Project management software: Australian bosses happy with their choices

Published on 06/09/2021 by Laura Burgess

Project management software benefits

Since project management emerged as a distinct area of expertise during the middle of the 20th century, it has become a multi-faceted and refined art. In Australia, there will be an estimated 121,000 project management professionals by 2022, according to Upskilled, with 8,400 more roles opening up in the next five years. The Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) represents its members in more than 19 industries, and its 2020 Project Delivery Performance in Australia report states that 64% of the 492 professionals surveyed think that project management skills will be more important in the future.

Accompanying the growth in project management as a discipline is project management (PM) software, which has become a must-have for businesses across all industries. We surveyed nearly 500 managers from small businesses in Australia to find out about the benefits of project management software, what they think of it, and how it helps their company thrive. See the full methodology at the end of this page.

About the project management survey

We surveyed 492 managers working in small businesses (with 250 or fewer employees) in Australia. 62% were employed full-time, 21% were employed part-time, and 17% were self-employed or entrepreneurs.

21% were business owners, 10% executive managers who lead a major business function, and 11% were senior managers who typically manage managers themselves. The largest group of respondents (36%) were managers who have direct reports and set and manage processes and programs.

Project management software is widespread among Australian businesses. 65% of the people we surveyed use project management software of some kind. 37% use just one tool, while 29% use two or more. A further 13% do not use dedicated project management software yet, but are interested in it. 98% say project management software meets their needs

The people we spoke to are overwhelmingly happy with their project management tools. 69% say it meets their business needs and 28% say it does partially. Overall, whether happy or not, less than 1% of managers are actively looking for something new. 

Many of those managers who use project management software also had a good experience during implementation, although most saw some initial resistance from their staff:

  • 44% said that their employees fully supported the rollout.
  • 27% said employees were worried that it could mean more work for them.
  • In 12% of cases, employees did not see the value of the new tool.
  • For 11%, employees did not want to learn how to use the new tool.

Managing change digitally

Any implementation of new software, systems, or practices can represent a significant change to employees’ working lives. Effective change management can mitigate some of the challenges listed above, and many companies choose change management software to help them with this. Project managers use this software to gather intelligence, communicate with those affected, and otherwise reduce the negative impact of significant business changes.

Of those who have not implemented project management software, the most common reason is that they are ‘not familiar with PM software or what it can do for me’ (34%), followed by price (27%).

What is project management software used for?

Today’s project management software helps businesses and their employees track the progress of projects and provide a single source of information for the various people working on that project. Managers can allocate resources, manage budgets, monitor costs, plan timings, and more.

One of the major benefits is that PM software provides a central place where everyone can view the status of the project and its tasks, rather than having that information buried in individuals’ own documentation. This can result in better communication, higher efficiency, and more successful projects —completed on time and on budget.

Many project management software packages also integrate with other tools such as accounting software, risk management software, and collaboration software.

What do people look for in project management software?

Regardless of what industry they work in, project managers have to contend with the unexpected every day. Our survey participants cited a long list of project management challenges they face. The most common were:

  • ‘Respond[ing] to changes that may arise during the course of the project’ (32%)
  • ‘Not exceeding budget’ (32%)
  • ’Having the necessary resources’ (31%)
Project management challenges

Consequently, managers choose software with features that help them meet these challenges. The people we spoke to look for a range of features in their software, including:

  • Time management, such as calendar, planning, and time tracking (62%)
  • Task management (62%)
  • Budget management and cost monitoring (48%)
Most used features of project management software

Cloud used by one-third of companies

When it comes to deployment models, most of the managers in our survey (58%) use project management software that is installed on computers as opposed to the 33% who use cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

What is cloud-based project-management software?

Traditionally, PM software was installed on company servers or the individual computers of those who needed to use it. Companies would typically pay a single price for the software, and manage maintenance and upgrades on their own. Today, cloud-based software, or SaaS, is growing in popularity. With this model, the software provider takes care of hosting the software and keeping it updated. Customers pay a monthly or yearly fee per user, and employees can access the tool via a web browser from anywhere —there are often mobile apps available as well. This option is good for small businesses with few or zero IT staff.

How has the pandemic affected project management?

The pandemic has put many of Australia’s projects on hold. According to the AIPM Project Delivery Performance in Australia report, 58% of respondents say that the COVID-19 shutdown has had a moderate or significant impact and caused the delay of projects and programs of work. Of the people we surveyed, one-third (33%) say that their employees are working completely remotely, while 21% are mixing remote work with work in the office.

A large majority (77%) of those we spoke to found their project management tools beneficial while employees were working remotely during the pandemic (41% said ‘beneficial’ and 36% said ‘very beneficial’). Indeed, 60% of respondents who use PM software have implemented a new project management tool since the pandemic began.

What are people willing to pay for project management software?

Project management software varies in cost between nothing and many hundreds —even thousands— of dollars. When we asked all survey participants what they would be prepared to pay for project management software per user per month, most people (44%) would pay between $11 and $50. 12% would only consider freeware, but 9% would be prepared to pay over $100.

Many of those who already use project management tools would be prepared to increase their budget for them. 36% would be prepared to pay an extra $10 per user per month, and 29% would pay up to $50 more.

Budget for project management software

In summary

Overall, managers at Australian small businesses make widespread use of project management tools and are happy with the outcomes and price of their investment. They have also particularly appreciated the benefits of their PM tools during the pandemic. Managing time, tasks, and budget are the most common features managers look for, and the most common price bracket for project management software is between $10 and $50 per user per month.

Looking for project management software? Check out our catalogue.

Survey methodology

To collect the data for this report, we conducted an online survey in June 2021. Of the total respondents, we were able to identify 492 Australian respondents that fit within our criteria:

  • Australian resident
  • Employed by a small or mid-sized business
  • Employed full-time or part-time
  • Manager, executive, CEO, or business owner

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Laura is a Content Analyst, researching and giving insight on tech trends to help SMEs. Graduate of Bath Spa University, UK. Based in Barcelona after years of living in Australia.

Laura is a Content Analyst, researching and giving insight on tech trends to help SMEs. Graduate of Bath Spa University, UK. Based in Barcelona after years of living in Australia.