Business software applications utilizing web based project management approach are growing in numbers, this growth partially fueled by the increasing popularity of web-enabled devices like smart phones, tablets, and netbooks. In general, desktop and web based project management applications provide similar functionality that covers various aspects of running a business, including tools to plan and estimate projects, allocate resources to projects, manage costs and budgets, as well as communicate and collaborate on one or multiple projects.
On the other hand, desktop and web based project management solutions differ in terms of implementation i.e. a desktop solution should be installed as a standalone application on the user’s computer, while only a web browser is required to access a web based project management system. That said, web applications are far easier to maintain and support because only a single installation of the program is running on a remote servers, with users accessing this single software copy through a corporate intranet or an extranet like the World Wide Web.
Such an approach provides greater flexibility, enabling corporate users to access their project management applications through hand-held devices, though the functionality offered by those gadgets may be somewhat limited compared with laptops, for example. However, the very fact that such a project management system is running within a web browser makes it suitable for business users who are using the system on the fly, and who often rely on less powerful hardware to access and work with the system.
Since project management applications are considered a crucial intangible business asset, they should be well protected against intrusions of any kind. Web applications usually feature extended and easy to use access-control functionality that can deal with multiple users accessing the system concurrently and in different user roles. All those users connect to and use a centralized data repository, which is very advantageous since all the data is stored and archived centrally, with some systems allowing users to get chunks of data locally and synchronize it with the central data repository at a later stage. Thus, in case of bad connectivity, a user can work on a certain project offline and later upload the updated data to the remote corporate server.
Ironically, this dependency on servers is often cited as a major disadvantage of web based applications, which rely on a remote server to store and extract data that is required to manage a project or a project portfolio. This obvious disadvantage, however, is offset by the above-mentioned advantages of web based systems, as well as their ability to run on various operating systems running on various hardware systems. A completely homogeneous hardware and software corporate environment is unachievable in reality, thus web based software provides great advantages in terms of allowing users to access the application using various hardware and software platforms. In other words, a corporate executive is allowed to manage projects and employees through a desktop computer when in office, or a laptop, a tablet, or a business-class smart phone when out of office.
Web based project management allows managers to work anytime from anywhere, providing great flexibility for both small-scale and large enterprises doing business in a increasingly online environment. This new business framework introduced new collaboration and communication practices that are reflected in built-in functionality of project management systems i.e. software modules to collaborate on projects online, as well as tools for secure instant messaging that complement existing email clients. Built-in social networking functionality is provided by some software vendors, but such tools are still not widespread in most of the major project management systems in the market.
Web based project management is gaining popularity mainly among small- and medium-sized businesses due to its affordability in terms of financial resources required to maintain and support such a system, and the flexibility this approach offers to customers. Some authors claim that the market for web based project management software has reached a level of penetration, where no further growth is expected, but the rapid sales growth of mobile business devices will inevitably fuel further increases in the use of web based project management tools.