The best project management software is the simplest to use. It’s high quality service, and affordable pricing. These three factors combined make the best software stand out. This article will present you top 12 of such services and corresponding before/after templates.
Best Project Management Software Tools
We’ve tracked down the best project management tools available on the market today, no matter the size of your team, project, or bank balance.
The 7 Best Project Management Software Tools of 2022
- Best for Getting Started: Trello
- Best for Speedy Setup: Wrike
- Best for Collaboration: Basecamp
- Best Value: Zoho Projects
- Best Features: LiquidPlanner
- Best for Big Projects: Microsoft Project
- Best for Powerful Simplicity: Teamwork Projects
BEST FOR GETTING STARTEDTrello
Based around the kanban card-based management system, Trello’s simple interface and generous free tier makes it the ideal place for individuals and small teams to get started with basic project management.
Rather than traditional tools designed for managing resources and tracking progress towards a specific end date, kanban-based apps like Trello are more free-form and flexible.
You can manage both individual projects and ongoing workflows equally well, and the board and card metaphors are easy to understand. There’s plenty of power under the hood, with cards able to include images and attached files, hyperlinks, custom dropdowns, due dates, and plenty more.
Once you’re finished with a particular card or an entire board, it can be archived to hide it from daily view while still being accessible if needed in the future.
The basic free tier includes unlimited users and cards, up to 10 boards, and just one “Power-Up” (i.e., integration with other services) per board. Its unlimited storage is restricted to 10 megabytes per file. Paid plans start at $10 per month, with fewer or no limitations.
There’s very limited reporting built into Trello, and although third-party extensions add more options, you’ll likely still need to look elsewhere if detailed reports are a major requirement. For everyone else, however, Trello is a great place to start with project management. It’s available on the web, mobile, and desktop.
BEST FOR SPEEDY SETUPWrike
If Trello’s approach seems a bit limited, but you don’t have hours to devote to learning and setting up a complex project management tool, it’s time to check out Wrike.
Standard project management features like Gantt charts, useful dashboards, and a comprehensive reporting suite are built in, and getting up and running on a small- to medium-sized project can be done quickly without learning all the ins and outs of a new, complicated system.
A time tracking tool is built in, available to both the individual working on a particular task and whoever is managing the project as a whole. Like those found in other project management tools, it’s not a replacement for a dedicated time tracking system but easily handles most basic requirements.
The interface is functional, and while it could do with a bit of a visual refresh, it is fine for the job. The free plan offers task management, interactive boards and spreadsheets, an account-wide work schedule tool, cloud integrations (Google Drive, OneBox, Box, OneDrive), and two gigabytes of total storage space for unlimited users.
Paid plans are a bit more expensive than some of the competition but open up all of the software’s options, starting with shareable dashboards, interactive Gantt charts, and productivity integrations like MS Projects at the Professional tier ($9.80 per month per user); and adding custom workflows, real-time reports, time tracking, salesforce integration, and five gigabytes of storage per user at the Business tier ($24.80 per month per user). Wrike is available on the Web, desktop, and iOS and Android app versions.
BEST FOR COLLABORATIONBasecamp
A veteran of the project management world, Basecamp was launched in 2004 and has built a customer base of 3.5 million users.
The software makes much of its ability to replace several other paid monthly services, from Slack to Dropbox. While it’s not always a complete replacement, the software does take many of the features of those tools and rolls them all into one system. Scheduling and calendars, real-time chat, private messaging, file storage, and more are included.
An uncluttered interface and powerful search tools make it straightforward to find the task, image, or message you’re after, and a strong reporting suite lets you go as wide or deep as required.
Working with clients is handled well, with e-mail integration and the ability to share individual tasks and messages with people outside the organization. Notifications can be customized to your requirements, including shutting them off outside office hours.
Basecamp’s fixed $99 per month pricing makes it an appealing option for larger organizations, but small teams may find better value elsewhere. There’s no free plan, but the length of the 30-day trial is more generous than most. Web, desktop, and mobile versions are available.
BEST VALUEZoho Projects
Part of a wide suite of productivity tools from the same company, Zoho Projects has nearly all the standard features you’d expect from a project management app, at a particularly affordable price.
Tasks are viewable in either kanban or more traditional styles, with dependencies able to be set between each task. Tools like issue and workflow management, Gantt charts, and customized reporting mean the tool can handle even relatively complex project requirements. There’s also strong integration with other services, both Zoho’s own suite of apps, and those from major players like Google and Microsoft.
Basic time tracking is built-in, and although it doesn’t replace a dedicated tracking tool, there are enough features included to make it useful. Contacting other project team members can be done via the built-in chat app, which saves jumping out to external tools like e-mail or Slack.
The free tier is limited to three users, with just 10 megabytes of storage and two projects. It’s sufficient for small projects or getting a feel for the software, however, and all of the paid plans are available on a 10-day trial. Other plans which allow for more users, more projects, and more storage start range from $5 per user to $10 per user, and you can save 20% if billed annually. Both Web and mobile versions of Zoho Projects are available.
LiquidPlanner is one of those pieces of software that tries to be many things to many people, and unlike most others with such grand ambitions, it generally succeeds.
In addition to being a powerful way of running traditional projects, with all the features you’d expect, LiquidPlanner performs equally well as a helpdesk-style issue tracker and general resource management tool.
Strong reporting is built in, along with integration with major cloud storage providers. There’s also Zapier support, so you can build your own automated connections with other business tools as needed.
One-off pieces of work can be assigned to any user or group, and the impact of that extra work on the people performing it is automatically taken into account when estimating project deliverables.
With extra features comes extra complexity, of course, and while LiquidPlanner does a good job of explaining some of its trickier aspects and then getting out of the way, it still requires a greater time investment to set up, learn, and master than many of its competitors. For that reason—not to mention the cost—it’s better suited to larger teams and organizations than small, ad-hoc groups.
LiquidPlanner doesn’t offer a free tier, although you can try various plans for two weeks at no cost. Plans start at $29 per month per user (with annual billing) for a maximum of 50 projects and go up from there.
BEST FOR BIG PROJECTSMicrosoft Project
Microsoft Project has been around since 1984 in one form or another, and it’s still the preferred tool of many experienced project managers. With its higher pricing and steep learning curve, it’s very much aimed at those responsible for very large, complex projects who have the expertise, time, and budget to get the most out of this comprehensive tool.
MS Project looks and feels like other Microsoft Office apps, but with few tutorials or hints, it can be daunting for newcomers to the project management space. Trained professionals, however, will appreciate the extremely granular detail available for each task and resource, whether that resource is a specific person, role, physical material, or something else.
Reporting is similarly powerful, with both pre-built and customizable reports that can be quickly exported to Microsoft PowerPoint for those inevitable management summaries. Integration with non-Microsoft tools is limited, however.
MS Project can be tacked onto an existing Office 365 subscription, at a couple of different price points, or purchased as a one-off piece of software to be installed on a single computer.
In 2021, Microsoft dropped the tiered naming convention of Essentials, Professional, and Premium and replaced it with Project Plan 1, Project Plan 3, and Project Plan 5, leaving the majority plan features unchanged. Features differ between tiers, but subscription prices for Plan 3 (formerly Professional) start at $30 per month per user.
BEST FOR POWERFUL SIMPLICITYTeamwork Projects
If you’ve ever been daunted by the sheer complexity of using a fully fledged project management system, it’s well worth taking a look at Teamwork Projects. Despite its full feature set, the app’s interface is straightforward and easy to use, doing a good job of surfacing useful information without throwing endless lists and complex charts at its users.
Tasks are viewable as kanban boards or traditional lists, and the sensible menu options help avoid the need to dig through multiple screens to find the detail you need.
As with many other similar tools, Teamwork Projects lets you automate various actions, both within the app itself and using outside tools and services. These sort of integrations can be a real time saver, although you’ll need to devote some effort to the initial setup.
The company offers several pricing options, from the limited free tier that only permits two projects and has limited storage space, through to a high-end enterprise version. Most smaller teams will get by on the $10 per month per user plan, since it includes unlimited users, 300 projects, and 100 gigabytes of storage space. All paid tiers offer a 30-day free trial. Mobile apps are available for iOS and Android, along with the standard Web view.
What Are Project Management Software Tools?
Project management software tools enable teams, small businesses, and individuals to keep track of projects in all their stages. These software tools can be used to work collaboratively and remotely on a project, add notes and deadlines, track progress, and make updates. Some software tools include search functions and email integration as well as organizational tips.
Who Uses Project Management Software Tools?
Project management software tools are used by:
- Work teams
- Small business owners
- Individuals managing multiple projects
- Remote workers
- Sales teams
- Contractors and construction workers
How Much Do Project Management Software Tools Cost?
Project management software tools vary from basic versions to more complex versions with built-in integration and search functions. There are free versions and paid versions, and some software tools offer monthly paid subscriptions. Expect to pay from $10 to $99 per month, depending on how many users you have and what specific features you need.
Are Project Management Software Tools Worth the Cost?
Project management tools can be especially helpful in a team or remote work setting. They let multiple people work together in one space and collaborate, make notes, and meet deadlines. If you’re just getting started and want to try out the software, it’s a good idea to try a free version. However, if you’re a large company or have multiple team members, it’s typically worth the cost to pay for project management software and get the job done.
How We Chose the Best Project Management Software Tools
We researched and selected the best project management software tools based on the features they offer, how they can be used by multiple users, and their device capabilities, functions, and prices, among other considerations.
Best Project Management Software for 2022
Top Project Management Software
Project management platforms are expanding their functions and crossing boundaries with their combination of features, further complicating the user’s selection process. From project scheduling software to project planning apps, we built a list of the best software for project management for different types of industry and business needs to assist you in this crucial selection process.
What Is Project Management Software?
A project management tool helps project managers, teams, and individual contributors complete tasks, organize client requirements, and manage time, budget, and scope constraints.
Companies that use the right project management benefit by delivering projects that provide the expected results within cost and on time. This guide covers the types of project management implementation, the major features you should look for, and what companies of all sizes should consider when making a purchase.
Types of Project Management Software
When project software became available and affordable to businesses, companies replaced their pen-and-paper project tracker systems with project management solutions.
But technology continues to evolve, so desktop applications improved in features, scale, and security that allowed multiple users access to the software over a company’s own data network. When cloud computing presented options and advantages, management software vendors offered their subscription-based products over the internet to businesses of all sizes. It also opened the market to more providers offering a variety of systems.
Online Project Management Software
Web-based project management programs are accessible through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription from any internet-connected web browser. These online platforms cater to businesses of all sizes across industries. Users in various locations can access the tool from different devices such as desktops, tablets, and smartphones to get up-to-date project status and information from a central database.
Today’s online project management software has a rich set of features that can compete with enterprise systems. Many of these apps provide several methods to visualize project tasks and goal progress, collaborate with coworkers, automate workflows, share files, message team members, and integrate with email.
By expanding their feature sets, online management software also fall into the categories of collaboration software or business process management software. Examples of online project management solutions include Zoho Projects, Microsoft Project, and Basecamp.
On-Premise Project Management Software
On-premise project management programs reside on the company’s own server. The server will be inside the company’s data center and managed by its IT employees. Companies often purchase a single on-premise license and may have to purchase additional upgrades or updates. Companies prefer on-premise project software due to concerns about as well as long-term costs.
When the company runs the software on their private servers, they have full control over the data storage and security protocols to protect that data. Enterprises with 50, 100, or more users can save from monthly subscription costs if they purchase one-time license fees used in on-premise project management programs. They also have control over when to schedule software updates to make preparations and not experience any downtime due to an automatic product update inherent in SaaS systems.
Integrated vs Best-of-Breed Software
Today’s project management solutions include several features and tools to manage a wide array of business project scopes. Specialized project software can manage simple projects satisfactorily. A best-of-breed application specializes in one particular capability, such as task management, scheduling, or time tracking.
Integrated suite applications combine several functions like task management, Gantt charting, and time tracking. Businesses prefer integrated tools for a unified solution that provides visibility, improves collaboration, and supports accountability.
Startups and small businesses need simple management software solutions with fewer features that cover basic functionality. Task management, team collaboration, document management, and email integrations are all common features that should be included in your chosen project management tool.
A comprehensive project management solution has more features that cover core project management functions such as scheduling, resource management, and financial management on top of more advanced project management features. A PM suite will have a higher cost but also deliver accurate estimates, dependencies control, unlimited projects within a single instance, real-time progress tracking, and comprehensive reports that justify the price of the solution.
These tools also require more oversight and time to be more effective in managing projects. Larger organizations and teams prefer integrated management software, especially for more complex projects.
Free Project Management Solutions
Free software is available for home use, for very small teams of 1-2 people, and as a fully-featured free and open-source system.
However, many of these simple project management solutions are offered as a free tier by project management vendors that also provide various levels of paid service. Free tiers may have more limited features, may be restricted to a few users, or may come with limited personalized support. However, many small teams and those just testing out a new tool may find these options useful to help in their decision-making process.
Open-source is a valuable option for large teams looking for free management software. These tools provide all of the same features you may find in a subscription or on-premise tool and many of these tools are highly customizable for different project types. However, access to support, implementation help, and custom changes will need to be managed by an in-house or third-party development team.
Industry-Specific Project Management Systems
Not every industry is best-served with a standard project management system, and so industry-specific software for project management was developed to reduce the amount of customization a company will need upon implementation. Construction, software development, financial services, healthcare, and law all have features and customizations that make them better suited to industry work.
In industry-specific tools, you can expect to find collaboration tools, expense tracking, portfolio management, contractor management, resource management, and more. These tools may also help you manage a creative team, a remote team, or a specialized project within your larger portfolio.
Project Management Software Features
As you research your next project management solution, you’ll likely choose the right tool by the features it offers. The right features for your team will depend on the size of your team, the complexity of the projects you run, and the use case you will use the software in.
Task management software features let project team members create, update, and manage the progress of tasks throughout a project’s lifetime. This feature allows team members to:
- Set dependencies on a task
- Create and manage subtasks from larger tasks
- Set a task to repeat or recur at a specified time or date
- Assign tasks to one or more people
- Import a list of tasks from an external file
Task management is essential in management software. The best software for project management offers visual task management in Kanban boards, Gantt charts, waterfall dependencies, and burndown charts. These tools give a visual representation of project progress that is often easier to understand than a set of lists or items in a spreadsheet.
Collaboration tools help solve complex problems. These features ensure that everyone who can see a task or portion of the project can comment, add assets to, and notate changes in the same interface where all of the project information is stored. Visual task representations, messaging, task descriptions, notation features, asset upload capabilities, tags, email integrations, calendar tools, and more are considered collaboration features. Collaboration tools enable project teams and stakeholders to:
- Exchange information
- Hold discussions
- Send comments or approvals
- Put context to project files
- Directly message one another
Creative teams may run several smaller projects concurrently and can make use of Gantt charts and cross-team approvals to keep work flowing to reach deadlines. Large teams should use collaboration tools to keep the project up to date, alert team members to major and minor changes, and centralize assets.
Software support documentation helps new and existing team members troubleshoot issues within the project software and learn to use the tools quickly. Documentation and support tools that shorten the learning curve include:
- Help desk articles
- Support videos
- Periodic educational webinars
- In-software tooltips
- Email or phone support
Some tools offer email and phone support only to paying subscribers, while others offer only online documentation or customer forums for paid plans. If you think your team will need personalized support, look for tools with good support ratings.
Email features within top project management software will:
- Send notifications to individual team members regarding the status of their projects
- Send alerts regarding due dates, keywords, or status changes to individuals or the entire team
- Make new or update existing tasks via email
- Add comments, files, or custom labels to an existing task
This feature significantly increases productivity as the user can manage tasks and updates from their inbox without logging in to the tool. Individual members should also be able to set limits on the frequency and types of email notifications they receive.
A good project management app provides a space for teams to store and manage files directly in the tool or by using an integrated third-party solution. Document management features that are indispensable in PM software are:
- A centralized document storage
- The ability to attach documents to tasks
- The ability to attach notes and comments to uploaded documents
- Multiple document uploads using drag and drop functionality
- Document organization within folders, projects, or custom settings
- Version control
- Security features that can restrict document sharing to a small team, an entire project, or outside parties
An online PM app also provides cloud storage space or integrates with a third-party service that provides it. Basecamp is useful project manager software that is built around a centralized project document and also provides some asset upload capabilities.
Project Portfolio Management
Large teams that manage many concurrent, complex projects may need to track each of those projects separately while also retaining the ability to report on and analyze their progression. Project portfolio management software gives companies an interface to run several projects within one or more portfolios.
The project managers and stakeholders can then take a high-level view of project progress, quickly identify bottlenecks, and drill down into problem areas with each project. These tools are also instrumental in team resource allocation and expense tracking across a number of project timelines, as they can show where slack can be taken up by other individuals.
A key feature of project portfolio management software is its ability to scale. These tools can manage unlimited projects with their own separate settings and workflows, but have reporting tools that are powerful enough to give a top-level view. Microsoft Project, Jira, and Wrike all provide project portfolio management features.
Today’s work has moved from the office desk to the field. Mobile access via native project management apps helps all types of teams, and are especially useful for distributed or remote teams. It provides a familiar interface and functionality so users can catch up on work, track progress, and message their teammates easily while on the go. PM vendors offer mobile app solutions on various platforms and technology such as iOS, Android, and HTML5.
Third-Party Integrations or API
The best program management software has a solid core of PM features that allow users to manage an entire project effectively. It also has multiple integrations directly or via APIs for features and data sources outside of the project management tool. A flexible solution can readily integrate with many top project management software services in use by companies today such as Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Salesforce, or Dropbox.
Zoho Projects, Wrike, Asana, and many other project management vendors offer a lot of integrations to connect to many other types of business software.
White Label, Branding, and Custom Settings
When used for external clients, management software will help teams with additional features such as white labeling, custom branding, or customization settings. These features often appeal to sales and marketing agencies and global or multinational corporations who want to adapt their tool to meet language and cultural requirements.
Project management programs have reporting functionality included—but to varying degrees. Consider the depth of your reporting needs and whether the project software you’re considering meets those needs. Another feature to consider is the ability to export project data to a third-party business intelligence tool if your company has one or is planning to have one.
Helpful reporting features might track progress by due date or task type, update stakeholders on resource allocation, give a list of unfinished tasks, use tags to filter data, and estimate on-time delivery.
A PM tool with project scheduling functionality promotes organization in large, multiple, and remote teams. It allows the user to set schedules on tasks, create a project timeline with milestones, and determine dependencies and resources. For some, this is an essential project management function. However, for organizations with simple projects, short-duration projects, recurring tasks, or small teams, this may not be as important.
Time management features in a project management app let team members track how much time they spend on independent tasks, let project managers set ideal time goals for the project, and integrate with a timesheet or payroll app. Teams with long-term projects or that regularly employ contractors may find a PM tool like this especially useful.
In project software options built for large teams or industries with contractors, these features may also be called resource management and include expense tracking features.
Small businesses relying on spreadsheets or whiteboards miss an opportunity to manage their projects more efficiently. They can enjoy the advantages of a modern solution and still stay within budget with careful planning and mindful selection of important items while purchasing an affordable PM solution.
While it may be helpful for everyone on the team to have access to project manager software, many options base price on user seats. Companies can identify the essential personnel who need paid access and those who can collaborate for free through other channels such as email or integration. Smaller organizations can easily bring the rest of the team up-to-date through reports that are generated without costs.
Free or Low-Price Options
While every company wants to save money on their software, free plans and low-priced options are especially attractive to small businesses who run on a shoestring budget. Affordable paid plans have limitations on the number of access or features, so it is important to plan for growth or expansion.
Open source project management can provide a free plan or low-cost option, but these tools often do not provide the technical support or frequent updates that paid SaaS tools cover.
Task and project visualizations help teams see the progress of multiple projects running at the same time. These tools can assist in managing the progress of the initiative, but they can also be useful for project planning by giving a visual mind map of the project timeline. Whether it’s through a Kanban board, Gantt chart, burndown chart, or other custom visualization, these tools give an overview of the project’s progress.
Small businesses should identify what data or metric is important for them to see and check that their choice of PM solution can display them by default or will allow for customization.
Growing businesses face different challenges such as the task of scaling their company requirements. Project management solutions can help these businesses make a mind map of their upcoming projects, define their project processes, refine existing inefficiencies, and improve overall project outcomes.
Midsize businesses have the tendency to adapt a greater number of solutions over time. As such, the ability of management software to integrate to these existing solutions plays a greater role. The candidate solution should have native app connections, capable of API calls, or include webhook features to automatically data transfer and speed up processes.
Time tracking software helps teams track contract work, employee hours, and billable time spent on projects. Your chosen project management tool should include features that tie work hours directly to individual tasks. The solution should also be able to compute hours across projects or filter hours for individual contributors. You should also look for connections to accounting or payroll systems via export or direct integration.
Time tracking reports are useful for building a project plan because they give the team an idea of how long previous tasks have taken. This can give the project manager and the individual contributors more context when they go to assign tasks.
Reporting and Analytics
Larger teams have a greater need to track and analyze key project data that comes from multiple sources. They need software for project management with a reporting and analytics engine to display the following metrics to help in the successful delivery of projects:
- Total tasks assigned to project and to individual team members
- Total time needed for task and overall project completion
- Tasks by completion stage
- Points, hours, or other metrics to indicate task and project weight
Reporting and analytics can also be useful to help the team benchmark successful projects and understand where they can streamline their processes in the future. Many teams use management software analytics in their retrospectives and for project planning.
Large companies have the financial and infrastructure resources to implement enterprise-scale solutions. They need to find the right enterprise project management tool that will maximize their resources as well as provide them the insights from across a huge amount of data while keeping data secure.
Enterprise businesses thrive on automation and connected apps. Whether your project management tool lives inside an ERP or business process management (BPM) system, or exists as a standalone solution, integrations are essential. API connections and native plugins ensure key information flows quickly into the project software and reporting metrics flow back out to the right systems.
Reporting and Analytics
Reporting and analytics features in enterprise project management tools play a vital role for the software to be widely useful. These features show bottlenecks in the process or other indicators of needed efficiencies. They help the team build a future project plan based on real data from previous projects and provide a talking point for otherwise subjective measures.
Enterprise companies need to check if their business intelligence tool can seamlessly integrate, import directly, or is compatible with the export format of their candidate PM solution.
Data safety and security should matter to companies of any size, but enterprise companies need user controls to effectively manage data access. An enterprise company looking for their next project management solution should carefully consider how the tools provide administrative authority over access to projects, the number of available user seats, and granular access to capabilities and tasks.
Compare The 15 Best Project Management Software Of 2022
Best for unlimited users/seats
Best for building custom workflows across teams
Best for flexibility & customizability
Best for collaboration & messaging
Best for building custom project workflows
Best for customer-facing teams
Best for scaling organizations
Best AI-native project planning tool
Best project management tool for planning and scheduling projects with an online Gantt chart
Best for WIP limits
Best for project requirements management
Best for unlimited client/contractor access
Best for workflow automations
Best for visual planning
Best online task management software for complex projects