We have previously seen the benefits of using project management software. The right project management tool provides a better overview and transparency in the project. Also, risks are quickly detected by the software, which limits the risk of project failure . The progress of the project is made more efficient, and its implementation faster. In addition, project management software improves team communication and collaboration.
We asked British SMEs how they keep track of tasks when working on a project and what challenges they find.
Highlights of the study:
- Over half (56%) of SMEs use one or more project management tool
- 45% use software installed in computers rather than project management SaaS one
- Time tracking (24%) and management of tasks (13%) are the two most wanted features by companies
- Only 3% of companies use Agile or Scrum tools
UK and France lead the use of project management tools
We asked SMEs in the UK if they use a project management software to plan and organise time or tasks. We carried the same study out in Germany and France, and the results showed that Excel is the method most used by German SMEs (54%), followed by 35% in France.
The results also showed that, whilst adoption of at least one project management tool is broader in France (47%), the UK is not far off with 43% and Germany with 30%. Furthermore, when looking at the general adoption of project management software (including one or more tools), the results showed that it’s also wider in France (64%), followed by the UK (56%) and Germany (46%).
When we asked in more detail, over half of British SMEs (56%) stated using one or more than two project management software tools. Out of these, 43% use only one tool and 13% use two or more. 17% of companies stated not using any software to manage projects and stated that rely on Excel and Outlook for this. Furthermore, 9% use manual methods.
This result is interesting as sometimes there is the perception that smaller businesses are more agile in adopting new technologies. However, it’s often the case that smaller businesses don’t have processes in place, which makes more difficult the process of implementation of new tools without incurring an additional cost with no tangible benefit.
A quarter of SMEs use cloud based software
While the cloud market is booming globally, the results of the survey showed that only 27% of British SMEs are using project management SaaS software.
Similar results were found in France and Germany. France has a larger adoption of cloud based SaaS, with over a third of companies using it (35%), whilst in Germany the use of project management SaaS software is only 13%.
In the UK, we also found that respondents use more software installed on computers (45%) than cloud based ones (27%). This is interesting as it may mean that companies are not aware of the benefits of project management SaaS software or have a misconception of what is it and how they can use it.
Cloud software can have many benefits to SMEs: for example cloud solutions are scalable to the needs of the company. They are also more dynamic and flexible and can be adapted to the growth and needs of the company. In addition, company data is available from anywhere and mobile working is supported.
Price and lack of knowledge stopping companies from implementing software
When asked about what stops companies looking to implement project management software, respondents named price (25%) and lack of knowledge (20%) as the two main ones.
Linked to price, 65% of respondents would prefer to spend less than £10 per user or have free software. Only a further 23% would consider spending up to £50 for a project management software.
Project management helps companies with various tasks in the course of a project. When we asked what are the biggest challenges users find in project management we found that not exceeding the budget (13%), respond to changes in the course of the project (12%) and meet the set deadlines (10%) were the main ones stated by users.
Others included help with communication (8%), help with the supervision of the project (8%) and allow to react to unexpected problems (7%).
Time management, the feature most used by SMEs
When asked about what features SMEs use the most, almost a quarter of respondents (24%) stated time management, including calendar, planning and tracking time. Management of tasks (13%) and budget management (13%) were the other two selected by companies.
Surprisingly, only 3% of respondents stated Agile or Scrum, and another 8% in Project planning (such as Gantt chart and route planning). In France, the number of respondents investing in Agile or Scrum methods is also 3% and in Germany just under 2%. Agile methods allow professionals to be more flexible and know how to handle unexpected changes more smoothly. This result is surprising as it is across the three countries – and it could be due to lack of information and how can it be applied to a business.
Methodology of the study
To collect the data for this report, we conducted an online survey. The answers come from a sample of the target market UK. Over 300 participants qualified to participate in the survey through screening questions out in October 2019. Qualified participants are employed (full-time, part-time or self-employed) and work in a small to medium sized enterprise (1-250 employees).