Project Management Software

What should one look for in a Project Management Software package? We have compared and contrasted some of the most popular Project Management Software package available today. We hope the information below helps you make the right choice when selecting project management software for yourself or your organization.

Project Management Software quality has improved significantly in the past two or three years. Before that, Microsoft Project was arguably the "best" choice -- and its performance, reliability and track record was mediocre at best.

Project Management Software tools can be divided into three basic categories:

Low-end software: Provides only basic project management features and generally cost less than $200. Can create Gantt charts. Best for small projects or single users. An example is AccuPlan from I-SSIS.

Mid-range software: Cost between $300 and $1,000. In addition to Gantt charts, mid-range software can usually handle network diagrams, critical path analysis, resource allocation, project tracking, status reporting, etc. Examples:Microsoft Project, Share360 from Cybozu, Primavera Systems SureTrak Project Manager.

High-end software: This is also referred to as enterprise project management. Project Management Software in this category is quite robust and allows for very large projects, dispersed workgroups, and enterprise functions that summarize and combine individual project information to provide an enterprise view of all projects. High-end Project Management Software is usually licensed on a per-user basis. An example is AMS Realtime.

Goals any good Project Management Software should strive for:

Increase Productivity and Efficiency: Automate standard processes and eliminate redundant data entry points to reduce the time spent on routine project functions. Allow faster, easier access to current project information in order to in order to significantly reduce meeting preparation times; this facilitates more effective meetings, and supports more proactive project management.

Enhance Visibility and Mitigate Risks: Quickly and easily retrieve accurate project and facility data to allow faster and better-informed decision-making. Develop a risk-mitigation plan by documenting project communications and decisions throughout the facility lifecycle.

Quicken Time to Profit or Revenue: Speed-up project schedules by automating and optimizing manual processes, reducing response and approval cycle times, and creating a knowledge-base components for future expansion and retrofit projects.

Reduce Costs, while Maintaining Quality: A particular Project Management Software program's integrated cost control tools should provide accurate and timely cost information to let mangers better plan by finding potential overruns early in the project's lifecycle. Eliminating multiple data entry points ensures greater data integrity and enhances quality.

Standardize Processes and Best Practices: Standardize business processes using corporate standards, industry best practices, and regulatory guidelines. Benchmark project results for continuous process optimization.

Better Use and/or Enhance Existing Technology Investments: Project Management Software design should allow one to integrate with existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and document management systems, hence enhancing previous technology investments.

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Here are our top choices for project management software and books that teach you how to use it:

Project Management Tool Kit, The: 100 Tips and Techniques for Getting the Job Done Right
by Tom Kendrick

"WHAT: Documenting the activities resulting from the lowest level of the project work breakdown structure (WBS) and assigning an owner to each..."

Book Info
Provides the current and proven techniques in project management and gives step-by-step instructions for using these techniques. Covers cost estimating, budgeting, communications, negotiating, decision-making, and more. Softcover. DLC: Project management--Outlines, syllabi, etc.

Book Description:
People responsible for managing projects are busy. And their jobs are made more difficult by time pressures, project complexity, and a lack of resources. Their ability to execute a project efficiently and well, especially in unexpected or new situations, is compromised. But it needn't be.

The Project Management Tool Kit presents proven project management techniques in an accessible, easy-to-apply format. Based on the approaches used by successful project managers in many fields, the Tool Kit offers step-by-step methodologies for managing every conceivable project step. Professionals at all levels will get the latest on:

* cost estimating and budgeting * communications and technology * goals for individuals and project teams * negotiation and decision making * establishing and retaining management support * implementing change and process improvement * quality assurance and control * risk assessment and management * scheduling and time management * and more -- 100 subject areas in all!

Complete with checklists and other tools for quick implementation, here is a practical and complete guide to mastering any project challenge.


A great reference work
This is a very useful reference work which delivers exactly what it promises: every tool in the project manager's toolkit is defined concisely and precisely. It was easy to find concepts and techniques which I could apply to current projects. The ability to cross-reference related tools and subject areas is particularly helpful. Perhaps most valuable for the experienced project manager are the detailed checklists which highlight issues to be considered and tasks to be performed when applying each tool.

good practical techniques that really work
This book provides a great overview on proven techniques and approaches that really work. This is exactly what project managers are looking for after reading the PMBOK®! It shows the "how to ..." which is missing in the PMBOK®. The tools are easy to grasp, and the approach goes far beyond the pure technical and methodological stuff to the human side--which is the essential part in most projects

Quick and Concise
Excellent reference tool! Having practiced PM for over 20 years I know that, due to projects' unique elements, no project manager uses all their skills and tools all the time. This book is great to have to go to for a quick, easy to get to, no-nonsense refresher for those skills that may be a little rusty.

A practical handbook
This is a down to earth handbook that that describes in concise, accessible format 100 essential project management tools and concepts drawn from Mr. Kendrick's considerable experience. This book will save any new project manager the many years that it would take to accumulate this knowledge on their own. For experienced project managers, it offers a consolidated ready reference. Keep it in your project management library. top of page

A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide (PMBOK Guides) 2004 edition
by Project Management Institute

"The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is an inclusive term that describes the sum of knowledge within the profession of project management..."

Product Description:
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)– 2004 Edition is your basic reference and the world’s de facto standard for the project management profession. It was designated an American National Standard by the American National Standards Institute.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) is an inclusive term that describes the sum of knowledge within the profession of project management. The PMBOK® Guide identifies and describes the subset of principles and practices within the PMBOK® that are generally accepted and applicable to most projects most of the time. The guide also provides a common lexicon for talking about project management. Project management is a relatively young profession, and while there is substantial commonality around what is done, there is relatively little commonality in the terms used. An extensive glossary further aids in standardizing definitions of the most important concepts, terms, and phrases.

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) uses the PMBOK® Guide as one of the references for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certification Examination. Major revisions and expansions of this edition include:

• Aligned newly added processes, tools, and techniques with the five project processes and nine knowledge areas. For example, reserve time, variance analysis, and activity attributes were added to Chapter 6 (Project Time Management); estimating publications and earned value were added to Chapter 7 (Project Cost Management); and project reports, project presentations, and project closure were added to Chapter 10 (Project Communications Management).

• Added a section in Chapter 2 to acknowledge the role of the Project Office; expanded the treatment of earned value management in Chapter 4 and Chapter 10; and added a brief discussion of the Theory of Constraints in Chapter 6.

• Expanded Chapter 11 (Project Risk Management) to include six processes instead of the previous four: Risk Management Planning, Risk Identification, Risk Assessment, Risk Quantification, Risk Response Planning, and Risk Monitoring and Control.

• Strengthened the linkage between organizational strategy and project management throughout.

The PMBOK® Guide is one of those indispensable tools that you will want at your fingertips, both at work and in your home office. Selected as a suggested resource for CAPM®, CAQ® Automotive Product Development, CAQ Capital Projects, CAQ Information Technology Systems, CAQ Information Technology Networking, and CAQ Project Management Office exam preparation.

Reviews of 2000 edition:

Necessary for PMP exam
PMI has put a lot of work into this version. Compared to the 1996 version this one reads better, shows clearer relationships between knowledge areas, and has been greatly expanded in some of the knowledge areas - most notably risk management and earned value project management. The CD ROM version that I am reviewing has additional refinements that make this media easier to work with. The 1996 version in electronic format was a collection of standalone Adobe Acrobat files, this version is a single Acrobat file that makes good use of Acrobat's navigation features.

If your reason for buying the PMBOK 2000 is to prepare for the Project Management Professional certification you have two choices: CD ROM or book, because this is the primary source of test questions. Heed the previous reviewer's comments that the 2001 examinations will also use the 1996 version as a basis for test questions. If you are buying this book to implement project management processes that conform to the PMBOK and work in the computer industry I recommend that you also look at Information Technology Project Management by Kathy Schwalbe. That book presents a project management approach for IT projects that is closely aligned to the PMBOK.

Essential for PMP candidates
This CD ROM contains is the electronic form (Adobe Acrobat format) of a set of guidelines that represent two things: (1) a De Jure standard for project management, which is the American National Standard classified as ANSI/PMI 99-001-2000 and (2) one of the primary resources that you need to thoroughly know in order to successfully pass the Project Management Professional(PMP)certification examination. NOTE: According to the Project Management Institute candidates seeking PMP certification in 2001 will also be responsible for the content in the older PMBOK dated 1996 also available from

What it contains: this CD ROM is identical in format and content as the hard copy versions of the PMBOK 2000 edition. Its 211 pages are divided into four sections that are comprised of 12 chapters and seven appendices.

Section I consists of three chapters that introduce the guide and briefly describes terms and definitions. It also provides an overview of the nine knowledge areas and 39 processes embodied in the project management framework. Chapter 2 adds a brief piece on the role of project offices, which was not in the 1996 edition. Chapter 3 appears to have taken a few ideas from the British PM standard, PRINCE 2 (PRojects IN a Controlled Environment) because more attention appears to be given to phases and interactions among phases. Another interesting thing I noted about Chapter 3 is the inclusion (although brief) of iterative development. If you are in IT/IS you will recognize how this can be aligned to the Rational Unified Process or other iterative development approaches.

The nine chapters in Section II address each of the nine knowledge areas and their associated processes. The knowledge areas are: project integration management, scope management, time management, cost management, quality management, human resources management, communications management, risk management and procurement management. The knowledge areas and processes in the 2000 edition have undergone some refinement and expansion from what is in the 1996 edition: Chapters 4 and 10 have a lot more material on earned value (I recommend Earned Value Project Management, 2nd edition as an augment to the PMBOK because the authors of that book were instrumental in adding earned value to the PMBOK), Chapter 6 touches on theory of constraints (a good book that extends this is Project Management in the Fast Lane by Robert Newbold), and Chapter 11, risk management, has been expanded to include six processes instead of four that were covered in the 1996 edition.

Section III is a collection of seven appendices, of which Appendix G, Summary of Project Management Knowledge Areas, is the most valuable. Section IV is a glossary and index.

It's a given that if you are pursuing PMP certification the PMBOK is a must. The burning question is whether or not you should get the hard copy or CD ROM version. I personally prefer the hard copy version because of the way I read (not to mention the eyestrain from reading off a monitor). However, the CD ROM version is a lot more portable, and you can print out the entire PMBOK or selected sections for offline reading. There is also something to be said for the way the CD ROM version is hyperlinked, making it a convenience. I have it in both formats, but you will have to decide which is most convenient for you - or spend the extra money and get the book and CD ROM. top of page