Best Project Management Software for Engineering Firms
Project management software helps determine the scope and path of long-term work projects. It also lets the members of your organization involved in those projects stay connected with one another and keep everyone on the same page. Projects that use project management software could be anything from a marketing campaign to developing a new app.
The engineering world is no different. No matter what field of engineering you’re in, your team is going to handle complex projects. Those projects will require agility and communication to adapt to change while staying within a budget. Project management software for engineering firms can make the whole process go much more smoothly.
Best Project Management Software for Engineering Firms
Good project management software should be usable by everyone, from small businesses to large companies. It should have a simple interface, offer plenty of features, and help increase productivity. Give these a try and see if they work for you.
Accelo offers a complete client work management platform specifically created for professional service providers to improve project management, visibility, and profitability. Including everything from a proposal creation tool to detailed tracking of budgets, time, and resources, Accelo unifies everyone involved with a project — from the engineering team to clients — in a single system. A helpful and time-saving feature in Accelo’s platform is automated client messaging, providing much-appreciated updates and touchpoints to clients letting them know that you are actively working on their projects without taking you away from your work.
Accelo’s biggest differentiator is that it’s a client work management platform designed for engineers. Tasks can be easily generated based on project requirements provided by the client and allow you to manage your work in real-time. Built-in features let you stay on top of costs, available resources, and project scope.
Pricing: Free trial available; product offerings begin at $39 per user per month once the trial is complete
Best for: Engineers and other professional service providers looking for a platform specifically for managing client work and profitability
Teamwork is a good option for smaller businesses on a budget looking to try out project management software to maintain a few projects at a time. The interface is intuitive and easy to use, but tracking timelines or employee schedules isn’t its strong suit.
Pricing: Free version available; paid version with simple features costs $12.50 per user per month
Best for: Small businesses on a budget looking to try project management tools
LiquidPlanner is a good choice for larger businesses. The system is complex and highly specialized, ideal for larger organizations needing a lot of customization and control. Due to the complexity, there is a learning curve, and you will need to anticipate that new employees and contractors will likely need some training. A free trial is available, but the full version is one of the more expensive options on this list.
Pricing: 14-day free trial available; $45 per user per month after that
Best for: Large companies that don’t mind the time commitment of learning the ins and outs of new software
4. ZoHo Projects
Another strong budget-conscious option, ZoHo Projects, offers a well-rounded set of basic project management features. Time and budget tracking features are available along with detailed reporting. It’s a good option for a company just starting out, but keep in mind that it doesn’t come with automations or billing features (other apps are required to provide that functionality).
A completely free version is available and then there are a couple of paid options.
Pricing: Free version available; two paid tiers — Premium at $5 per user per month, and Enterprise at $10 per user per month
Best for: Small businesses working on a budget
Celoxis is another software package for companies looking to balance projects with ongoing work. This program’s strong suit is the ease of getting started with it. You don’t have to get deep into the weeds to figure out how to get Celoxis up and running. Customizable dashboards help each user configure the program to best suit them. A downside is that this application doesn’t offer billing or invoicing tools.
Pricing: No free version; two paid options — Cloud at $22.50 per user per month, and On-Premise at $450 per user per year
Best for: Large companies with money and time to invest
Why Use Project Management Software?
If you’re trying to cut costs, you might be wondering if it’s worth it to use project management software at all. Isn’t email good enough? Not quite.
Project management software lets you:
- Track multiple projects at a time
- Know exactly who is responsible for which part of any given project
- Communicate with one another quickly
- Track both your timetable and your budget
- Communicate with clients as the project progresses via client portal software
And you can do all that in one place. Sound like something worth investing in? Read on for our top picks for engineering project management software.
project management system
The word “system” has two distinct definitions:
- A set of principles and procedures that dictate how something is done
- A set of parts that form a complex whole
Depending on the definition of “system” used, a project management system can also have two different meanings.
The first meaning refers to the entire system of processes and principles for completing a project. That could encompass specific teams and contributors, procedures, workflows, tools, and more. You can think of it as the entire ecosystem in which you’re delivering projects.
However, as technology has continued to play a more important role in our working world, the term “project management system” has also been used to describe the technology solutions and platforms that teams use to plan, organize, and manage complex projects. These can include general software applications such as spreadsheets and email applications, or specific project management applications such as Wrike.
Project management system example
So, what do both definitions of a project management system actually look like in practice? Let’s clear things up with a brief and simple example.
Imagine that a marketing team is tasked with creating a series of educational webinars.
When thinking about the broader project management system they use to organize their work, they might assign clear roles and responsibilities to the project team, create a detailed project plan and timeline, map their critical path to understand their most important project activities, set milestones to keep themselves on track, and host regular check-ins to monitor progress.
When it comes to a project management system in the technical sense, they use a collaborative work management platform (like Wrike) to store and coordinate all of those pieces — like their responsibilities, timelines, tasks, and workflows.
Both systems — their processes and their technology — work together to help them deliver a webinar series in a structured, reliable, and manageable way.
Why use a project management system?
Whether you’re talking about overarching processes and principles or technology solutions, both systems give teams a more structured approach to projects. That level of organization leads to a number of benefits, including:
- Improved clarity: Clear processes and centralized communication mean less confusion about project goals and how you’ll get there.
- Increased accountability: Similarly, a project management system gives team members better visibility into how they fit within the overall project, which increases their sense of ownership over their assigned tasks.
- Better collaboration: When people understand what they’re working toward and what they’re responsible for, they can work together with less friction and frustration.
- Repeated success: A system is a framework that can be used over and over again, which means it doesn’t just help one project succeed — it helps all projects succeed.
Add all of that together, and you get to the main reason for using a project management system: It enables your team to deliver more winning projects on time and under budget.
Types of project management systems
Let’s talk a little more about a project management system as the entire ecosystem in which a project is completed. That can be broken down into the following six subsystems:
This subsystem is used to organize project team members into reporting hierarchies. Many organizations have a matrix structure where project members report to a functional head and a project head. This subsystem deals with creating the organizational structure and placing people within it.
This subsystem deals with the planning of projects, programs, and portfolios.
This subsystem includes all the processes and procedures for controlling project execution.
Project management information
This subsystem encompasses the principles and procedures for managing information, including everything from communication plans to knowledge databases.
Techniques and methodology
This subsystem consists of all the management science techniques used in project management. Some examples include CPM (critical path modeling), PERT (program evaluation and review technique), and Monte Carlo simulation.
This subsystem handles the organization’s culture around project management and how it is viewed and carried out. For example, do functional employees who are not directly involved with projects understand and support project management? Are they aware of projects occurring within the organization that affect them?
Benefits of project management system
Project management software is a tool that helps companies manage resources, goals and deadlines. It can be used to coordinate various activities, teams and projects. These systems have specific features that make them suitable for managing different types of projects – whether they’re small, large or worldwide in scope.
- Simpler communication
The project management system allows you to easily communicate with team members and other stakeholders. It can help you send messages, assign tasks, and keep track of progress.
It also lets you create a document library where all important documents are stored, including meeting minutes, status reports, action items, and more. That way, if someone needs something from the past, it’s easy for them to find it in one place.
- Better visibility
You’re probably wondering, “How is this possible?”
In simple terms, project management software helps teams see the bigger picture. Teams can see what is happening in other teams and how their work fits into the overall project.
They are able to get an understanding of what each team member is working on at any given time (and who has the most work). The result: everyone feels more connected and more accountable for their own roles in achieving success for the project as a whole.
- Increased speed
A project management system can give you a bird’s eye view of the entire project, helping you to identify bottlenecks and areas where resources are being overused. This allows you to make adjustments as necessary, ensuring that each team member is working efficiently and effectively.
Team members can be in constant touch with one another through chat rooms or email. This makes it easy for them to share information quickly and efficiently—no more complicated back-and-forth emails!
You’ll also be able to see what everyone is working on in real time (via an online dashboard), so if someone needs help or assistance with their tasks, you’ll know about it right away—saving both time and money from any miscommunications down the road.
- More control over process
As a project manager, you have the power to:
- Know what’s going on in your projects. With a PMS, you can track and manage every aspect of your projects from start to finish.
- Control the resources in your project. By tracking resource allocation and cost against work packages, you’ll always know how much money is being spent on any given task or activity.
- Control over budgeting and forecasting for future projects. It’s easy to see how much money will be needed for future tasks when they’re already laid out before us as part of an existing process.
- Control over progress reports and performance metrics that tell us whether our team is hitting their goals or falling behind schedule (or both!). You’ll also have access to regular updates from team members so that everyone stays abreast of what’s happening with each other at all times—and if there are problems brewing underfoot, they’ll surface early enough that it won’t be too late by then!
- Control over risk management strategies through pre-determined processes like root cause analyses (RCAs). RCAs allow us as managers not only take control over risks but also evaluate them after they’ve happened so we know exactly why something went wrong–because sometimes just knowing about something isn’t enough; it has been proven repeatedly through scientific studies.”
Types of Project Management Systems
Project management is a process that is used to help achieve a goal. It can be applied to any type of project, but it is typically used to plan and execute projects that take longer than one year. There are several types of management systems for projects, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Project planning: This type of system focuses on creating an environment where employees can work together effectively in order to make sure that the organization’s goals are met. It focuses on helping employees understand how they can make their own contributions toward achieving those goals.
Project control: This type of system provides structure for managing projects by providing guidelines for setting budgets and deadlines, as well as monitoring progress during execution phases.
Project management information: This type of system focuses on collecting data about how well individual teams are performing so that managers can make informed decisions about how best to allocate resources or improve processes for future projects.
Techniques and methodology: These systems focus on developing specific techniques or methodologies for managing specific types of projects; for example, software development projects may use Agile methodologies while construction companies might use Waterfall methodologies.
Choosing A Project Management System with Key Features
You probably cannot afford to make a mistake when choosing the best project management system. As a project manager, you need to prepare a project plan, define the scope of projects, and schedule everything in the tool. So, it’s important to select a project management system wisely.
Let’s find out the essential features that a system should possess to make project management effective.
1. Risk management
A risk is any uncertain condition that might affect your project. There is no particular project without risks. From the start to the stages of development, there is a chance for unforeseen situations to emerge and leave big impacts on the project. Therefore, project managers use the process of risk management to minimize any potential problems that may impact a project’s timeline. Your system should be able to identify and manage risks in the project plan and calculate all risks in advance.
2. Resource management
Resource allocation planning is the process that describes what type of resource is needed and at what time that is critical for resource management. So, it is convenient to use a tool that offers resource management. For every project, resource management is an integral part that will make aware of the whole project cost and other related things. Therefore, it becomes really convenient to have a resource management function on a project management tool to calculate expenditures and distribute well the tasks along.
Example: Mavenlink offers solutions for resource planning, collaboration, and financial management.
3. Dependencies, milestones, and critical path
It is quite common to dig into a project where the tasks are connected to each other, like the 2nd task may be connected to the 10th task. In these cases, tasks cannot be done separately from each other. It is fair enough to have a system where you can define all the development stages of a project along with, task dependencies. Also, setting milestones to mark specific points in a project will make sure if your project is moving in the right direction.
Example: Gantt charts
4. Ease of use
Ease of use is a priority requirement for project managers who unquestionably have to juggle numerous projects and people at the same time. They generally don’t like using tools that can be difficult to use and drain the resources of small businesses. A project management system should be easily accessible to employees using multiple devices, it should have a minimalistic design with a simple drag-and-drop interface, easy functionality, and smooth maintenance and support.
5. Third-party integrations
With teams depending on a project management system every day, it makes sense that your tool should be able to synchronize data with other apps. An integrated suite offers functionalities that are relevant to various businesses for various purposes. This is one easy and direct way to take your project management to another level. Project managers should look for a project management system with integration support for popular appss like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Box. All of the top picks like ProofHub include integrations with Google Drive, Dropbox, FreshBooks, and many more.
6. Agile workflow system
Agile is a methodology of project management, which is among the most popular methods of managing projects. According to the Project Management Institute and its Pulse of the Profession 2015: Capturing the Value of Project Management 2015:
- 75% of highly agile organizations met their goals/business intent
- 65% finished on time
- 67% finished within budget
It is clear that agile organizations grow faster than non-agile. An Agile project management tool will maintain smooth workflow, ensure better transparency, bring agility and flexibility, and help teams to be more productive.
Civil engineering project management software
Best for unlimited users/seats
ClickUp is a project management software tool with powerful features for managing and completing all your team’s projects in one platform. Users can plan projects, schedule tasks, and manage resources in a centralized workspace, as well as communicate and collaborate with team members and guests.
Task management features include task checklists, subtasks, and task templates, as well as the ability to filter, sort, search for, easily reorder, and view tasks in the manner most convenient for the team. Users can also create Gantt charts, calendars, and timelines to visualize tasks.
ClickUp also includes features for creating, sharing, and collaborative editing for Wikis and documents. Users can comment on documents and tasks, assign comments, and chat with other team members for increased communication and collaboration. Reporting features include the ability to create custom dashboards, as well as six built-in report types for team reporting.
ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp’s free plan is robust and includes all primary features. The unlimited plan starts at $5/user/month and offers additional functionality.
Free forever with paid plans starting at $5/user/month
- Free forever plan allows unlimited members
- Unlimited file storage on all paid account tiers
- Can email (set-up) a task directly from Outlook
- Read-only guest permissions are limited to paid account
- Reporting suite is limited to paid plans only
- Granular customization options results in a time consuming set-up
Best for flexibility & customizability
Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-like project management tool. It has won a few awards for quickly becoming a favorite business app. It’s a nice project management software if you’re comfortable working in Excel but wants a break from complicated formulas—Smartsheet performs all the calculations for you across multiple sheets. You can also add customized brand logos and set color themes for individual projects.
Smartsheet has useful project management features such as workflow automation and visualization of tasks in Gantt, calendar and card views. Team members get notified of critical changes in real-time, and the tool provides shared views, detail history, activity logs, automated alerts, reminders, and status reports to keep everyone aligned and informed. The Critical Path feature highlights all the tasks which directly impact your project completion date to keep an eye on important milestones. Reporting is a strong feature of this tool, with editable summary reports that you can easily export to Excel.
Smartsheet integrations include Microsoft and Google apps, as well as development essentials like Jira, and useful business apps like Salesforce, ServiceNow, Slack, Box, and Tableau. The platform is extensible through a REST API and webhooks.
Smartsheet costs from $7/user/month, with a minimum of 3 users and a maximum of 25 users. They also offer a 30-day free trial.
30 days free trial
- Sheet-to-sheet linking
- Many project templates & resources
- Ease of sharing
- Easily customizable dashboards
- Jira, Salesforce, Dynamics connector limited to Premier plan
- Changes don’t update in real-time
- Can’t customize chart colors
Best for building custom project workflows
Kintone is a customizable project tracking software platform used by teams at Volvo Trucks North America, Japan Airlines, Shiseido, and over 23,000 organizations worldwide. Their unique approach to project and task management lets you build a wide variety of customizable “apps” either from scratch, using templates or from your existing spreadsheets, for data management, business processes, and workflows. Kintone apps can be customized for project management, sales CRM, customer databases, expense reports, shared to-do lists, equipment management, product feedback, and much more.
Kintone lets you build no-code project tracking apps by dragging and dropping elements that you want to see onto the page: rich text fields, date fields, drop-down menus, number fields with built-in calculations, spaces for attachments, user or group selection menus, related data from other apps, tables, and more.
Once you’ve built the app you want, you can use it to more easily manage whatever data and tasks you and your team need to track. And with custom notifications and reminders as well as detailed permissions settings, your project tracking solution can look and work however you want it to.
What makes Kintone particularly great for project tracking are the features to filter and prioritize tasks by data field or team member to generate custom reports or dashboard views, as well as the ability to automate reminders and handoffs between team members for multi-step workflows.
Kintone’s built-in communication features also allow teams to discuss projects directly in the app and in topic or project-based threads. Dedicated “spaces” organize everything your team needs for your project, including task-tracking apps and searchable conversation threads.
There are so many ways to customize Kintone it can be hard to know where to start. Read the starter blog “What Can You Build with Kintone?” or watch Creating an App from Scratch for a quick look at how the drag-and-drop builder works.
Kintone lets you expand its capabilities with both free native plugins built by the Kintone team as well as integrations with other tools like Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, Outlook, Tableau, Dropbox, Salesforce, HubSpot, Eventbrite, WordPress, QuickBooks, MailChimp, and many more through a paid plan with Zapier or via API integrations.
Kintone costs $24/user/month with a minimum requirement of 5 users. They offer a 30-day free trial (no credit card required) and discounted prices for nonprofits and educators. Kintone’s team also offers a free custom app build as part of the free trial process.
30 days free trial
- Flexible pricing that includes special deals for schools and NPOs
- Admin accounts have access to tons of customization tools
- Data is easy to pull and manipulate into good looking reports
- No single-user plan available (minimum 5 users)
- Limited to 5GB/user storage on every pricing tier
- No native templates for common project types or documents
Best AI-native project planning tool
Forecast is an all-in-one platform for resource and project management, used in 40+ countries worldwide, by agencies, software, and consulting companies. It’s equipped with tools to manage everything from quote to invoice, plus it offers intelligent automation to predict project delivery dates, forecast capacity needs, and become more efficient. Their AI uses cumulative learnings from hundreds of thousands of projects and creates rules based on that user data.
Let’s talk about features. The Auto-Schedule feature is great for project scheduling, providing estimates, and automatically assigning resources to tasks. It’s got a drag-and-drop module that lets you adjust plans and resources in an instant. Another cool feature is that the tool automatically builds a budget for every project with key financial metrics to track planned vs. actuals. It also supports various billing types (fixed price, time & materials) side-by-side and in real-time. It has advanced up-to-the-minute reports you can customize.
Forecast also introduced a one-of-its-kind feature to manage projects in a retainer setup. A dashboard with retainer periods and totals lets you track the financials of ongoing projects without losing sight of staff workloads and time spent on delivery.
Forecast integrations include several turnkey integrations with mainstream project management tools and two-way sync with Jira on the market. It also complements accounting systems like Quickbooks and Xero with PM capabilities.
Forecast costs from $31.76/user/month (€27/user/month) with a 10-seat minimum requirement. They offer a 14-day free trial.
14 days free trial
- Predictive tasks for spreadsheets
- Can manage resources across multiple projects
- Easy to plan projects and timelines
- Milestone data is lumped together rather than separated
- Additional fee for onboarding/training
- Higher learning curve
Best project management tool for planning and scheduling projects with an online Gantt chart
GanttPRO is a project management software based on Gantt charts and is useful for managing all kinds of projects and teams from different spheres. It stands out for its intuitive interface and powerful features.
The software includes features for breaking down projects in an efficient manner into subtasks, sibling tasks, and subprojects, as well as set dependencies and milestones. To get more visibility, users can choose between the Gantt chart, Board views, and task dashboards. GanttPRO also offers handy task management features such as statuses, priorities, duration & estimation, progress, dates and deadlines, assignees, and more.
The Gantt chart maker allows teams to collaborate in real time using comments, mentions, and attachments. Resource management and workload features for monitoring team members’ workloads and tasks are also included.
You can integrate your projects with Jira, Google Drive, Slack, and other applications. GanttPRO is widely used in software development, construction, healthcare, finances, events, education, and many other spheres.
Basic plans for 1 user start at $7.99/month if billed annually.
14 days free trial
- Intuitive interface with a short learning curve
- Multiple and flexible project views
- Professional Gantt chart templates
- Light on integrations
- Lack of options to create recurring tasks
In the professional world, especially when dealing with client work and project management, having systems in place is key. Investing in the right program can save time and money while increasing the efficiency of your entire team.
Good client work management solutions will offer a diverse set of tools — including budget tracking and time tracking — to keep projects on track and within scope. Additional features like communication tools for messaging and file sharing are also valuable to have and contribute to the overall client experience. Having a client portal keeps the client current on project status without your team being pulled away to provide updates, and lends an easy way for the client and your team to seamlessly interact.
Because proper quoting and billing is vital to your business, you want to make sure to find a solution that includes these functionalities along with payment tracking.
To get an idea of what engineering project management tools would work best for your business, sign up for free trials. Try out Accelo and see how the platform can improve your client work.