Gartner defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”
In fact, having a good project management strategy can make or break a project, having consequences that can affect the entire business. In today’s fast-paced working environment, it is vital to have the right tools to help companies perform at their best.
We wanted to understand how British companies have been using project management software since the start of the pandemic, if this has changed due to restrictions such as work from home, and what benefits (if any) businesses have experienced. We have surveyed over 1,000 managers, decision-makers, and owners of British SMEs to find out more. (Full methodology at the bottom of the article).
Over half of managers surveyed (56%) use one or more project management software to organise their time, resources, and tasks. 45% of managers and decision-makers in SMEs don’t use project management software at all. 17% said they are interested in using it in the future, while 15% said they are not interested in using it and claim to be satisfied with their current methods — these include tools such as Excel and Outlook. Another 13% work manually, using pen and paper.
Price is stopping managers from acquiring software
Almost 1 in 3 (27%) managers and decision-makers surveyed chose price as the main obstacle preventing them from purchasing project management software. 22% state not needing to rely on software as a reason and 31% are not familiar with project management software and what it can do for their business.
Some of the respondents indicated that their business was too small for them to consider implementing project management software and worried they wouldn’t benefit from it. However, project management software can help sole traders or companies with a small team. Starting with a free trial of the software or looking at pricing options based on the number of users may be a better solution to get a sense of what the software can bring to the business as it grows and scales.
Over half of SMEs have implemented new software since the beginning of the pandemic
One of the main ways that the pandemic has impacted businesses is in the working landscape. 36% of respondents say they now have their employees working remotely full time, 21% have a hybrid working system, and a further 7% are looking into implementing it.
To adapt to these changes, 56% of companies surveyed say they have implemented new project management software since the beginning of the pandemic. For 45% of respondents, the decision was fully supported by their employees, and 72% of managers surveyed considered that project management tools would improve collaboration within teams.
However, for over half of respondents (55%) some problems arose at the implementation stage. 25% actually stated that employees thought having a new software would mean more work for them, 14% didn’t see the value in it, and a further 11% didn’t want to learn how to use a new tool.
Overall, 97% of business owners surveyed said project management software is helping them meet their business needs. Project management software has also had a positive impact on managers’ handling of time – 73% have found the software beneficial or very beneficial in supporting their employees while working remotely through lockdown. In fact, when asked how much they would be willing to pay for a new one, 79% would pay up to £50 per user per month.
HR, Healthcare, Education and IT: the sectors that use project management tools the most
Looking at the adoption of project management tools by sectors, almost half (47%) of those surveyed that work in IT use at least one project management tool, followed by HR (42% use at least one tool), healthcare (34%) and education (33%).42% of respondents that work in the HR sector said that they use more than two project management tools, followed by 40% in financial services, 33% in IT, and 32% in education
Likewise, when looking at which sectors have invested in new software during the pandemic, HR (87%) and financial services (67%) are the two sectors that have most frequently implemented new project management tools since the pandemic.
Budget, deadlines and unexpected changes: the three key challenges in project management
The three key challenges, related to project management, most commonly faced by managers and decision-makers in British SMEs include not exceeding the budget (33%), complying with deadlines set (32%), and responding quickly and effectively to changes that can happen during the project (30%).
As businesses scale and unexpected events happen (like a global pandemic), having an agile tool by your side that allows for more flexibility and adaptability can be critical for the survival of the company. With the right tools, the unexpected issues that can arise during a project can be mitigated, whilst also improving communication with team members and tracking the evolution of projects.
To collect the data for this report, we conducted an online survey in June 2021. Of the total respondents, we were able to identify 1,007 UK respondents that fit within our criteria:
- UK resident
- Employed by a small or mid-sized business
- Employed full-time or part-time
- Manager, Executive, CEO and Business Owner level