- Best Free Project Management Software 2020
- What Makes the Best Free Project Management Software
- 1. Best Free Project Management Software: Wrike
- Wrike Themes
- Wrike Storage
Cloud software can help you organize your team, your project and your life. It can make communication more efficient and motivate you to get things done. That said, it can get pricey, so we’ve put together a few free options for you. Who knows, you might even end up making money using the best free project management software.
We’re going to help you get organized without spending a thing. The tools we’ll discuss have useful and effective free plans. If you’ve never used project management software, it isn’t hard to get started, and thanks to our guide, you won’t even have to open your wallet.
Best Free Project Management Software 2020
What Makes the Best Free Project Management Software
To make our list, tools have to offer plenty of value on their free plans. We aren’t interested in free offerings that don’t let you do anything or pester you to upgrade. We’re looking for functional tools, but we don’t mind if they have quality paid features, too.
Other than them being free, we are looking for the same qualities we look for in all project management software. That means we want to see useful features, and plenty of them. Tools need to be user-friendly, which means having an interface that’s easy to figure out and responsive to user input. Help and guidance are also pluses, as well.
We also like services that are strong on security. Many platforms reserve their best security features for their enterprise plans, so making them available on the free plans will score points.
Our overall favorite is Wrike, which has an excellent feature set and is a high-quality tool, despite having more of a learning curve than some of its rivals.
1. Best Free Project Management Software: Wrike
Wrike is one of our favorite tools and was narrowly beaten by the non-free usurper monday.com in our list of the best project management software. See how they compare directly in our monday.com vs. Wrike face-off.
On Wrike’s free plan, you can access its board and list views. Its other views are dangled in front of you like tantalizing fruit, using greyed out text, so you can get an idea of what you can do if you upgrade.
You can share your boards with up to five teammates for free. You can assign tasks to yourself, or any member of your team.
It is easy to customize Wrike’s look because it has 13 themes available. Those are set on a per-user basis, though, so you can’t share them like you can in Trello. That’s better if you want to make it look the way you want, but not so good if you want a common theme for everyone on your team.
Wrike has a lot of good options hidden in its menus. You can duplicate tasks or make them recur automatically. Both features can save you work, so it’s worth checking them out.
If you like Wrike and choose to upgrade, it has many more features on its paid plans. They include additional views, subtasks, dependency management, proofing and time tracking.
Wrike also has top-quality security, and you can use two-factor authentication without having to upgrade. It uses AES 256-bit encryption for storage, which you can learn about in our description of encryption.
You get a decent 2GB of storage on Wrike’s free plan. If that isn’t enough, look at the options in our best cloud storage article. Wrike can automatically connect to Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and YouTube, so you have plenty of choices when it comes to file sharing.
It also works with other software, such as Microsoft Office 365 and Slack, so you can integrate your workflows easily. In addition to desktop apps for Windows and macOS, Wrike has mobile apps for Android and iOS, so it can be used almost anywhere.
There’s plenty to like here, and small teams can get a lot out of Wrike without signing up for its paid plans. Read more about it in our Wrike review.
- Broad feature set
- Strong security
- Customizable themes
- Learning curve
- Best features need paid plans
- Top plans are expensive
Trello is a kanban-based tool and the easiest to use on our list. It straddles the line between task and project management. In fact, it’s so simple it arguably doesn’t cross it. It does have a range of “power-ups,” though, if you want to upgrade.
In its basic form, it’s one of the best free tools and most of its core features are available. You only get a kanban view, but you can do a lot with that. We use it here ourselves at Cloudwards.net.
The kanban approach consists of creating columns, which you can call anything, and adding cards to them, which usually represent tasks. You drag the tasks from left to right to change their status. A common example is “to-do,” “doing” and “done,” but you can make columns for team members or stages of production. Read our how to use a kanban board guide for more.
Boards can be used in all kinds of creative ways. You can make them public and display restaurant menus or seating plans. Look through the examples on Trello’s “inspirations” page to see what’s possible.
The “power-ups” let you add various views, bringing Trello closer to what other tools offer. There are surprisingly powerful ones, so take a look through them to see what’s available.
The “butler” plugin is worth mentioning because it allows you to automate tasks you do regularly. Despite being powerful, it has a simple interface that lets you combine rules with actions. That way, you can make it do things, such as move cards from one column to another when they’re marked complete or add a checklist to new tasks.
“Power-ups” also let you share data with other platforms, such as Google Drive, for extra storage, or Slack, for discussing things with your teammates.
You get a lot of choices when it comes to customizing your boards. There are stickers, and a large selection of background images to choose from. There are also plenty of emojis to use for communication. On paid plans, you get even more options and can upload your own backgrounds and stickers.
Trello has two-factor authentication for everyone, with more advanced security features for paying customers. Its paid plans start at $5 per month for individuals or $9.99 per user for teams. That’s not too expensive, but the free plan is excellent and there’s no compulsion to upgrade if you don’t want to.
Trello is an excellent, simple option for those on a budget of nothing. To learn more about it, read our Trello review. Our Trello beginner’s guide will take you through the basics, too.
- Most features available on free plan
- Simple & easy
- Excellent selection of upgrades
- Too basic for some
- Usage limits on free plans
- No dependency management
Asana is an accessible tool that lets you use its kanban and list views for free. You can also use its calendar, which is useful for organization. The free plan lets you work with up to 15 team members, which is generous for a free tool.
Like Trello, it works well as a personal task list, helping you keep your projects organized. It’s also a great way to keep everyone in your office on the same page, and Asana’s free offering is a fantastic choice for small teams.
Tasks can include various information. In addition to the title and description, they can be assigned to users, given a due date or broken into subtasks. You can make comments and attach files to them, too. There’s a 100MB file size limit, so if you need more than that, take a look at our best cloud storage for large files guide.
Its “celebrations” reward you for getting things done with cute animal animations. You’ll see all sorts of creatures fly across your screen when using it. They appear when you mark tasks as complete, but not every time, which adds to the fun.
Asana’s relaxed approach makes it a great choice for offices where life isn’t taken too seriously. Though bright and breezy, it’s a powerful tool, and its designers understand that engagement is a plus when getting people invested in project management software.
If you choose to upgrade to the paid plans, they start at $9.99 per user per month and offer other features, such as dependencies, advanced security and Asana’s timeline. In addition to its browser version, Asana has apps for Android and iOS.
Asana has a lot going for it and is simple to use. Trello is the easiest free platform to use, but Asana is a close second and provides more in the way of features. Either is a great way to get started with project management software.
For more about Asana, read our Asana review. If you decide to take the plunge, read our Asana beginner’s guide for tips on what you can achieve with it.
- Fun to use
- Intuitive interface
- Strong security
- Limited attachment size
- Slow support
- Breezy approach won’t suit everyone
Freedcamp has a comprehensive free plan that lets you do a lot without having to shell out a penny.
Its main “tasks” view is a Gantt chart with full dependency management. You can drag items around, create dependencies by dragging from item to item and adjust task content by double-clicking to bring up a window.
Move tasks around and you’ll see the rest of the project items move to accommodate your changes. It’s one of the quickest, most intuitive Gantt implementations we’ve seen.
There’s also a calendar and a discussion board, so you can see when things need to be done and discuss the details of your projects online.
Freedcamp Time Tracking
You can set milestones to give your projects goals and add structure to them. Time tracking features are included, which is a generous feature to include on a free plan. That allows you to keep track of how long you’ve spent on things.
However this page seems to be little more than a log. We couldn’t easily assign time to the tasks we’d created in the rest of the views, rather we had to give each chunk of time a name manually. It isn’t the best implementation of time tracking, but it’s still nice to get for free.
If you want to check out a platform that does time tracking and estimation well, read our Mavenlink review. Expect to pay for that though, after you’ve finished its free trial.
We should point out that some of the features we were able to use don’t seem to be listed in the free plan on its pricing page. We’re not sure if that’s because the pricing page is out of date or those features aren’t automatically deactivated until after the free trial.
Either way, we’re not making a fuss about it and are very happy with Freedcamp’s free offering. Even on its free plan you get unlimited projects and files, which sounds good to us.
Freedcamp has mobile apps for Android and iOS. There are also desktop apps for Windows and macOS hidden on its website. Read more about it in our Freedcamp review.
- Unlimited storage
- Looks good
- Fast support
- 10MB files size limit on free plan
- Rough edges
- Minor errors in website & documentation
Billed as one app to replace them all, you don’t have to pay anything to get started with ClickUp. It gives you most of its core features for nothing. Subtasks and dependency management are available, as are its calendar, task and board views.
As we said in our review, its core task management features are excellent. You can prioritize tasks and merge them if you feel you’ve micromanaged too much and ended up with too many. It lets you create time estimates that can be compared to your actual results later, which helps you get better at predicting project costs.
Managers will also appreciate ClickUp’s box view, which lets you split the screen up into boxes showing the tasks assigned to each member. It’s good to know what the team is up to, so ClickUp will be of particular interest to bosses who want to keep a close eye on things.
ClickUp has other useful features, such as its notepad in the bottom right, which lets you write reminders to yourself or anything else you find helpful. Read our best note-taking apps article if you like the feature. ClickUp also allows you to use your own logo or set your own color scheme.
Its free plan gives you unlimited users, projects and spaces. Like many free offerings, it has limited storage space at just 100MB. Our best online storage for teams article will help if you need more.
ClickUp allows you to import data from several platforms, such as Asana, Trello and Jira. Its integrations include Zapier, which lets you share data with over 1,000 apps. We had trouble with its export feature though, which we couldn’t get to work.
If you sign up, ClickUp, at $5 per user per month for the cheapest paid plan, won’t break the bank. You get advanced reports, more integrations, unlimited storage and the removal of usage limits for things such as custom fields. Enhanced security and management features are available on the more expensive plans.
In addition to desktop and mobile apps, you can use ClickUp via a Google Chrome extension or on an Amazon Fire TV. Read more about it in our ClickUp review.
- Many features on free plan
- Good at dependency management
- Cheap paid plans
- Just 100MB storage space on free plan
- Usage limits
- Not everything works perfectly
There are a few other platforms with free plans we like that didn’t quite make our top five.
TeamGantt has a free offering that allows you to work with teams of three people. That’s limited, but a good way to check it out. It’s a powerful tool based, as you’d expect, around its Gantt view.
Its core features include dependency management, and it does a good job of making that intuitive. Gantt charts can be fiddly, but TeamGantt’s are done well, as you’d expect of its key feature.
Though TeamGantt’s free offering is decent, many of its more advanced business and security features are limited to its paid plans. Read our TeamGantt review for more. If you’re interested in a Gantt based tool, our how to use a Gantt chart article is worth checking out.
Podio’s free option includes its core task management features, apps and workspaces. Unfortunately, you only get 500 items with that.
How limiting that is depends on what you use it for. If you’re using it to keep track of a few dozen tasks, you’ll be fine, but if you have many items coming in and out of your system and want to archive them, you’ll quickly hit its limits.
Podio remains a good option, though, and works well as an easy-to-use task list that has a few additional features. You also get unlimited storage, which is hard to beat, and Podio integrates with many services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote. Read about it in our Podio review.
Airtable’s free offering lets you use its core features. It’s basically an easy database creation tool. That makes it sound tricky to use, but it has a top-quality selection of templates that lets you quickly set it up for all sorts of projects.
Unfortunately our favorite feature, Airtable’s blocks, isn’t available with its free plan. Blocks give you all sorts of interesting functionality and are worth signing up for Airtable to use. Learn more in our Airtable review.
Overall, though, Airtable is a good option for people who want a no-nonsense approach to sharing project information.
Not only is there no need to break the bank to get into project management software, you don’t even need to touch your piggy bank. As we’ve seen, there are many free options that can help you get organized.
Some of the best tools have free tiers that offer most of their core functionality. If you’ve tried any of these tools or know of other good free ones, please let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.