Project Management

What is Project Management?

What is Project Management?

Project Management Helps You:

  • Deliver projects on time
  • Stay within budget limits
  • Organize and track project details
  • Enhance collaboration and communication

Deliver projects on time

Anyone who’s overseen or participated in a project knows the grim reality — successful projects aren’t easy to achieve. And one of the primary measures of success is completing the project on time.

Yet nearly 40% of projects in 2018 failed to meet their intended timeline, according to a study conducted by Forrester.

Many factors can derail a project’s delivery, such as a change in a project’s priorities or objectives. When a project’s parameters aren’t defined and clearly stated, it’s easy for a project to swell beyond its original intent. That’s known as scope creep and, as you’d expect, it can wreak havoc on a timeline.

Project management software is built with a variety of tools that make it easier to control project scope and keep deliverables on time:

  • Gantt charts: This common feature provides a visual breakdown of a project’s stages, individual tasks and due dates. It also shows which person is responsible for each task.
  • Timelines: Similar to Gantt charts, timelines present project information visually. Some solutions have a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to rearrange items.
  • Task dependencies: Often, certain tasks can’t begin until others are completed. For example, publishing content on a website requires the website first to be built and wireframed. Proper project management tools allow you to link tasks that show dependencies so your team works on tasks in the right order.
  • The critical path: Every project has an essential list of tasks needed to complete it. The critical path helps identify those activities and the shortest amount of time required from start to finish. Tools that have this capability let you define and see the critical path in a Gantt chart or a similar layout.

Stay within budget limits

Staying on or under budget is another critical piece of a successful project. Materials, labor, equipment, services and contingency costs are some of the line items for any given project.

Projects that have a lot of moving parts or continually evolve to include additional specifications need constant supervision to ensure they remain within the budget.

Cost estimation is helpful for determining the size budget needed to support the project’s costs. There are a number of techniques you can use at different stages of the planning phase. But once a project is underway, it doesn’t take much for the actual costs to change.

Imagine a scenario where bad weather delays the construction of a new highway. This adds extra labor costs, and it may also require the purchase of additional materials.

Scope also impacts budgets. PMI research suggests roughly half of projects fall prey to scope creep, but any project is vulnerable to uncontrolled changes. Renovating an old home and discovering it needs significant upgrades to be up to code is a simple example.

Project management software provides several different ways to gain insights on budgets. We’ll look at the two most common: reports and dashboards.


The majority of applications have dashboards, ranging from simple views to comprehensive overviews of project data. Visibility into spending is essential for staying on top of costs. Dashboards summarize key metrics like billable hours and project spend.


Many systems also allow you to generate reports across a range of KPIs. This is helpful for tracking a project’s spending history. In addition, reports can compare projected versus actual costs for margin, margin rates, billable totals and more.

Organize and track project details

Some projects are small — e.g., publishing a newsletter. But many projects exist on a much larger scale. Examples include constructing a highrise, implementing an ERP system or rolling out a new product.

Any project involves details you need to organize and keep track of. The bigger the project, the more complicated that becomes. Project managers have to keep their finger on the pulse of hundreds if not thousands of data points such as direct and indirect costs, team member workloads, deadlines, etc. You can see how quickly it becomes overwhelming.

Because of this, project management is designed to streamline and organize everything, from who’s responsible for what deliverables to the individual tasks needed. Here are some of the main tools that help bring order to the chaos:

  • Resource management: You can view team member workloads and reassign work if necessary to keep things flowing smoothly.
  • Boards and cards: Boards provide a way to organize project workflows using columns, while cards can represent specific tasks or deliverables. This allows you to easily see particular details while keeping information organized.
  • Notifications: The system alerts users for a host of different cases, such as getting tagged or having a card assigned to them.
  • Attachments: All major systems let you attach files and many support integration with apps like Dropbox for easy file storage. This centralizes important project documents and makes them readily accessible.
  • Checklists:You can keep track of specific items related to tasks, phases and other project elements. Everyone can see what’s completed and what’s left to do.

Enhance collaboration and communication

Communication makes the world — and projects — go round. Without clear communication, problems are impossible to avoid. And the bigger the project, with the more people involved, the more essential it becomes to make collaboration as easy as possible.

It’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. You can picture what would happen if the project manager wasn’t alerted about a production bottleneck or only half the team knew about a tweak in the workflow.

Whatever the case may be, you can’t afford to have poor communication. That’s like trying to negotiate a peace treaty over the phone with a bad connection.

Fortunately, project management solutions are equipped with features that facilitate better collaboration and communication:

  • Guest access, which allows admins to invite external users and set permission levels
  • Comments and @tagging capability
  • Description fields
  • Activity feeds
  • Built-in due dates so it’s clear when a task needs to be finished by
  • Email integration for responding to comments and creating tasks from your inbox


What is Project Management?

Project management is the process of overseeing a particular set of tasks that together form a project and are executed to produce a product, service or other deliverable. Unlike ongoing business activities, projects have a defined scope, occur within a set period of time and have a specific cost associated with them.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines five main stages of a project, known as the project management lifecycle:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Closing

Using these stages, teams can effectively lay out and then accomplish an entire project.

What is Project Management Software?

Project management software is used to help project managers oversee individual projects at a high level. These systems can:

  • Track the employees working on a project
  • Monitor the status of a project
  • Control costs to make sure they’re staying on budget
  • Aid in collaboration

In other words, it helps take your projects from start to finish while maintaining the designated budget and deadlines.

Project Management vs. PPM

Many organizations have multiple projects happening at once. Similar to tracking the details of a specific project, they also need to stay on top of each current project in order to allocate budget and resources accordingly as well as plan for the future.

That’s where project portfolio management (PPM) solutions come in handy. They include features that help organizations successfully execute a portfolio of projects at the same time while taking business strategies into consideration.

Who is Project Management Software For?

Anyone can use project management tools, from individuals to organizations with multiple teams. It can bring benefits to companies in any industry, and the diverse range of products available covers project requirements from the most basic to the highly complex.

Users can include project managers, team members and external collaborators, such as clients or contractors.

What are the Main Benefits?

Every company, no matter the size, depends on successful project execution to complete business initiatives and conduct operations. Project management applications enable organizations to:

  • Keep projects aligned to their original purpose
  • Deliver the desired end result
  • Control scope creep
  • Give project managers visibility into key project data
  • Reveal bottlenecks
  • Effectively manage tasks
  • Streamline complex workflows

What Are Some Drawbacks?

Although leveraging technology for project management can bring significant benefit to your company, they aren’t without drawbacks.

  • Cost: Apart from free versions, software isn’t cheap. And since many vendors use a SaaS model, the more users you need, the more you’ll pay. That can add up to a sizeable investment. You need to make sure the ROI justifies the cost.
  • User adoption: If your team is used to spreadsheets and post-it notes, transitioning to a software solution may be difficult. And a solution isn’t valuable unless teams use it and it makes their jobs easier.
  • Execution: Project management software is helpful for many things, but it can’t do everything. Individual team members are still responsible for doing the work.
  • Access: Giving external users the ability to view and edit project details is useful. But you need to be careful with the settings to ensure prying eyes aren’t accessing sensitive information.
  • Complexity: Having a lot of features is only helpful if you’ll use them. A system that comes with capabilities beyond what you need will be more confusing than it’s worth.

What Types Are There?

The different types of project management software fall into two main categories: how they’re hosted and who they’re for.


Cloud-based: Many solutions are hosted in the cloud, where the software exists on the vendor’s server and is used via the internet. This provides flexibility so users can access the platform from anywhere they have an internet connection.

On-premise: A few of the major platforms, such as Jira and Microsoft Project, also offer a self-hosted option. This lets you install the software on your company’s servers, giving you more control over the system and providing greater customization options.


Team size: You can find a number of platforms that have a free version. While they don’t have the range of features and don’t support as many users as their premium counterparts, this can be a good option for smaller teams or individuals.

Methodology or use case: Some products are designed for specific project management methodologies, such as Agile project management. They may also have options for different types of teams: product development, marketing and so on.

What Are Some Examples?

When looking for new software, it’s always helpful to get an idea of where to start. Airtable, Wrike and Smartsheet are all recognized products that can support a range of activities. Keep in mind that the right solution for your company will depend on your unique needs and goals.

For a full rundown of the top applications on the market, check out our analyst-picked project management Leaderboard. You can compare them side-by-side for a quick overview of how their capabilities stack up and to give you a jumping-off point for more in-depth research.

How Do I Select a Software Solution?

A simple Google search for “project management software” turns up more than a billion results. And while you’ve probably heard about products like Trello and Asana, there are hundreds more to choose from. Which other platforms are worth checking out? What should your process look like?

We recommend doing your homework. That includes gathering your requirements, evaluating products and giving the software a test. Many vendors offer free trials, which is the best way to determine if the software will be a good fit for your company.

We’ve put together some free resources to give you the information and tools you need to find the right solution for you.

The best place to start is our analyst comparison report. We also have an easy-to-use platform that will help you gather requirements, shortlist vendors, send out RFPs and ultimately choose the best project management tool for your needs.

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Project management articles are written and edited by:

Zachary Totah

Content Manager

As SelectHub’s Content Manager, Zachary Totah leads a team of more than 35 writers and editors in their quest to provide content that helps software buyers find the right system for their company.

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Hunter Lowe

Content Editor and Senior Market Analyst

Hunter Lowe is a Content Editor and Senior Market Analyst at SelectHub. He writes content for Construction, Inventory, Warehouse, and Supply Chain Management.

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Camille Graham

Technical Content Editor and Market Research Analys

A Technical Content Editor and Market Research Analyst, Camille joined the SelectHub team in the summer of 2021.

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Pragya Singh

Technical Writer and Market Analyst

Pragya Singh is a Technical Writer and Market Analyst at SelectHub. She writes content for Project Management, PPM, Time and Attendance Management and Employee Scheduling.

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Ashita Ahuja

Technical Writer

Ashita works as a Technical Writer at SelectHub. She is also a published author. When not writing articles, she enjoys watching rom-coms, listening to music and cooking.

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Sarah Valentine

Content Writer

Sarah Valentine is a Content Writer with Selecthub, where she creates content about software to help clients find what solution is right for them.

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Thought Leaders

SelectHub has sought out and invited thought leaders to contribute to our project management industry articles and resources. These thought leaders ensure we deliver quality content with the most accurate information, focusing on what matters most. No thought leader is compensated for their contributions, but shares our belief that information should be democratized so everyone can make the best decision.

Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth Harrin

Founder of Project Management Rebels

Elizabeth Harrin is the founder of Project Management Rebels, a community for project managers. She is the author of several project management books including Managing Multiple Projects.

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Shane Anastas

Shane Anastasi

Founder & CEO, PS Principles

Shane Anastasi is the Founder & CEO of PS Principles, a leading provider of professional services skills development and certifications.

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Alan Zucker

Alan Zucker

Founding Principal, Project Management Essentials, LLC

I share my passion for project management and leadership through keynote speaking, training and advisory services.

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Brett Harned

Brett Harned

Director of Education, TeamGantt

Brett Harned is a digital project manager with a deep investment in the practice, its value in the larger digital industry, and the growing community.

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Bill Dow

Bill Dow

Director of Enterprise PMO at UW Medicine

Bill Dow, PMP is a recognized expert in Project Management by the Project Management Institute (PMI) for specifically developing and managing Project Management Offices (PMOs.)

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Mike Clayton

Mike Clayton

CEO & Founder at

Mike Clayton is the Founder of to help build Project Management careers.

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George Jucan

George Jucan

Managing Partner at Organizational Performance Enablers Network

George Jucan is well known in the project management community as a successful management consultant, captivating speaker at public events, motivating trainer

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The Best Project Management Apps

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November 20, 2023
Are you looking for ways to better manage your projects and improve team productivity? Project management apps can help you track your progress on projects, collaborate with team members and stay on top of your work at all times.

But with the wide variety of options on the market today, how do you choose the best solution for you and your organization? If you’re struggling with your project management software search, we’re here to help! Let’s look at some of the best project management apps, according to SelectHub data, so you can find the right option for your needs.

Kriti SahayThe Best Project Management Apps
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Project Management Software Requirements Checklist and Template

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November 16, 2023
Managing a project with software can be intimidating if you’re not the most tech-savvy person. That means making and implementing project goals can be challenging when many project managers aren’t necessarily software experts. Luckily, project management software exists to make the process smoother and better for everyone. To find the perfect solution for your organization, you should start by gathering your project management software requirements. We’ve compiled a convenient checklist to help you get started:

Pooja VermaProject Management Software Requirements Checklist and Template
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The Best Cloud Project Management Software

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November 10, 2023
According to McKinsey’s estimates, cloud-based software can help companies generate up to a trillion dollars in value through cost-optimization and innovation-driven growth. Adopting cloud project management software is one way of ensuring you don’t miss out on your piece of the pie.

While there’s no dearth of cloud-based project management options in the market, what you need is the best of the best — and we’re here to help you find it. Let’s explore the highest-rated cloud project management software options on the market today, according to SelectHub research and data.

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What Is Project Scheduling? A Comprehensive Guide

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November 9, 2023

No matter how organized you are, scheduling everything for an entire project is a massive leap from planning an individual’s work. Project scheduling is much more than weekly planner notes. As an essential part of project management, the process involves creating a document that details a project’s timeline and the resources required to complete each task.

Pragya SinghWhat Is Project Scheduling? A Comprehensive Guide
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Project Management Scope And How To Leverage Software

November 8, 2023

Tiffany has a big task on her plate — plan and oversee the launch of a new website for her client, Bob’s Better Burgers. The thing is, without proper planning, projects are a hard beast to tame. One minute they’re like a well-organized circus routine, with dozens of moving parts blending together and moving in harmony. Then one piece gets out of line and chaos descends.

That’s where using project management software and having project management scope is a life-saver. Want to prep for a project that’s a roaring success? Define the boundaries of the project to get an exact framework for what to include — and not include.

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Trello vs Asana: Which Is Better for Managing Your Projects?

November 8, 2023

Project management software is the engine that drives successful projects. Pick the right solution and it will handle anything you throw at it, removing the chaos projects can bring and giving you back control. But make the wrong choice and you might as well start saving your weekends for all the extra work.

With so many project management tools to choose from, how do you know which one’s right for you? We compared two of the top PM tools on the market to help make your search for the right software a little easier. Buckle up for a head-to-head comparison of Trello vs Asana.

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Top Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Requirements And Features

November 8, 2023

Look anywhere in the corporate environment today and you’ll see projects in the works and underway — or past deadline. With dozens or even hundreds of projects in motion across an organization, the need for project portfolio management has become as necessary as the traffic signals and signs that keep roads from becoming a frenzied mess. Project portfolio management software is the equivalent of those signs and signals. PPM software provides capabilities to optimize resources, manage risk, improve project performance and cut costs while hitting project goals. The first step on that road to more efficient and effective projects across your organization is laying out your PPM requirements.

Zachary TotahTop Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Requirements And Features
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Wrike vs Asana: Which Project Management Software is the Winner?

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November 3, 2023

Wrike vs Asana … which of these project management software products wins in a feature-by-feature comparison? That’s the question we asked, and that’s the question we’ll answer for you in this post.

Our analyst team put together an analysis of these two PM systems to help you figure out which one is a better choice for your company.

Zachary TotahWrike vs Asana: Which Project Management Software is the Winner?
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Top Project Management Software Features

November 3, 2023

Have you looked in the mirror lately and said to yourself, “I wish my life were more difficult”? I’m no fortune teller, but I’m willing to bet that thought isn’t even on your radar. Heck, it’s probably not even in the same universe as you are. If you’re a project manager, life’s stressed and frazzled enough. Which is why you need project management software features that will ease the burden and bring some order to the chaos.

Zachary TotahTop Project Management Software Features
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What Is Resource Scheduling? A Comprehensive Guide

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November 2, 2023
When you’re working on a complex project with different phases and dependencies, resource management can be a major challenge. Different phases have different resource needs, and supply chain issues can be difficult to predict. But proper resource scheduling using a solid strategy or the right project management software helps ensure that you have exactly what you need when you need it.

Kriti SahayWhat Is Resource Scheduling? A Comprehensive Guide
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Project Dashboards: A Comprehensive Guide

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October 30, 2023
Sometimes managing complicated projects and their dependencies can make you feel like you’re lost at sea. A project dashboard is like your map and compass, helping you navigate and reach the shore. Whether it’s an Excel dashboard built from scratch or a pre-built template from a project management platform, project dashboards are a huge help in managing any project.

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Project Management Phases: A Comprehensive Guide

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October 30, 2023
In the realm of project management, success depends on effective planning, ongoing supervision and execution. To make this happen, many project managers use project management phases — a structured approach that breaks projects down into four or five focused stages, ensuring that each part of the project lifecycle gets fully addressed.

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The Best Free Project Management Software Tools

October 25, 2023
Businesses have to juggle numerous projects and resources on a daily basis. Delegating tasks, collaborating across teams and managing multiple projects simultaneously can get difficult day in and day out. Any bottlenecks or communication silos within teams can hamper productivity and waste valuable resources. Thankfully, free project management software can help streamline your processes without breaking the bank.

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Project Management Basics: A Comprehensive Guide

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Delivering projects on time and within budget is crucial in today’s highly competitive business environment. To succeed, managers need substantial hands-on experience and a thorough understanding of the project management basics. Efficient project management requires organizational know-how, analytical thinking and interpersonal skills to achieve corporate goals.

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Project Management Software Evaluation: How To Find The Right Solution

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Does your team still run its projects from a cluttered, clunky Excel spreadsheet? Do you even have any processes in place for handling projects? If not, it’s time for an upgrade. Project management software is the equivalent of Marie Kondo — it’ll sweep into the life of your projects and bring order to the chaos. But only if you pick the right solution. We put together a project management software evaluation guide to help you do just that.

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The Best Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Tools

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Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is a critical part of business planning that helps project managers measure the potential revenue of a future project before getting off the ground. Leveraging a PPM tool gives companies the data they need to put the pieces of a project together before making any risky decisions.

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PMO Software: A Comprehensive Guide

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Iterative work can quickly get out of hand if you don’t monitor it closely. A project management office (PMO) helps you enforce standards and procedures for your team to follow. But your PMO doesn’t have to tackle this responsibility alone, which is precisely why PMO software, a type of project management software, exists.

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Asana vs Jira: Which Software Is The Winner?

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Last Reviewed:

Welcome to the project management software arena. Today, Asana vs Jira will square off in a showdown to determine which PM tool deserves to stand in the winner’s circle.

With so many project management solutions on the market, finding the right one can feel as daunting as picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Our goal with this article is to equip you with the information you need to make an informed decision.

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Program Management vs. Project Management vs. Portfolio Management

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Managing projects is at the heart of all business endeavors. Finding suitable project management software is difficult if you aren’t aware of the correct terminology. With numerous interdependencies and parallel operations, dealing with program management vs. project management vs. portfolio management can be baffling.

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