pull out the reports relevant to the current status of your projects.
Having software with excellent functionality can be a good choice, but if your data is not safe, then that functionality is of no use. Ensure that the project management software you select uses the right encryption method to keep your data safe from malware attacks.
Ability to Integrate
The project management software may have to work with other systems in your company used for communication, accounting, sales, operations, etc. Ensure to invest in the project management software, which has the ability to integrate with the tools already being used in your organization.
The timesheets would allow you to monitor whether the tasks are being done on time or not. You can get early warnings relating to project delays and negligence of any of your team members. Thus, you need to opt for project management software that includes easy to use timesheets.
There are many tasks involved with project management, and using a different tool for each of them would become complicated, time-consuming, and prone to errors. Ensure that you choose an all-in-one project management system, which allows you to complete multiple tasks from a single interface.
Upcoming Trends in Project Management
In the current scenario, project management is not about just assigning tasks and managing them. It is all about continuously evolving and embracing the use of modern technologies and tools that can help companies in surviving in cut-throat competition and getting immune to project failures. It is always better to upgrade with the upcoming trends in project management to run a sustainable business. So, here are some upcoming trends which you need to consider while selecting a project management software.
IoT is a network of devices that automatically communicate with each other using the internet. Project management using IoT can help team members in collaborating and communicating without involving manual efforts, resulting in improved response time and reduced errors.
You must be aware of the AI technologies like Siri, Google Home, and Amazon Echo. Similarly, several AI-enabled applications empower project management tasks and workflow, which can enhance the overall process and approach to managing projects.
With the advancements in internet technology, it would not be wrong to say that cyberattacks are also increasing. The safety of project data is a prime concern, and so advanced measures towards enhancing cyber measures are in trend these days.
Focus Towards Real-Time Data
The project managers can now pay close attention to real-time data so that they can overcome the challenges before they arise. Thus, analytical tools in project management would be in trend, which can help in collecting real-time data reflecting the results accurately.
Managing Remote Team
When it comes to selecting team members, geographical location is no longer a barrier now. Managing remote teams is in trend these days as it is no more difficult task to manage people from different geographical locations with the help of user-friendly project tracking software available these days.
Customized Project Management Approach
When it comes to project management, the one-size-fits-all approach has become obsolete. Every project is unique, and applying a customized approach to each one of them has become essential these days due to the changing requirements of the customers and increasing competition. For some projects, agile or waterfall approach might not suit, and so customized workflows are implemented for those projects for better results.
Tackling Diversified Teams
We are in an era where people are valued based on their contributions towards their projects, regardless of their differences in terms of culture, gender, physical and mental strengths, etc. The diversity in a team may have many drawbacks while managing a project, but it also brings a wealth of different perspectives, knowledge, creativity, skills, and experience. So, making the most of this wealth is today's requirement to manage the projects successfully.
Hybrid Project Management Approach
Many times it happens that a project requires using an agile approach, but there are some restrictions due to which traditional approach can be followed in managing the project. In that case, you might need to use an agile approach for some tasks and the traditional approach for the rest of the tasks. This is known as a hybrid project management approach, which is highly in trend these days to obtain flexibility in getting the tasks done successfully.
Few Quotes About Project Management by Top Entrepreneurs
"Operations keep the lights on, strategy provides the light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward" — Joy Gumz
"A project is complete when it starts working for you rather than you working for it." — Scott Allen
"Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work." — Peter Drucker
“Trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play a football game without a game plan.” – K. Tate
Why Refer GoodFirms List of Best Project Management Software?
When it comes to picking the best project planning software, even the most skilled and highly-qualified project managers can get confused with so many tools available in the market. For that, you can rely on the reviews of the people who have already used or at present using those tools. GoodFirms is an excellent platform where you can have access to the list of Best Project Management Software with unbiased reviews for each one of them.
GoodFirms includes listings of only the world's most efficient and well-performing software solutions and service providers. We follow the efficacious and visionary research process to come up with the only best software solutions which you can sort based on reviews, ratings, features, pricing, and your business requirement.
- GoodFirms includes more than 9000 software and services providing companies with their detailed information.
- GoodFirms has around 15k+ unbiased reviews on different companies and software, helping you to make your selection process easier.
- The critical and authentic research conducted by GoodFirms is based on the industry's trends and technologies, and so is trusted by several reputed companies and software vendors.
Over to You…
The trends in project management software continuously change, and businesses also keep on upgrading their processes. The project control software you select can be the driving force of your success in 2020 and beyond. If you have experienced the changes a project management software has brought into your business, or transformed your approach bringing positive results, please do share your experience with us in the comment section below.