I’ve summed up my top favorite PM tools that I consider to be the best project management tools on the market today. You’ll find them in a shortlist, followed by a detailed overview of each tool with screenshots, features, pricing, and more.
In this context, “project management tools” refers to general PM tools that can be used for a variety of project management activities like project planning, resource management, internal and external project communication, workflow management, and more.
We’ve included a list of specific types of project management tools along with links to reviews at the end of this article if you’re looking for a more specialized project management tool.
If you’re looking for a general project management tool that can do it all, you’re in the right place!
Project Management Tool Comparison Criteria
What do I look for when I select the best project management tools? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Is it clean and attractive?
- Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training?
- Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools that can fill any gaps in the software, such as time tracking software, Gantt chart software, workflow management tools, and more? Any pre-built integrations?
- Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?
Project Management Tool Key Features
Here are the core features that any project management tool should have:
- Task management: This includes the ability to create, assign, and monitor tasks as they progress. Can you set due dates, group tasks and subtasks, and create checklists?
- Project scheduling: The tool should allow users to set timelines and deadlines. Can you map out timelines on multiple views such as calendars, Gantt charts, and more?
- File sharing: This includes the ability to upload and share files. Can you upload, organize, and share files amongst team members?
- Communication: Users should be able to have project-specific conversations and discussions. Can you tag team members with @ mentions, create threaded discussions, and keep conversations organized?
- Reporting: The tool should allow users to generate reports on project progress, budget usage, and resource usage. Can users easily generate and share reports using data from the software?
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monday.com is a great project management tool that has done away with a lot of the trimmings of typical management tools and focused on simple, visually intuitive layouts that help clarify the sequence of work.
monday.com’s features for managing projects include resource and project management, time tracking, collaboration, and reporting. Users can upload and attach files to cards, make comments, mention teammates, and more.
It also offers a great project reporting dashboard that can collect data from multiple boards, allowing better tracking abilities. You can also use monday.com to track hours, timelines, and invoices.
Overall, it’s a highly customizable tool that lets you work in whatever methodology—kanban or otherwise—that fits your project and team. You’ll also find some useful workflow tools for automating parts of your process.
monday.com’s integrations include project management apps like Slack, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform, and many more, accessible via Zapier.
monday.com costs from $8/user/month and comes with a free 14-day trial. They offer a free plan for up to 2 users.
Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-like project management tool. It has won a few awards for quickly becoming a favorite business app. It’s a nice project management software if you’re comfortable working in Excel but wants a break from complicated formulas—Smartsheet performs all the calculations for you across multiple sheets. You can also add customized brand logos and set color themes for individual projects.
Smartsheet has useful project management features such as workflow automation and visualization of tasks in Gantt, calendar and card views. Team members get notified of critical changes in real-time, and the tool provides shared views, detail history, activity logs, automated alerts, reminders, and status reports to keep everyone aligned and informed. The Critical Path feature highlights all the tasks which directly impact your project completion date to keep an eye on important milestones. Reporting is a strong feature of this tool, with editable summary reports that you can easily export to Excel.
Check out our in-depth Smartsheet review if you want a deep-dive into the tool or to watch our short tutorial video of some basic features.
Smartsheet integrations include Microsoft and Google apps, as well as development essentials like Jira, and useful business apps like Salesforce, ServiceNow, Slack, Box, and Tableau. The platform is extensible through a REST API and webhooks.
Smartsheet costs from $7/user/month, with a minimum of 3 users and a maximum of 25 users. They also offer a 30-day free trial.
ClickUp is a project management tool with powerful features for managing and completing all your team’s projects in one platform. Users can plan projects, schedule tasks, and manage resources in a centralized workspace, as well as communicate and collaborate with team members and guests.
Task management features include task checklists, subtasks, and task templates, as well as the ability to filter, sort, search for, easily reorder, and view tasks in the manner most convenient for the team. Users can also create Gantt charts, calendars, and timelines to visualize tasks.
ClickUp also includes features for creating, sharing, and collaborative editing for Wikis and documents. Users can comment on documents and tasks, assign comments, and chat with other team members for increased communication and collaboration. Reporting features include the ability to create custom dashboards, as well as six built-in report types for team reporting.
ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp’s free plan is robust and includes all primary features. The unlimited plan starts at $5 a month per user and offers additional functionality.
Rocketlane is an enterprise project management tool purpose-built to run customer-facing projects. It uniquely combines project management, document collaboration, and communication to help teams hit their project goals, accelerate time-to-value, and deliver a 5-star customer experience.
Rocketlane offers private and shared views for project plans and documents as well as a customer portal for stakeholder and client views. You can also codify your best practices with project and document templates to create them once and reuse them forever across projects.
With Rocketlane, you’ll be able to keep your customers involved and make them accountable with reminders, notifications, and actionable emails. You can work together and create new or embed existing documents, collaborate on them synchronously and experience Slack-like chat inside Rocketlane.
Rocketlane costs from $19/user/month and offers a free 14-day trial.
Wrike’s software features award-winning, easy-to-use project management tools that are suitable for teams of five or more. It’s a collection of the most configurable project management tools, so users can customize workflows, dashboards, reports, request forms, and more.
The tool enables users to switch between Kanban boards, interactive drag-and-drop Gantt charts, and traditional workload views to visualize priorities in the way that works best for them. Wrike also features task lists, subtasks, schedules, shared workflows, file sharing, and real-time communication and collaboration. For advanced insights, users can access performance reporting tools, resource management and allocation, and more.
Wrike has an easy-to-use, intuitive navigation with distinct spaces, folders, and tasks. You can toggle between the home screen and timesheets, dashboards, calendars, reports, and an activity stream for notifications and messages. Wrike also offers a variety of different yet specific solutions depending on the type of team or organization, including marketing teams and professional service teams. Users also have access to a variety of templates for common organizational processes.
Wrike has over 400 pre-built integrations, including integrations with most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, as well as with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.
Wrike costs $9.80/user/month.
useful tools that every Project Manager should know about
1. Microsoft Project Microsoft Project has been created to help project managers in planning development, distributing resources, tracking progress and analyzing work volumes. Despite its apparent complexity, the MS Project has an intuitive interface. It is a highly regarded software solution which can greatly contribute to your project’s success. It operates three blocks: Tasks, resources and Calendar via connections among them. The software is essentially a database with quite simple automation possibilities. The main advantages of using Microsoft Project are: Efficient organization of work using MS Project scheduling Complete and convenient tracking of all changes and project developments Highly customizable schedules to comply with specific projects Various possibilities for representation of projects, adding ideas, filtering data Prediction and prevention of risks Summary reports and efficient management of records Microsoft Project is a great choice for organizations, especially where projects require frequent interaction among different departments.
2. Skype for Business Skype allows project managers to immediately connect with their team, colleagues and clients, wherever they are. It supports four types of conference calls: web conferencing, video and voice conferences, conference with telephone connections, and conferences with instant messaging. Skype for Business can connect users from virtually any device, help them collaborate on documents, share desktop screens and access particular desktop applications or files with other conference participants. Skype for Business is designed specifically for the corporate sector in order to facilitate business communication and save on long distance and international telephone calls. All sessions on Skype for Business are protected by authentication and encryption algorithms, so it is a safe tool for PMs to interact with their clients and colleagues.
3. Trello The Trello system is built on the Japanese management “kanban” principle, which involves consistent monitoring of all production phases. It is a great tool for standard projects and is convenient for both command directives and individual assignments. The interface consists of different boards, which represent projects or processes in the company. Each board consists of lists of tasks, cards with descriptions, comments, files, color tags and deadlines. The menu can be displayed as a calendar. The basic functionality of Trello is free and allows you to work with almost no restrictions.
4. Evernote Evernote is a tool that can help build a huge knowledge base for project managers. It can be used to create to-do lists and store all kinds of information about your projects in files and notes. In addition, Evernote can be supplemented by other tools needed by PMs. It is a cloud-based project management tool, which you can access from any device – smartphone, tablet or PC. There are several tools in Evernote, which in combination enable you to manage your tasks effectively. Evernote provides assigned access for different users. For personal tasks, you can use an individual notebook. If you work with a team and want to challenge your employees, then it is better to work on a pad with public access, allowing you to determine the levels of access for different kinds of colleagues.
5. Microsoft Visio MS Visio is a vector graphics application created for Windows OS, and is widely used by project managers. It is a powerful tool for presenting complex information in the form of diagrams, shapes and flowcharts. The Top 10 Flow Chart symbols you need to know Even if you are not gifted with design or technical skills, Visio will help you translate your thought processes into the best visuals. Visio is often used to quickly sketch your concept by using a set of diagrams to simplify and enhance the visualization of abstract processes. Whether you want to create an organizational chart, network or process diagram, you have a variety of ready-made Microsoft Visio templates and shapes from which to select your design. Furthermore, with Visio you can interact with others users and succinctly illustrate certain points. For instance, from an organization chart you may want to highlight a “hovering” problem and discuss its solution, which can then be applied to a new project. With Visio you can also import data from MS Excel to produce clean and clear graphics for your public presentations and reports.
6. VSDX Annotator VSDX Annotator is a Visio Viewer for those who work on Mac. It is widely used by project managers to collaborate on Visio files in a multi-platform environment. It has 12 annotation tools that allow you to make changes in a drawing right on a Mac as well as add your notes, questions and comments. You can then save as a PDF or Visio extension (.vsdx) for further editing in Visio by colleagues. This app renders all the drawing content and displays visually sharp images.