The best project management software for Horizon Europe projects in 2022

How long do you spend on managing tasks and resources? What amount of time do you use for reporting over the lifecycle of your research projects? In this article, we outline the top 5 most popular project management software for Horizon Europe that help you streamline project collaboration.

Written by EMDESK
project management software for Horizon Europe

According to our recent Project Management survey, over 57% of Project Managers spend 5+ hours per week on activities that have no direct benefit on the progress of their projects. In large collaborative Horizon Europe projects, these numbers are even higher. Tedious activities, like data consolidation, formatting, gathering information, creating overviews, onboarding, delegating tasks, sharing information, managing document versions, etc. can quickly use up time that would be better spent pushing the project forward. In this article, we explain how a project management software can support you with this workload, as well as describe the most popular solutions on the market.

One of the biggest time management issues is using and constantly consulting too many tools. Project managers often use a wide variety of software to communicate and complete their tasks: Google Docs, Dropbox, Microsoft Office products (Excel and Word), and many more. While these tools have the advantage of being free and readily available, their biggest drawback is that they’re unable to handle sensitive data and can’t be integrated in a meaningful way.

This means that as projects grow, information is spread out across a number of different unintegrated platforms, leading to confusion. As confusion sets in, the result is often the beginning of an unending email cycle of people asking for updates, sending new versions, and general miscommunication about which is the correct versioning, documents, spreadsheets, passwords, etc.

Instead of moving the project forward and concentrating on their actual tasks, project managers and team members spend a good portion of their time managing systems and getting data from each other. This lost time often results in delays and budget overages. According to Wellingtone’s report, only 29% of organizations mostly or always complete projects on time, 43% within budget, and 40% of organizations say they deliver the full benefits of projects.

Collaborating as a large consortium or multiple consortia can be quite challenging. In order to streamline communication and work productively with such large numbers of people, EU managers have started using a dedicated project management solution. For Horizon Europe projects with large and geographically diverse project teams, project management software can be the key to success by giving remote teams an easy and accurate way to organize projects, partners, and tasks. According to Capterra reports, organizations that integrate a single project management software benefit from 60% improved timeline estimation, 55% more effective use of project resources, 49% enhanced team communication, 48% improved budget estimation, and much more.

Today’s intuitive and full-featured project management tools provide features that give you and your teams the ability to create communication channels, hold discussions, set goals, generate reports, assign specific subtasks with due dates, and get analytics on project workflows. They allow you to do everything from tracking down deliverables and managing resources, to managing budgets and collaborating with team members.

Each project management tool offers its own style, structure, and features. With so many options on the market, it can be hard to know which solution is best for your project.

There are however, key "must-have" features a project management software needs in order to fully support multi-partner Horizon Europe projects:

  • Project scheduling – being able to design a work plan, assign and update the status of tasks, and keep everyone in your team on the same page is an essential part of managing large collaborative projects. Features like Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and milestone tools will help you and your team understand where tasks fit into the project and how much time is needed to complete them.
  • Budget scheduling – cost budgeting and controlling determine the resources needed to deliver your projects. These vital features give project managers the ability to allocate resources efficiently and get overviews of actual costs in order to keep their projects on track and within budget.
  • Project participants management – since Horizon Europe projects perform within large consortia involving multiple stakeholders, project managers need tools to help them effectively organize and structure their teams and partners. Knowing the role and performance of each stakeholder is an important part of ensuring the success of your projects.
  • Reporting – this important feature allows team members to update themselves on running projects. Reporting is even more important for project managers, as it’s a method of ensuring that projects are progressing and tasks are being carried out in a timely manner.
  • File sharing – a central location for sharing and organizing project documents saves a great deal of time as it eliminates the need to search for files and the latest versions. A good project management tool will have transparent file sharing and give users the ability to work together on documents. Tailored solutions allow for information on multiple projects to be stored in one central location.
  • Communication – the ability to communicate in real-time is the heart of successful project management. A fast and smooth flow of information can eliminate confusion, fostering mutual project understanding, as well as quick and easy problem solving.
  • Data security – the protection of internal data is paramount for Horizon Europe projects, but not all project management software will give you the security your project needs. Choose only software solutions with the highest security standards as compliance with data protection is required for all EU-funded projects. When choosing which project management tool to use, this security should be one of your biggest criterias.
  • Support – ask if someone will be there to help you out when things go wrong or you can’t find your way around the platform. Reliable support is essential for any software tailored to large and complex projects due to its wide range of functions and technical elements. Fast, friendly support can really make the difference in moving your project forward.
  • Pricing – large projects with numerous users make affordable pricing a very important consideration when choosing a project management solution.

Keeping these important features in mind, let’s compare the top 5 most popular project management software solutions currently on the market.

Top 5 most popular project management software for Horizon Europe projects

EMDESK

EMDESK is an all-in-one cloud based project management solution for the entire lifecycle of projects of any scale and complexity. A user-friendly interface and the flexibility to customize projects to match their specific needs, combined with the highest security standards, have made EMDESK one of the leading solutions for supporting collaborative Horizon Europe projects.

  • Project scheduling – EMDESK’s fully customizable and flexible project configurations allow you to design anything; from small projects with only a few partners, to multi-level projects with a large consortia. Create tasks and sub-tasks, structure activities, map dependencies, schedule milestones and deliverables, and assign single tasks or entire work packages to individuals, teams, or entire organizations. With EMDESK, you can co-work on project schedules and monitor progress in real-time using a wide array of exportable and fully customizable views like data table, Gantt chart, and Kanban boards. EMDESK also gives you the flexibility to create multiple project plan versions and switch between them as needed.
  • Budget scheduling – Design your budget and plan resources together, in real-time, with all project members and partners. EMDESK’s powerful financial management features allow you to estimate each teams' budgets for specific periods with lump sum or rate-based costs. Use custom views, filters, and tags to get all the information you need to control costs and fine-tune your project results. EMDESK also allows you to customize resource management and organize finances in cost categories with different overhead and funding rates, as well as define funding rules based on selected criteria. This allows you to manage your projects’ finances with integrated co-funding administration.
  • Project participants management – With EMDESK, you can easily structure your consortia to suit the size of your projects and map your workgroups from an organizational level, down to teams or individuals. EMDESK also allows you to administer project participants in line with the execution steps and planned timescales of your projects. So you can define each team’s financial profile with staffing, cost, and overhead rates, as well as monitor and analyze their performance from start to completion.
  • Reporting – EMDESK offers effective instruments for monitoring your projects’ progress and consumption against timelines and budget forecasts. Allow your teams to gain valuable insights and focus on relevant activities with comprehensive progress and financial reports along with complete and accurate periodical updates. As your projects progress, all reports will change to reflect the latest information without any need for manual updates. EMDESK’s integrated online document editor allows multiple authors to work together on the same report (or any other project document) in a transparent manner.
  • File sharing – Easily share project files between users and attach files to tasks or discussions in EMDESK. The platform also offers an integrated document manager so project teams can collect and organize files in folders all in one central location.
  • Communication – To foster communication in large teams, you can pool and organize project collaborators in numerous groups within EMDESK. The software offers multiple ways of communication across the platform – from discussions that you can start directly on projects' items and @mentions to instant one-on-one video calls and online group meetings. EMDESK keeps users informed with regular and real-time notifications and/or sends emails to users or entire groups from your local client.
  • Data control & security – Developed and hosted in Germany, EMDESK is designed from the ground up with top level security that guarantees GDPR compliance. To ensure the highest infrastructure security, EMDESK is hosted with the German Open Telekom Cloud (OTC) – one of the most secure and modern cloud data centers in the world. If needed, you can also request an on-premise solution from EMDESK and take full control of your data. Additionally, EMDESK offers advanced access rights management to keep different levels of sensitive project information confidential and secure within your projects teams. This allows you to grant specific access rights for each user or groups of users based on their needs and responsibilities.
  • Support – EMDESK understands the importance of technical assistance and offers various support options. In order to provide optimal support EMDESK’s software provides an online manual that contains help articles and video tutorials. Live customer support agents can be reached via live chat, phone, and email. For specific questions, users can book a personal video call, as well as a personal product demo. EMDESK also offers a personal coaching session, so you can see if EMDESK is the right tool for your project. Additionally, you’ll get as a free onboarding training session to set your project teams up for success by configuring your workspace in EMDESK according to your project requirements.
  • Pricing – EMDESK offers a free plan with unlimited users and all essential functionalities, providing an ideal solution for teams that have just started planning and managing projects. Organizations with teams working in multiple projects can benefit from EMDESK’s Team Plan (€12 user/month), and teams working on one project can sign up with EMDESK’s Project Plan (€71,40 month). Since EMDESK is designed for a high volume of users – the more users you have, the less you pay per user. For example, a project with 20 users would reduce the price to €10 user/month, with 50 users to €8 user/month, and with 100 users to €6,5 user/month. If your organization has 200+ users you’ll be provided with an individually tailored offer. In addition, all of the plans offer free unlimited guest users. EMDESK offers a 30-day free trial so you can test if it's the right solution for you. The costs of EMDESK are also eligible for reimbursement in most of the EU-funding programmes (as Other Direct Costs or overhead fees).

Asana

Asana is a flexible cloud-based project management solution. It’s well known for its easy-to-use and user-friendly interface. This software keeps the task workflows simple and uses plain functionality. Due to its intuitive handling and simplistic layout, it's good for small to medium-sized teams with simple projects, but wouldn’t meet the needs of multiple teams working on large and complex Horizon Europe projects.

  • Project scheduling – the software is designed with tasks and subtasks arranged in different sections that can be assigned to either individuals or teams. Due dates, notes, and instructions can also be added to tasks. Asana lets you visualize tasks in multiple views including lists, calendars, Kanban boards, and Gantt charts. It also allows you to use a timeline in order to create a plan showing how the pieces of your project fit together. Asana has a user interface that is really well suited to small teams. Unfortunately, teams with larger projects that need to map complex task workflows may encounter scheduling limits with Asana.
  • Budget scheduling – Asana lets you share, manage, and track your budget in real-time. You can also iterate on past workflows, create process documents, and save project budget templates. This is great for small teams, but doesn’t work with EU-funded projects that require precise and detailed financial and resource management.
  • Project participants management – Asana offers simple team management features that include project invitations and membership requests. Project managers are able to see all the work their teams are doing and can organize and structure project members into various teams, determine permissions.
  • Reporting – Asana allows you to track project progress by generating detailed status updates and progress reports. It gives project teams the flexibility to create charts on any stream of work, as well as customizable dashboards. Unfortunately, Asana only offers limited reporting and analytics. So advanced analytics aren’t available without integrating other tools.
  • File sharing – Teams can share documents with each other and it’s possible to attach files to each project task. Unfortunately, Asana doesn’t allow you to upload new files without attaching them to a specific task. This means that anyone who wants to keep files in a document repository, would need to integrate Asana with an external platform, like Google Drive or Dropbox (which creates data security issues). Large collaborative projects would require a more intuitive file management system with better search functions than what’s currently offered by Asana.
  • Communication – Asana allows comments and @mentions for team members on project tasks. Asana also has a built-in inbox that helps notify users of any mentions or reminders. Communication between users is however limited to comments and notifications.
  • Data security – Asana is GDPR compliant, but as an American provider it’s also subject to the Cloud Act, which creates legal uncertainty regarding data privacy. It also hosts all its project data on US servers and doesn’t offer a self-hosted solution. These weaknesses mean that companies with high security demands or take data security seriously should consider other alternatives.
  • Support – The free version only provides an introduction to the tool, a help community, and video materials. All paid versions include customer support with a contact person that can be reached by phone or email.
  • Pricing – Asana has a free plan for teams with up to 15 users that offers basic dashboards, unlimited tasks, projects, and conversations. Essential features for project management like milestones planning and progress reporting are not included in the free plan. Large organizations requiring more features such as, customization, security, administration, and management options, will need to purchase one of Asana’s paid plans. The current rates for these are: Premium (€13.49 user/month), Business (€30.49 user/month), or Enterprise (pricing upon request). This means that a project with 100 users would need to pay €13.188 a year for Premium or €29.988 a year for Business subscriptions; making Asana a higher-end option.

Trello

Trello is a well-known cloud and Kanban board-based project management solution. The main feature of Trello is cards that you can organize into different phases on boards. Because it displays projects in a single Kanboard board view, Trello is a great option for individuals or small teams managing short and quick daily assignments.

  • Project scheduling – Trello allows users to create numerous cards within boards to represent individual tasks and checklists with due dates. It has a simple and user-friendly interface. Overall, Trello is a great task management tool, but it doesn’t provide a comprehensive solution for project management due to its limitations. Presently Trello doesn’t support substasks or provide a Gantt chart view. These limitations can create difficulties when planning and managing tasks in extensive Horizon Europe projects with multiple activities.
  • Budget scheduling – Trello is designed for managing small projects with weekly or monthly budgets. As such, Trello lacks the comprehensive financial management features that are necessary to support EU-funded projects. Project managers who need a tool that can handle budgeting, resource planning, and costs monitoring would need to consider other project management software.
  • Project participants management – Trello doesn't offer advanced features for managing multiple project participants. This means that project managers working in a large consortia will face difficulties keeping multiple partners informed and up-to-date with the latest information.
  • Reporting – Trello doesn’t have a feature that allows you to track your team’s resources, get a global overview, or have a central dashboard. These limitations mean that Trello is a good task management and collaboration tool, rather than a full-fledged project management solution.
  • File sharing – Trello lets you attach images and files to its cards and has a search function. To find an image or file you’ll need to remember the file or the task it was attached to as there is no centralized file management directory in Trello.
  • Communication – Trello allows you to easily invite team members to comment on the cards with the help of @mentions. However, the platform doesn't go beyond comments when it comes to facilitating communication between users.
  • Data security – Trello is GDPR compliant, but stores all its user content in the US. It also doesn’t offer customers the option of hosting Trello on a private server, or to otherwise use Trello on a separate infrastructure. This means that companies with a great need for data security should consider alternative project management tools.
  • Support – Customer support is limited to a community, video tutorials, and help articles, which are partially integrated in the platform. If these options do not provide a solution, you can submit a contact form for support.
  • Pricing – The platform offers a free plan with unlimited cards, 10 boards per workspace, and 250 workspace command runs per month. Since the functionality of the free plan is limited, project managers would need to consider Trello’s paid plans: Standard, Premium, and Enterprise. However, all the three plans are considered good only for general project management with smaller teams and uncomplicated schedules. In order to use Trello with extensive projects, users need to pay extra for features and integrations called "Power-Ups”. These additional apps and power-up integrations can quickly become quite expensive.

Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is a popular cloud-based and on-premise project management platform. It’s mainly used by project managers with large and extensive projects. It offers a lot of room for detailed information within the project planning and managing. This emphasis on detail creates a less intuitive and user-friendly solution, so you’ll need to dedicate time to fully understand the interface.

  • Project scheduling – Microsoft Project includes familiar scheduling tools to assign project tasks to team members and uses different views like Grid, Board, and Timeline (Gantt chart) to oversee the schedule. The platform allows users to work together, so stakeholders and team members can edit and update task lists and project schedules in real-time. In general, scheduling in Microsoft Project is considered to be powerful but extremely complicated, making it a less attractive option.
  • Budget scheduling – Managers can define and allocate resources, as well as assign project tasks to those resources. Microsoft Project lets you track your project costs, different categories of the budget, allows for this tracking across the lifespan of the project through timephased data. Again, the shortfall of Microsoft Project is that these features are not intuitive and the financial management features are complicated. Please note that if you want to be able to assign specific resources to different tasks, then you’ll need to upgrade your plan at least to Project Plan 3.
  • Project participants management – In Microsoft Project you can add people to your project using what they call a "pool of resources". A resource pool allows you to keep all the information about people working on your project in one place, including their salaries. As the project progresses, you can use various views to monitor their progress and adjust the project when needed. This system has a bit of a learning curve, so if you’re familiar with the system, managing participants isn’t complicated, but this feature isn’t intuitive so newcomers can have a hard time figuring out how it works.
  • Reporting – Microsoft Project offers pre-built reports to track the progress of your projects, resources, programs, and portfolios. It also allows you to create and customize graphical reports of project data. Unfortunately, advanced charts require higher paid licenses and additional paid tools like Power BI.
  • File sharing – As a stand-alone platform, Microsoft Project doesn’t provide any file sharing or data storage. To store project data in a shared database, you’ll typically need a Microsoft Teams license, which is sold separately.
  • Communication – As a stand-alone platform, Microsoft Project does not possess any essential communication features. To communicate on projects, you’ll need to buy Microsoft Teams. Simple features like reminders also require a Microsoft Teams or Microsoft Outlook purchase.
  • Data security – Microsoft Project is certified under the Privacy Shield Framework, and it’s important to note that this differs from the EU GDPR. Based in the USA, the provider is also a subject to the Cloud Act and hosts all data on American servers. Thus, companies that place high demands on data security should rather consider other alternatives or choose the on-premise option that allows you to host the software on your own server. However, hosting on your own server will create a higher workload. Also, it should be noted that all three on-premise versions of Microsoft Project lack the collaborative features of the cloud Microsoft Project editions.
  • Support – If you encounter an issue with your Microsoft Project subscription, you can get help from a support agent by phone or email. Answers can be also found by searching in the Help Center.
  • Pricing – No free plans are available and cloud versions vary in price from $10 to $55 per user per month (billed annually). Unfortunately, Microsoft Project is NOT bundled with Office 365 Plans. In order to get the same features as all-in-one project management tools, you’d need to purchase a number of Microsoft apps. This makes Microsoft Project one of the highest priced tools.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based collaboration platform that unifies chat, voice, video and file sharing, as well as many more useful features for business communications. However, it’s actually not a project management platform. Although Microsoft Teams provides everything you need for messaging, conferencing, and file sharing⁠ – all under one roof, it lacks essential project management features for planning, assigning, managing of tasks, and progress reporting. Microsoft Teams provides a digital workspace, but to run large Horizon Europe projects, you’d need to sync Microsoft Teams with a project management tool. Another drawback is that Microsoft Teams is only most effective in a Microsoft-centric environment.

Choosing a project management software for your projects

We hope this overview has given you some inspiration in choosing which project management software might be right for your Horizon Europe projects.

Instead of asking "What is the best project management software?", ask yourself "What’s the right project management app for our project and team?". The answer will depend on your project, your team, its size, your workflow, your existing project management toolkit, and your budget. Take time to think about how many features you need and which of those features is most valuable to your project.

No matter which option you choose, you’ll quickly realize that having all-in-one project management software will make your day-to-day work on projects much easier and more efficient. Though working with project management software can take a bit of getting used to and is a financial investment, it’s an indispensable solution for large collaborative projects with many complex and moving parts.

Prior to deciding whether or not a platform suits the needs of your projects, we’d recommend doing a free trial. Make sure to also get feedback from the rest of your team, especially the ones who you think will be using the software the most. Check which issues they’re facing and hopefully the tool you’re using will be able to address them.

This article is written by Stefan Detschew, Chief Technology Officer at EMDESK.

Empower your projects with EMDESK project & financial management platform

Get all the essentials you need to empower your teams to work together on project schedules and budgets, all while writing proposals and managing projects. Sign up for our 30-day free trial. Once the trial is over, you can continue by using our free plan with unlimited users and essential functionalities forever or switch to one of our great paid plan options.

Subscribe to our Newsletter to get updates and expert insights straight to your mailbox.

Stay informed

Updates and expert insights straight to your mailbox