Having the right set of tools to tackle analytics, requirements, change, and project progress will help project managers perform at their best.
Top-level project managers are in high demand, thanks to the high-level leadership, knowledge, and capabilities they bring to business projects. But having the right set of tools is also essential to project management success.
Project management tools and templates not only increase team productivity and effectiveness but also prepare the organization for changes brought about by high-impact projects. To perform at their best, project managers need to make the most of tools aimed at business intelligence and analytics, business requirements, change management and project management, as well as a wide array of forms and templates.
According to Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Project and Portfolio Management, the following capabilities are essential when deciding what’s best for your business:
- Project demand management
- Project planning and management
- Time management
- Resource management
- Resource capacity planning
- Project portfolio management
- Project collaboration
- Program management
- Reporting services
- Security and user management
Here we have compiled the ultimate project manager’s toolkit to help you plan, execute, monitor, and successfully polish off your next high-impact project.
Project management tools
Project management tools are vital to ensuring teams can communicate and collaborate throughout the project life cycle. Many of these tools enable project managers to share ideas; assign, schedule, and track task and milestone progress; set and track budgets; maintain project details; trace quality; and identify risks and issues.
|Tool||Target company size||Free version||Free trial|
|Asana||50 – 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|Changepoint||10 – 1000+||N/A||N/A|
|Celoxis||2 – 1000+||N/A||Yes|
|Clarizen||10 – 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|KeyedIn||50 – 1000+||N/A||Yes|
|LiquidPlanner||2 – 1000+||N/A||Yes|
|Mavenlink||2 – 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|Microsoft||1 – 1000+||N/A||N/A|
|monday.com||2 – 1000+||N/A||Yes|
|Wrike||10 – 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
With Asana’s web-based project management solution, projects can be created and shared with teams, clients, vendors, contractors, third parties, and organization guests. Asana enables project managers to plan, visualize goals and milestones, set tasks and due dates, and communicate priorities, offers, central administration, and billing. Asana also allows companies to manage users and admins and configure authentication. Priority support is available through premium plans that offer dedicated “Success Managers” who provide front-line support and help companies maximize the use of the app to meet their needs. Features include bug tracking, budget management, time and expense tracking, resource management, and testing/QA management. Asana also offers dashboards and collaboration features, and webinar training for the app. Asana integrates with many web and mobile apps including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Slack, Evernote, GitHub, WordPress, Jira, MailChimp, Zendesk, Xendo and much more.
For an in-depth review of Asana, see “Asana review: Intelligent, adaptive project management.”
Changepoint (Daptiv PPM)
Changepoint’s web-based adaptive PPM solution, Daptiv PPM, enables companies to effectively manage their projects and portfolios, while keeping their existing processes intact. This tool is designed for IT, business, and enterprise PMOs, as well as new product development teams. It gives companies a 360-degree view into project resources while helping PMOs to manage multiple complex projects.
The Celoxis all-in-one project management tool helps companies plan, execute, and manage complex projects, as well as manage resources, schedule tasks and report progress. Reporting is simplified through role-based dashboards that offer users customizable layouts, widgets, and drill-down charts. Clients, teams, project, and portfolio managers can collaborate and share files with ease. Celoxis integrates with Google Drive, Salesforce, Zapier, Excel, Zendesk, Gmail, Google Calendar, and MS office products.
KeyedIn’s project and portfolio management tool is designed for professional services teams, business transformation professionals, and PMOs looking to improve their response time. Especially when dealing with changing priorities, striving to deliver more strategically-focused projects, and looking to improve capacity planning and resource management. KeyedIn’s web-based tool integrates with JIRA Software, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, GP, and 365, Outlook, Quickbooks, Intacct, Salesforce, Sugar CRM, SAP CRM, Pivotal Tracker, and Version One.
LiquidPlanner’s web-based, resource-driven scheduling technology helps project teams, business leaders, and stakeholders embrace uncertainty and adapt better as changes arise. LiquidPlanner aims to enable teams to work smarter through improved efficiencies, using their smart scheduling that adjusts automatically as completion dates are modified. Stakeholders get real-time insight into progress, risks, and budgets, across all projects. LiquidPlanner offers integrated time-tracking and advanced analytics to simplify project planning, execution, and increase performance visibility. Integrations include Google Drive, Drop Box, Box, Zapier, Hubstaff, Okta, Rippling, Trainual, Insightly, Cyfe, Visitortrack, APIANT, LeadMaster, Bitium, BugHerd, and Bugsnag.
The Mavenlink web-based project management solution unifies essential functions so that organizations can plan and deliver work, manage project financials and resources, and collaborate with distributed teams and clients. Mavenlink offers resource planning, project accounting and advanced business intelligence capabilities, along with custom reporting and 40 pre-built reports. Project management offices can use templates to replicate and visualize their success using various timeline charting tools, and Mavenlink offers collaborative capabilities that enable teams to focus on specific elements such as timecards, expense reports, tasks, proofs, files, resource requests and change orders. There is also access to documentation, webinars, live online and in-person training, and 24/7 (live rep) support. Mavenlink integrates with Intacct, Salesforce, NetSuite, Jira, QuickBooks and Google Drive; it also offers customized integrations through its API.
For an in-depth review of Mavenlink, see “Mavenlink review: Intelligent service-based project management.”
Microsoft’s project portfolio management tool places focus on portfolio optimization and helping businesses successfully evaluate projects using standardized processes. Microsoft PPM leverages Power BI Pro to gather company-wide data for reliable analysis and reporting. It integrates with a lengthy list of tools, including Excel, Skype for business, Procore, Dynamic 365, Sharepoint, Wrike, HeavyBid, MS Power BI, Replicon TimeBill, WorkOtter, ProjectManager.com, Premier, Easy Projects, GanttPRO, Celoxis, Wimi, Zoho Projects, RationalPlan, ITM Platform, GenieBelt, Meistserplan, Intellect, DBXtra, Projectplace, Genius Project, Project Insight, Conforce, JournyX, codeBeamer ALM, Tenrox PWM, Projector PSA, Viewpath, Eylean Board, PieMatrix,GamePlan, TALAIA Orchestra PPM, OpenPPM, ONEPOINT Projects, Active Risk Manager, Tom’s Planner, Triskell PPM, Talygen, STR Vision CPM, OneDesk, snagR, Alert, Roadmap,TidyEnterprise,TidyStock, and TidyWork.
Monday.com’s cloud-based project management tool gives teams the flexibility to start projects from scratch or leverage one of its many project templates that can be customized to suit workflows and other project needs. This tool helps teams to focus on high-level goals and boost productivity. Monday.com integrates with Google Drive, Slack, Excel, Dropbox, MailChimp, Asana, JIRA, GitHub, Shopify, Pipedrive, Zapier, Zendesk, Gmail, Google Calendar, Findmyshift, Typeform, Time Doctor, Avaza, HoneyBook, Outlook, Integromat, Twilio Communications Cloud, Capsule, Magic Minutes, airfocus, Egnyte, LambdaTest, OpenAsset, Zoho Sprints, Cognito Forms, OpenAsset, Contractbook, VisitorTrack, Tonkean, Pastel, FastField, BugHerd, Clearlogin, Zoho Flow, 4Degrees, and Shuup.
Wrike’s web-based project management software allows “your team to work faster and smarter across your organization.” This task collaboration tool helps companies of all sizes improve communication, transparency, and accountability for faster results. Wrike has visual dashboards and resource and workload management capabilities that help keep projects progressing on time and on budget. Features include budget management, bug tracking, collaboration, file sharing, Gantt charts, issue management, milestone tracking, percent-complete tracking, portfolio management, project planning, resource management, status tracking, task management, and time and expense tracking. Wrike integrates with GitHub, Jira, Google Drive, Wrike Everywhere, Dropbox, Adobe, Salesforce, Evernote, Zapier, Slack, Hubstaff, Bitium, Marketo, QuickBooks, and LinkedIn.
For an in-depth review of Wrike, see “Wrike review: Project management made simple.”
Requirements management tools
Requirements management tools help project managers and companies identify, document, analyze, prioritize, track, monitor, trace and version requirements, and control change. The following requirements management tools fit the bill, but if you want a more in-depth look at requirements management tools, see “Top 5 requirements management tools.”
|Tool||Target company size||Free version||Free trial|
|iRise||1 – 1,000+||Yes||No|
|Jama||10 – 1,000+||Yes||No|
Aha is a web-based requirements management solution that helps companies and project managers “define the whys, whens, and whats,” before jumping into a project. It is a cloud-based requirements management tool that links business vision and goals with initiatives by analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and helping to build a roadmap to meet strategic goals. Aha offers centralized requirements designing; analysis and reports; customizable navigation, layouts, and workflow; boards for prioritizing planned work and parked items; the ability to include details on each card within a board and scoring capabilities for each card; mockups; dependency visualization; progress tracking; list generating and more. Aha integrates with Trello, Salesforce, Slack, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Zapier, G Suite, Zendesk, and more.
iRise is web-based requirements management software that “combines prototyping with requirements management to allow stakeholders to interact with and validate business requirements before you commit to building them.” Project managers can add navigation, media, rich interactions, business logic and sample data for a true app experience. iRise functionality offers the ability to mimic a true user experience. Features include collaboration, history tracking, prioritization, status reporting, summary reports, to-do lists, traceability, and user-defined attributes. iRise integrates with Jira, G Suite, IBM Rational, Okta, Blueprint, Rally, Visual Studio, ConfirmIQ, Jama and other applications.
Jama is a web-based requirements management and product development tool that allows companies to capture, define and execute projects to meet customer requirements. Jama enables collaboration in real-time; the setting of relationship rules; validation, verification and testing; version comparisons; compliance; workflow governance and reporting. Features include collaboration, history tracking, prioritization, status reporting, summary reports, to-do lists, traceability and user-defined attributes. Jama integrates with Jira, VersionOne, MagicDraw, TFS, TraceTronic, HPQC, Enterprise Architect and more.
Change management tools
Change management tools help project managers and change management professionals ensure organizations are adequately prepared as processes change. These tools help identify changes to workflows, map process changes, document changes and the impact to various areas, and educate and train employees around these changes to ensure a smooth transition.
|Tool||Target company size||Free version||Free trial|
|Freshservice||1 – 1000+||N/A||Yes|
|TD/OMS||1 – 1,000+||Yes||N/A|
|Whatfix||10 – 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
This online change management tool focuses on the user’s experience and offers incident, problem, release, and asset management. It helps automate internal processes, improves employee experiences, and productivity. From a single point, users can plan, track, and rollback their changes, as well as review and improve changes, and get them approved. Freshservice is also ITIL-ready, which can help companies provide customers with higher-quality, cost-effective services.
Designed for development teams, TD/OMS by Remain Software is an application lifecycle management solution that helps companies respond to change faster. It supports IBM, Windows and Unix/Linux platforms. TD/OMS assists in improving software development, modernization, testing, deployment efficiencies, streamlining processes, reducing software defects, and ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction. With this tool, project managers can track software changes, document releases, streamline deployment, improve team collaboration, control software quality, and obtain insight and IT environment analysis. Features include workflow approvals, audit trails, change calendars, change planning, compliance management, prioritization, release management, task management, and training management.
Whatfix is a web-based change management tool that helps create customized individual onboarding and training programs to ensure successful change management and software migration. As changes occur, Whatfix’s interactive guides help even out any declining employee productivity with efficient training and onboarding, directing users from end to end through software migrations. Features include self-help widgets to reduce support costs, interactive overlaid tip balloons to help employees learn, customizable workflow condition triggers, workflow approvals, compliance and training management, collaboration and chat, and advanced analytics to help measure the effectiveness of user engagement.
For a deeper look at change management options, see “The top 5 change management tools.”
Business intelligence and analytics tools
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential for monitoring the progress and impact of a project, and to keep businesses and stakeholders informed on the value of their investments. KPIs also enable project managers and teams to understand where the project is succeeding and what adjustments are necessary going forward. Here, business intelligence and analytics tools help capture and transform raw data into actionable information for sharing and decision-making.
|Tool||Target company size||Free version||Free trial|
|SAP Lumira||1 – 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|Zoho Reports||1 – 999||Yes||Yes|
Cyfe is a web-based all-in-one business dashboard that allows project managers, business leaders and other stakeholders to capture, monitor, analyze, measure, and share everything from project data to marketing, sales, support, infrastructure, and social media information. Cyfe uses pre-built widgets to securely pull data from popular services such as Basecamp, Google Calendar, Salesforce, and so on, thereby reducing manual workarounds. Features include real-time reporting, sharing of customizable dashboards, goal setting, offline alerts, data archiving and exporting, and TV mode to rotate one or more dashboards for viewing on a big screen monitor.
Cyfe also offers data mashups to “slice and dice” unrelated metrics from multiple sources to create new insights, helping project teams see trends and correlations, and track and share KPIs with various departments. Dashboards can be customized for project teams, management, clients, finance, marketing, sales, IT, and more. Integrations include Zapier, Zendesk, FreshBooks, Basecamp, Google Calendar, Salesforce, Xero, Google Analytics and more.
SAP Lumira is a business intelligence and analytics tool that offers the ability to take large amounts of data from multiple sources and create a story using data visualization. Its predictive functionality gives users the “why” behind the data to help zoom in on the root cause, and data visualizations help everyone understand data patterns, making it easier to communicate.
With SAP Lumira, project managers, team members, and other stakeholders can create interactive maps, charts, and infographics that can be analyzed and shared for faster decision-making. Features include ad-hoc analysis, queries, reports, benchmarking, budgeting, forecasting, dashboards, data analysis, data visualization, KPIs, performance metrics, predictive analytics, profitability analysis, and strategic planning. SAP integrations are numerous; a full listing of community and partner application integrations are available at the SAP App Center.
Zoho Reports is a web-based business intelligence tool with a drag-and-drop interface that enables project managers and other stakeholders to analyze business data visually, and to make informed decisions. Project managers can connect and combine data from various sources, visually analyze data, create reports and dashboards, and securely collaborate. Features include a variety of charts, widgets, pivot tables, tabular view components, a “spreadsheet-like” interface for data addition, analysis and reporting, pre-built analytical functions, and dashboard capabilities for KPI tracking and sharing.
Zoho Reports also offers a charts picker feature that provides multiple types of charts you can customize to fit your needs. Reports can be emailed, printed or embedded, and Zoho Reports offers detailed drill-downs and a set of powerful APIs. Integrations include Zoho suite apps, Salesforce CRM, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, QuickBooks, Xero and Zendesk through ready-made connectors.
Templates, checklists, and forms
In addition to the tools previously mentioned, there are many other templates, checklists and forms that a project manager can use to manage work more effectively and to become more productive. Many of these are available for download on various project management websites.
|Tool||Target company size||Free version||Free trial|
|Projectmanager.com||1 – 1,000+||N/A||N/A|
|Projectmanagement.com||1 – 1,000+||N/A||N/A|
|Project Management Institute||1 – 1,000+||No (membership)||N/A|
Projectmanager.com is a website dedicated to helping anyone interested in project management or those already in the field with tools, tips, templates, videos, guides and books by founder and CEO Jason Westland. It also fosters a community where project members can discuss relevant topics. Available templates include work schedules, Gantt charts, project plans, timesheets and more. There is even a series of “Ultimate Guides” to various project management topics.
Projectmanager.com also offers project management software where professionals can plan, execute, monitor and report on project tasks, milestones, deliverables, schedules, budgets, time, quality and more.
Projectmanagement.com is powered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and offers webinar, templates, tips, tools, discussions on various topics, and information about events and what is happening in project management communities. Blog posts and content comes from many PMI-certified project managers on project-related topics. Templates are grouped by checklists, presentations, project plans and deliverables, while knowledge and tools are grouped by resources, education and reference center. There is a wealth of resources for project managers on this website, covering everything for those considering a career in project management to seasoned professionals.
Project Management Institute
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the most globally recognized non-profit project management certification organization. It offers information on getting certified, project management events, a knowledge center with content contributed by members as well as the PMI’s own annual “Pulse of the Profession” surveys that discuss findings on various relevant topics and global trends, as well as other newsletters and reports.
In addition to the tools that have been mentioned above, you may also come across tools categorized as workflow management, work or project collaboration, scheduling or task management software. Each of these tools has different but specific purposes.
Professional services automation (PSA)
This type of tool helps professional service providers better manage the delivery of services to their clients, from initial contact through to the billing cycle.
This tool helps companies capture, execute, monitor, measure, modify, and deliver the quality specifications that their customers expect.
Resource management software helps companies identify, plan, schedule, allocate, and manage resources to ensure that each precious resource is being carefully and effectively optimized.
Tools in this category typically address the scheduling of tasks, milestones, resources, and deliverables.
Task management software focuses specifically on improving how project tasks are organized, managed, scheduled, completed, and sometimes reported. Tools in the category may not be considered a full project management tool.
Time and expense management
This software focuses on automating the tracking and billing of employee or contractor timesheet information relating to projects.
Workflow management software helps businesses manage their processes or workflow, from the setup of a project, through to the execution and monitoring. By doing so, it automates and streamlines processes.
Work collaboration software is intended to improve individual and team productivity by better coordinating tasks and communication.
Many of the project management tools mentioned previously incorporate the features and functionality of these other tools. It is important to note though, not all tools will provide the exact same functionality. Each vendor should be carefully compared and evaluated based on their own capabilities in relation to your project goals. Make sure to do your due diligence to ensure the tool that your company selects fits all of your needs.
Added a new section that clarifies some of the other categories PM vendors may list their tools. Also, what each tool is about. We could start to build out new content for any/all of these tool types as there are many vendors that have tools specific to only one category.