Which Project Management Software Should I Use?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

It can be a challenge to select project management software. Learn more about the different project management software that’s available for your needs. Which Project Management Software Should I Use?

[Featured Image] A project manager is using project management software to manage their team.

Good project management software can make monitoring, executing, and planning a project clearer and more transparent for a team. The project management software you select should be tailored to your company and its daily tasks. To pick the right one, you should evaluate your needs and select a solution that offers the best features and cost. 

Many project managers weigh the pros and cons of project management software, and many say its implementation is helpful. Seventy-seven percent of high-performing projects utilize project management software [1].

In this article, understand what project management software is, why it’s important, and how to choose the best one for your project needs.

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What is project management software?

Project management software helps a company plan, facilitate, and execute projects in a collaborative and organized way. This software allows managers to assign tasks, set deadlines, provide direction, track budgets, and keep project documents and conversations in one place. 

Why do I need project management software?

Project management software allows stakeholders to see every project, know its process, and quickly identify any slowdowns—all from one centralized dashboard. The overall purpose of project management software is to increase productivity and improve the following processes: 

Project planning

You can plan projects with all the necessary assets provided in the software. A manager can instantly see who's available to take on a new project, assign it, and set essential deadlines visible to everyone. 

Collaboration and file sharing

Project management software typically has file-sharing tools that give multiple people access to documents. Changes update in real time so everyone can see them. 

It’s not uncommon for teams to work on a project together. The software can be set up to notify employees when a task is ready for their attention through customized workflows. As a result, the collaboration continues in a timely manner, even if teammates are in different departments or working remotely. 

Budget management

You can track costs in real time within project management software. Managers can instantly see if a project’s costs are increasing too quickly and take action before the project goes over budget. Some project management software includes budget forecasting that can predict expenses as you go.

What makes good project management software?

Good project management software has features that fit your business. Most project management software is web-based to allow for easy collaboration and file sharing, but beyond that, consider these features for the software you choose:  

Project list

At the core of most project software is a project list. Managers can create projects, assign tasks, and visually see a project from concept to completion.

Schedules

As projects are assigned, each team member should be able to see their schedule. Many platforms provide multiple views, like tasks listed by priority or on a calendar. 

File sharing

All documents associated with a project can be shared with feedback and edits updated in real time. You can control permissions, so certain team members can edit documents while others can only view them, for instance. All files for a project remain in one place, which lends itself to better organization.

Communication tools

Many kinds of project management software have communication tools built into them, eliminating the need for lengthy, siloed email threads or meetings. Many tools function like a messaging system, where you can leave notes and direct questions to specific people. As a result, every piece of communication regarding a project is in one unified location.  

Customizable reports

Project management software should come with customizable reports so managers can get an at-a-glance look at important statistics. The reports can provide graphs and visual decision-making metrics to close productivity gaps, improve processes, or manage a budget.

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Project Management: The Basics for Success

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How do I choose the best project management software for me?

With dozens of software choices on the market, weighing your options is essential. To start, you need to know how to use the software, the primary features you want, and how much you’re willing to pay for a web-based solution. More specifically, consider:

What your team needs

Consider the following questions when determining which software to use:

  • How do you plan to use the software? 

  • How many team members need access? 

  • What kinds of projects do you manage? 

Write down how you plan to utilize the software and keep them in mind when weighing your options. 

Available features

Jot down which features are a priority and which others are nice to have. If, for example, managing a budget is a priority, make sure you investigate each software’s finance and forecasting tools. Narrow your search by removing solutions that lack the features you need. 

Cost

A web-based solution for a medium-sized business (50 employees or less) typically ranges between $25 and $300 a month [2]. While that's a fairly wide range, the cost depends on features, the number of users, and file storage. Most platforms charge a certain amount per user per month. 

Testing and evaluating

Select one or two solutions to try. Ask several employees to test the software and provide feedback. Once you’ve found the best option, make the purchase. 

Top 5 project management software

Dozens of software options are on the market. To get an idea of the choices and features available, the five software solutions below offer a glimpse of what companies can expect to find:

1. Trello

Best for freelancers or companies with one to two employees, Trello offers a simple, drag-and-drop platform with boards, cards, and lists. Individual projects are usually listed on a card, with instructions, due dates, and the ability to attach files as needed. Users can move the cards from list to list through the company’s workflow. Trello does not have reporting or budgeting tools.

Features

  • Project planning through boards, cards, and lists

  • Collaboration tools

  • Integrations or “Power-Ups” with Google Docs and other office platforms

Price: Free, $5 per user, per month and up

Best for: Freelancers

2. Wrike

Great for small businesses, Wrike provides access for an unlimited number of users, is highly customizable, and is user-friendly. Users can set up projects, create workflows, collaborate, and review reports. The software is scalable, so as a small business grows, it can evolve with it. 

Features

  • Project planning with calendar and chart views 

  • Time and budget tracking

  • Collaboration tools

  • Custom reports

  • Integration with Slack and Salesforce, extension for Adobe Creative Cloud 

Pricing: Free, $9.80/per user, per month and up  

Best for: Small businesses 

3. ClickUp

ClickUp is ideal for large teams as it offers unlimited users and unlimited storage space for everyone. The software comes with planning, scheduling, and collaboration tools. It's also visual and can create charts, graphs, calendars, or lists. ClickUp includes basic reporting.

Features 

  • Project planning

  • Bulk scheduling

  • Goal setting

  • Time tracker and estimates

  • Reporting

Pricing: Free, $5 per user, per month and up

Best for: Large teams 

4. Monday.com

Monday.com offers a diverse, robust set of tools that make it the go-to project management software for big-name companies like Hulu, BBC Studios, and Adobe. With multiple project views, time tracking, integrations with top business tools and apps like Shopify, Zoom, Slack, and Dropbox, customized workflows, collaboration tools, and solid reporting, it’s easy to see why large organizations use this software. 

Features

  • Project management and assignment tools

  • Multiple views and permission settings

  • Budget and resource allocation

  • Collaboration tools

  • Automated workflows and triggers

Price: Free, $8 per user, per month and up

Best for: Large companies looking for customizable solutions

5. Forecast.app

The Forecast.app, as the name suggests, is a good fit for companies focusing on project management and budget forecasts. The app uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to forecast the time and money needed for each job. Scheduling, project assignment, and private invoicing are also unique features. 

Features

  • Project management

  • Project accounting

  • Work automation 

  • Team collaboration

  • Advanced analytics 

Pricing: $29/per user per month, minimum of 10 seats

Best for: Budget-conscious teams

Next steps

Aside from implementing project management software, you can also sharpen your skills with an online class. Introduction to Project Management or Google Project Management are both offered on Coursera and can enhance project management for companies large and small. 

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Introduction to Project Management

This course is designed to give you the fundamentals of Project Management. You will learn the basic principles of Project Management by managing a ...

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Google Project Management:

Start your path to a career in project management. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than six months. No degree or experience is required.

4.8

(72,256 ratings)

962,902 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Organizational Culture, Career Development, Strategic Thinking, Change Management, Project Management, Stakeholder Management, Business Writing, Project Charter, Project Planning, Risk Management, Task Estimation, Procurement, Quality Management, Project Execution, Coaching, Influencing, Agile Management, Problem Solving, Scrum, Effective Communication

Article sources

1

Hive. “9 Steps to Choose the Best Project Management Software, .” Accessed January 10, 2023 

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