Custom Project Management Software: Core & Extended Features, Benefits, Costs
With 33 years in software development, ScienceSoft provides project management consulting and development services for custom project and portfolio management software.
The Essence of Project Management Software
Custom project management (PM) software streamlines administrative decisions on projects and aligns collaboration between project managers, project team members, and other project stakeholders. PM software helps with:
For project-intensive businesses, custom PM software can have extended functionality and cover portfolio project management (PPM).
Key Features of Custom Project Management Software
Based on ScienceSoft's 33-year experience in software development, we can outline the core functionality of a custom project management system.
Project management software features
- Project initiation and approval workflows.
- Setting project goals, milestones, KPIs, and deadlines.
- Planning and scheduling project activities.
- Checking the availability and costs of the required human, financial, and physical resources.
- Tracking the completion status of each project task and consumption of project resources.
- Monitoring the overall project progress.
- Updating project tasks in real time.
- Automated notifications about task updates to corresponding team members.
- Automated evaluation of the project health (milestones, deadlines, KPIs are checked against the planned parameters).
Human resource management
- A project team’s lineup planning and assigning employees to the project roles.
- Scheduling high-demand professionals to ensure their availability for the upcoming projects.
- Monitoring the project team’s workload and performance.
- Checking the progress of each team member.
Financial resource management
- Project budget estimation and planning with regard to the planned labor and non-labor costs.
- Requesting/scheduling the needed financial resources and project budget approval.
- Setting budget groups for the project and modelling scenarios of budget allocation into them.
- Tracking the project budget usage per budget allocation group.
Physical resource management
- Checking the real-time availability of the company’s assets (e.g., machinery, hardware, software licenses, facilities, medical equipment, etc.) and consumable resources.
- Monitoring the consumable resources consumption and its compliance with the planned amounts.
- Requesting/scheduling the needed or high-demand physical resources.
- Modelling purchasing vs rental scenarios for physical resources to decide on the most cost-effective resourcing model for the project.
- Detecting the over-allocation cases.
For project managers:
- Monitoring the actual time spent on each task by each team member.
- Getting personal time reports on project team members.
- Planning and visualizing team members’ availability.
For project team members:
- Logging time for project-bound activities.
- Automated time tracking.
- Controlling personal progress and performance.
- Setting, evaluating, and prioritizing project risks.
- Monitoring risk factors throughout the project.
- Assigning risk mitigation activities to a corresponding project stakeholder.
- Outlining accountability and collaboration scenarios within the project team.
- Organizing and monitoring group tasks.
- Simultaneous work on the project in a group.
- Built-in communication tool or an integration with third-party software (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc.).
- Sharing, editing, co-authoring project documents.
- Creating and managing a project-specific document repository.
- Visualizing the information on the project tasks, schedules, and resources in interactive charts.
- Structuring and breaking down project activities.
- Planning the project’s resources capacity.
- Providing a single source of truth on the project’s progress for all project stakeholders.
Project portfolio monitoring
- Monitoring all projects in the portfolio simultaneously.
- Outlining dependencies between projects, resources, and assets.
- Assigning strategic KPIs to each project in a portfolio.
- Setting custom ranking criteria for manual or automated project prioritization in the portfolio.
- Interactive program roadmapping based on long- and short-term strategic needs and resource availability.
- Assigning and monitoring specific tasks and goals, to projects comprising a program.
- Identifying unhealthy projects that jeopardize the program’s success.
Human resource management
- Booking deficit employees for high-priority projects.
- Viewing employee availability charts for optimized project planning and scheduling.
- Outlining cases of employees’ over-allocation.
Financial resource management
- Automated approval workflows for project and program budgets.
- Monitoring the project/program budget usage against the set budget targets.
- Automated assessment of project/program ROI.
Project portfolio analytics and reporting
- Modelling what-if scenarios with varying budgeting and resource utilization constraints to decide on the best fitting portfolio optimization strategy.
- Setting what-if scenarios for the grounded resources allocation in the cases of projects competing over the same resources.
- Customizable reports on portfolio statistics, program progress, resource capacity and utilization, etc.
Valuable Integrations for Custom Project Management Software
ScienceSoft recommends integrating custom project management software with relevant corporate systems to improve visibility into project-related data as well as streamline project staffing, budget planning, and resource consumption tracking.
PM + ERP
- For ERP users: enables 360-degree visibility of project-related data (e.g., project schedules and results, procurement requirements, budget estimation and actual spending).
- For users of a PM solution: provides data about internal/external project demand, inventory and asset management, billing and accounting requirements, and more (depending on your ERP capabilities).
PM + Human capital management software
For users of a PM solution:
- Uploading employee profiles to the system streamlines project staffing and employee selection for high-priority project roles.
- HCM-stored data on employees’ general availability (with regard to their vacations, sick leaves, etc.) helps effectively plan the human resources’ capacity.
PM + Payroll software
- For payroll software users: sharing data on the project team members’ regular and overtime workloads, their billable and non-billable time contributes to the accuracy of payroll calculations.
- For users of a PM solution: uploading data like salaries and bonuses of project team members streamlines project budget planning.
PM + Asset management software
For users of a PM solution:
- Enables checking the availability and requesting assets relevant for a specific project.
- Uploading physical resources’ costs improves estimations of the project’s budget.
For AMS users:
- Shared data on projects’ utilization and consumption of physical resources helps optimize asset utilization and maintenance planning.
PM + BI tools
For users of a PM solution:
- Enables tracking and visualizing KPIs, risks, resources consumption per project/program with the help of diverse cumulative reports.
- Provides a wide range of project/porfolio forecasts.
- Predicts the success/failure probability for the initiated projects.
Strong PM analytics
Ensure analytic capabilities of your PM solution or integrate it with third-party AI-powered BI tools to get:
- Near-real-time analysis of project effectiveness.
- Accurate forecasting of project resources’ capacity and business value the proposed projects may bring.
Ample functionality for project team members
To level up the effectiveness of all project team members, ensure your PM solution enables them to:
- Register their project-related activities and time spent on them.
- Check their progress against project KPIs.
- Access the project map visualizing dependencies and accountability within the project.
- Initiate and participate in real-life discussions of project-related issues.
- Add and manage documents in the dedicated document repository.
PM software security ensured
Pay special attention to PM software security to prevent the business data leakage. PM security should be provisioned during the entire software lifecycle:
- At the requirements gathering stage (e.g., drawing up a risk profile, etc.).
- During the solution’s development (e.g., adherence to secure coding practices, etc.).
- During the software evolution (e.g., regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing).
Success Stories by ScienceSoft
Development of a Reporting Module for a Project Management System
- Integration with CRM, Excel workbooks, Active Directory, Jira, SharePoint portal, and accounting system.
- Reports realized with Microsoft Reporting Services that extract data from the Analytical Cube and OLTP system, online reports integrated into SharePoint portal.
- PowerPivot models in Excel that do not require external data connection.
Customization of a Project Management Mobile App on Xamarin
- Adding icon buttons to the toolbar.
- Extending the information panel.
- Creating e-mail validation for new users.
- Fixing bugs.
- Optimizing the UI for tablets.
PM software cost factors
To adequately estimate the investments into a custom project management solution, you have to take into account the following associated costs:
- Functional complexity (the number and specifics of PM features).
- Number and types of integrations (e.g., via APIs, messaging).
- Performance requirements (minimal and expected number of users, scalability parameters, etc.).
- Migrating data from siloed project management data sources (e.g., department-specific PM tools or Excel spreadsheets).
Support, maintenance, enhancement
Depending on the criticality of a PM system to your organization, you should decide on:
- Relevant support timeframe (8/5, 12/5, 24/5, 24/7).
- Scope of support activities to handle current PM issues and cater to the upgrade and evolution of your PM solution.
The cost of a feature-rich PM solution with a project management module and a portfolio management module can range from $300K to $600K.
Despite the substantial investments, you can expect:
Payback period from 1 to 1.8 years
ROI from 140 to 280%
When Custom PM Software Is Your Best Choice
ScienceSoft advises you to consider the development of a custom PM system, when you have:
Specific and diverse project management workflows. Even industry-specific PM products (e.g., PM solutions for IT, construction and engineering, professional services) often don’t cover all industry/business/department peculiarities of PM procedures and may still require complex and costly customizations. Custom PM software, helps streamline your organization’s project-related processes with complete precision.
A significant number of expected users. The monthly fee for a platform-based PM solution multiplied by a large number of users (e.g., 500+) stays unchanged during the entire period of the PM solution’s usage. With time, it can outweigh the initial investment into a custom PM software, making it a more cost-effective variant for organizations with an extensive base of PPM users.
Complex software ecosystems to integrate with PM software. Though some vendors offer PM solutions that are easily integrated with their software suites (e.g., Microsoft Project, ServiceNow Project Management), integration with corporate software outside the suites may still require substantial investment and time. Opting for custom PM software, you get an integration architecture tailored to your company’s software ecosystem (including other custom and legacy solutions).
Project management software consulting
ScienceSoft’s consultants will:
- Analyze your industry and business specifics, define the existing PM processes.
- Provide a requirements specification for your PM software.
- Draw up a scalable and secure architecture for the PM solution.
- Suggest an integration map to ensure effective workflows between PM and other business solutions (ERP, HCM, payroll system, etc.).
- Estimate PM software implementation costs and time.
- Calculate the expected ROI and payback period for your solution.
Project management software development
ScienceSoft’s team will:
- Develop a requirements specification for your project management software.
- Create a secure and scalable PM software architecture.
- Design a convenient and well-structured GUI ensuring the minimal number of usage steps for smooth PM workflows.
- Develop the front and back end for custom PM software.
- Integrate PM software with relevant business software (e.g., HCM, financial and payroll software).
- Execute full-cycle testing activities.
- Perform post-implementation support and maintenance activities, handle PM software evolution.
ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. We provide project management consulting and custom PM software development services to help organizations optimize financial and human resources utilization in the projects and increase their business value. Being ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified, we rely on a mature quality management system and guarantee your data security.