Just imagine the planning, collaboration, and execution that had to come together flawlessly to make those projects a success.
Coming from a different angle, think about all the architectural projects that go wrong and become monuments to failure for decades.
Project management software is designed to prevent failure and ensure project success for businesses of all kinds, including architecture.
If only there was a perfect fit: an easy-to-use, fully functioning project management software tool that is also designed for the needs of architects and architectural firms, meaning that it shines in areas such as document management, collaboration, and accessibility.
With that, our search for the best project management software for architects begins.
The search for the best project management software for architects
Next, I checked out a forum on Archinect, where someone had already come looking for the same information I was hunting for.
“I found one or two (project management) programs specifically designed for Architectural offices that weren’t so good, and then a lot more that were too general,” the user, adelz, wrote in their query.
The search continues…
I even asked an architect friend of mine who works for a mid-sized firm in Baltimore what they use, and her answer echoed what I had already heard.
“None of the firms I’ve ever worked at… have used any specific project management software, and the firms have ranged in size and project type specialty,” said my friend.
She added that her firm would be a good candidate for project management software, as they have several dozen projects going on at once.
“We haven’t found a project management software that meets enough of our needs to implement as a standard… we’re always looking, but nothing fits.”
So the question remains, what is the best project management software for architects, and does such a thing even exist?
Architecture software vs. project management software
The architecture industry already has its own software tools specifically designed for running an architectural firm.
But there is a difference between architecture software and project management software.
Architecture software—popular examples include ArchiCAD, AutoCAD, Revit, and SketchUp—features computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM) tools that help architects visualize, plan, and design complex physical structures from the pre-construction phase all the way through the demolition of the building.
As you can see, architecture software and project management software are fundamentally different. Think of architecture software as a drafting board, and project management software as a daily planner.
You wouldn’t want to draw up blueprints in your daily planner, and you wouldn’t want to keep important dates on your drafting board, so if you want fully functioning architecture software and project management software you’ll need to invest in two separate products.
However, some project management software is better suited for the specific needs of architecture firms, and some architecture software does include some lightweight project management tools.
The best project management tools for architects
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best project management software for architects we could find. This list includes both architecture tools with project management features, and project management tools with architecture features. I found these tools using a combination of my research, and by sifting through Capterra’s architecture software directory for tools that straddle the line between architecture and project management.
Here’s what I found:
ArchiCAD, designed by Hungarian company Graphisoft for the Apple Macintosh in 1982, revolutionized building information modeling (BIM).
Pros: An architectural design package first, with full 3D modeling and BIM features, ArchiCAD also throws in some helpful project management features such as document management and collaboration tools through BIMcloud.
Cons: While ArchiCAD can serve as a light project management tool in a pinch, it is not at all intended to replace a full project management software package as it is missing features such as Gantt charts and budget management.
Pricing: ArchiCAD does not list its pricing online, but you can contact their sales team by email here. ArchiCAD 21 was released in June of 2017, and previous versions cost about $5,000 for a new license with upgrades running around $1,000. The ArchiPLUS subscription service, which includes free upgrades and premium technical support, costs about $700 per year. Click here for current pricing from a North American reseller.
Have you tried ArchiCAD? Please leave a review here.
2. BQE Core
Formerly known as ArchiOffice, BQE Core was originally designed by architects to save time on things that pulled them away from being architects: time tracking, invoicing, and document management.
Cons: It is meant to supplement architecture software rather than supplant it, so it does not include any CAD or BIM features.
Pricing: BQE Core starts at about $10 per month for just the time and expense features. Adding on project management and billing features would up the price to about $50 per month.
Have you tried BQE Core? Please leave a review here.
Dapulse is one of our best reviewed general project management software options, with a perfect 5/5 stars on almost 450 reviews, but it also bills itself as an architecture software tool because of its proposal management, document management, and client management features.
Pros: Its biggest strength is that it’s quick to learn and easy to use, and it includes virtually every project management feature you could want, from budget management to time tracking. It turns task management into an addictive game as you click completed tasks on a visual chart to turn them green.
Cons: It won’t help you at all with architectural design, but assuming that you already have that taken care of, dapulse could be an ideal supplemental tool to your CAD and BIM software.
Pricing: Dapulse starts at $25 per month for teams of up to five.
Have you tried dapulse? Please leave a review here.
4. Deltek Ajera
Ajera was developed by Oregon-based Axium in 2004. Ten years later, Axium was acquired by Deltek, a Virginia-based company which has been around since 1983 and has more than 2,000 employees, so you know that this is a well-crafted product from developers with deep roots.
Pros: Ajera is a combination project management and accounting solution designed specifically for architecture and engineering firms. Though my friend found that it’s not a cure-all, it could be very useful for firms who want to address their accounting and project management needs with one piece of software.
Cons: Ajera is a robust product packed with accounting and project management features. That makes integrating your financial information with your project reporting a snap, but if you already have a separate accounting system that you are happy with, Ajera could be more than you need.
Pricing: Deltek does not list its pricing information online, but you can request a demo here.
Have you tried Ajera? Please leave a review here.
Newforma is another well-established, powerful project management tool designed specifically for architecture and engineering firms. The company began in New Hampshire in 2003 with its flagship project information management product. It is used by almost 1,500 different architectural firms around the world.
Pros: What makes Newforma unique on this list is that it includes both BIM (as an add-on module) and project management features, along with the document management features that it is best known for. Newforma also integrates with AutoCAD and Revit to form a complete architectural design and project management suite.
Cons: As my friend found, while Newforma scratches several itches—alongside ArchiCAD it is the only product on this list that includes both design and project management features—it does not go deep enough in either discipline to replace dedicated software in those categories. Still, with the add-on modules and integrations, Newforma could fit in nicely with a firm’s dedicated design tools.
Pricing: Newforma does not list its pricing online, but you can request information here.
Have you tried Newforma? Please leave a review here.
WorkflowMax is a product of New Zealand-based accounting and payroll software developer Xero. It aims to be an all-in-one job management tool for everyone from architects to lawyers.
Pros: As an architectural tool, WorkflowMax offers contract, document, and proposal management features. As a project management tool, it offers budget and resource management, collaboration, and time and task management. That’s a lot of value for a competitively priced software package.
Cons: It’s missing some features from either side—for example the design elements of architecture software, and visualization tools such as Gantt charts and Kanban boards on the project management side—but if you’re just looking for something to do the tasks listed above, WorkflowMax is a nifty little tool.
Pricing: WorkflowMax offers a free trial, and plans start at $49 per month for up to five users, with a solo plan for $15 per month.
Have you tried WorkflowMax? Please leave a review here.
Are you an architect, or an architectural project manager? Have you found the holy grail of project management software tools for architects? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. And if you have any thoughts on the tools listed above, please share those in the comments as well.
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.