The days of relying on a bulletin board to get your staff on the same page, or a personal Rolodex on every desk for contact management, are long gone. To keep the office in sync and on task, you need solid tools for project management, collaboration, and task tracking. Plus, customer relationship management (CRM) services and software can take you from juggling a few contacts to building true connections with customers.
But both categories can be hard to select from, and the software can be expensive to set up. Choosing the right tool the first time is essential. That’s why we’ve asked our savvy readers to share the brands they would recommend. Our winners should be on your shortlist.
This is our first ever survey around project management, but as in many of our past Business Choice surveys, it’s not surprising to see that the biggest names don’t always get the highest scores. In this case, the most-used service among PCMag readers is Microsoft Project, which in our own review we note as powerful, but only ideal for the right kind of office setup (such as having a certified project manager on staff to run it). Perhaps that’s why Celoxis is the clear winner.
Celoxis targets medium to large organizations, and our review finds it to be an excellent value and simple to use. Our readers concur; giving it high scores for cost/value (8.3) and ease of use (8.3). Of course, it does well in overall satisfaction at 7.8 (out of a range of 0 to 10, with 10 as the best), which combines with a high recommendation likelihood of 8.0, placing it at the top. Celoxis manages the top or a tie score in every subcategory in which it had enough responses to be eligible. (Lack of responses means we aren’t able to score it on features like billing, Gantt charts, or mobile apps—but few of the contenders here receive scores in these subcategories. Microsoft Project, by virtue of its large install base, is the exception.)
A couple of our other top project managers, GanttPro and Teamwork—both of which earn 4.5-star ratings in our reviews, compared with our 4.0 review rating for Celoxis—are here. But they don’t come close to touching the scores readers give to Celoxis. The only vendor that edges near is our second-place finisher, Trello (which isn’t even a traditional project management program, but more of a collaboration/work-management app). It ties Celoxis’s scores in setup (7.9) and reliability (8.2). And Trello’s overall score of 7.5 isn’t that far below Celoxis’s 7.8.
As in our other Business Choice surveys, you may notice the scores here trend low, especially for overall satisfaction. In a typical Readers’ Choice survey around consumer products and services, we typically see scores in the 8.0 to 8.9 range, even some above 9. We chalk it up to business users having products thrust upon them, rather than them being able to choose them.
Likewise, that sentiment has a major impact on the Net Promoter Score, the unit that measures how much people are trumpeting or downplaying a service. We calculate the NPS using the numbers from our question about the likelihood of recommending a service or product. But even with an 8 for recommendation (as Celoxis has) it can still get a very low NPS (in this case a 25 out of a maximum of 100). In NPS terms, that means there are a lot more detractors than promoters. It won’t earn Celoxis, nor any project management tool in this list, a spot on our Best Brands report at the end of the year. In fact, 10 out of 12 of these project managers end up with a negative NPS score.
For our top-rated reviews, read The Best Project Management Software.
It’s been a while, but this isn’t our first-ever Business Choice look at CRM tools. For our previous surveys, we had a limited number of responses. For this one, our field of contenders expands to include names that are household and not, but neither winner this year has won before.
The two top choices are different in many ways, not the least of which is their overall install base. But both manage to secure overall satisfaction ratings of 7.5 out of 10, which is higher than we saw the last time we had a Business Choice CRM winner in 2019.
Sales Creatio may not be a CRM everyone has heard of, but those who use it recognize its power and appreciate its flexibility. Our reviewers give it a 4-star rating, and readers concur—Creatio rates on top for ease of setup, customer service, analytics and reporting, email tracking, and lead tracking. It also ties with some other vendors in areas like tech support (a 7.6 that’s matched by Apptivo) and system cost (7.2, same as Pipedrive).
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Salesforce is the 800-pound gorilla of customer relationship management; the platform is so big it has its own dedicated conference (Dreamforce). Being the top-of-the-heap vendor doesn’t always help brands in our surveys, and Salesforce certainly is the most used among the many companies in our results, but that doesn’t hurt it one iota. Besides the 7.5 in overall satisfaction, Salesforce earns top numbers (even over Sales Creatio) in areas like contact management, third-party apps, and especially in overall reliability.
It’s interesting to note that the previously mentioned Apptivo has the high scores for both ease of use (7.6) and also a tech support tie with Sales Creatio (7.6 again)—great scores, but not enough to pull up a lackluster 6.7 for overall satisfaction. That is the rating we consider the most critical in picking a Business Choice winner.
Another important winning factor is the likelihood-to-recommend score. Both Sales Creatio and Salesforce acquit themselves well with a 7.5 and 7.4, respectively. That said, as above in project management, those numbers do not equate to a decent Net Promoter score. Salesforce only barely manages to be the only provider on the list with a positive NPS number. Sales Creatio is at zero. That’s still better than the rest, which ring in negative scores all the way down to a -47 for HoneyBook. Again: People may work well with products they’re forced to use, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to advocate for them to others.
For our top-rated reviews, read The Best CRM Software.
The PCMag Business Choice survey for Project Management and CRM Tools was in the field from August 8 to September 3, 2022. For more information on how we conduct surveys, read the survey methodology.
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