There is a ton of confusion in the project management software market. A simple search on the term turns up hundreds of software packages. They range from high-end, super engineering type products which can be used to build bridges to simpler products which can make life easier for a two person design studio. How come there is so much confusion? How can someone get a handle on the type of product they need?
Part of the confusion stems from the definition of a project in itself. The Project Management Institute defines a project as “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique project, service, or result.” This mean it has a clear start and end-date and will deliver a product or service different from other products or services already offered. It means that the activities involved and the deliverables are unique and non-recurring. According to this definition, the more standard that tasks and deliverables become, the more the project becomes “operations.”
Operations, though, is exactly what most people are trying to improve on. Making something absolutely unique is a great undertaking, the realm of patents, engineers, R&D and product development. But most companies provide a product or service which already exists. While their product or service may be differentiated from competitors’ products, it is rarely something total unique. Where these companies make money is on being better than the competition at providing the product or service.
So, when looking for project management software, make sure you know what kind of “projects” you are looking to manage. Are they projects that conform to the official Project Management Institute type definition or are they more operations, type projects?
If you are looking to manage larger, one-off undertakings, projects that approach the official definition, you should look at higher-end, traditional engineer project management packages.
If you want to improve operations, make your company more efficient, your teams more effective and your people, including managers, happier, you should look at easier-to-use, next generation web-based project management software (like ours, Vertabase Pro).
While the types of projects this kind of software does a great job managing may not conform to the official Project Management Institute definition of a project, this seems to be what most people mean when they talk about project management.