August 25, 2022

Best Cloud Database Software for Project Management in 2022

Written by
Don Hall

Cloud database software offers the same functionality as a traditional database that can collect, organize, and deliver data to business staff, applications, and need-to-know external entities.

However, cloud database software separates itself from traditional databases in the way it accesses data remotely over the internet, increases scalability and flexibility, offers reliable and guaranteed uptime, and improves security. Additionally, there are cost savings from not having to maintain an IT facility and eliminating IT infrastructure.

How is Cloud Database Software Used?

Any business application that stores, tracks, retrieves, reports, or analyzes data can reside in a cloud database with improved responsiveness and security. A user will need a user interface (UI) like a web browser or front-end application with the right level of permissions to access the data. Financial data, human resource personnel data, or business proprietary information can safely reside in the cloud.

Specialized project management software is explicitly used for managing a project, with many options, including multiple cloud-based project management solutions. Project stakeholders are not confined to their desktops, and stakeholders can now manage their projects from anywhere with an internet connection.

Why is a Database Used in Project Management?

Besides improved security and remote access from anywhere, cloud databases have attributes that align with how crucial business data is stored. For example, project management data can be a task, material resources, workforce requirements, and a milestone scheduled. All are stored logically related to the overall project.

Additionally, cloud databases facilitate separate tables for tasks, material resources, and workforce all connected by a primary key that can be cross-referenced to help determine the status of a project.

Cloud project management software allows businesses to create and manage projects across distributed teams and locations. Many project management software vendors recognize the advantages of cloud-based project management software. To remain competitive, vendors need to differentiate themselves from the competition with their own cloud-based project management software.

This means that when comparing different cloud-based project management solutions, you’ll need to look at the differentiating features, pros and cons, and best use case for each reviewed solution to determine which is best for meeting your business’s project goals.

Comparison Chart for Cloud-Based Project Management Software

Vendor Customizable Templates Business Process Automation Mobile Access Milestone Tracking Third Party Integration
Asana
Clarizen
Kintone
Liquid Planner
Microsoft Project 
Smartsheets
Wrike
Zoho Projects

Asana

Asana focuses on task and task management, allowing users to see each task and how it is associated with the overall schedule. Asana allows teams to view their progress with its workflow views easily.

The tasks are mobile and can be moved between sections with specific notification information telling team members when it must be done. A key differentiator of Asana is its ability to integrate with other business applications like Salesforce, Slack, and Office 365.

Best For: Asana is best for businesses that focus heavily on task management and integrates well with popular business applications.

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Customer Reviews: Asana is complimented for being a well-organized application that allows users to accomplish an assigned task routinely. Two customers like the ability to collaborate with peers on tasks and keep track of the progress of tasks associated with a project. In addition, Asana is continually updating its features and functions, and one commented positively on how the updates make a difference.

On the other hand, Asana often sends too many alerts, which makes it difficult to catch important notifications. Additionally, one customer stated that Asana lacks database building and customization options available in comparable products, and another mentioned a lack of an undo button as another pain point.

Clarizen

Clarizen is designed for enterprise project management offices (EPMOs), project management offices (PMOs), and project support offices (PSOs). It allows EPMOs, PMOs, and PSOs to have oversight and visibility across multiple teams, automated workflows, and risk management.

Clarizen focuses on work that directly impacts milestones, critical paths, and final delivery dates. Key differentiators of Clarizen are an enhanced built-in collaboration feature with a presence awareness and chat features for project team members. Clarizen also offers a resource management feature that manages the demand life cycle for incoming projects to ensure all required resources are available to complete the tasks on time.

Best For: Clarizen is best used by large organizations that need complex work breakdown structures and strong customization options.

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Customer reviews: Meaningful updates are regularly delivered, making the application more effective in supporting multiple projects. And adding notes and comments to tasks and projects helps increase the quality of the projects. In addition, Clarizen allows teams to manage various projects and provide enough detail and insight to make business decisions.

One user notes Clarizen features as being overwhelming to a team during implementation. Support is commented on as being slow, and the same customer mentioned a bug that keeps resetting the column width that had not been corrected. Another drawback mentioned is that there is no desktop application available for Clarizen.

Kintone

Kintone is unique because it requires no programming skills to build a useful business application. Kintone advertises a customizable workplace platform that can create solutions by functions. Kintone’s built-in functions can support projects with workflow management, track project status and accountability, and enable faster planning with project management application templates.

In addition, Kintone’s database application builder allows businesses to track and share tasks using its collaboration functionality. Kintone can be deployed on the cloud or as a web-based solution.

Best For: Kintone supports multiple businesses with its robust application template library. Many industry-specific businesses use Kintone, and this product is ideal for companies that don’t have a strong IT department.

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Customer Reviews: Kintone does not require programming knowledge and is easy to customize. Another positive comment stated how easy it is to set up process management and assign roles. In addition, Kintone does not need users to be tech-savvy, and the plug-in with modular programming adds to its attractiveness for non-programmers.

The mobile version is not as user-friendly as the desktop version, and the search feature is rigid and not as robust as other search options in similar applications. Moreover, integration with other programs is not refined, and the ability to reverse a step in the process management system is not available. Another negative comment stated that there is a lack of user documentation.

LiquidPlanner

LiquidPlanner’s software differentiator feature is its predictive planning technology that can help a business forecast project outcomes and address any problems before they impact a project.

The reporting is a key differentiating feature that is customizable and can be incorporated with the service’s analytics engine to generate detailed reports. The other key feature of Liquidplanner is time tracking that integrates with billing and pay rates.

Best For: LiquidPlanner can be used by any size organization, and it’s best suited for businesses that want automatic creation or a project schedule and resources and analytical insight into their projects to help remove uncertainty.

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Customer Reviews: LiquidPlanner received compliments on how easy the product is to use. The collaboration feature allows team members to interact easily with other members based on project roles. Additionally, the ability of LiquidPlanner to dynamically update workloads and plans based on circumstances changing is rated positively in several customer reviews. The reporting tools allow for customization and easily meet project members’ needs.

The user interface is commented on as being confusing. A noted drawback of LiquidPlanner is the lack of an interactive Gantt chart. Another customer stated the lack of flexibility to look at projects and tasks together and thinks the application is too siloed. In addition, LiquidPlanner did not integrate well with the customer relationship management application for one company.

Microsoft Project Online

Microsoft Project Online integrates well with its sister product Office 365 and the other associated cloud services. In addition, Microsoft has added several automated features that automate scheduling based on user-configured settings.

The key differentiator feature of this product is the enhanced Gantt chart project tracking timeline, which can help track relationships and dependencies visually. Another key feature of Microsoft’s Project Online is forecasting and testing different scenarios to determine how a project will be impacted.

Best For: This product is best suited for organizations already heavily invested in using Microsoft’s tools.

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Customer Reviews: As expected, the Microsoft project online was commented on as integrating very well with other Microsoft products. The product is complimented for its project planning, managing, and tracking project progress throughout its life cycle.

The activity and task fulfillment tracking also received positive reviews. The tutorial videos in the software that helps users learn the application is commented on as being highly productive, and one customer said that the development of Microsoft Project with cloud storage capabilities set it apart from similar project management cloud-based applications.

However, the Microsoft Project Online software is expensive, and additional licenses are needed to use Office Suite products. Microsoft Project Online also has a deep learning curve that can be intimidating to new users.

Moreover, customization is poor, according to one customer, and Microsoft Project Online does not integrate well with other project management software. Microsoft Project Online operates best on a Windows computer. And simple typing errors with dates or days of activities can cause havoc in the application if not caught before processing.

Smartsheet

Smartsheet is designed to work on mobile devices and computers while providing remote access from anywhere using a mobile platform. Smartsheet uses a cloud computing platform that allows teams to see real-time updates to make quick decisions.

This project management application is a cloud-based work execution platform that empowers businesses to plan, track, automate, and report on current projects.

Smartsheet’s differentiating features are the mobile application scanning feature for tracking items and the application’s ability to integrate with other popular applications that businesses use in their project planning.

Best For: Smartsheet is used mostly by small businesses but can be used by any sized organization. In addition, Smartsheet caters to companies that use mobile applications frequently.

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Customer Reviews: Smartsheet is complimented for its easy creation of forms and workflows. Automation and collaboration are considered the most useful features by several customers. Smartsheet also continually puts in the effort to improve its functions and features, and customers appreciate added changes.

One the other hand, Smartsheet does not indicate when mathematical errors are part of a report, and it has caused double-checking of completed work, which can be time-consuming. In addition, the term project is not always used, making it difficult to group sheets together that belong to the same project.

Wrike

Workflow management is one of Wrike’s strongest features that allow teams to set up different workflow task items in a template designed explicitly for client engagement. Collaboration is a standout feature with easy comment buttons that let collaborators comment and read project details.

A key differentiator of Wrike is how it uses its folders. The folders allow for drag-and-drop functionality to create, add, and share project information.

Best For: Wrike can be used by businesses of all sizes looking for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) workflow and project management platform.

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Customer Reviews: As advertised, Wrike is complimented for its quick file-sharing options that promote communication. The workflow management and planning received positive reviews from multiple customers. Wrike also promotes proficiency in different departments, allowing work to be finished quickly without delays, and the customization feature received high praise from numerous customers.

But, Wrike is expensive, and it’s not easy to learn all of the application’s capabilities. According to one customer, some of the features are not useful —  for example, the blueprint functionality is useless when all that is required is a project or task duplication. In addition, the application can be slow, which makes it challenging to manage workflows, and according to one customer, there is no way to set task priorities.

Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects is known for its task management and collaboration capabilities across multiple industries. Project management tasks can be configured in various ways.

A key differentiator of Zoho projects is its service-level agreement (SLA) automation feature that can track and monitor project status to ensure the project meets the established SLA agreed upon with the customer. Another differentiator feature is the business intelligence and data analytics software that allows users to create intuitive dashboards.

Best For: Zoho projects is known for its task management and collaboration capabilities across multiple industries and can be used by businesses of all sizes.

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Customer Reviews: Customers like the simple and easy-to-use interface. Users can create personalized designs for each project. And one positive comment called out the ability to create workflow automation that triggers event-based activity, which allows for standardization of processes. Customers also like the ability to share a project with outside entities, improving collaboration between vendors and project participants.

Although, one comment stated that, when large tasks are assigned, the interface can seem overwhelming with the amount of information on the dashboard. The client-user setup feature is also confusing for one customer, and another claims it is the least user-friendly software they have ever used. Moreover, the customer support team is reported to be unresponsive and not efficient in meeting customer needs.

Selecting a Cloud-Based Project Management Solution

Project management software should include certain features in every vendor’s software solution. These typical features are:

  • Collaboration Tools: An ability to communicate with team members from anywhere
  • Task Management: Assigning tasks and subtasks that are tracked and managed as part of a larger project
  • Time Tracking: Keeps track of the time it takes to complete tasks assigned to a project
  • Scheduling: Used to schedule and track task and project delivery due dates.

Other expected features like a Gantt chart are used to plan and schedule project task deadlines and the associated resources needed to complete the tasks. With these expected features in all vendor’s solutions, CIOs and IT directors will need to look at the differentiating features to determine the best cloud-based project management software to purchase.

In considering a project management software solution, decision-makers must thoroughly understand their business environment and the differentiating feature(s) needed to meet a business’s complete project management requirements.