Project management software – Essential Guide

There are literally dozens of good project management software applications out there, with Microsoft Project being one of the most popular mid-range project management packages, and the likes of Primavera being popular at the higher end.

There are literally dozens of good project management software applications out there, with Microsoft Project being...

one of the most popular mid-range project management packages, and the likes of Primavera being popular at the higher end. Free and open source project tools are also available to download or use via a web browser.

 

What does project management software do?

 

At the most basic level, project management products will help your organisation to manage projects from start to finish, and allow employees at different levels to have an input into the process.

Project management software has been around for a number of years now and as a result, it does far more than just manage the projects themselves.

Project applications can also carry out scheduling, cost control and budget management, resource allocation, collaboration, communication, quality management and documentation or administration.

The aim with these is to handle all aspects and complexities of larger projects and help keep costs down.

 

What do businesses tend to use project management software for?

 

Projects can be complex and dependent on many different factors, departments, and outcomes.

As such, project software can help to determine which events depend on one another, how exactly they depend on each other, and what happens if things change or go wrong.

In addition, they can schedule people to work on various tasks, and detail the resources – physical, financial or anything else - that are required, and this is called resource scheduling.

People also use project management software to deal with uncertainties in the estimates of the duration of each task; arrange tasks to meet various deadlines; and juggle multiple projects simultaneously, as part of an overall objective.

 

Types of Project Management Software: Desktop

 

There are different ways in which project management software is made available by vendors and service providers.

Firstly, organisations can buy it as a desktop package, and this typically gives the most responsive and graphically-intense style of interface.

Desktop project management applications typically store their data in a file, although some have the ability to collaborate with other users, or to store their data in a central database.

Multiple users can share file-based project plans or data held on a database, if only one user accesses it at a time.

 

Types of Project Management Software: Client Server

 

Server-based collaborative project management applications are also available. These are designed to support multiple users who are working on different parts of a project.

Server-based project management systems hold data centrally and can also incorporate collaboration tools so that users can share knowledge and expertise.

Types of Project Management Software: Web-based

 

Project management software can be implemented as a web application. This is accessed through an intranet or extranet, or the internet itself, using a web browser.

Benefits of web-based project management applications include the fact that they can be accessed from any type of computer without installing software.

The software is also automatically updated and maintained by the service provider, and the nature of the system makes it naturally multi-user.

Also, web-based software tends to come with a monthly charge which is cheaper than buying and maintaining the application yourself.

However, web-based project software tends to be slower to respond than desktop applications, and project information is not available when the user is offline.

 

Types of Project Management Software: Integrated

 

An integrated system combines project management or project planning, with many other aspects of company activities.

For example, projects can have bug tracking issues assigned to each project; or the list of project customers can become a customer relationship management module, with each person on the project plan having their own task lists, calendars, and messaging functionality associated with their projects.

 

Five Popular Project Management Applications

 

  1. Microsoft Project 
    Microsoft Project is one of the more popular packages and it now offers a web interface and deep Office, Outlook and Sharepoint integration.
  2. Matchware MindView
    MindView has an easy-to-use spreadsheet-like layout, and its mind map option lets you see your project in visuals, reminiscent of brainstorming bubbles.
  3. Project Kickstart
    Project KickStart is an easy-to-use project management package that integrates with other applications like PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, Word, Microsoft Project, and ACT!.
  4. RationalPlan Multi Project
    RationalPlan Multi Project has features to manage resources and budgets as well as multiple projects. It has an interactive Gantt chart, normally available only in higher-end suites.
  5. Basecamp
    Basecamp is a low-cost web-based project management and collaboration package which is gaining momentum.
This was last published in July 2009

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This is by far the most easiest-to-grasp articles on finding a good solution for managing projects! Thanks Arif. I am currently looking at implementing a solution for our company and your article helps me refocus on all right aspects. I started out with almost half-a-dozen of software and zeroed in on my final 2, Clarizen (www.clarizen.com) and Celoxis (www.celoxis.com). Next week I am going to involve me team to arrive at a final decision. Both these tools are exceptionally good at solving a lot of problems we currently face - Resource Utilization, Time tracking, Budget Tracking.
Do you have any opinions on these tools?
-Aron
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I think with the advent of more agile teams, that the need for technical software for this problem has diminished some.  Sure there are the SCRUM boards, and the bug trackers, and the tools that integrate them into a dashboard, but I'm not sure you always need a high test tool to be effective at project management.
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Hi Aron, I know you mentioned you've already done your due diligence with a number of tools. We're new to the game but if you need to coordinate efforts with vendors or clients, no other platform out there offers the kind of engagement that http://bCommunities.com does. It is the first to offer ecosystem-level control were each party accesses the magagement app from their own account securely.

You can get a free account for starters.

Dan
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I have a software company and work on different projects and different items everyday. After using few project management tools we moved to SPM Live (https://www.spmlive.com). It is a smart and simple tool. I loved the Projects page and Time Line. Very clear and straight forward. Price of the software is also very reasonable.
Highly recommended.
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Project Management is itself a lengthy task to complete.So using proper tools is a neccessary thing. Some of the important features which are required in a good project management tool are :-

Some of the most valuable features which are required by any time



1. Projects can be added from anytime anywhere. The account can be logged from from any device for project status and updates.



2. Projects can be easily assigned to staff members. Feedback and motivation can be given, for better project performance.



3. Staff members can log hours for specific projects. The hours logged can be viewed and analysed to ensure project guidelines are followed.





Manager
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I did try Basecamp but didnt really find it all that impressive, after trying a few I landed on Dooster.net, worth taking a look at, but thanks for the article.
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There are a lot of administrative tasks in the project management work. However, it's organization, response to change, and empowering people that makes the projects successful. Maybe, this is why simple tools like kanban board or Trello are so much attractive.
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One of the best way to visualize your projects is to use gantt charts.
You can track current status of your workflow and show to each member this info.

In good gantt charts such as GanttPRO you can assign tasks to project team members, filter tasks by advanced criteria, you can always able to see the shortest time in which a project can be completed.
Try ganttpro.com because it's the easiest way to get acquainted with gantt charts.

Most important features for all project management soft:

1. Calendars — A calendar is available to help you manage important dates and events.
2. Critical Path — The software calculates the earliest and latest that each activity can start and finish to show the longest path to the end of the project.
3. Cross-Project Dependencies — You can set dependencies that span across multiple projects.
4. Issue Management — You can track issues, submit bugs, and view fixes in real time.
5. Milestones — You are able to set up alerts for events that require special attention.
6. Portfolio Management — You can analyze, prioritize, and manage a list of projects in order to achieve specific business objectives.
7. Project Hierarchy — You can organize a project by creating multiple levels of sub-projects for better organization.
8. Project Templates — You can create a template from a current project for future use.
9. Project Timeline/Roadmap — You can view the high-level plan of a project, including key milestones, in chronological order.
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Hope it's ok if I share another nice little app me and my team have been using for about 4 years now. I use an app called https://www.paymoapp.com/ and I like how nice they combine time tracking and project management

The article is pretty nicely structured, but may I suggest not to use so many links? It's a bit confusing to go to so many different sources.
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I came across a question which reads " Name at least 5 commercially available project management software which meet a normal selection criteria. " can these be the answers?
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We use Rally for project management and story tracking. It works for our needs, although it contains a ton of feature that no one uses. 
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Gannt charts are cool but to me sticky notes on a whiteboard are more practical, in agile/scrum environment. Although Jira with add-ons also worked well in tracking of stories and tasks.
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As current trend of software development is being Agile, use of MPP and other tools are diminishing. A sprint would last for 10 days, where Rally light weight tool is being used to share user stories, task and clarification w.r.t user story of the pertaining to current sprint. Instead of having a separate plan tracking.
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Another article that is interesting to read. After 30+ years in IT. for about 6 different companies, I have yet to work for a company that had any project management software. It might be because of company size, budgets or industry type. So how widely is this software used?
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I would like to know about the underlying data or reports you used to arrive at this list? If these software are top 5, then what is the criteria that you used to reach this result?
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