Your world may feel quite calculated if you work in engineering. Regardless of the specific field, your decisions have to be perfectly calibrated — and so do your deliverables. You and your team are the builders of our modern landscapes, both physical and digital, and you know all too well that it wouldn’t be possible to succeed under this pressure without the right blueprints.
Yet, you may have relegated finding the proper tools to the back burner as you handle the demands of intricate projects. Adopting new software can be overwhelming, even if you know the outcome will ultimately be measurably better.
Instead of considering every software tool you currently use, let’s zero in on the one that’s probably the most critical: project management software. Without clear-cut processes for staying on top of tasks, timelines and resources, you could drop the ball at any moment. Mistakes are particularly costly when both builds and client relationships are on the line.
Here, we’ll dive into how a powerful engineering project management software could take some of this burden off you and your team, allowing you to focus on erecting your best work.
Engineering project management software is a specialized suite of tools designed to help engineers determine the scope and path of long-term work projects, offer contributors and stakeholders full visibility, plan and schedule project tasks and track time spent on scheduled and ad-hoc work.
No matter what field of engineering you’re in, your team is going to handle complex projects. Those projects will require agility and top-notch communication. Project management software for engineering firms can make the whole process go much more smoothly.
Project management software offers quite a few advantages over more manual, outdated methods of managing projects. Unlike spreadsheets and email, these platforms give you a range of capabilities so you can connect the various functions required for successful project management.
With software created specifically for managing projects, you can simultaneously handle more than one project at a time and ensure that each receives the attention it deserves without compromising on quality or detail. You can get a high-level overview of each project or drill down into the specifics of one at a time without having to leave the platform.
Sometimes, roles can become cloudy or overlap as a project progresses. A single source of truth helps you assign responsibilities and eliminate ambiguity. Everyone will know their duties and be held accountable for what’s assigned to them in the software application. Great project management software streamlines workflows to improve team dynamics, too.
With project management software, you’ll have everything you need to optimize manpower, materials and time. By visualizing resource availability and commitments, you can prevent overallocation and burnout while also identifying underutilized resources. The best platforms help you feel like you don’t need a resource management strategy because they keep you on track as a leader.
Better communication unequivocally leads to better project outcomes. In a project management platform, you have a space to store updates and discussions and keep a running history of project-related communication. The result? Fewer missed messages and more cohesive teamwork, plus less of a need for manager intervention.
For engineering projects, there is very little leeway on project timelines. Promising an end date to a client is one thing, but coordinating everything internally to hit that target is a more intimidating thought. Software lets you breathe: It provides tools for tracking budgets and takes over the timeline monitoring for you, notifying you when there are overdue tasks or expected delays.
Many project management software platforms offer a client portal. Your clients get a transparent view into their projects at any time, reducing the need for frequent check-ins. The best client portal software allows you to send change orders, request signoffs and receive requests.
Precision and efficiency are paramount in your industry. But you can’t achieve these with just any software tools; you need consolidated, targeted software that other engineers have successfully used to improve operations and generate results for their clients.
Before we share some specific software platforms, we’ll take a look at some of the most important features of engineering project management software.
You need to be able to delegate responsibilities clearly, then track how tasks are progressing, especially in response to changing project demands. Robust task management, complete with built-in dependencies, helps you meet critical deadlines and forecast potential delays.
The best software will let you change up how you use it to accommodate your work style and preferences. Project management software should offer multiple ways of looking at your projects, including Gantt charts (timelines) for a linear understanding, Kanban boards for a more flexible approach and calendars or lists for particular stages or groups of tasks.
Automating workflows can dramatically increase efficiency by reducing repetitive tasks and ensuring consistency in how you manage projects. Thus, the ability to set up workflows that can update task statuses, re-assign tasks when necessary and trigger notifications for team members is essential.
You can’t skip over the vital factor of time. Keeping precise timesheets and reporting on both non-billable and billable hours will provide you with accurate data about employee utilization and support quick and straightforward billing practices.
Engineering projects often require specialized software for design, analysis and other functions. Project management software that integrates with these can significantly reduce frustration and the risk of referencing outdated records. If a platform doesn’t have native integrations for engineering platforms, check to see whether it has an API that will facilitate custom-built integrations.
Templates of all kinds save time and promote consistency. Project templates are useful if you complete the same type of work for many clients, and invoice templates are key for maintaining standard terms and conditions, saving time on the invoicing process and simplifying information to encourage quick client payments.
Live updates and collaborative workspaces give your team the visibility they need, whether they’re in the office or out in the field. They can edit documents, provide status updates, share new developments with clients and make decisions on the fly knowing the entire team can see changes.
Engineering projects generate a mountain of data, and sifting through it without customizable reporting capabilities is time-consuming and potentially costly. To track performance metrics and determine your resourcing needs for upcoming projects, you need software that automatically generates accurate reports based on your project activity and time tracking.
If your team is frequently on site, you’ll need a project management platform with a powerful mobile app. Staying connected to your team and maintaining continuity can help you recall key information in moments when time is of the essence. Read how naval architecture and engineering firm Allswater uses Accelo on the go.
Not every platform will include all of the above, so think about which ideal features you’ll prioritize before exploring your options.
We’ve curated a list of eight of the best project management software platforms for engineering firms. Here, we’re summarizing the key features, pros, cons and pricing for each.
Accelo offers a complete client work management platform specifically created for professional services 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 platform.
Accelo offers five pricing plans that scale with your business, from a self-serve plan for managing client information, tasks and communication all the way to the Elite tier, which includes all quote-to-cash features, premium support and more.
See how this engineering firm gained priceless visibility with Accelo.
Asana is a work management platform built to help teams organize, assign and track projects. With its templates, automation and reporting tools, team members can use the platform to manage their individual tasks, collaborate across projects and improve visibility into project progress.
Asana offers three pricing tiers:
➡ Learn about the core differences between Accelo and Asana.
BQE Core is a practice management solution that specializes in insights for architects and engineers. Known for its robust reporting tools and back-office functions, this platform can help firms analyze and improve upon project performance.
BQE Core requires that prospective customers request a quote.
Jira is the go-to solution for agile project management, especially for software development teams. Originally designed for bug and issue tracking, it’s now a project management tool that can be customized for various types of projects.
Jira has a free version, along with three additional tiers:
LiquidPlanner is a complex and highly specialized platform, 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.
LiquidPlanner has three pricing plans:
monday.com is a versatile work management system that helps teams with workflow management and team collaboration. It’s designed to suit a variety of business needs, from project planning to document editing.
monday.com’s pricing plans are as follows:
➡ Which is right for your firm: Accelo or monday.com?
Teamwork is a project management platform designed to facilitate collaboration and deliver a high degree of control over projects. It caters to consultants who need a clear, centralized view of project objectives, deliverables and timelines.
Along with a free plan for up to five users, Teamwork has three paid tiers:
➡ Read more about Accelo vs. Teamwork.
Zoho Projects stands out as a versatile project management tool that includes robust features that can cater to the needs of engineering firms. It’s a scalable platform with an intuitive interface and a suite of collaboration tools.
Zoho Projects offers a free version for up to three users, plus two paid plans:
Choosing project management software is a pivotal decision that can impact every facet of your operations. The appropriate software will streamline your processes, boost your team’s productivity and enhance internal and external communication.
When assessing the multitude of project management solutions available, start by considering the nature of your engineering projects. Are they typically short-term, long-term, complex, involving many stakeholders or requiring adherence to strict regulations? Your projects’ characteristics will largely determine the features you need.
Then, take into account the size of your firm and your growth goals. A small to mid-sized firm might not require the extensive features that a large enterprise would. However, if you plan to grow, you’ll want software that grows with your firm — the ability to add users, projects, company divisions and more.
Once you’ve assessed your own needs, start looking at a few platforms from the list above in more depth. How usable would they be in your team’s day-to-day? The best software in the world won’t do any good if your team finds it cumbersome or they’re not tech-savvy enough to understand it. Look for software that provides thorough implementation and high-quality ongoing support.
Next, think about some of the more granular features you need:
After you’ve narrowed it down further, sign up for demos and free trials. Ask lots of questions of the software’s sales team, and request that they provide you with success stories from engineering firms like yours. Read reviews and pay particular attention to how the software addressed specific challenges you share.
Finally, consider the community and resources available. In addition to user support, are there any forums, webinars, help guides or tutorials your team can use to troubleshoot?
Accelo offers all of the above and then some, as it’s not limited to project management. Our platform is an end-to-end client work management solution, and our team is ready to walk you through why it could be just what your team needs to take your efficiency and profitability to the next level. Book a demo to learn more.