When it comes to keeping yourself and your team on track, sometimes a good old pen-and-paper to-do list or Mac reminders simply aren't enough. This is where online project management tools come in.
Project management software can keep your workflow organized and give everyone on the team the ability to see what else is going on and be held accountable.
But identifying the perfect project management tool is a lot easier said than done.
When it comes to finding the perfect project management software, you're probably hoping it does a number of things, such as:
- Assigning and filtering tasks
- Mapping out project timelines and milestones
- Messaging team members and leaving feedback or comments
- Tracking the time your team spends working on projects
- Invoicing for your services
- Customizing your dashboards with useful widgets or add-ons
- Generating post-mortem project reports
Some solutions will have all the above while others will only include a few. You have to decide what is best for you, which is why we wrote this guide.
In it, you'll learn what project management tools you should consider when you're just getting started.
So, without further ado, here are the top 15 project management tools. Each one includes price points and key features that differentiate it from the rest of the market. They’re also broken down by the key function they serve -- project planning, project management or project tracking.
Project planning tools
Best for: Teams of any size and projects that require simple to-do lists
Cost: Free (You can pay for more features)
There’s a reason why Trello is a beloved project management tool. Its design is meant to be totally and completely customizable. You can use “cards” for virtually anything, from saving client contact information to building larger project tasks, and it’s just as easy to switch things up on the fly.
- Trello's interface is meant to be simple so you can transform it into the project management tool of your dreams.
- Trello comes with loads of pre-made templates.
- Trello integrates with tons of other apps.
- Trello is easy to learn.
- Because Trello's meant to be a more customizable system, teams need to activate "Power Ups."
- Trello can get messy quickly if you and your team don't have a method to your madness.
Best for: Bigger teams, creative teams, visual projects
Cost: $9.80/month per user after 5 users
There’s no reason to have 20 different tabs open to manage all of the programs you use for your project.
Instead, use Wrike, which combines project management software with visual tools -- like workload management, budgeting, vision boards, and more -- to help you work with your team in real time.
- Wrike makes it easy for admins to control who can see what and customize the look and feel of different dashboards.
- It’s also an easy product to use for remote teams, especially those with creative needs.
- Wrike updates constantly, so getting started and maintaining the software requires upfront work and someone dedicated to staying on top of the latest changes.
- Additionally, new features can be clunky and difficult to use when they first come out.
Best for: Personal use
Cost: $12/month per user after one user
Evernote is another classic software for project management that’s popular due to how flexible it is. You can truly do anything on this platform: Download graphics, add notes, create to-do lists, upload documents, and more. Even better, its clean interface is available on multiple devices, so you can take your work wherever you go.
- Evernote is meant to be highly customizable with endless integrations so that users can make or upload practically anything on it.
- The app has random glitches within its mobile product and within specific integrations. Most get fixed relatively quickly, but depending on users needs, there may be some issues.
- Depending on your team and how you specifically want to use Evernote, it’s usually best for your own personal use as opposed to team use.
Best for: Project-based teams
Cost: $7.90/month per user after 3 users
TeamGantt has a number of more mainstream features that other project management software does, but what really set it apart is its visualizations. Users can create a collaborative “gantt chart” that allows them to map out just how much time each project should take and break it down by user so people can see how their tasks are intertwined.
- The platform is highly visual, making it easy to see how long each portion of a project should take as well as how far any individual has come in finishing a task.
- Out of the more all-in-one project management softwares, it’s considered one of those with the most bang for your buck.
- While the interface is aesthetically pleasing, it’s not necessarily streamlined, but users can adjust their settings so that there aren’t so much integrations on any given page
Project Managment Tools
Best for: Smaller teams
Cost: $5/month per user after 15 users
Asana has been around for a while, and with good reason. This to-do list software makes it easy for teams to plan out tasks, weeks and even months, in advance. Subtasks within a task break down complex projects into simple tasks that can be assigned to team members in seconds. What’s not to love?
- It’s relatively inexpensive as far as software goes (especially because you won’t be charged until you reach 15 members).
- It has several different views (like tasks and calendar) that allow people to look at their to-do lists in in a variety of visual ways.
- Certain parts of Asana may feel counterintuitive at first.
- With large teams, using calendar mode or other features may be too overwhelming given the number of to-dos.
Best for: Client-driven teams or projects
Cost: $12/month per user after 2 users
If your work depends on customer relationships as well as project management, Insightly is a great tool to keep track of all of your client information while simultaneously dishing out tasks and projects to serve them. Now you won’t have to constantly copy and paste info from your database to your project management software and vice versa, or keep two different apps open at once.
- It stores all of your client information in a single system.
- It allows for integrations with other software, like Evernote, Dropbox, G Suite, Mailchimp, and more.
It can be a confusing system to learn at first; there’s definitely a learning curve to how the sections differ. Some might find it clunky to use at first given all of the different tables and products.
Best for: Large teams taking on numerous complex projects at once
Cost: $59/month per user
While Aha! a little on the pricier side as far as project management software goes, it’s with good reason. Aha! doesn’t just help teams get their work done; it’s also a great system for planning out an entire project timeline before you get to work. After all, you don’t want to start assigning tasks without laying them all out and seeing how long each one will take.
- Aha! can connect several teams at once in the same project management app, such as the product team, customer support, engineering, and more.
- New features come out constantly.
- It’s pricey.
- There’s a learning curve.
Best for: Teams that want everything in one place
Cost: $25/month per user
Dapulse is based around the idea that no team should be flipping between different pages on a project management app to figure out what they need to be doing, so every part of the product is on a single continuous board, starting with high-level summaries and tasks and getting increasingly granular from there.
- Every part of Dapulse is located in an infinite scroll board, so you’ll no longer have to flip between different tabs to find what you’re looking for.
- Team communications can easily take place within tasks.
The “one board” concept might be difficult to digest at first.
Best for: Teams in need of an all-in-one project management system
Cost: $14.95/month per user
If you’re looking for a project management system that can do it all, look no further than Paymo. This project management system is all about customizable add-ons and integrations to make your workflow easier, and it also comes with standard collaboration, task management, accounting, and scheduling tools.
- Considering how many tools come with it, it’s one of the more cost-effective systems.
- In addition to task and team management, Paymo has invoicing, accounting, and reporting features.
There are a lot of different tabs and tables to keep track of, which may make it difficult for everyone to use it efficiently.
Best for: Invoice-based teams and projects
Cost: $12/month per user after one user
If your business depends on tracking your time and billing hours, Harvest was made for you. The software helps you and your team keep track of where you’re at with any project, how much time you’ve spent on a project, and whether or not you’ve submitted your invoices.
- In addition to being great for invoicing, the system also helps with team management and payroll.
- It syncs with other tracking systems like Quickbooks, which is vital to smaller teams and/or those that rely on invoices.
Harvest may seem pricey for some teams considering that its main function is helping with billable hours.
Best for: Performance-based teams, projects with billable hours
Cost: $10/month per user
What’s difficult about other project management software is that while it’s easy to assign an unlimited number of tasks or projects, it’s hard to know how long each of those tasks will take.
One task may take three hours; five other tasks could take 10 minutes. With Runrun.it, teams can see what the estimated delivery times are and adjust accordingly to prevent overworking and burning out while also holding people accountable.
- It’s helpful for teams to see an overview of how people are working as well as for each individual person to get a sense of his or her performance.
- It provides a granular look at how people spend their time.
- The system can become overwhelming for admins overseeing large teams.
- The app lacks some integrations and can become clunky when adding others.
Best for: Tech teams
Cost: $10/month for up to 10 users, $75/month per month after 15 users
For software and tech teams, Jira’s considered one of the leading project management software apps because it combines several important features. Team members can see what needs to be done within individual tasks, get a high-level view of what needs to get done and track those projects throughout.
- Jira has tech-specific features, like planning sprints and tracking bugs.
- Unsurprisingly, a tech product made for tech teams is free of glitches and runs smoothly.
- It’s pricey for large teams.
- There's a learning curve.
Best for: Teams
Cost: $9/month per user
Teams love Podio because of how customizable it is. In Podio, it's easy to set up task management and workspaces, and communicate with your internal team. And you can integrate custom add-ons, like a CRM widget.
Podio’s interface is centered on team communication, so every feature is optimized for your team to share information.
Podio’s is notoriously known for not having the most aesthetically pleasing interface and not necessarily being the most intuitive tool at first.
Best for: Teams
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Reason No. 1 to love Freedcamp: As the name suggests, it’s free! But another reason to love it is how simple and straightforward it is when it comes to managing your team. The software has four major sections (to-dos, discussions, milestones, and files), so you’ll still have a lot of tools to work with without the process getting overwhelming.
- It’s free.
- Its streamlined interface means there isn’t a huge learning curve to get started, so it’s easy to use from day one.
- It doesn’t include a Gantt chart (a common high-level view in project management software that allows users to see time breakdowns) or other ways to track tasks’ completion rates.
- Certain integrations and add-ons cost money.
Best for: Project-based teams, projects with strict deadlines
Cost: $9.99/month per user
LiquidPlanner’s claim to fame is that it’s more geared towards the business side of a company than anything else, allowing users to see cross-project visibility as well as team member’s time availability in addition to task management and calendar views.
- Projects are based on estimations, where users can give the best and worst case scenarios for when they’ll finish tasks and plan accordingly.
- The system also allows people to see how many hours team members each have available to take on more work, which helps with prioritization.
It’s not effective unless everyone on a team uses it effectively and keeps it up to date.
Time to pick your favorite project management tool
The most important thing you can do when it comes to finding a great project management software is to take the time to look at the features within each tool and assess if your team’s needs are worth the price. No matter what, you’re on your way to a much more organized and streamlined project management process.
Great list. I'd like to add ProofHub in your list of best project management tools. It is an online project management and collaboration tool that comes with integrated Group chat, quick Discussions on projects, Workflows and boards, Project reports and many more powerful features. Document (e.g. Excel, Powerpoint) uploading and sharing are supported, along with an integrated an Online proofing tool to aid in image and document review. Take a look at https://www.proofhub.com/