While running a software development project it’s impossible to keep everything in mind. Task sequence, task dependencies, project milestones and deadlines, parts of software being developed – are just a few things project managers (PM) have to deal with on a daily basis. To manage project tasks successfully and keep everyone updated with the outcomes project managers use effective and convenient project management software.
In this article, we will look into the most useful project management tools for IT projects.
What Is Project Management Software and Why Is It Needed?
Project management software represents various project management collaborative apps that help individuals or teams to organize and manage their projects and tasks efficiently. By using these apps, project managers can track teamwork, learn what the team needs to successfully complete tasks, assign tasks, set deadlines, close completed tasks, and much more.
There is a wide range of project management tools available for free or on a subscription basis. Some PM tools work great just for small-scale projects while others better suit all types of projects. However, all of them have a roughly similar set of features and fulfill the same purpose – project task management.
Here are the key project management tools for IT projects.
Dashboards are used for a simple project and task tracking. They can be presented in a form of Kanban boards, a calendar, a graph with milestones, or a set of smaller boards with the most important statistics or project details.
Task Management Window
This is one of the basic features of project management software. It helps project managers to track the tasks in progress, check and allocate the upcoming tasks, and track the tasks in progress. Task management windows can have a form of a calendar, a Kanban board, or a Gantt-chart with task dependencies.
All project management tools allow setting deadlines, although not all of them have a time tracker. Time-trackers are needed for accurate employee billing and careful project planning. Many of them can be added as project management software extensions.
This is another basic feature for teamwork that can be easily integrated into most project management tools. It allows project teams to stay updated on the tasks, assign tasks to each other, comment and add attachments to the tasks, and even communicate in chats in the app.
Reports help project managers and teams track project status and estimate its progress. They visualize the project data so that the project team can have a quick look at a project and review its strengths and weaknesses. This provides various insights on how to improve team performance, better allocate project resources, and follow the project completion.
Overview of 10 Best Project Management Tools in 2021
Now, let’s review the top 10 most popular project management tools for software development projects.
Jira is a powerful and professional tool created specifically for tracking and managing software development projects. First, it appeared as a software bug-tracking tool though with time the Atlassian company turned it into an all-inclusive solution for managing medium and large-scale projects.
Jira follows the Agile software development methodology with software development iterations, and frequent product delivery capabilities. Software developers can track their projects in Kanban and Scrum modes, as well as perform QA activities.
Using Jira, project managers can:
- customize their dashboards;
- track issues, tasks, bugs, workflows, and epics;
- use calendar and Kanban and Scrum boards;
- add time trackers and Gantt charts as extensions;
- get detailed reports on team performance, project progress;
- establish deadlines and milestones, and much more.
For a beginner, Jira may seem complex software and, indeed, it requires some training for effective project management. That’s why the company started a light version of Jira that runs online. Apart from the cloud version, Jira users can choose between Standard, Premium, and Enterprise tires. They are provided as SaaS or stand-alone software to install on local servers.
Redmine is another professional project management tool created specifically for software development. The app includes standard features which can be found in any project management software, like a users’ board, a calendar, contacts, and a Gantt Chart.
However, Redmine has some really valuable functionality that makes this app a viable alternative to Jira, including:
- issue tracking;
- roadmaps and milestones;
- Git and help desk;
- CRM and SVN repositories;
- team chart;
Software development teams at SCAND are extensively utilizing Redmine in their app development projects due to the outstanding features it provides.
By using Wiki features our software developers can create manuals and software documentation and keep it in one place. With integrated Git and SVN control project teams can track product versions and store them in a well-organized order.
All these features make Redmine a strong and effective solution for small, medium, and large-sized app development projects.
Trello app is another Atlassian’s creation that suits well small software development projects. The main idea of Trello stems from Kanban boards.
Trello dashboards are divided into three areas where users can create task cards. They can place these cards in the Things To Do, Doing, or Done areas, moving them from one area to another as the task is being completed.
Trello is highly visual and super user-friendly, that’s why many people prefer this app for individual task management. What’s more, it’s free. It’s a great choice for startups or freelancers, though teams carrying out large-scale projects might need to look for a different solution.
There are many cloud-based project management SaaS options, and Wrike is one of the greatest. This compact and intuitive app provides its users with various subscription options depending on the type of project and working style. They consist of Professional, Business, Wrike for Marketers, Wrike for Professional Services, and Enterprise options.
With Wrike project managers can:
- create and manage tasks;
- track tasks and manage task dependencies in Gantt Charts;
- prioritize tasks in accordance with deadlines;
- produce project reports;
- view projects as a list, a board, a table, or Gantt Chart;
- customize the main dashboard with widgets.
Wrike works best for small and complex projects and can be well adjusted for software development projects.
5. Zoho Projects
Zoho is a widely-used project management app that works well for small and medium-sized software development projects. The app has general basic tools for project management, including:
- task adjustment with task statuses, adding certain employees to particular tasks, automated task configuring, and others;
- Gantt Charts and Kanban boards;
- resource management;
- Critical Path estimation;
- multiple ways of communication like forums and real-time chat;
- time tracking and timesheets.
Zoho Projects has free customer on-boarding, free support, and detailed online guides created by other users. It has many positive reviews from IT companies, consultants, and education organizations.
Monday.com is an intuitive and super customizable tool for easy project management. Its creators have invented their own system of task and project management that organizes all the project data into simple colored blocks. This allows stakeholders to grab the essential project information by just glancing at the main dashboard.
Although the app looks pretty simple and even light, in reality, it has a strong set of workable features for extensive project management, including software development.
Monday.com features include:
- customized project and task creation and assignment;
- timeline with task dependencies which breaks into days, weeks, months, and years view;
- wide choice of widgets;
- calendar and Kanban boards;
- quick search and detailed sorting by keywords.
Though the two features the app really lacks are recurring tasks and detailed reporting. Nevertheless, monday.com can make a good choice for small and medium-sized app development projects.
ClickUp is a feature-packed project management tool. It seems like ClickUp has everything for successful software project management. Project managers can find the following features in ClickUp:
- customizable and rich in details time tracker;
- project planning and task scheduling;
- resource management;
- QA management;
- division tasks into subtasks;
- Gantt charts, calendars, timelines;
- Wikis and documents;
- CRM and communication tools;
- 6 built-in report types, and much more.
It seems like ClickUp creators tried to synthesize all the project management experiences and make project management as detailed as possible. On the other side, this attention to detail and a large number of configurable settings can deter beginner project managers from using the app.
Smartsheet is a non-standard project management tool in the form of spreadsheets. Those project managers who are used to working with Excel or Google tables can easily get accustomed to Smartsheets. The app offers its users:
- customizable tasks and workflow automation;
- visual Gantt charts, calendar, and Kanban task views;
- reminders and automated alerts;
- Critical Path evaluation and milestones;
- detailed reports exportable to Excel;
- team collaboration tools.
Besides that, Smartsheet provides its customers with high data protection standards, including two-factor authentication, single sign-on features, and prevention of unauthorized access.
Despite its minor drawbacks, like limited activity log or some challenges in using Agile methodology, Smartsheets can be successfully adapted for small and even medium-sized software development projects.
9. Team Gantt
Team Gantt project management tool has the idea of Gantt charts at its core. It offers outstanding and highly interactive Gantt charts for effective project management. The tool is very user-friendly and suits small companies.
However, the app creators paid too much focus to make their Gantt charts perfect shifting the focus away from other project management needs. It may be difficult to track more than two projects in the app and users can add only several dependencies between tasks. This way, project managers should consider something else for serious app development projects.
Teamwork is an elegant and simple solution for successful project management. This powerful and intuitive tool allows its users to see a bigger picture of their projects. Teamwork includes all the features needed for effective project management such as:
- overview dashboard;
- separate task window;
- project milestones;
- messages, notes, and files upload for projects;
- time management tool;
- risk manager for team members to alert project stakeholders on any problems that might happen in the project;
- user management window and billing system.
Teamwork is a great tool for those who prefer simple navigation with all the tool buttons at their fingerprints. It fits best for small and medium-sized app development projects.
Project management tools represent an important liaison between all the project elements and project stakeholders. They allow project managers to see the overall project landscape, its development steps, participants, progress, and possible risks. There is no software development project that works well without a proper project management tool.
Each project has its own demands and specifics, therefore, project managers need to choose the tools that suit them well. Besides that, project managers need to make sure that these tools work not only for their project but also suits the project stakeholders and they know how to use them effectively.