Project Management Software
Project management is a technical skill that involves the planning, execution and delivery of any given project.
In this context, a project is a specific undertaking with a definitive aim.
A true project has a start date and a series of tasks and milestones on the road to completion.
It comes with a defined budget and requires input from various teams.
It could be anything from the construction of an apartment block to the building of a new website.
Project management has multiple dimensions, all of which need to be monitored.
In the past, this was typically done through the use of individual programs and spreadsheets.
However, with advancements in technology, more businesses are now turning to project management software to streamline operations, enhance collaboration and boost productivity.
What Are the Benefits of Using Project Management Software?
Whether you are working on a single, large-scale project or several of varying complexity, project management software has many benefits.
- It gives you a clear view of the big picture
- It allows you to consolidate data, *track tasks and communicate effectively with all members of a project team.
- Automation increases time efficiency
- Intuitive tools help you spot and mitigate risk
Here is a closer look at some of the key benefits:
Whatever its scope, every project will have multiple parties involved.
Most often, this is a combination of both internal and external teams, but may also include key stakeholders and sponsors.
Ensuring everyone is on the same page is crucial for effective delivery, and the best project management software encourages teamwork.
Dashboards give an overview of progress and individual responsibilities, files are easily shared and users have access to any data and contacts they may need.
Some platforms also come with built-in messaging facilities, allowing for responsive communication.
Delivering on or under budget and, where applicable, retaining a profit are key in project management.
With dedicated software, you can easily keep track of project finances in one place and avoid scope creep.
You can log billable and non-billable hours for every member of your team, input related expenses and assess spending through customizable dashboards and financial reporting features.
Most platforms offer integration with accounting software, which streamlines the process of creating, sending and chasing project-related invoices.
Scheduling and Allocation
When tasks are not completed on time, it has a knock-on effect. Other activities are delayed, extra costs may be incurred and your entire timeline may need revisiting.
Project management software helps you avoid this with efficient scheduling and allocation.
Tasks can be delegated and prioritized so everyone knows who is responsible for what by when.
If delays do occur, rescheduling is made easy and those in charge of assigning work get a clear view of how much each individual has on their plate.
Alongside automation that saves valuable time on small repetitive tasks, project management software boosts productivity by helping team members hone their organizational skills.
They can schedule their workload effectively, set notifications for deadlines and keep everything they need in one place.
What to Look for When Choosing Project Management Software
What you need from your project management software will depend on multiple factors:
- How many projects you manage
- How long they typically last
- The size of your project team
Features vary across providers, but here are some key things to keep an eye out for:
Collaborative tools – The best project management software gives relevant team members access to all the information they need and allows them to work collaboratively. The ability to upload and work on files in the cloud, use shared calendars and communicate through comment feeds and live chat features are all useful here.
Customisable views – Everyone works in different ways and to boost productivity it is important to cater to all learning styles. Platforms that allow users to display their workload in a way suited to them are most effective. For example, the ability to create Kanban boards helps visual learners organize their time better.
Storage and accessibility – You want to ensure your chosen solution offers ample storage for project files and permits access to enough team members. In many cases, this will impact the price plan you need.
Integrations – Whilst some project management software is all-encompassing, affordable solutions tend to lack certain features. A workaround is to see what integrations are available. If a platform works with software already in your tech stack, it saves you the time of learning to operate a new system.
Scalability – If you are just starting out you may only need basic functionality, but as you advance your requirements are likely to change. Look for a solution that you can scale up in line with business growth.
Alongside the basic features to look for, some business may also find the following useful:
Time tracking – This allows you to track hours spent on each task and, in some cases, log them as billable or non-billable.
Expenses – Some solutions allow you to upload project expenses to better keep track of costs.
Invoicing – Where this is available, you can generate invoices from within the platform, using tracked hours and expenses.
Advanced reporting – Most project management software enables you to generate working Gantt charts, but if you need greater project insight, look for a platform that has advanced reporting capabilities.
Restricted access – There may be some project information only released on a need-to-know basis to certain team members. A solution with custom access controls is vital here.
8 Best Project Management Software Packages
Best for: Simple task management
The first on our list of best project management software is Asana.
Technically speaking, this is more of a task management platform with the flexibility to integrate the project management tools you require, like time tracking.
Nevertheless, it is great for enhancing productivity and collaboration, with a clean user interface that is easy to navigate.
Team members can assign tasks, set completion dates and share documentation. Each task allows for effective communication with an individual comment feed.
Tasks can be viewed as lists or displayed on a Kanban board. Teams can also get a wider view of project progress with a Gantt chart.
Asana’s entry plan is free and allows for 15 users with unlimited tasks and data storage, though it is basic in its features.
Its Premium and Business plans cost $10.99 and $24.99 per user per month respectively and come with added functionality.
Best for: Quick set up and execution
If you are looking for project management software that is easy to set up and offers a range of intuitive tools, Wrike may be a good option.
It offers customizable dashboards, Gantt charts, Kanban boards and workflow categories.
You can easily see a task's status and set up recurring activities to manage ongoing work alongside project-specific duties.
Useful for collaboration, its document editor allows changes to be made in the cloud, and there is a comment feed for discussing individual tasks.
Wrike does have time-tracking functionality, though there is no option to log hours as billable or non-billable. It also lacks the live chat functionality that comes with some of the other best project management software.
The Business plan provides the best capability. You can have up to 200 team members and 50 GB of storage for $24.80 per user per month.
The Professional plan comes in packages of five, 10 or 15 users for $9.80 per user per month, with 5 GB of storage (a minimum of $49).
Enterprise plans are available, with a price given on application, and there is a basic free plan for small teams of up to five.
Best for: Small project teams and freelancers
A hugely popular platform, Trello arguable offers the best free project management software through its basic plan:
- Unlimited users can construct and manage Kanban boards, using a drag and drop interface to assign and schedule tasks.
- Unlimited files of up to 10 MB can be attached and comments made on each task card.
Trello is great for teams on the go, as both desktop and mobile versions are available.
Where Trello does fall short is its lack of time tracking and reporting, so if these are a priority, it is not the right platform for your business.
If you need a little more functionality than the free offering, its Business Class plan costs $12.50 per user per month.
This comes with multiple views (dashboard, timeline and calendar), many integrations and unlimited storage of files up to 250 MB.
Best for: Startups and growing businesses
Zoho offers a range of cloud-based business solutions, inclusive of its project management software.
Whilst its free plan is somewhat limited, the Premium and Enterprise options come with a number of useful features at a very reasonable cost.
As well as all the basic features like task delegation and scheduling, you get access to editable Gantt charts, utilization reports and advanced task reporting.
You can also track billable and non-billable hours and approve timesheets.
The great thing about Zoho Projects is its seamless integration with other solutions, including Zoho CRM and Zoho Books for accounting. This makes it a good option for startups that might want to consider the entire Zoho suite.
The Premium plan allows for up to 50 team members, unlimited projects and 100 GB of storage for just $5 per user per month.
The Enterprise plan comes with additional features, plus unlimited members and 120 GB of storage for $10 per user per month.
Best for: Mid to large-sized businesses
Teamwork is an ideal solution for medium-sized businesses looking for project management software that is both feature-rich and cost-effective.
It offers everything you need to manage tasks, workloads and progress, with additional features for increased project efficiency.
Of particular note is its time tracking and invoicing functionality. You can log both billable hours and project expenses, and use these to generate invoices from within the platform, helping you stay on top of costs.
A Pro account costs $12.50 per user per month and offers 300 projects and 100 GB of storage.
Premium costs $22.50 per user per month, allowing for 600 projects and 250 GB of storage.
If you opt for the Premium plan, you will get additional features including resource management tools.
You can try any of the plans with a 30-day free trial, and there’s a no-cost option available for smaller teams with basic needs.
Best for: Fast-moving projects
LiquidPlanner is a comprehensive project management software package for large teams with complex needs.
Both Kanban boards and Gantt charts are available, including baseline-view Gantt charts that allow you to compare actual progress with estimated timelines.
One of LiquidPlanner’s most useful features is its resource management capability. This helps team managers delegate and redistribute tasks effectively and track time spent on each one.
To get the most out of LiquidPlanner, you do need its Enterprise package.
This is based on custom pricing which can be expensive but may well be worth the cost if your business handles multiple projects that move at speed and require effective resource allocation.
There is also a Professional plan available for $45 per user per month. Again, this is costly when compared to other project management software and is best suited to large organizations with full-scale project management needs.
Best for: Creative project management
ProofHub is a platform that enables effective collaboration on visual projects, thanks to its proofing features and functionality.
It aims to speed up the review process by enabling version control and comparative views, as well as providing markup tools for editing.
Unlike other project management software, you pay a flat fee for ProofHub, not a fee per user, and there is no limit on team members.
The Essential package costs $50 per month for 40 projects and 15 GB of storage, plus all the features you would expect from an entry plan, including time tracking.
The Ultimate Control package costs $150 per month for unlimited projects and 100 GB of storage. It also comes with advanced reporting and resource management tools.
Best for: Good all-rounder
Thanks to its wide range of packages, Monday.com offers a project management software solution for everyone.
You can choose from the free Individual plan with basic features right through to the customizable Enterprise package.
That said, most businesses will likely find the right choice in either the Basic, Standard or Pro plan, all of which offer unlimited users, with additional features and storage as you progress through the tiers.
Monday.com is a highly visual, user-friendly platform. Though it may lack some of the advanced features of other solutions, there are multiple integrations available allowing you to incorporate it into your existing tech stack with ease.
For the Basic you will pay $8, Standard $10 and Pro $16 per user per month.
You must have a minimum of three users on all plans, making the cheapest option $24 per month.
Though project management software was once aimed at larger organizations with full-scale project needs, it has adapted to cater to the rise in employees working remotely, and the subsequent need for effective collaboration.
Even sole-proprietors and freelancers can now benefit from the increased productivity offered by the solutions available.
Free plans provide the basic tools to coordinate small teams, whilst advanced packages give mid to large-sized businesses the features they need to manage multiple projects with ease, no matter the scope.