No matter how large your project team is, Microsoft Project is the most popular software. When GetApp surveyed project managers at U.S. small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in December 2016, we found that two in three used Project. Since it wasn't built to support small project teams, we wondered why it's used so strongly by this group. Subsequent research gave some interesting answers.
When GetApp asked project managers in U.S. SMBs why they were switching to Microsoft Project, we also asked them which software they were currently using. That's when we noticed an interesting trend: Most of the tools that respondents used are project management software, not project portfolio management (PPM) software.
PPM software serves as a central tool to handle a portfolio of work (both existing and planned projects) that pull from the same resource pool. These projects might run concurrently, overlap in time, or pull from the same resource pool.
PPM software has standard project management features, including a dashboard, collaboration features, and project planning. It also has some crucial features beyond basic project management software, such as:
This can feel like a tall order- especially if you don't have the budget for Microsoft Project. Luckily, there's a range of cloud-based alternatives to Microsoft Project. To earn a spot on this list, all tools needed to have the features above and an average rating of 4 stars or higher from GetApp readers based on 100+ reviews.
Clarizen is enterprise PPM software designed to align tasks with business objectives. It's a configurable tool, which means you can customize it to support your team's workflows, business rules, methodologies, and more.
Clarizen's planning features let you scope, size, estimate, schedule, and staff projects, along with setting baselines for project success and progress. You can automate tasks like creating projects and capturing ideas that take time to do and are highly repetitive. And the tool's resource planning feature gives full visibility into resources, schedules, tasks, and more. Once you see available resources, you can make real-time updates to fully utilize them.
Pricing: Clarizen offers two editions, Enterprise and Unlimited, with custom pricing.
JIRA is an issue and bug-tracking application that boasts advanced project management capabilities. It also provides cloud and self-hosted plans.
Designed for any company size, JIRA helps you share information among teams, with support for custom agile workflows through practices such as Agile and Scrum.
Users can drag-and-drop all bugs, tasks, and actions can be dragged and dropped. This ideal if you want to adjust prioritization or change sprints. Does your project team use Gantt charts? If so, you can create them through the Gantt-Chart for JIRA plug-in on the Atlassian Marketplace.
Pricing: Four plans for cloud and self-hosted options start at $10.00 per month.
LiquidPlanner takes a task-based view of project portfolio management. It helps users organize tasks by priority, assign resources, and estimate effort. You can quantify workloads over specific timeframes, re-adjust workloads if someone needs help, and review/approve team timesheets.
LiquidPlanner's dynamic trend results show you project results over time. It's also ideal for project teams that use Kanban: you can create custom field definitions in the tool's Card View, then move projects and tasks through different workflow stages. And the tool's analytics features let you build reports that show a single project's status or your whole portfolio at once.
Pricing: Three plans range from $9.99 per user per month to $69 per user per month.
Mavenlink is Professional Services Automation (PSA) software. It serves as a single workspace to help project teams predict future work and revenue. Drill-down options let you view business metrics, while custom reports let you show project health and profitability within a few clicks.
Mavenlink has several features to help teams track project costs. You can track project fees, expenses, and margins in real time to help team members make the right decisions. You can also see who's working on what down to project and task levels. And if you need business intelligence features, Mavenlink's BI tool offers pre-built, custom reports.
Pricing: Four plans range from $19 per month for five users to custom pricing for its Enterprise plan.
monday.com, the software formerly known as dapulse, lets you manage several sorts of projects. Its dashboard serves as a space to add tasks and to-dos, plan your workload, and get status updates in the same spot. If swim lanes help you manage projects, monday.com's a great choice- you can add rows (which the tool calls pulses) to your board to keep communication in the software - not emails.
monday.com's @mentions let you communicate with people or entire teams at once. You can even give teammates' work a thumbs-up and comment on unique assets. And the tool's "Timeline" view lets you see everything your team is working on. This gives a quick assessment of your team members' bandwidth to make sure you're on track to hit deadlines.
Pricing: Four plans range from $25 per month to $118 per month (both when billed annually).
ProjectManager.com has project and portfolio dashboards that let users track project and team performance. Gantt charts let you build and visualize new plans or import them from Microsoft Project. Then, team members can add photos, files, and videos at the task level as they're created. They can also create custom task lists and "to do" lists.
As colleagues work on tasks, your project plan auto-updates in real time. If you need to reassign tasks, you can reallocate resources with just a few clicks. Team members can submit their timesheets within ProjectManager.com, which you can also approve within the tool. And once your project plans are ready to share, you can build reports that show your stakeholders project status, workloads, expenses, and more.
Pricing: Three plans range from $15 per user per month for five users to $25 per user per month for 15 users.
Targetprocess is visual project management software that supports PPM, Scrum, Scrum Agile, and Kanban. Its core goals are to provide visibility across teams and projects in your organization and provide custom workflows. Whether your project team works according to Scrum, Kanban, or another methodology, you can customize it within Targetprocess.
The tool supports roles including Scrum Master, IT Manager, and Program Manager. It also supports multiple teams that must deliver projects together. Teams can also group work from several projects into one iteration in order to track their progress. You can track progress across different projects and teams using any configuration, use the built-in reporting tool to create custom reports, and group cards within lanes on boards and hierarchical lists.
Pricing: Three plans range from a free plan to custom enterprise pricing with premium support.
Wrike supports end-to-end project portfolio planning. Its real-time updates and personal dashboards help each team member understand their top priorities. You can easily adjust all project plans, and everyone gets notified when project plans change.
Custom fields let you prioritize tasks, set budgets, and customize work status. Then, you can use that information to create custom views of specific projects that include graphs, task statuses, and more. And Wrike's workload view team members' workloads to redistribute resources as needed.
Pricing: Five plans range from free for five users to custom enterprise pricing.
This post was first published in 2015 and has been updated.