The requirements of stakeholders from a project management software are changing. Older software that focused on robustness and richness in project management features, at the expense of user friendliness and simplicity, are becoming more and more extinct. Being replaced by software that focus on collaboration and clear and timely communication. But there is still a lot to be done.
Today, when anyone asks me for recommendation for a project management software, I usually propose cloud based user friendly solutions. I am not into desktop any more. I think desktop and server based applications are not doing the job any more. For those who are worried about security, local cloud can be the answer.
Another thing I like to recommend is to stick to tools that are more geared towards the team member and executive as users, rather than the traditional focus on the project manager being the heaviest user of the tool. There is still a lot of room for improvement for tools that provide central command information to executives, integrated with other operational information from the finance, HR, and other departments.
Back to our question: Which is the best project management software? My answer is drifting away from the “usual culprits.” I think most of them are becoming too cumbersome and heavily loaded with features that most users never use. At the expense of user friendliness, meaningful information, and real enterprise wide integration.
If I am to recommend a tool to run a project, I would refer people to try one of the web based tools. However, cloud based and user friendly software are a bit off on their reporting abilities from an enterprise perspective. I also do not see the needed integration across organizational functions. I believe that combining simplicity with meaningful cross functional data is difficult. However, I believe the prize is huge for the company that can achieve it.
The project management industry is changing. I think the main reason for the change is that it is changing from a “priesthood” discipline where only experts can handle the project management software, to a topic that is becoming a necessity for any company to succeed. Hence every one including executives and team members are interested in the answer. It used to be that project management is something the project manager would “handle.” Not any more. However, the cycle of change is moving much slower than market evolution. Here is why:
Anywhere you look in the PM software market you find disgruntled stakeholders. Regardless of the industry, the only user who seems happy with the tool is the direct user; the project manager or planner who is responsible for maintaining the information in the system. This exclusivity provides job security for the “tool handler” and that might contribute to their satisfaction with the tool. But if you ask managers, are they getting what they want from their EPM system? I have seldom heard raving reviews. Same with team members, department managers, and team leaders.
The company who can answer this call for change will reap the rewards of the suppressed market.