In this article, we do a deep dive into the market perception of analytics features in Project Management Software-as-a-Service.
Before we get into that. Why are we doing this? While it may not seem like it, project management is a high-stakes job function. McKinsey research reveals that US $66 billion was lost across 5000 projects, which is more than US $13 million per project!
The good news is that there are hundreds of amazing software tools out there to bring more efficiency to project management. And the analytics feature set is a critical line of defense that, when done well, can surface blind spots before they get costly.
Reading this, you may think you’ve got your customer-facing analytics covered. But we analyzed the top 50 project management tools on G2 and found that there is ample room for improvement. So there might be opportunities for you as well!
5Criteria for Evaluation
A good customer analytics experience needs to fulfill a few crucial elements. So, we based our study on the following five criteria:
Let’s look at them one by one to see how project management tools are doing for each dimension.
What are customers saying?
We all want nothing but positive reviews from our users. Yet, negative reviews are inevitable. While they are a cooler to some, they are a huge opportunity for SaaS companies to learn where their product needs improvement.
That’s why we went to the popular software review website, G2, to learn what buyers had to say about the analytics features of the most popular project management software.
Remarkably, several users reported the lack of a reporting feature altogether:
“… does not allow for tracking analytics – a critical tool for effective project management which is a nightmare”
“There’s not much I can say but I guess some type of analytics would be nice to have.”
“I would like to have more customization, like a business feed to know new people and some analytics”
“… does not have an analytics feature, there is no way to create a report”
“Perhaps, offering some kind of analytics or insights instead of only the raw data and columns for some forms would be interesting to see in the future”
On top of that, 62% of the PM tools received at least one negative review about their reporting feature.
Often the platform itself is considered to be good, but the analytics are lacking:
“… is wonderful for creative projects, but so far I am frustrated with its analytics abilities.”
“Unfortunately, we still use other timekeeping and reporting systems.”
One extreme case stated:
In summary, it is clear there is a massive opportunity here for product managers at project management software companies.
What are the visualization capabilities?
In the next phase of our research, we did some mystery shopping. We combed review sites, vendor product pages, and public tutorials for a 360-view.
A key indicator of dashboard quality is the balance of data tables and visualizations. A good analytics experience delivers a mix of chart types, data points, and in some cases tabular data. Data visualization experts suggest that a good dashboard will have 5-10 different charts.
That variety in visualizations not only tells a complete story but delivers insight quicker. On the flip side, a weaker approach to visuals will have a limited assortment of charts and reliance on raw data tables that require further analysis in Excel. Sending users to Excel pushes work on the customer and can be a frustrating experience.
Long story short, the more visual the better.
As mentioned above, many project management tools do not have any reporting features. That number clocked in at almost 33%! Of the remaining two-thirds, only 20% offered more than simple bar charts and data tables. Meanwhile, there are over 40 different chart types that have the potential to tell more compelling stories with data.
In our analysis, project management software users clearly expressed their need for more visuals in analytics. In many reviews, we saw customers asking for more charts that display easy-to-read information.
How interactive is the analytics experience?
Say your user wants to deep-dive into a specific section of their project. They might want to look at the tasks of team member A in project X during a specific time range.
Having interactive reporting features in your software will allow them to do so. Interaction features include filtering, drilldown, or alerts. Moreover, if you have software triggers, they can instantly act on their insights. All from within your product. How’s that for deepening product engagement!
However, of the four categories interactivity was the lowest-performing. 88% of tools studied only offered simple date filters. That means no advanced filters, drill-down, or alerts.
Only 2% of the software reviewed could trigger a product integration from within the reporting feature. To get the desired result, users would need to manually toggle to the other product and start a workflow on their own. That’s time not spent in your project management tool and a missed chance to increase adoption.
How personalized is the analytics experience?
Personalization of analytics is a powerful lever. It provides context, relevancy, and speed. Who doesn’t want the exact information when they want it? Especially, when the alternative is searching and clicking around.
The ideal state is a dual approach. Layer one is personalization for different user types. Layer two is extra customization features that allow a user to further customize their analytics (filters, slicers, dimension pickers).
The ultimate in personalization is data studio capabilities, where a user could choose their own adventure. Personalization is great for product managers as well, as it leads to further product engagement. Win-win for all.
However, there is still some work to do for most project management SaaS.
64% of platforms don’t offer any customization at all. Of those that do, only 8% allows for advanced customization.
That is what users report on G2 as well. Limited customization is a recurring theme.
How easy-to-use are analytics features?
A good analytics experience is so easy it doesn’t require any training. What that means is that analytics features are appealing to the eye, easy to explore, and users can get the insights they need in as few clicks as possible.
Positive analytics experiences make users feel like they’re on top of things. They can move forward faster and want to do more.
But many project management software users aren’t there yet. For the moment, the narrative is that “reporting is too complex.” Only 32% rate the tools as functional or easy to navigate
A bad experience is when a user is confused and can’t do much without assistance or training. It’s not a place you want to be putting your paying customers because frustration could lead to churn.
The state of dashboards in project management tools
After our deep dive into the reviews of project management software on G2, it’s safe to say that a lot of users still find themselves struggling with analyzing their project management data.
Currently, the majority of project management tools either don’t have a reporting feature yet or are only offering the very basics.
If you are a product manager at a project management software company, this presents a massive opportunity for you.
You now know exactly what your users are missing and you have a chance to do something about it.