Project Management User Research Report

Capterra surveyed users of project management software to gain insight into how users buy and use this software. Turns out your level of satisfaction with your project management system could stem from how you buy it. Read on to find out why.

Published by Rachel Burger, May 26 2015

Survey report header graphic

Project management software is software that provides an overview of the goals, resources, and processes for projects. Project management software is often used as a tool for project communication, creating workflows, and aiding with specific project management techniques, like Agile or Waterfall.

According to PriceWaterhouseCooper's Insights and Trends: Current Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Practices, almost all — 97% — of surveyed companies believe that project management (PM) is "critical to business performance and organizational success, and 94% agreed that PM enables business growth." They also found that "The use of commercially available PM software drives higher levels of portfolio performance and greater satisfaction with an organization's project management practices."

Our project management survey aimed to find exactly how project management softwarehelps organizations improve their project management process, what software worked best for surveyed organizations, and how users can ensure they are getting the best software for their company.

Lightbulb Icon

Key Takeaways

  1. A majority (56%) of organizations have only used one project management system.
  2. About a quarter (24%) of respondents use Agile or Scrum-specific project management software.
  3. Organizations typically spend $10,329 a year ($861 a month) on project management software.
  4. Of respondents who are dissatisfied with their project management software, more than half (56%) say the cause is that the software is too expensive.
  5. Project management software has the greatest positive impact on team communication, according to respondents.

Who uses project management software?

The types of organizations that use project management software span across industries.

Top industries that use project management software

What industries use project management software?

All industries are closely represented, with manufacturing taking slightly more representation (10%) than other industries. Close seconds include healthcare/medical (9%), construction (8%), banking/insurance/financial services (8%), and technology (8%).

Underrepresented industries include advertising/marketing/PR/communication (4%), consulting services, education (5%), and government/municipal (5%). While these industries certainly have projects that would benefit from project management software, they could be severely limited by cost and the time it takes to train employees to use it.

Which revenue band best describes the size of your organization?

What size companies did we survey?

Of those that we surveyed, a majority of organizations using project management software earn between $10M and $50M.

While there are a number of free project management software options, most companies opt to pay for their project management software. While there is a huge range of how much project management software costs, The average respondent spent over $10k per year on project management software.Tweet Thisthe average respondent spends $10,328.71 a year on project management software (or $860.73 a month).

How much did you expect to pay for project management software? How much did you actually spend?

How much did companies expect to and actually spend on project management software?

With that said, the median spend is $1,200. The large discrepancy comes from the uneven spend distribution between companies. For example, 50% of companies spent more than $1,000 a year on project management software and another 21% spent over $10K. This accounts for the higher average and lower median.

Pm software icon

What project management software do they use?

Similar to what was found in our survey of The Top 20 Most Popular Project Management Software, a strong majority (67%) of organizations use Microsoft Project. That's unsurprising, since most organizations rely on other Microsoft applications as a default, such as Office Suite.

Which project management software are you currently using?

What brand of project management software do you use?

Organizations are also fairly evenly split between using web-based project management software (46%) and installed software (54%). This can be explained because most users of Microsoft Project choose to use a local option. With that said, as the world heads more toward the cloud, expect more project management software to move into the cloud.

Is your project management software web-based or on-premise?

Is your project management software in the cloud?
Signs icon

How do project managers choose their software?

Choosing the right project management software can be a daunting process. While there are guides to choosing project management software, these insights will help shed light on the project management software buying process.

Were you using a different project management system before purchasing your current software?

Did you switch from a different project management system?

Slightly more than half (56%) of project management software users are first-time purchasers. This suggests two things: project management software is growing in popularity, and organizations using project management software continue to use the original system that they started with.

How long have you been using your current project management software?

How long have project managers been using their project management software?

Perhaps this is why so many of those surveyed have stuck with their project management system for two years or longer. Our findings suggest that while users are fairly evenly split between new users (less than two years) and seasoned users (two years or more), 88% of businesses have used their project management software for less than 5 years.Tweet Thisthe large drop off at five years or more is indicative of seasoned users looking for newer features and updated systems.

Why did you switch?

Why did you change what project management option you were using?

Our survey found that almost half (46%) of new project management software buyers were switching from their old system because the previous software was longer supported or because their previous software did not have the features that they were looking for. This is somewhat surprising, as most people are dissatisfied with their current software because of cost (as described below). This suggests that while cost may be burdensome, companies are willing to spend a little more for project management software that offers more features.

How long in weeks did you expect to spend searching for your project management software (from research to final purchase?) How long did it actually take?

How long did it take organizations to find their project management software?

The expectations of how long it would take and how long it actually took to find new project management software lined up fairly evenly; 37% of respondents expected that it would take them two to four weeks to find software, and 26% expected it would take four to six weeks. In reality, it took 31% of respondents two to four weeks, and 29% of respondents four to six weeks. In total, 22% underestimated how long it would take to find new software, and 23% overestimated.

How many options did you demo before making your final purchasing decision?

How many software demos did you do before buying your project management software?

While looking for project management software, a majority (55%) of buyers demoed two options; only 6% chose to forgo demoing their new system.

Features icon

What project management software features were buyers looking for?

The motivation to buy project management software varies by project team. The most desired feature was functionality, followed by ease of use, price, and support. A software product's popularity was dead last, indicating that heavily informed project management software buyers are less swayed by the market than by their own, unique needs.

Most important factor in project management software purchase decision

What were the most important decision factors in your software purchase?

The top-used features include file sharing, time tracking, email integration, and Gantt charts. Organizations are least-likely to use video chat, real-time chat, social media integration, and mobile access.

Most used project management software features

What were the most important features that you were looking for?

This insight is somewhat ironic, as a majority of the latter features are communication tools. Respondents overwhelmingly claim that their project management software helps most with communication, followed by increasing the number of projects completed on time, on budget, and of higher quality. The abovementioned features are probably less desired because they are newer, organizations haven't figured out how social media can improve project productivity, and users are more likely to rely on their desktops than mobile unless in specific industries requiring a lot of site work, such as construction or field service.

What aspects of business were significantly improved by project management software?

Where can you track your project management software's return on investment?

Two-thirds of companies are communicating with clients using project management software.Tweet ThisAs seen below, a strong majority (66%) of organizations use their project management software to communicate with their clients—and most project managers communicate with over ten clients at a time.

Do you use your project management software to communicate with clients?

Do you work with stakeholders with your project management software?

How many clients?

How many clients do you work with when using your project management software?

This may also be indicative of why project managers value file sharing and time tracking so highly — these features can be used to communicate critical project and billing information to their stakeholders.

How satisfied are buyers with their software?

In general, organizations are happy with their project management software. Of those surveyed, almost six in ten (59%) said that they were "satisfied" with their current project management software, and 17% said they were "very satisfied."

How satisfied are you with your current project management software?

Are you happy with your project management software?

While three-quarters of those surveyed were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their project management software, a quarter (24%) was neutral, dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied. The largest driving factor for dissatisfaction with their project management software was cost.

Why are you unsatisfied with your current project management software?

What makes organizations unhappy with their current project management software?

In fact, when breaking out how much users are spending on their project management software, it's clear that buyers who are spending $25,000 or more per year on project management software are least likely to be satisfied.

Dissatisfaction by amount spent on project management software per year:

Dissatisfaction with project management software by cost

The number of demos that organizations tried also has a significant impact on software satisfaction. A majority of those who are very dissatisfied with their project management software tried four or more project management software options. While this may seem counterintuitive, these organizations were likely looking for premade software when what they needed was a custom solution. Instead, they ended up overpaying for software that didn't offer the features that they were looking for that were specific to their organization.

Dissatisfaction by number of software demos before purchase:

Unhappiness with software by number of demos.

Alternatively, previous Capterra research shows that those who demo too many software options are least-satisfied with their software purchases, regardless of software vertical. This may be because purchasers want to be totally certain that they are investing in the best software, and feel insecure after trying too many overwhelmingly different options. In other circles, this is called the “curse of knowledge."


Capterra's project management software study shows that organizations are completing their projects on time and on budget and with higher quality when implementing project management software. Teams using project management software are also likely to communicate better. The biggest cause of dissatisfaction among the minority who don't care for their project management software is due to cost, followed by demoing too many products.


Capterra collected the data in this learning management systems report through a 24-question survey to project management software buyers and users online, conducted over the course of two weeks and receiving a total of 100 qualified responses.

About the Author

Rachel burger

Rachel Burger

Follow me on:

Rachel is a Content Marketing Analyst for Capterra, a free online resource that quickly matches businesses to their software needs. She specializes in construction, project management and school administration. On the rare occasion Rachel isn't writing, she's reading, hiking, jogging, or spending time with her friends and family.