Most everyone is probably happy to see 2020 go and has high hopes for a brighter 2021. But it’s undeniable that the changes that occurred over the last year aren’t going away. One example is the work-from-home trend. Even when conditions make returning to the office feasible, the genie of remote work isn’t back into the bottle.
We’ve learned a lot over the past year about social distancing, hand washing, and, if you want to keep productivity chugging along, you need project management software. These tools, once the domain of project managers, have been a life-saver, connecting workers of all stripes and keeping many industries afloat during a difficult period.
As we look toward the new year, let’s take a closer look at some project management software offerings to help you decide which tool is right for you and the work you’ll do in 2021. In order to break up the large field into a more digestible roundup, we’ve laid out our market research in three groups:
- All-Around Project Management: Tools that assist in managing your work from start to finish. They plan, execute, monitor and report on performance.
- Task Management Focused: Tools that target your work, organizing it and monitoring your progress to keep you on schedule.
- Project Management Software for Enterprise: Tools that address large business concerns and tend to be more complex and expensive.
Before you make a decision as to what the best tool on the market is that helps you connect workers, take a look at this project management software comparison.
All Around Project Management
ProjectManager.com is an award-winning software that organizes teams and projects from initiation to closure. It helps you plan, schedule, execute, balance resources and workload, monitor, track and report on projects all in real time.
Since the tool is cloud-based, all the features are accessible anywhere there’s an internet connection. Teams can collaborate sitting next to one another, or on opposite sides of the globe. Automated emails notify and in-app alerts notify other team members when a task has been commented on or updated.
Teams can communicate at the task level, tagging anyone on the project team if they need to bring them into the conversation. There’s unlimited file storage to keep all your documents in one place and easy to find. Managers and teams can attach files right to the task if needed. There’s also a field on the task to describe what the team needs to do as well as customizable tags to mark priority, department and more.
Project plans can be collaboratively built with an interactive Gantt chart that visually lays out tasks on a project timeline. Managers can set milestones to break up the larger project into manageable phases and even link dependencies to avoid bottlenecks when one task can’t start or stop without another starting or stopping.
Working remotely can make it difficult to know if everyone on the team has what they need. Multiple project views solve that problem. Managers can schedule on a Gantt, then teams can execute their tasks on a kanban board, which visualizes the workflow.
Another feature that allows managers to get insight into the project performance is the real-time dashboard. It automatically collects and calculates project data and displays the results in easy-to-read graphs and charts on health, time, costs and more.
Stakeholders, understandably, will want to stay informed. Reports can be generated with one click, filtered to show what stakeholders are interested in seeing and then easily shared in a variety of formats. Reports can also provide valuable real-time data to help managers make better decisions.
ProjectManager.com also has a robust task list and a calendar view that isn’t only for important dates. It allows users to work how they want, without sacrificing the tracking and reporting features required for effective project management. To try ProjectManager.com out for yourself, click here for a free 30-day trial.
Smartsheet is a popular project management tool that bills itself as a productivity booster. It’s easy to use, flexible enough to manage projects of different sizes. It features a Gantt chart and Kanban boards as well as a dashboard to get a big-picture view.
Like most project management software tools it fosters collaboration, but it’s expensive. There are also some features that are missing, even though it’s an otherwise thorough tool. For instance, there is no time tracking.
Wrike positions itself as an agile project management software. It organizes tasks, facilitates collaboration with file sharing and keeps track of progress. They have Gantt charts, reporting and security features. What distinguishes the tool is its three-pane view, which shows a dashboard, an individual or new task and finally all your tasks and subtasks.
That three-pane view can be a deficit, though, as it can be hard to navigate, and onboarding your team can be difficult. Its project tracking is limited, which can be frustrating as you try to keep to your schedule and budget. Like many of the more commercially branded products, Write can be expensive.
Task Management Focused
Monday is a tool that connects teams so that they can execute their tasks more efficiently. It helps teams to plan, manage and track their tasks with a very visual interface. Teams can create workflows for their tasks. The tool works on projects no matter their size or complexity, helping teams stay organized and productive.
Oddly, as it targets tasks, the tracking of time and expenses on that work can be difficult. The biggest omission, however, is a lack of a fully-featured Gantt chart, which is considered the standard tool when planning and scheduling tasks for teams. If you’re using it with other applications, the integration is limited. There are many apps that work with Monday, but other popular ones that don’t, which might annoy some users.
Asana has a large user base which is a testament to its ability to manage tasks. That might be due to how many other apps it seamlessly integrates with, sure to be a selling point with many. It also has a full slate of features, from Gantt charts to kanban boards, though some of its features are in-app and others require plug-ins.
One of the main setbacks as a task management tool is the fact that tasks can only be assigned to one person. If you have a team working together on executing a task, there’s no way to assign it to multiple people. There’s also no time tracking feature to determine how long a team member has spent working on a task, which can make staying on schedule and budget a challenge.
Trello is a collaborative software tool that uses kanban boards, lists and cards to help teams organize and prioritize their work. It’s a highly visual tool that provides users with three tiers of information with drag-and-drop editing. It has real-time updates and is easy to onboard teams, who’ll find it’s graphic interface intuitive to use.
But the tool is sort of a one-trick pony. While it does that one trick well, there are no Gantt charts in Trello, which is going to limit users’ ability to plan their projects. That means no task dependencies. Even the kanban is limited, in that you can only use one board or project. Additionally, there are no customized tags, and it has little email integration. It’s also not a great fit for larger teams or larger projects.
Project Management Software for Enterprises
Microsoft Project is a favorite for organizations to manage their large and complicated projects. Because it’s Microsoft, the tool integrates easily with the full suite of MS software solutions. Besides MS Office 365, you get a lot of communication platforms, such as Skype and Teams. It also offers a full plate of project management tools, from Gantts to dashboards, to help you better manage your project.
Because it offers so much, it can be difficult for users to get a handle on it. There’s a steep learning curve that often requires a lot of training to get users up to snuff. It’s also expensive and that price increases if you want to license the product to everyone on your team. But most irritating is how poor it works at connecting teams. There’s no real-time updates without integration, and it doesn’t work on Apple products, so if your team uses that operating system they’ll be locked out.
Primavera is Oracle’s pony in the project management race. It’s a cloud-based tool that addresses the needs of project portfolio management. It’s used mostly by the construction and engineering industries. It has a slew of features including Gantt charts, risk management tools, real-time reporting, graphical workflow modeling and progress tracking. There are also collaborative tools to connect teams on whatever device they use to work.
As might be expected, the software isn’t the most user-friendly and can take a beginner some time to get comfortable with the tool. Like Microsoft, it’s not cheap, which might explain why it’s marketed to larger companies with the funds to invest in its product. There have also been a lot of user complaints about the poor customer service, which is a shame as many new users will require some handholding to get used to working with the otherwise robust tool.
ProjectManager.com is an award-winning cloud-based software that organizes teams, projects and portfolios. Plan with Gantt charts, portfolio roadmaps and kanban boards to visualize your team’s workflows. It’s the ideal solution for teams no matter where they work. See why over 10,000 teams have chosen ProjectManager.com by taking this free 30-day trial today.