The engineer’s guide to project management software

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As an engineer, you’ve had to master the art of thinking big — and solving small.

Engineers have to understand the big picture and see where the ship needs to go. But they also need to build the microscopic parts and pieces of that ship — sometimes while it’s already on the water!

It isn’t easy to think big and solve small, but project management software can help you keep both sides of the engineering coin in sharp focus.

Below, we’ll review our top five picks for best project management software for engineers — plus we’ll show you which project management features to look for.

But first, let’s explore why engineers should care about using software for task management, project planning, and tracking project progress.

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What is project management software? And why should engineers care?

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Project management software helps organizations plan, prioritize, organize, budget, schedule, and execute projects for customers and clients. 

It’s a way of organizing project information so that everyone involved can see who’s doing what and when, stay on budget and on schedule, and understand where their tasks fall in the overall context of the project. 

Project management software is indispensable in numerous industries, including architecture and engineering

It’s indispensable because it brings order to chaos and provides clarity instead of confusion. Choose the right tool, and you’ll break down silos and increase visibility, productivity, and efficiency.

Project management software can deliver benefits like:

  • Automated time tracking and client billing

  • Easy collaboration with team members and clients

  • Kanban and scrum boards to visualize agile workflows and sprints

  • Issue logging and tracking

The team at McNeil Engineering explains it this way:

“Civil engineering projects often have strict deadlines that must be met to avoid delays and cost overruns. Effective project management . . . helps to ensure that everyone involved in the project is aware of their responsibilities and deadlines and that the project is completed on time.”

Quick note: We’ll focus on the civil and industrial side of engineering for this article, though is perfect for software engineering project management as well. And no matter which type of engineer you are, the information given here should be helpful. 

Essential project management software features for engineers

All project management software shares a basic set of capabilities. You can create tasks, assign those tasks to users, and (usually) link those tasks together into schedules or workflows. 

Going beyond the basics, you'll start to see some variance in feature sets. Some project management platforms are purpose-built for architecture and engineering, while others are more generalized. (And some project management solutions are better equipped to handle software engineering processes.)

As you evaluate various options, look for these features.


Automation is one of the biggest time-savers project management software delivers. With automation, you can set up event- and time-based triggers that execute actions and steps based on parameters you define.

For example, if you’re using a customer intake form, you can create an automation that routes that information to the right places, creates a new task or workflow, and assigns follow-up tasks to specific people on your team.

When you complete a task, your project management solution can automatically notify the next assigned resource, launch an approval workflow, or any number of other actions.


You should also explore what kinds of customization options the solution offers. Civil engineering project management doesn’t follow a single universal approach (and neither does software development project management). So you’ll likely need to tweak your project management software to make it work just right for you.

The amount of customization possible can vary considerably. For example, Jira and Notion are endlessly customizable (to the point that initial setup might require professional help). But Asana doesn’t offer very much customization at all.

Take the basic question of whether you use waterfall or agile methodology. Nearly everything about the way you set up a project will be different based on how you answer that question. 

Tools with the right prebuilt options and sufficient customization let you create a workspace that aligns with your existing processes, smoothing the transition to a new tool.

Comments and messaging

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Engineers are constantly collaborating with others on the team as they develop their projects. We’ve all been in email thread purgatory before, and we’re growing more familiar with its modern cousin, the Slack channel labyrinth. (“Where was that message? I know someone sent me that attachment somewhere…”)

Project management software can help you avoid both by tying comments and messaging to the associated project — and even to specific tasks and subtasks. In collaborative and highly technical environments, this level of precision leads to big wins in clarity and efficiency. 


Every engineer relies on a host of digital tools as they design and build out products. It’s helpful when these tools can communicate with one another automatically, saving you from tons of manual data entry. 

You may or may not need your project management software to integrate with your computer-aided design (CAD) or building information modeling (BIM) software. 

But you definitely need it to integrate with Google Workspace, Slack, Microsoft 365, or similar tools. And if you’re using separate systems for billing and accounting, you may want those to link up as well.

Kanban and scrum boards

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Many engineering teams rely on Kanban or scrum (or other Agile methodologies) to plan iterations and short sprints. Most modern project management software supports Kanban project management and scrum boards in some capacity, but not all are equal in their execution. And you’ll still find some older tools that don’t do it as well (if at all).

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Tasks and subtasks

Engineering teams can also assign tasks and sub-tasks to the right personnel and ensure all steps in the project are accounted for and have an owner. The ability to delineate tasks down to the subtask level helps ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

Also, keep in mind that some project management solutions easily support dependencies, while others require workarounds or can’t handle dependencies at all. 

Why bring this up? Because when it comes to projects that involve building real things in the real world, dependencies are often a significant part of directing project traffic. 

You can’t paint stripes on the road until you lay the asphalt, which you can’t do until you finish the underlayment, which you can’t do until you grade the surface, and so on. 

Building those real-world dependencies into your project schedules helps keep those projects grounded in reality and leads to fewer bottlenecks.


The ability to tag content can help clean up workspaces and make the right content visible with just a quick search. 

For example, imagine you need to pull up a blueprint from a past project. You’ll recognize it when you see it, but you have no idea what the filename is or where it got stashed on the network. 

If your firm tags all blueprints with a #blueprint tag, you can pull up all blueprints across all your projects and quickly find the one you’re looking for.

Time tracking

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Engineering firms may also want to track time, not just for timesheets but also for project-specific purposes. If your billing is tied to the number of hours logged on a project, then project-connected time tracking greatly simplifies the process (and adds transparency).

Time tracking can also help teams understand where their time is going. They can quickly highlight tasks that are taking longer than expected, making it easier to troubleshoot issues and adjust workflows to get the project back on track.

5 best engineering project management tools

Now that you understand the ins and outs of engineering project management, here are five of the best project management solutions that support the way engineering teams work.


Blog post image is a powerful, flexible cloud-based project management software solution that’s designed for professional services firms and those who do client work. 

With user-friendly time tracking and intuitive billing features, it’s easy to tie billable hours to specific projects and tasks, helping you create invoices with less effort and more transparency.

Complex projects with multiple deliverables, milestones, subtasks, assignees, and dependencies are common in engineering. And capably handles this level of complexity. From kanban boards to Gantt charts, gives you next-level project visibility and clarity. also has a rich library of templates to help you get started. Engineers enjoy the project tracker template and client onboarding template, while software engineers love the bug tracking template.

Because of its depth, flexibility, and enhanced time tracking and billing features, is a best-in-class solution for engineering teams.

Pricing has a Free Forever plan for up to five users and a Deliver plan at $9.99/user/month. Grow, the most popular plan, unlocks the full arsenal at $19.99/user/month.

2. Trello

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Trello is an extremely popular lightweight project management tool. It’s a board-based tool ideal for organizing and assigning tasks and moving tasks across the board as they move toward completion.

Trello is designed for agile teams and can be a great fit for teams running scrum sprints or doing iterative work.

The biggest drawback to Trello is also its greatest strength: simplicity. If you don’t need to manage complex projects or run your finances and customer relationship management through the same platform, then all those tools can get in your way. In that case, Trello would be a breath of fresh air.

At the same time, if your project management is more complex, then Trello’s intentionally limited platform just won’t get the job done.

Key features

  • Refreshingly simple Kanban board setup

  • Plays nicely with other tools and apps thanks to Power-Ups and integrations

  • Butler automation service


Trello has a limited free plan, a $5/user/month tier, and a $10/user/month tier. Most businesses need the highest tier.

3. Asana

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Asana is one step up the complexity and capability ladder from Trello, offering a project management experience that goes a bit deeper and offers additional views. Engineers who use Asana love the way they can assign tasks to users (and guests) and keep conversations connected to individual tasks.

There are scaling concerns here though. You can’t assign tasks to multiple people (which is sometimes necessary for collaboration), and the interface isn’t great for setting up long or complex projects.

Pricing is surprisingly high compared to tools that offer a lot more ( and tools that offer a similar experience (Trello), so it’s tough to wholeheartedly recommend Asana.

Key features

  • Attractive UI that’s easy to learn

  • Automations help reduce repetitive manual work

  • Time tracking and workload analysis (but only in the Advanced tier)


For engineers, Asana is functionally $24.99/user/month. There’s a lower-priced $10.99 tier, but it’s too limited for the kind of project tracking engineers need.

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4. Notion

Notion is an intriguing approach. At first glance, it looks like a super-powered collaborative notepad — not exactly what you’d expect a project management platform to look like.

Notion’s selling point is its incredible flexibility. You can customize Notion to do nearly anything — if you have the creativity, technical skills, and time to build it. Or you can browse through a mind-boggling number of templates (over 15,000 of them) to find the functionality you need.

Notion offers table-based project management and automations, and you can set up a card-based view or timeline, depending on the templates you use or your level of technical expertise.

Notion can be a great fit for small, technically savvy, highly motivated teams. But it’s far from turnkey. Someone has to build your project management system within Notion, which takes time you might rather spend on engineering tasks.

Key features

  • Highly configurable collaborative environment

  • 15,000+ community-created templates

  • Supports tasks, subtasks, and dependencies


Notion offers a Plus plan at $8/user/month and a Business plan at $15/user/month. The optional advanced AI features add another $10/user/month.

5. Jira

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Jira is one product in the Atlassian suite of tools. It’s popular as a project management and issue management tool, especially among software and IT teams, but it can be useful in non-software contexts too.

Jira is primarily a kanban board-style product, where you’re setting up tasks as cards or sticky notes, but it’s far more flexible and has much more depth than other agile-first platforms. Many software teams use it for issue management and bug fixes.

In addition to the core Jira Software product, there’s also Jira Work Management, which could be better suited for engineering teams. It adds forms, templates, and automations — all geared toward non-software contexts.

Key features

  • Intake forms for automated tracking and routing

  • Track work in list, calendar, board, and timeline views

  • Fully integrated with other Atlassian products for one price


For organizations with 100 or fewer users, Jira Standard is $8.15/user/month, and Premium is $16/user/month.

Find out why is the best project management tool for engineers

Engineers benefit from a project management platform to plan, track, and execute projects — but how much improvement you’ll experience depends on which solution you choose. is the best engineering project management software because it strikes a perfect balance. It offers an easy-to-use interface and the needed depth and complexity to support and streamline the kinds of projects you’re working on. is ideal for team collaboration — everyone can see project status, understand who’s working on what, and work with greater confidence. And visually rich dashboards provide real-time data to enhance decision-making. Plus, with time-tracking tools tied directly to client billing, you’ll bill more accurately with less effort.

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