These days, project management software tools aren’t the monopoly of large corporations with specialized staff and huge budgets!
Such tools are now available in a wide range of features, prices, and functions, from the free tools with basic features to the expensively-priced tools with sophisticated functions.
Indeed, every company no matter its size and scope can now enjoy the benefits of a project management tool customized for its needs, budget, and requirements.
But which one’s are the best for you? We tested numerous project management software to answer this question and found seven of the best according to different needs.
1. Trello – Best for Starters
Trello is a kanban card-based project management software known for its simple, easy-to-use, and user-intuitive interface and its free tier. For these reasons, it’s the best tool for small teams and individuals who are just starting on basic project management.
Since it’s a kanban-based software, Trello is more flexible, a free-form app with more functionality than the traditional project management tools that manage resources and track progress with a specific deadline set. With used properly, it allows for the effective and efficient management of both in-progress workflows and individual projects at the same time. Even for beginners, its card and board metaphors make its features easy to understand and use, too.
The cards can be used in a wide range of ways, too, such as attaching files, setting due dates, and getting images on board, among others. There’s even an archive function wherein an entire board or an individual card can be archived (i.e., hidden from view) until it’s needed for viewing in the future.
Trello has a free version that offers basic features including unlimited users, cards, and boards although there are file size restrictions and a single Power-up, or integration features with other services, for each board. If you want little to no limitations, you can avail of the paid plan with prices starting at $9.99 per month. Both paid and free plans are available on desktop, mobile, and Web versions.
2. Wrike – Best for Quick Setup
Wrike provides the right balance between more advanced features and easy-to-learn functions. Trello, after all, has a limited functionality despite its easy-to-learn features but you may not have the time for learning the features and setting up more complex software. This is where Wrike hits the bull’s eye.
We like it that Wrike has built-in standard project management features including useful dashboards, Gantt charts, and a comprehensive reporting system. This means that setting up and operating the software for running a small-sized to a medium-sized project can be done fairly quickly – there’s little need, for the meantime, to learn the ins and outs of sophisticated software.
There’s also a built-in time tracking tool available to both the project manager and the individual employee working on a certain task. Emphasis must be made that it isn’t exactly the best substitute for a dedicated time tracking system but it’s an effective tool for meeting basic needs.
The functional interface is sufficient for the purpose although many users say that it can benefit from a visual upgrade.
The free plan offers its features for an unlimited number of projects but it restricts the number of users and features available. The paid plans open up all the features in the software but the prices are slightly more expensive starting at about $9.80/user. Both plans are available on Android and iOS versions as well as on the Web.
3. Basecamp – Best for Collaboration
Basecamp is a ten-year respected veteran of project management software with a large customer base – and loyal, too, judging by its prevalence among companies, both large and small. This isn’t surprising considering that it can actually replace the likes of Dropbox and Slack, among other paid monthly services.
Basecamp, of course, isn’t a complete replacement for these services but it integrates many of these other services’ features so that these become part of a system. The software also includes several built-in features including but not limited to real-time chat, calendars, and other scheduling features, private messaging, and generous file storage, to name a few.
We like that its streamlined interface and effective search tools make numerous tasks easier, from finding a task or image to searching the messages folder. You can customize your reports as wide and deep as you want them, too, thanks t0 the sophisticated reporting suite.
With many project management tasks involving clients, it can be a challenge coordinating with them. Fortunately, Basecamp makes it easier with its e-mail integration function and task/message sharing features with third parties. Customization of notifications, such as shut-off outside of office hours, is also possible.
Basecamp doesn’t have a free plan but interested individuals can avail of the 30-day trial period. The fixed $99/month price is appealing for most companies. The software is available in Web, desktop and mobile versions.
4. Zoho Projects – Best Value
The combination of affordable price and powerful standard features makes Zoho Projects among the best project management software, value-wise.
You can view the tasks in one of two ways: first, in the traditional styles and, second, in the kanban style; you can choose the setting between each task for convenience. You should be able to handle fairly complex tasks with tools like Gantt charts, issue and workflow management, and customized reporting suite. Other great features include strong integration with other apps, such as those from Microsoft and Google, and with Zoho’s own apps suite.
The built-in time tracking isn’t a replacement for a dedicated tracking tool but its features make it useful. The built-in chat app is useful, too, for communicating with other team members – there’s little to no need to jump between apps, such as email and Slack.
The free plan is fairly limited in its features – just a single project and 10MB of storage – but it allows for an unlimited number of users. It’s enough for getting started on a large project or for continuing small projects. It may not be sufficient for your needs, however, so you should consider availing of the 10-day free trial period for its paid plans.
The flat fee for all Zoho Projects’ paid plans can mean significant savings for fast-growing companies and for users with larger projects. The paid plans start at $20 per month and these are available in Web and mobile versions.
5. LiquidPlanner – Best Features
Where other software tries – too hard, in our opinion and experience – to be everything to everybody and resoundingly fails at it, LiquidPlanner tries and generally succeeds. This is because LiquidPlanner works in two ways – first, as a traditional platform for running conventional projects and, second, as a general resource management tool and help desk-style issue tracker. Such double combo means that LiquidPlanner can be many things to many people and succeeding at it.
The features include integration features with several major cloud storage providers, a powerful built-in reporting suite, and great Zapier support. You can then create customized automated connections with many other tools.
You can assign one-off pieces of work to an individual or group with the software automatically considering the impact of the extra work on the concerned person or team when estimating the what and when of project deliverables.
Keep in mind that LiquidPlanner requires greater time, effort and energy in learning its ins and outs, from its setup to its operation. Indeed, with more sophisticated features come more learning required and more expensive price. For this reason, it’s more suitable for use by larger organizations and teams.
LiquidPlanner has no free tier but there’s a 14-day trial period for all the paid plans. These start at $45 per month per user; each plan requires at least five users.
6. Microsoft Project – Best for Large Projects
With more than 30 years of excellent track record in the business, Microsoft Project is still the favorite software of many experienced project managers. Emphasis must be made that it’s most suitable for large and complex projects as well as for experienced project managers who have the expertise, budget and time to learn its ultra-sophisticated features and expensive price. Keep in mind that it’s a comprehensive tool that offers such a wide range of features that it’s essential to use them all of them to get the best value for your money.
Microsoft Project isn’t rich in hints, tutorials and the like so newcomers will find it daunting to use. But experienced professionals appreciate its attention to detail, especially in terms of the person, physical material, and deliverables; call it micromanaging but it works in projects where the small details are crucial to the success of the project.
The reporting suite is as powerful as can be – you can, for example, avail of built-in and customizable reports, which can be easily exported to PowerPoint. But integration is limited between the Project software and other non-Microsoft tools.
There are several versions available with prices starting at $30 per month per user.
7. Teamwork Projects – Best Functionality
The expertise required in using a full-fledged, sophisticated project management system isn’t available for everybody. But with Teamwork Projects, even relative newbies can still use it without coming up with one too many brick walls, so to speak. Yes, it’s a full-featured tool but it has a straightforward, easy-to-use interface so you can access and use useful information without being confused by complex charts and the like.
You can view the tasks either as traditional lists or as kanban boards. You can also easily find what you’re looking for without digging through multiple screens. You can also automate several actions using third party tools and the Teamwork Project tool itself; the integration feature means cost and time savings although the initial setup itself can take more time than anticipated.
There are several pricing options including a limited free tier (i.e., two projects and limited storage space) and a top-of-the-line enterprise version. These are available in standard Web as well as iOS and Android versions.