Top-level project managers are in high demand, thanks to the high-level leadership, knowledge and capabilities they bring to bear on vital business projects. But having the right set of tools is also essential to project management success.
Project management tools and templates not only increase team productivity and effectiveness but also prepare the organization for changes brought about by high-impact projects. To perform at their best, project managers need to make the most of tools aimed at business intelligence and analytics, business requirements, change management and project management, as well as a wide array of forms and templates.
Here we have compiled the ultimate project manager’s toolkit to help you plan, execute, monitor and successfully polish off your next high-impact project.
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15 essential project management tools
|Tool||Category||Target company size||Free version||Free trial|
|SAP Lumira||BI/analytics||1 - 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|Zoho Reports||BI/analytics||1 - 999||Yes||Yes|
|TD/OMS||Change management||1 - 1,000+||Yes||N/A|
|Whatafix||Change management||10 - 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|Asana||Project management||50 - 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|Clarizen||Project management||10 - 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|Mavenlink||Project management||2 - 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|Wrike||Project management||10 - 1,000+||Yes||Yes|
|iRise||Requirements management||1 - 1,000+||Yes||No|
|Jama||Requirements management||10 - 1,000+||Yes||No|
|Projectmanager.com||Templates, checklists, forms||1 - 1,000+||N/A||N/A|
|Projectmanagement.com||Templates, checklists, forms||1 - 1,000+||N/A||N/A|
|Project Management Institute||Templates, checklists, forms||1 - 1,000+||No (membership)||N/A|
Business intelligence and analytics tools
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential to measuring and monitoring the performance, progress and impact of a project, and to keeping businesses and stakeholders informed on the value of their investments in any given project. More importantly, KPIs allow project managers and teams to understand how where the project is succeeding and what adjustments are necessary going forward. Here, business intelligence and analytics tools help project managers capture and transform raw data into actionable information for sharing and decision-making.
Cyfe is a web-based all-in-one business dashboard for small, medium and large businesses. It allows project managers, business leaders and other stakeholders to capture, monitor, analyze, measure and share everything from project data to marketing, sales, support, infrastructure and social media information. Cyfe uses pre-built widgets to securely pull data from popular services like Basecamp, Google Calendar, Salesforce, and so on, thereby reducing manual workarounds. Features include real-time reporting, sharing of customizable dashboards, goal setting, offline alerts, data archiving and exporting, and TV mode to rotate one or more dashboards for viewing on a big screen monitor.
Cyfe also offers data mashups to “slice and dice” unrelated metrics from multiple sources to create new insights, helping project teams see trends and correlations, and track and share KPIs with various departments. Dashboards can be customized for project teams, management, clients, finance, marketing, sales, IT and more. Integrations include Zapier, Zendesk, FreshBooks, Basecamp, Google Calendar, Salesforce, Xero, Google Analytics and more.
SAP Lumira is a business intelligence and analytics tool created for small to large businesses. This tool offers the ability to take large amounts of data from multiple sources and create a story using data visualization. Its predictive functionality gives users the "why" behind the data to help zoom in on the root cause, and data visualizations help everyone understand data patterns, making it easier to communicate.
With SAP Lumira, project managers, team members, and other stakeholders can create interactive maps, charts and infographics that can be analyzed and shared for faster decision-making. Features include ad-hoc analysis, queries, reports, benchmarking, budgeting, forecasting, dashboards, data analysis, data visualization, KPIs, performance metrics, predictive analytics, profitability analysis and strategic planning. SAP integrations are numerous; a full listing of community and partner application integrationsare available at the SAP App Center.
Zoho Reports is a web-based business intelligence tool with a drag-and-drop interface for small, medium and large businesses that assist project managers, leaders and other stakeholders to visually analyze your business data, and to make informed decisions. Project managers can connect and combine data from various sources, visually analyze data, create reports and dashboards, and securely collaborate. Features include a variety of charts, widgets, pivot tables, tabular view components, a “spreadsheet-like” interface for data addition, analysis and reporting, pre-built analytical functions, and dashboard capabilities for KPI tracking and sharing.
Zoho Reports also offers a charts picker feature that allows you to choose from multiple types of charts and customize these to fit your needs. Reports can be emailed, printed or embedded, and Zoho Reports offer detailed drill-downs. Zoho Reports also offers a set of powerful HTTP-based web APIs. Integrations include applications like Zoho CRM, Zoho Books, Zoho Projects, Zoho Creator, Zoho Recruit, Salesforce CRM, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, QuickBooks, Xero and Zendesk through ready-made connectors.
Change management tools
Change management tools help project managers and change management professionals ensure companies and employees are adequately prepared as processes change. These tools help to identify changes to workflows, map process changes, document changes and the impact to various areas, and educate and train employees around these changes to ensure a smooth transition.
Designed for development teams, TD/OMS by Remain Software is an application lifecycle management solution that helps companies respond to change faster. It supports IBM, Windows and Unix/Linux platforms. TD/OMS assists in improving software development, modernization, testing, deployment efficiencies, streamlining processes, reducing software defects, and ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction. With this tool, project managers can track software changes, document releases, streamline deployment, improve team collaboration, control software quality, and obtain insight and IT environment analysis. Features include workflow approvals, audit trails, change calendars, change planning, compliance management, prioritization, release management, task management and training management.
Built for small, medium and large enterprises, Whatafix is web-based change management tool that helps create customized individual onboarding and training programs to ensure successful change management and software migration. As changes occur in a business, Whatafix interactive guides help even out any declining employee productivity with efficient training and onboarding, directing users from end to end through software migrations. Features include self-help widgets to reduce support costs, interactive overlaid tip balloons to help employees learn, customizable workflow condition triggers, workflow approvals, compliance and training management, collaboration and chat, and advanced analytics to help measure the effectiveness of user engagement.
Project management tools
Project management tools are vital to ensuring teams can communicate and collaborate throughout the project life cycle. Many of these tools allow a project manager to share ideas; assign, schedule and track task and milestone progress; set and track budgets; maintain project details; trace quality; and identify risks and issues. The following list of project management solutions should help you find the right fit for your project, program, portfolio and company-wide business needs.
Asana’s web-based project management solution allows project leaders to take projects “from chaos to clarity.” Projects can be created and shared with teams, unlimited clients, vendors, contractors, third-parties and organization guests. Asana enables project managers to plan, visualize goals and milestones, set tasks and due dates, and communicate priorities, offers, central administration, and billing. Asana also allows companies to manage users and admins and configure authentication. Priority support is available through premium plans that offer dedicated “Success Managers” who provide front-line support and help companies maximize use of the app to meet their needs. Features include bug tracking, budget management, time and expense tracking, resource management, and testing/QA management. Asana also offers dashboards and collaboration features, and webinar training for the app. Asana integrates with many web and mobile apps including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Slack, Evernote, GitHub, WordPress, Jira, MailChimp, Zendesk, Xendo and much more.
Clarizen’s web-based project management software helps project managers “connect and engage your workforce across the enterprise.” It helps project managers to plan, scope, estimate, source, execute, schedule and monitor all activities. It is a robust, scalable solution that offers project portfolio management, project planning, document management, templates, resource management, change request and case management, social collaboration, task management, budget and expense management, financial management, and customizable reporting dashboards. Clarizen also offers enterprise-grade security, webinars, live online and in-person training, email collaboration using Clarizen InterAct, risk management and Clarizen Panels, and integrates with Excel, Salesforce, Google Docs, iCal Calendar, Active Directory Sync, Box, Chrome Extension, Holiday Loader, Google Maps, Outlook, Lotus Notes, Testuff, Intacct, OneLogin, Box, Jira and Digital Proofing.
The Mavenlink web-based project management solution “connects your people, projects, and profits” by unifying essential functions so that organizations can plan and deliver work, manage project financials and resources, and collaborate with distributed teams and clients. Mavenlink is designed for small, medium and large professional services organizations, and it offers resource planning, project accounting and advanced business intelligence capabilities, along with custom reporting and 40 pre-built reports. Project management offices can use templates to replicate and visualize their success using various timeline charting tools, and Mavenlink offers collaborative capabilities that enable teams to focus on specific elements such as timecards, expense reports, tasks, proofs, files, resource requests and change orders. There is also access to documentation, webinars, live online and in-person training, and 24/7 (live rep) support. Mavenlink integrates with Intacct, Salesforce, NetSuite, Jira, QuickBooks and Google Drive; it also offers customized integrations through its API.
Wrike’s web-based project management software allows “your team to work faster and smarter across your organization.” This task collaboration tool helps companies of all sizes improve communication, transparency and accountability for faster results. Wrike has visual dashboards and resource and workload management capabilities that help keep projects progressing on time and on budget. Features include budget management, bug tracking, collaboration, file sharing, Gantt charts, issue management, milestone tracking, percent-complete tracking, portfolio management, project planning, resource management, status tracking, task management, and time and expense tracking. Wrike integrates with GitHub, Jira, Google Drive, Wrike Everywhere, Dropbox, Adobe, Salesforce, Evernote, Zapier, Slack, Hubstaff, Bitium, Marketo, QuickBooks and LinkedIn.
Requirements management tools
Requirements management tools help project managers and companies identify, document, analyze, prioritize, track, monitor, trace and version requirements, and control change. The following requirements management tools fit the bill, but if you want a more in-depth look at how to evaluate requirements management tools, see “How to pick the best requirements management tool.”
Aha is a web-based requirements management solution that helps companies and project managers “define the whys, whens, and whats,” before jumping into a project. It is a cloud-based requirements management tool that links business vision and goals with initiatives by analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and helping to build a roadmap to meet strategic goals. Aha offers centralized requirements designing; analysis and reports; customizable navigation, layouts, and workflow; boards for prioritizing planned work and parked items; the ability to include details on each card within a board and scoring capabilities for each card; mockups; dependency visualization; progress tracking; list generating and more. Aha integrates with Trello, Salesforce, Slack, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Zapier, G Suite, Zendesk and more.
iRise is web-based requirements management software that “combines prototyping with requirements management to allow stakeholders to interact with and validate business requirements before you commit to building them.” Project managers can add navigation, media, rich interactions, business logic and sample data for a true app experience. This allows users to “uncover design flaws, requirements gaps, and usability errors,” according to the company. iRise functionality offers the ability to mimic a true user experience. Features include collaboration, history tracking, prioritization, status reporting, summary reports, to-do lists, traceability, and user-defined attributes. iRise integrates with Jira, G Suite, IBM Rational, Okta, Blueprint, Rally, Visual Studio, ConfirmIQ, Jama and other applications.
Jama is web-based requirements management and product development software for small to large businesses. It allows companies to effectively capture, define and execute projects to meet customer requirements. Jama enables collaboration in real-time; the setting of relationship rules; validation, verification and testing; version comparisons; compliance; workflow governance and reporting. Features include collaboration, history tracking, prioritization, status reporting, summary reports, to-do lists, traceability and user-defined attributes. Jama integrates with Jira, VersionOne, MagicDraw, TFS, TraceTronic, HPQC, Enterprise Architect and more.
Templates, checklists, and forms
In addition to the tools previously mentioned, there are many other templates, checklists and forms that a project manager can use to manage work more effectively and to become more productive. Many of these are available for download on various project management websites.
Projectmanager.com is a website dedicated to helping anyone interested in project management or those already in the field with tools, tips, templates, videos, guides and books by founder and CEO Jason Westland. It also fosters a community where project members can discuss relevant topics. Available templates include work schedules, Gantt charts, project plans, timesheets and more. There is even a series of “Ultimate Guides” to various project management topics.
In addition to all the tips, training videos and templates, Projectmanager.com also offers project management software where professionals can plan, execute, monitor and report on project tasks, milestones, deliverables, schedules, budgets, time, quality and more.
Projectmanagement.com is powered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and offers webinar, templates, tips, tools, discussions on various topics, and information about events and what is happening in project management communities. Blog posts and content comes from many PMI-certified project managers on project-related topics. Templates are grouped by checklists, presentations, project plans and deliverables, while knowledge and tools are grouped by resources, education and reference center. There is a wealth of resources for project managers on this website covering everything for those considering a career in project management to seasoned professionals.
Project Management Institute
The PMI is the most globally recognized non-profit project management certification organization. It offers information on getting certified, project management events, a knowledge center with content contributed by members as well as the PMI’s own annual “Pulse of the Profession” surveys that discuss findings on various relevant topics and global trends, as well as other newsletters and reports.