It can be difficult to figure out which project management software will fit your teams’ unique circumstances best. Even if you find a tool that meets most of your requirements, it likely won’t be a silver bullet solution. That’s why the majority of project managers (58%) use at least two different products.
However, project managers often aren’t in the market for the be-all-end-all of project management software. Instead, they have a set of very specific needs or capability gaps they need a project management tool to fill. For example, a better task management system, an extended content calendar, or robust issue tracking capabilities.
Whether you’re looking for a tool that will serve as a command center for your whole team, or a tool that can help with a specific need you have, will help you figure out which tool will work best for you.
Product Recommendations For Every Use Case
Below you’ll find the 9 most common use cases for project management software paired with a product recommendation based on a recent TrustRadius survey of 200+ project management professionals.
- The Best PM Tools For Personal Projects
- The Best PM Tool For Team Projects
- The Best PM Tool For Client Projects
- The Best PM Tool For Marketing Project Management
- The Best PM Tool For Project Portfolio Management
- The Best PM Tool For IT Project Management
- The Best PM Tool For Resource Project Management
- The Best PM Tool For Time Tracking
- The Best PM Tool For Bug/issue Tracking
#1 The Best PM Tool For Personal Projects
Do you ever wish there was a better way to collaborate with friends while planning a vacation? Or keep track of important decisions while renovating your bathroom? Or have an easy to access to-do list for all your daily tasks? There is!
Project management tools weren’t only made for the office, but are a great way to help organize and keep track of your personal life as well.
Personal project management tools can help you keep track of larger project progress, view deadlines, and keep your daily to-dos organized. They also include time-saving communication and collaboration features. And there’s no shortage of free or ‘freemium’ tools out there to help you stay organized.
According to project management software users, Trello is one of the most popular tools for personal project management. 19% of survey respondents use Trello for this purpose.
Trello is designed to be simple to use and make it easy to visualize project progress using its kanban board infrastructure. It also offers a free version for a limited number of users.
“Anybody could use this tool. I have been using it to manage my work schedule of tasks and daily plan. I also use Trello to manage my yearly goals and track progress. I have a specific board set up for content management for blogs/social media ideas. The number of options of what can be done is just endless.”Ben C. | Risk Manager, and Insurance Agent | Insurance Agency Inc.
#2 The Best PM Tool For Team Projects
Project teams usually consist of a project manager, an executive sponsor, team members, and sometimes a dedicated project or business analyst. To ensure that projects run smoothly, efficiently, and stay on deadline, project managers should be using software that can help them achieve these goals.
Some of the most important software features to have in a project management tool to help manage team-based projects include:
- Communication capabilities (e.g. messaging, comment threads, discussion histories)
- Ability to easily assign tasks and due dates for individual tasks
- A high-level view of overall project progress (e.g. Gantt charts, timelines, or task dependencies)
- Strong collaboration features
- Document storage and version control
- Reporting capabilities that allow you to calculate time spent on tasks
- Access to multiple project management methodologies
Asana is one of the most popular tools for managing team projects. 25% of TrustRadius survey respondents use it for this use case.
On its free plan, Asana offers users multiple ways to view projects (e.g. kanban, list, and calendar view) and task and due date assignment for up to 15 users. The paid plans offer extra features that help project managers keep their teams on track. These include the ability to see task dependencies, a project timeline, and reporting capabilities.
“We have been using Asana in our organization to effectively manage the tasks among the team members. Using Asana we have been able to keep track of all our colleagues’ tasks in one place and also can easily see the progress. What I like best about this tool is that we can easily create, assign and communicate among the team members.”Verified User | Employee in Information Technology | Information Services Company
#3 The Best PM Tool For Client Projects
While strong communication and collaboration features are essential for all PM tools, client projects require additional capabilities. These include the ability to invite both internal and external stakeholders to view project progress, advanced project reporting, and time tracking capabilities (for billing purposes).
Not all project management tools allow non-users to view project progress, or have strong reporting. If the majority of your project management duties involve overseeing projects for clients or customers, make sure your PM tool has these features.
One popular software for client project management is Microsoft Project. 21% of survey respondents use Microsoft Project to manage external projects.
Microsoft Project is a good fit for client project management as it includes the ability to share project progress with external users and time tracking capabilities. If you’re interested in learning more about how to share Microsoft Project with external users, check out these resources from Microsoft.
“We use Microsoft Project in the Engineering Department to schedule our projects. We share the same schedule with customers to inform them of the status of their project on a weekly basis. It helps us to track the project in entirety. And gives an idea to Project Managers and Engineering Managers on the status of the projects.”Verified User | Analyst in Marketing | Oil & Energy Company
#4 The Best PM Tool For Marketing Project Management
In-house marketing teams, event management teams, digital content agencies, marketing and design agencies, and advertising firms can all benefit from using project management tools designed with marketing needs in mind.
There are a handful of key features that all types of marketing project managers can benefit from, whether you’re tracking campaign progress, developing content assets, hosting a webinar, creating an event presentation, etc.
Some of the most important marketing-related features your project management software should include are:
- Collaboration and communication tools
- Calendar and timeline view
- Document storage
- Scheduling features
- Time and expense tracking
- Resource management
Wrike is a popular choice for marketing project management, and 23% of survey respondents use it for this specific use case.
Along with other project management capabilities, Wrike offers marketing teams and agencies features like calendar view, real-time communication, digital asset review and approval, and digital asset publishing to help serve marketing-specific needs. It also includes pre-built templates for a variety of marketing projects including campaign management, content development, event management, and a go-to-market plan.
“Wrike is used across the Marketing department. It is a way that we submit all requests for new assets, edits and future projects. It easily organizes all conversation in an easy to use interface. I was able to pick up the platform within the first week of it being introduced to me. We have never had an outage/downtime while using the product, so it has proven reliable.”Josh H. | Web Producer II | Marketing and Advertising Company
#5 The Best PM Tool For Project Portfolio Management
Typically, project management refers to the planning, facilitating, and execution of individual projects. Project portfolio management (PPM), on the other hand, provides companies with a top-down overview of all projects an organization has undertaken to achieve a specific strategic goal or outcome.
PPM software can help organizations optimize their resource allocation across initiatives, and figure out which projects will likely yield the biggest business benefit. This software includes features like:
- Automated reminders and notifications
- Gantt charts and timelines
- Resource planning and management
- Reporting capabilities
- Risk management
According to project management software end-users, Airtable is a popular tool for PPM. 14% of survey takers use Airtable for project portfolio management.
With its database framework, Airtable is well-suited for keeping track of resources across projects and departments. It also gives users the flexibility to view individual projects or portfolios in multiple different ways (e.g. Kanban, grid, calendar, gallery). Blocks grant users on higher-tier plans advanced capabilities like Gantt charts, pivot tables, and time tracking.
“We implemented Airtable within our strategy department for a large landscaping effort to build and maintain a database of completed and/or ongoing projects in our field from across the United States. Data collection is split across our internal team, an external team, and a crowd-sourcing mechanism for greater stakeholder engagement. It was imperative that the tool we chose be simple to use, quick to launch, and have varying levels of access for the different users.”Verified User | Employee in Other | Biotechnology Company
#6 The Best PM Tool For IT Project Management
IT project management involves the managing of any projects that deal with information systems, IT infrastructure, or computer software and technology. Examples of IT projects include software development, website creation, developing a website infrastructure, and developing a new mobile application.
Agile project management has been popular among IT project teams for a while now, though hybrid approaches blending elements of agile and waterfall methodologies are gaining in popularity. This blending of methodologies includes the best of both worlds. It allowing development teams to rely on traditional approaches for project planning and then bring in the iterative nature of agile approaches during project execution.
Planview ProjectPlace is one of the best tools for IT project management. 28% of survey respondents use it to help them manage and track IT projects.
Planview ProjectPlace offers features well suited for planning, tracking, and executing IT projects. These include agile workflows (e.g. Kanban boards), project roadmaps, Gantt charts, collaborative workstreams, file sharing and document management, project dashboards, and reporting.
“Projectplace is well suited for use in a large organization where multiple projects are shared across a division, and where multiple managers will have moving parts of a single project. Software releases are another good use of Projectplace, where moving parts have timing, and approvals are required for object release.“Verified User | Analyst in Information Technology | Computer Software Company
#7 The Best PM Tool For Resource Project Management
Organizations have five key resources at their disposal to use for various projects: people, materials and equipment, time, money, and knowledge. Given that these are finite resources, the goal of resource management is to keep track of these resources and allocate them efficiently across the business.
Depending on the organization and scale of projects undertaken, resource management can be done at the organizational level or the individual project level. Project portfolio management often includes resource planning and management to help ensure that resources are being used as strategically as possible.
According to project management software users, Microsoft Project is a popular tool for resource management. 15% of survey takers used Microsoft Project for this purpose.
Microsoft Project has specific features that make tracking and managing resources easier. These include Gantt charts, a timeline view, resource engagement requests, enterprise resource management tools, resource reporting, and the ability to submit timesheets.
“Microsoft Project helps to develop schedules, identify tasks, assign resources, tracks progress, helps manage the financial aspects of the project, and analyze workloads. It empowers the user to transform disorganized ideas into an ordered project. Microsoft Project is best suited for Project Managers, people who plan project timelines, and its dependencies.“Verified User | General Manager in Other | Food & Beverages Company
#8 The Best PM Tool For Time Tracking
For many project managers, time tracking is an essential part of keeping track of the individual workload your team members have. It’s also a must-have if you’re working on client projects in which you need to record all billable project hours.
Many project management tools either have built-in time tracking capabilities or integrations with time tracking software available.
Planview ProjectPlace is a popular project management software for time tracking. It’s used to help manage time by 17% of survey respondents.
ProjectPlace’s time tracking capabilities include the ability to see how much time is spent on kanban cards and Gantt chart activities, interactive timesheets for billing purposes, project deliverability predictions, project resource forecasting, and iOS and Android mobile applications to help record time spent on various tasks.
“It is a powerful tool for project management with agile methodology, including a document storage solution and time schedule that fits well the needs of the project manager… It shows the tasks in a time schedule view, allowing the user to switch between the agile interface of cards and an overview of the tasks and its correlations.”Verified User | Manager in Engineering | Mining & Metals Company
#9 The Best PM Tool For Bug/issue Tracking
Bug and issue tracking is an important part of overall project management for software development teams. Bug tracking software allows teams to record instances of bugs or issues within the software, and keep track of progress made to resolve these problems. Common features that these products offer include:
- Ability to record bugs
- Bug/issue tracking system
- Ability to assign bugs to specific team members
- Backlog catalog of all bug/issue submissions
- Centralized dashboard to view all current bug/issue submissions
From Atlassian, Jira Software is a popular bug tracking software. It was used by 23% of survey respondents to manage and keep track of issues.
Jira is an agile project management tool popular among software development teams. It helps teams stay organized and track progress with features like scrum and kanban boards, ability to create product roadmaps, ability to build customized workflows, and a backlog to house project tasks and to-dos.
“In my office, I am working as in Quality Assurance and we all are using JIRA Software to track issues. This is the best tool for tracking all the issues, stories, epic, test cases, etc. So far, I haven’t faced any issues using JIRA over the past 3 years.”Verified User | Engineer in Quality Assurance | Computer Software Company
Recap: Narrowing Down Your Project Management Options
One thing is clear looking at the list of project management use cases and recommended products above: the majority of PM tools don’t do everything perfectly. Instead, many tools do one or two things exceptionally well.
For example, Jira is one of the best tools you can find for bug/issue tracking. On the other hand, Microsoft Project’s native time tracking and resource tracking capabilities are essential for client project management and resource management.
Rather than looking for a project management tool that could fill every need you may ever have, look for a solution that will serve your most specific and biggest need the best.
The chart below summarizes which project management tools are used for specific use cases the most, based on survey responses from over 200 PM professionals.
Our 2019 Buyer’s Guide to Project Management Software gives a closer look at the 11 products included in the chart above. Product reviews are also a great place to find detailed information about user experiences with these solutions. To explore more reviews of commonly used PM software, click here.