The Best Project Management Software for Architects

Share This Article

0 0 0 0

Some of the biggest and most well-known projects in modern history are architectural in nature: One World Trade Center, the Petronas Twin Towers, Burj Khalifa.

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

I started off by looking on Quora, but the results were out of date or consisted of someone trying to promote their own upstart project management software.

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.”

My friend said her firm has tried using a combination of Deltek Ajera for time management, Newforma for email tracking and project management, and Microsoft Excel to fill in the blanks.

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.

Project management software—for example Asana, JIRA, Microsoft Project, and Wrike—helps teams collaborate, manage resources, and monitor budgets and schedules.

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:

1. ArchiCAD

ArchiCAD

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

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.

Pros: BQE Core’s strength is that it is specifically tailored for architects, with integrations for RFIs and ASIs built right in.

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.

3. monday.com

monday.com

monday.com 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, monday.com could be an ideal supplemental tool to your CAD and BIM software.

Pricing: monday.com starts at $25 per month for teams of up to five.

Have you tried monday.com? Please leave a review here.

4. Deltek Ajera

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.

5. Newforma

Newforma

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.

6. WorkflowMax

WorkflowMax

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.

Your suggestions?

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.

Share This Article

About the Author

Avatar

Andrew Conrad

Andrew is a content writer for Capterra, specializing in church management and project management software. When he’s not striving for the perfect balance of information and entertainment, Andrew enjoys the great outdoors and the wide world of sports. Follow him on Twitter @CapterraAC.

Comments

Avatar

I urge you to take a look at IngeniousIO. I’m an architect by training but have been representing various PM solutions for 15+ years. I’ve never seen a vendor take such a holistic approach to PM for the industry as a whole. The architecture workspace includes project financials, resource planning and design aspects as well as collaboration with the other parties on the project, each of which has their own unique workspace to address their respective business needs. Check it out or reach out to me for more information.

Avatar

Hi Lilliam,

If you are referring to Frank by KiteLabs (https://www.capterra.com/p/146605/Frank/) they do not have a phone number listed, but do have this email address listed: hello@frankcollaboration.com

I hope this helps!

Avatar

Trying to get someone from Frank Collaboration to return my email request to contact me for a week. Does anyone have their telephone contact ?

Avatar

I was/am in the same boat, however, I don’t agree that one should be looking for a cad or bim software to solve project mananegement issues. Totally separate. An architectural office from small to big requires project management, resource management, collaborative tool & financial management. The key is to break the fragmentation of multiple programs. Payroll and accounting could be done with different programs since it’s usually done by a dedicated person however. It sounds like a like a unicorn to find this all wrapped up in one. However there are quite a few but you will pay quite a lit of money. Beware of software that sucks hours in your day just to process a new account or begin a new project. We need a solution that is simple to use and not have to create reports just to figure out your burn rate on a project. While there lots if good project management softwares, a lot of them are not able to track your budget throughout. They are made for other industries that just want to get things done. For smaller businesses, I would look at the following:

1. Mavenlink. Does it all. It has a great resource planning and utilization capability. The budget and burn info is right there with the project. Collaborative messaging is pretty good as well. we But their pricing gets expensive. Highly recommended if your willing to pay around $60 a month per staff member. The interface received a refresh and it really keeps your project managers on top of budgets.

2. Easyprojects. Pretty decent pricing plans. Good project management and very customizable. Really good at keeping an entire company on top of things including some really good collaboration tools. A little rough to get used to navigate even though it’s called Easyprojects. The downfall, which almost disqualifies it, is that it does not include quotes and invoicing capability built in. For that you would need to use zapier and integrate with xero or QuickBooks.

3. Avaza. Easy to use, great UI. Great pricing. Does timesheets, and expenses very well and even resource planning. It will be well received by the staff. However it’s collaboration is only at the task level when architects want to collaborate at the project level. And tracking daily budget performance do require to use either a widget on the dashboard, or to run a report. Not horrible, but they could have had it tracked at the project page.

4. Proworkflow. This is a very smart design for architecture firms that give you everything you need from quotes, to scheduling multiple teams or clients tracking the burn or progress of every progress right on the same page that you can collaborate, uploaded files and schedule your project. So no bouncing around here. Training and assistance to setup is included. The resource workload for all your projects or for an individual project is always available as well with their timeline gant. I like how I can see all my projects with their Gant timelines on one page to really understand what is going on the entire business. Swapping resources on multiple projects is also a breeze. I like their timesheets and time tracking, though no holiday or vacations built in. Only negative I can find is that their UI needs to be refressed as others have been doing lately and their gant chart needs to add real dependencies. Regardless, it is priced well and will do what you need if you are a smaller firm.

5. Ravetree. Great UI. Has all the cute kanban, calendar and Gant views of all the projects Does absolutely everything. Resource planning, project management, and great customizable dashboard. Pricing is acceptable, at about $39 per user and setup is included. The collaboration is robust. You could really track the staffs performance very well without needing reports. The Gant is not the best I have used, but otherwise there is little it doesn’t do. Takes a bit to get used to at the beginning but this would be perfect for an architecture firm of all sizes.

Tried BQE Core. One if the best dashboards I have seen. But it really just focuses on the financials. It is really a full fledged ERP and does not stand out at all with their project management. Too much jumping around to different tabs to schedule and track projects and their resource planning only gives you weekly allocations which does not help a manager in architecture that is dealing with score and schedule changes constantly. RFI is useless in my opinion since architects need to work with contractors and subcontractors to respond to questions and it requires that everyone has Core. Core does not allow any collaborators or any client portals. It’s a shame. It manages the financial part like a champ. But you should be prepared to pay about $500 for setup because this is not something easy to setup out of the box.

Monday is not an all-inclusive one for architecture firm lacking gant charts and other tools imo.

Avatar

One of the biggest challenges with most of these management products is that they need to function well without any software or process training. Most architecture firms (and professional service firms in general) spend exceptionally little (if anything) on training, or development of standard processes. Often, project management approaches are siloed in individual teams. Because of this, any software intended for use by architects – beyond the already complex BIM software — needs to be extremely intuitive and clear in its use FOR ARCHITECTURE.

One of the key problems in Deltek (Vision, not Ajera) and Newforma products is that they are very powerful, but have colossally awful user interfaces. They require a concerted effort to use them. Unless management actively promotes use of their more powerful (and difficult) features, users just ignore them and revert to spreadsheets and other common tools.

More generic tools from the mainstream project management world are also not intuitive in terms of setup for architecture, specifically. Just last night, I looked at my FREE Sharepoint and Microsoft Teams apps (included with Office 365 subscription), and had no idea where to begin creating a system to use in project management. I’d rather use tools like Basecamp, Wrike, Asana, Evernote which are far simpler, but more obvious to begin using immediately. I find simple, disparate tools are easier to use than complex integrated ones.

Finally, the IT / programming burden must be very light. With regard to staffing, Architecture firms are run on very low overhead. Except for the very largest of architecture firms, they are unlikely to have staff dedicated to programming, customization, and support of project management products. The workhorse of an architecture firm is BIM software, and even specialized staffing in that realm is usually left to outside consultants. Many firms have, at best, an IT staff person or two dedicated to keeping the network stable and the machines humming.

Avatar

Thanks for tackling this subject. I’m convinced there’s a sore need for process improvement and thoughtful use of project management tools within the architectural profession, and few people really consider the need.

Avatar

I have been using a VM ware version of Wind2. This software is no longer supported and it was bought out by Deltek. Deltek has the market on the business end. They don’t offer free help, training, nor do they offer a free trial period. They are greedy and their price is outrageous.
I don’t need the BIM. That is handled through AutoCad. I just need to be able to manage the projects, phases, tasks the way Wind2 did/does. Customer invoicing is different for one client vs another. Fixed rates, profit and overhead markups, are just a few ways that customers are billed. It all depends on the contract. I’ve looked at Total Synergy and was hoping it would work for us, but it doesn’t give me the ability to do profit and overhead markup %’s the way we need to show it on an invoice. It doesn’t allow me to control employee hours and move to different tasks/phases.
Billing reviews are done here, before final invoicing. I need to print them out, give them to PM’s. They then mark up the reviews and tell me what to bill this month, what to hold, what hrs to move from one task to another. I just haven’t found anything close to the billing/invoicing end as what this old archaic system does where some users don’t want to change. I then have to get all these hours into QB desktop for payroll. I’m still searching and FYI, save yourself some money and Don’t purchase QB premier contractors edition. They have 0 help and the training videos stink. I was hoping it would work for me, but it doesn’t. Even after I told the sales rep, what I needed. He claimed it would do all I asked. it doesn’t. Frustrated in WA.

Avatar

Total Synergy has built business and project management software for architects since 1999. It’s used by over 15,000 people, every day. You can trial their new cloud software free for 30 days. Check them out and see what their architectural customers are saying – http://www.totalsynergy.com

Avatar

Great product!
You should look at all the features of Gladys. A French project management platform that has proven its worth to many companies. In my team we are very happy to use it. This is the best pmo and ppm software solution.
https://gladys.com

Avatar

I friend of mine suggested Frank Collaboration to me and I gave it a 1 free-month spin about a six months ago at my studio. So far it helped me lose weight of the suite of applications and softwares we used and eliminate spreadsheets. The customer service guys were extremely helpful helping me out define and reshape my needs at my studio. User interface and pricing are huge plus. So far it’s the best A/E Project Management platform we’ve implemented at our studio. Their website is http://www.frankcollaboration.com

Avatar

This post resonates deeply with us, so much so that we self-funded a PM software product built specifically for architects: https://monograph.io/. While the applications listed above are possible solutions, its evident just in the images alone that the products are outdated and lack the design and professionalism that the a modern AEC firm needs. We’re passionate about architecture and believe that the tools architects use should be as beautiful and functional as the buildings that they create! (Mosaic)

Avatar

Whoa – wait a minute. You actually are looking for CAD/BIM programs to assist with project management? You realize that they are two totally distinct skill sets, right? Ever since architects have been being paid for their work, managing the design effort is totally distinct and separate from the design effort itself. Why are you expecting project management software to do the design effort? It’s like asking a spreadsheet to paint. Not going to happen. While your reviews of the project management aspect of each of these is pretty spot-on, your instance of having the project management software actually perform design tasks shows ignorance on the A/E professions.

Comment on this article:


Comment Guidelines:
All comments are moderated before publication and must meet our guidelines. Comments must be substantive, professional, and avoid self promotion. Moderators use discretion when approving comments.

For example, comments may not:
• Contain personal information like phone numbers or email addresses
• Be self-promotional or link to other websites
• Contain hateful or disparaging language
• Use fake names or spam content

Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.