Search online for manufacturing project management software and you’ll be served lists of generic tools that aren’t built for manufacturers at all. 

The reality is that very few of the project management software options out there are actually designed for teams that create and manage physical products. As a result, they rarely do what manufacturers really need them to.  

In this guide, we show you why Wrike is different. Our work management platform is already used by global manufacturers, including Siemens, P&G, and Schneider Electric, to drive efficiency and collaborate across all of their teams. 

Here, we show you how it works. But, first, let’s consider four particular capabilities that every manufacturer needs from their project management software.

Project management software for manufacturers: 4 critical capabilities

In the manufacturing industry, you’ll have specific workflows, challenges, and pain points you’ll want to trust your project management software to tackle and solve. As such, you’ll need a tool that provides the following:

  1. Integrations with your other manufacturing software. As a manufacturer, you’ll likely already be using product life cycle management (PLM) software, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, as well as Salesforce and more. Your project management software should unify it all, to keep critical information in one place. 
  2. Dashboards that combine team-specific visibility with interdepartmental collaboration. The team on the shop floor will already have tools for their specific department. But your project management tool must connect them with everyone else across the product life cycle, from design to logistics. Everyone should see how projects are progressing while getting insights into what they need to do and when. 
  3. Planning tools to help you forecast lead times and risk, manage staff capacity, and track your resources. To fulfill your clients’ orders on time, you’ll need tools to help you plan effectively. Which colleagues are available? What resources do you need? And how likely is disruption? Your manufacturing project management software should have the capabilities to keep you on time and on budget. 
  4. Customizable reporting that quickly tells you what you need to know. No two manufacturers are the same, and the information they need for their work will be different too. Choose project management software with reporting functionality that’s entirely customizable to your needs.

So, where can you get these capabilities? Here are four top options, starting with Wrike, our robust, customizable project management software. 

Wrike: The top project management software for manufacturers

Wrike is an award-winning work management platform, used by more than 2.4 million people in 140 countries. It’s been repeatedly named as a leader among collaborative work management tools such as Forrester and Gartner.

Many manufacturers have seen significant productivity gains since using Wrike. For instance, thanks to Wrike, the appliances manufacturer Electrolux now spends 30% less time per project and its designers send 50% fewer emails

Here’s how Wrike shapes up next to the capabilities above.

Wrike connects all your manufacturing tools, thanks to its huge range of integrations

With your PLM, ERP, CRM, communication channels, and everything else you use, you probably have enough tools in your tech stack already. Adding a separate project management tool into the mix might not sound all that appealing. 

That’s why Wrike acts as a platform to bring all these different tools together. With over 400 inbuilt integrations — as well as an API through which to develop custom integrations — Wrike functions as the command center for all your manufacturing processes, across all your different departments. 

With Wrike, you can:

  • Bring all your processes, across all departments, together under one roof. Manufacturing software is great, but it’s rarely useful for other teams in your company, such as marketing or finance. With Wrike, every team in your organization can be connected with the same tool, so your engineering teams can stay well connected with everyone else. 
  • Forget spreadsheets and email threads for tracking projects. Wrike lets you manage and communicate about your projects in the same place, no matter what team you’re in. It helps you centralize your project resources, so nothing gets lost or slips through the cracks. 
  • Reduce your workload with AI and automation across integrations. Wrike is one of the leaders in project management automation. Through the platform, you can set up rule-based automations across all your integrations, to streamline workflows and reduce repetitive tasks. 

product screenshot of wrike integrations on aqua background

After being frustrated by many project management tools — including Microsoft Project, Trello, and Workfront — outdoor equipment manufacturer MTD turned to Wrike.

“At the end of the day, we ended up liking Wrike because of the ease of use, time, cost, and functionality. So the value for us was there,” Ryan Cmich, Chief Product Engineer, explains. But a key feature MTD really wanted was a tool to track the progress of projects in a custom way. 

“Wrike gives me the confidence that when something comes up, whether it’s an issue, a new feature need, or some task, everyone is good about getting it into the system and it won’t be forgotten.”

Wrike provides customizable visibility over individual and shared workflows

For any large project — not just in manufacturing companies — team members and project managers need to understand the status of tasks in real time. That’s impossible without a centralized tool that brings together everything different teams are working on. 

Wrike gives you this visibility. But what sets it apart from other project management tools is the level of customization, so you can build workflows that match your way of working. Wrike lets you:

  • Track projects with the visualizations that best suit you. With Kanban boards, Gantt charts, project timelines, and other project templates, Wrike lets every team member choose the way they want to track a project. 
  • Give team members a personalized view of work. Different individuals and teams can set up dashboards to see the information that’s most important to them and their department (without losing sight of what everyone else is doing too). That could be their individual to-do lists, priorities, or analytics tools. They’ll also receive notifications whenever task dependencies have been completed.
  • Create custom item types for work that doesn’t fit into conventional workflows. Most project management solutions will let you set up projects and tasks. But what about the assets, resources, and pieces of work that don’t fit within these hierarchies? That’s why we built custom item types

product screenshot of wrike custom item type on aqua background

Walmart Canada serves over two million customers across 400+ stores. Like many manufacturing businesses, Walmart’s transportation department primarily used spreadsheets to manage its various projects. However, it soon found this approach was inadequate. 

“Our ultimate vision was to have one place, one pipeline with full visibility. Just one complete picture, where anyone could go in at any time, without having all these calls, emails, and fragmented project review meetings,” says Carolyn Lum, Senior Manager of Continuous Improvement.

And so the team tried Wrike. 

“Everything is now in Wrike. No more emails. No more daily phone calls. We can see workload, savings, timelines, pipeline — everything.”

Wrike gives you all the tools you need for effective project planning and resource management

Project success often depends on meticulous planning. Yet many project management tools leave you to do this on your own. Wrike, on the other hand, will guide you every step of the way with robust tools for resource management and production planning. 

Our platform enables you to:

  • Prioritize and allocate resources effortlessly. Quickly estimate resource needs for specific projects and accurately determine project budgets. Plus, make sure that high-priority projects have the coverage they need with clear visibility over resource allocation. 
  • Plan for staff availability and capacity. Wrike’s timesheets and capacity tracking tools let you boost team performance, prevent burnout, and ensure that everyone is working to their strengths. That’s not just in your manufacturing department or engineering team but across your whole business. 
  • Use a variety of tools to manage your inventory. Wrike’s Kanban boards, for instance, are a useful tool to manage the status of inventory items. Or you can use folders to store inventory details, production schedules, and stock control strategies. 
  • Track project risk with AI. Wrike’s project health feature lets you see which projects are affected by risks and delays. Then, our AI project risk prediction feature uses historical data to forecast which future projects are most likely to face disruption — whether that’s equipment breakdown, supply chain disruption, or something else. This way, you can ensure that those projects are well resourced to minimize delays.  

product screenshot of wrike project risk report on aqua background

Wrike’s robust reporting helps you track project analytics and boost efficiency

Finally, Wrike gives you a suite of reporting tools that provide insight into your project costs, progress, and more. What sets Wrike apart is that it offers analytics across your entire project portfolio, not just individual projects. You can:

  • Maintain profitability with budgeting tools. Trace all you need to know about the costs of your labor, materials, overheads, and other expenses in Wrike. It gives your finance and project management teams complete control over your budgets (within the very same tool that your other departments are working with too).
  • Get an overview of performance across all your projects and products. To consistently deliver products on time, you need to keep an eye on production bottlenecks, team performance, and quality control issues. With OKR dashboards and deep analytics, Wrike makes it easy. 
  • Integrate with business intelligence (BI) tools to get a view of your organization’s performance. If you need deeper analytics, simply integrate Wrike with the BI tool of your choice. 
  • Trust Wrike’s AI to identify opportunities for greater efficiency. We created an AI tool that identifies processes within your cross-department workflows that could be automated. It works by tracking tasks and flagging those that are frequently repeated. By automating them, you can save time, reduce your workload, and boost your team’s overall efficiency. 

product screenshot of wrike dashboard on aqua background

House of Design is a robotics company that helps organizations automate their manufacturing processes. Frustrated by inefficiencies in its own project management, it turned to Wrike to speed up work. 

“As a small business, we’re really trying to push the limit on how we can create efficiency in our workflows and predict workloads. Being able to forecast when engineers will complete tasks and then be able to take on more helps us know when to accept more work,” Ryan Okelberry, COO at House of Design, says. 

“We can also identify where there might be a lull in workloads to strategically fit in smaller projects. Without Wrike, we would have to be more reactive and address projects chronologically rather than strategically.”

3 alternative manufacturing project management software tools

Even though we’ve made Wrike the most customizable and complete project management software available, no tool will meet the needs of every organization. 

That’s why we want to end this guide by sharing three alternative tools for manufacturers. 

1. FactoryFour: A manufacturing execution system with project management features

FactoryFour is not strictly a project management software platform. Instead, it’s a manufacturing execution system (MES), namely a tool that helps you track the manufacturing process from raw materials to finished products.

As such, it will give you oversight on the production process, with tools for planning projects, tracking progress, and identifying disruptions. For instance, it’ll help you identify production bottlenecks, measure labor capacity, and improve the predictability of your production line overall. It can also integrate with most ERPs. 

This makes it great for your production shop floor. However, what FactoryFour will be less useful for is connecting your manufacturing team with other processes across your business, such as marketing, design, or sales. While there are features to help you track your budget and finances, as well as some very limited project management features, it’s simply not built as a company-wide collaboration software tool.

2. Smartsheet: A project management tool that works like a spreadsheet

Smartsheet is a well-known project management software platform, which is built with the structure and functionality of a spreadsheet. For those of you who love a spreadsheet, it can be a good upgrade. But for those of you who want something more customizable, scalable, and user-friendly, this will be limiting.

As a robust and widely used tool, though, you will find that Smartsheet has the basics that you would expect from a project management platform. For instance, it will enable you to plan projects, schedule production calendars, and report on your work. But you might have to fiddle with frustrating spreadsheet-style formulas and functions to get the best results.

Compared to tools such as Wrike, Smartsheet does have some limitations. For instance, alongside Wrike’s 400+ integrations, Smartsheet only has about 100. Plus, Smartsheet is much less flexible than Wrike. So, if you’re hoping to customize your project management tool, you may want to look elsewhere. 

3. Zoho Projects: A project management tool for smaller businesses and manufacturers

Zoho is a software company known for its wide range of inexpensive and intuitive business tools. Zoho Projects is its project management software solution and it’s aimed in particular at smaller teams and simpler workflows. 

That doesn’t need to rule out manufacturing brands, though. Zoho Projects still has most of the basics you need for collaborative project management, such as Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and reporting.

What makes Zoho worth considering is the range of other tools that it offers, including integration with Zoho Books, for finance and budgeting tools. 

Choose Wrike for customizable, scalable manufacturing project management software

In this guide, we’ve shared some of the key capabilities manufacturers need from their project management software. For most manufacturers, a wide range of integrations is non-negotiable, alongside sophisticated resource planning and reporting tools. 

Wrike offers all this and much more. And we’re proud to say that our platform is one of the most customizable and scalable project management tools out there. If you want to see it for yourself, book a demo today.