Report Key Findings:
- A majority of prospective software buyers (58%) use a single method for project management.
- 70% of prospective buyers (in the sample) currently use manual methods for their project management needs.
- Time tracking and task management are the top-requested software capabilities, each mentioned by 60% of buyers.
- 64% of prospective buyers mentioned the need to improve organization and workflow efficiency as motivation for seeking Web-based PM software.
- Many more project managers (64%) than owners and executives (38%) want scheduling and deadline functionality.
Due to the fact that telecommuting is fast on the rise, it’s not a surprise that the majority of small business PM software buyers prefer a Web-based solution and not an on-premise one. The study refers exclusively to those small-business buyers with a Web-based deployment preference.
More than Two-Thirds of Buyers Still Use Manual Methods
The percentage of those who are still using manual methods is pretty high: 70%. Kelly Bedrich, director of information technology (IT) and a certified project management professional, says that these results are not surprising.
“The bottom line is, project managers have to work at a base level,” he says. “Most people will whip out the Excel spreadsheet, and then likely transfer [it] into a project management software tool once things become more formalized.” By “base level,” Bedrich is referring to project managers’ involvement in projects at the inception or ideation phase. At this point in the life cycle of a project, the simplest, most familiar tools are often used to capture ideas.
If the things are more simple at the beginning, when pen&paper, spreadsheets, and email can be good enough, as the situation becomes more complex, these basic methods need to be supplemented by project management software.
60 Percent Want Time Tracking and Task Management Functionality
When speaking about functionality, the top three requirements are Time Tracking, Task Management, and Project tracking/status. These seem pretty obvious, as they are at the core of every project (they help you understand how well a project is progressing and how profitable it is).
Managers Seek Task Management, Scheduling and Deadline Functionality
When analyzing the results, there are some differences between the functionality that project managers are seeking compared to what owners/executives are looking for.
While owners/executives and project managers tend to agree on most of the functionality they seek, a much higher percentage of project managers (64%) than owner/executives (38%) want scheduling and deadline capabilities. In fact, this is the top-requested functionality among project managers, along with task management (also sought by 64 percent).
By contrast, owners/executives cite time tracking as their top-requested capability (61 percent). While 55 percent of project managers also request time tracking functionality, a greater percentage overall seek task management and scheduling and deadline capabilities.
These discrepancies can be explained by the fact that project managers are more involved with managing the day-to-day operations and requirements of projects, in which deadlines affect dependencies. If certain milestones are not hit, other parts of a project may stagnate. Owners, by contrast, appear to be more concerned with cost-efficiency, for which time-tracking can provide insightful data.
For buyers considering Web-based project management software, time-tracking and task management functionality are top priorities. For project managers specifically, scheduling and deadlines and task management functionality are the most necessary.
Other prospective buyers seeking this software should note that the most desired capabilities, regardless of job title, all involve managing time and tasks. After all, these tools represent the unique advantages of Web-based PM systems: They allow users to more easily manage complex interactions and to seamlessly collaborate on projects from anywhere in the world.