best-project-management-software

The cloud is to innovation what airplanes are to wanderlust: a means of faster and more fruitful accomplishment. There are a number of cloud applications available for driving productivity, from note-taking apps to accounting software, but for businesses looking to drive change, nothing beats online project management software.

Then again, nothing quite damages productivity in the workplace like indecision, aside from Friday afternoons. Because there are so many excellent tools to pick from, we decided to assist your decision-making efforts by assembling a list of the best project management software.

The answer we came away with was Wrike, though this was no easy decision. The number of solutions for managing projects far outpaces most other cloud SaaS markets. Before we get to our picks, let’s take a look at how we approached a difficult selection process.

Picking the Best Project Management Software

PM tools rank among the most essential cloud tools for business, because they make project management easy enough that you don’t need a degree in business management to spearhead innovation.

Still, it’s hard to understand why there are dozens of cloud project management tools, but only a handful of capable cloud storage tools (have a look at our cloud storage comparison chart, to say there are 10 good options is a stretch).

We couldn’t evaluate every service, but we managed to test over 30 market leaders to find the best tools for project planning. Despite capable competition, Wrike stands out with a flawless user experience that exceeds our expectations in every way.

That said, because what works for some won’t work for others, we decided to offer 10 more project management software selections, from stalwarts like Microsoft Project to upstarts such as Monday.com.

Before we dive into the details, and start getting angry comments about why Trello didn’t make the cut, it’s worth talking about what project management software is and how it differs from task management tools.

Project Management vs Task Management Software

Project management tools are about organizing workflow, managing and communicating with resources and tracking costs for non-recurrent goals. They allow business leaders to oversee operations for collaborative initiatives such as developing a mobile app, migrating a database or launching a marketing campaign.

Project management tools aren’t for managing repetitive, day-to-day tasks, unless you want to complicate, rather than simplify, your work life.

For everyday duties, a simple task management tool works best, such as a cloud to-do list. Todoist, Wunderlist and Any.do are all good options. Trello is another. It frequently gets mentioned as a PM tool, but the workflow features aren’t there to work as one.

Some cloud storage solutions, including some in our best enterprise sync and share guide, include simple task management features. For an example, read our Egnyte Connect review.

The difference between project management and task management software comes down to scale and scope. Project management software includes task management features, but also may provide tools to manage teams, organize documents, communicate with others and track expenses and effectiveness.

Key Project Management Software Features

The best PM tools let you manage multiple projects at once and easily allocate assignments for those projects using tasks. You should be able to indicate the project start and end dates, as well as task due dates.

While not as common as they should be, two other features to look for are subtasks and task dependencies, which help keep projects tidy and prevent premature efforts.


Best Project Management Software:Tasks:Subtasks:Task Dependencies:
Wrike:YesYesYes
Mavenlink:YesYesYes
Monday.com:YesNoNo
Asana:YesYesYes
Smartsheet:YesYesYes
TeamGantt:YesYesYes
MS Project:YesYesYes
Podio:YesNoNo
Airtable:YesNoNo
LeanKit:YesYesYes
Basecamp:YesNoNo

PM software usually lets you attach files to projects. These files might be documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images or videos. Some might be instructional, such as client requirements or regulatory guidelines, while others could be work product.

Files are often kept in cloud storage provided by the PM software. That storage is usually limited, though some, such as Monday.com and Asana, provide unlimited storage. Many tools let you supplement that space by integrating with cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox and Google Drive.

While many of the secure niche options that top our best cloud storage guide get overlooked by the PM SaaS market, most cloud storage tools let you generate file links, which can be added to project comments. An advantage of that approach over uploading files is that it will help ensure the most up-to-date file versions are accessible to project stakeholders.

PM solutions sometimes include direct messaging, message boards and real-time chat to help drive communication between collaborators. Activity streams and reporting tools also help keep users apprised of what’s going on.

Project Management User Experience

A benefit of a competitive market is that modern project management software tends to nail user experience. A few providers, including Monday.com and Basecamp, take a more unconventional approach (the first successfully, the second less so) to UX design.

Most interfaces are web-based. For those who get lost in browser tabs, a handful also provide desktop clients, including Wrike, MS Project and Monday.com. More common are smartphone apps for Android and iOS, which all the tools we rank include.

Kanban Boards, Calendars and Gantt Charts

In addition to a traditional list view, many PM software interfaces offer visualization features.

Kanban boards, used to visualize workflow with headers and cards slotted underneath, are especially useful for organizing tasks. Trello, though a task management app, provides one of the most famous examples of a Kanban board.

Calendar views are more common. These are useful for reviewing individual work goals to establish priorities. For example, you could view all of the tasks assigned to you across all projects, so that you don’t lose sight of what’s ahead.

Gantt charts provide a similar advantage to calendars, but for viewing single project tasks over time, rather than individual tasks. They provide contextualization for projects in a way that a to-do list never could, showing what work needs to be completed on a given day, as well what lies ahead.

They also help you see when task deadlines are in danger of being missed and make adjustments without losing sight of how those adjustments affect the rest of the project.

There were several other features we took into account while making our picks, including additional app integrations, cost and scalability. Many of those features speak for themselves, especially for business users, so we won’t spend time talking about them here.

Instead, let’s get to the good stuff — the Wrike stuff.

Best Project Management Software: Wrike

While 20 years younger than MS Project, in cloud years, Wrike is getting up there. It doesn’t show it’s age. The Wrike development team has been hard at work since the first iteration of the project management software in 2006.

We felt obliged to give Wrike the nod over many competent alternatives because it provides a beautiful cloud-based platform that takes all of five minutes to figure out, despite packing more features than any other service we reviewed.

Wrike Interface and Apps

Wrike facilitates project management with a multi-pane, web-based interface. There are features you’ll need to get up to speed with to use the software effectively, but the development team did a nice job making the UI as minimal and intuitive as possible without sacrificing functionality.

Wrike starts as an empty canvas. The software is forgiving, letting you tweak things as you go, so you don’t have to worry about getting everything perfect off the bat.

Links down the left side of the web interface let you jump between teams, projects, shared folders and personal folders. At the top of the UI, you can access your Wrike inbox to view project messages, pull up an overview of work assigned to you, review an activity stream and access customizable dashboards and reports.

If you prefer not to work from a browser, Wrike provides desktop apps for Windows and macOS that offer an identical experience. For mobile use, there are Wrike smartphone apps for Android and iOS.

Wrike Project Management Features

Like most PM tools, Wrike lets you create projects and project tasks. It also provides a third building block, folders, which are a useful addition that competitors need to start mimicking, pronto.

In addition to holding projects, tasks and files, folders can be treated like tags. This allows objects to live in multiple places at once, such as different projects that use the same data sheets.

Each Wrike project can have a start and end date, status and description. You can share projects with individuals and teams, who can then add comments and be assigned to tasks.

Wrike supports four views, lists, Kanban Boards, tables and Gantt Charts, making it as visually flexible as any software we reviewed.

Wrike Tasks

Wrike has every task management feature we looked for.

Tasks can be given descriptions, due dates and assignees. Those assigned to a task can add comments and attach files. For the micromanager, there’s a task stopwatch that your minions can use to track work.

Wrike lets you create subtasks and task dependencies to streamline workflow, prevent premature work, avoid rework and, critical to some industries, adhere to company regulations.

Wrike Cloud Storage

Most PM tools only let you add files at the task level. Wrike lets you add them at the project level, too, and provides cross-project file access by tagging folders.

File uploads require storage space, which is one of the few areas where Wrike falls short. Wrike Professional gives you just 10GB of shared storage for 10 users. Wrike Business ups that to 10GB of storage per user, while Wrike Enterprise grants 20GB per user.

For more capacity, Wrike integrates with a handful of popular cloud storage services. Current integrations include Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and OneDrive. YouTube is an option, as well.

Additional Features and Misses

Wrike has many more application integrations besides cloud storage. Slack, Gmail, Google Hangouts, Salesforce and Microsoft Office are some examples. Two-way sync with Jira and GitHub is available, too.

If your cloud apps of choice don’t integrate with Wrike directly, try Zapier. Wrike has dozens of predefined zaps already, such as automated connections with Trello, Evernote and Egnyte Connect.

To keep your work safe, Wrike provides two-factor authentication, but only for Enterprise accounts. Not providing 2FA for all subscription levels is the software’s biggest miss.

Wrike Pricing

Wrike is priced to match its power, aimed more at medium-sized to enterprise-level businesses. There is a low-cost option available for smaller businesses in Wrike Professional, though, and overall costs are more reasonable than MS Project.


Wrike Pricing per Month on an Annual ContractProfessional:BusinessEnterprise
Users Required:5, 10 or 155 - 2005+
Cost per User per Month:$9.80$24.80By quote
Storage:From 5GBFrom 20GBFrom 100GB

Some key capabilities require, at least, Wrike Business plan. Those include features for resource management, time tracking, request forms, group permissions and branding.

Wrike lets you work with unlimited collaborators at no extra cost. The difference between a Wrike user and collaborator is the latter has restricted access, for instance, not being able to create tasks.

For those who can work with feature restrictions, a cap of five users and 2GB of storage, there’s a free plan. No matter which subscription you go with, you can sign up for a two-week trial. Wrike doesn’t even require your credit card digits.


Pros:

  • Tons of features
  • Easy to use
  • Scalable

Cons:

  • 2FA is Enterprise only
  • Expensive
  • Limited storage

The 10 Best Wrike Alternatives

If Wrike doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of alternatives to consider. Below, we run through the 10 best. Among the options are modern tools that look and work similarly to Wrike, such as Mavenlink and Asana.

Many project management tools try to distinguish themselves by taking a more avant-garde approach. Monday.com is our favorite example, though the better-known Podio is another.

There are also tools that toe the line of project management tradition, looking and behaving like a spreadsheet on steroids. Chief among these is MS Project, the granddaddy of all PM software. Smartsheet is another.

Mavenlink

Mavenlink doesn’t have the fluid feel of Wrike, which makes project design and management harder. What it lacks in looks, though, Mavenlink makes up for with features and customization options.

A web UI is the primary workspace for Mavenlink. Down the leftmost panel are links for a “dashboard,” “projects,” “tasks” and other views.

Use the “projects” tab to create, edit and monitor projects. When adding new projects, you can add start and end dates, a project description, a team and budget goals.

The “projects” tab has three views for reviewing ongoing work: list, tiles and a Gantt chart. There’s also a “groups” subtab that you can use to review teams and their assignments.

Click on a project to define it and add objects. Each project has tabs for “tasks,” “Gantt charts,” “time and expenses,” “resource planning” and “files.” When creating a task, you can add a description, priority, resources, dates and budget data.

Tasks can be nested under others to create subtasks. You can create task dependencies from the project’s Gantt view.

Files can be attached to projects from the “activity” tab, as long as you have enough storage available. The cheapest plan, Mavenlink Teams, has 10GB of storage, while the most popular, Professional, comes with 100GB.

You can add files locally or from Google Drive to conserve storage. Unlike Wrike, that’s the only storage option.

Mavenlink has other cloud integrations available, but overall this an area of weakness. Options include Salesforce, Jira, Slack and QuickBooks (read our QuickBooks Online review). GitHub and Evernote aren’t included, and, although Mavenlink integrates with Zapier, there aren’t many zaps available.

Mavenlink doesn’t provide two-factor authentication. Enterprise subscribers can use a single sign-on integration such as OneLogin or Okta to help. Smartphone access to your Mavenlink projects is available using apps designed for Android and iOS. Desktop clients aren’t offered.

Mavenlink Pricing

Mavenlink provides scalability with four subscription options, though the service gets expensive. You can try plans first with a 10-day trial.


Pricing per Month on an Annual ContractTeams:Professional:Premier:Enterprise:
Cost/User/ Month:$19 for five users. Additional users $4 per month.$39By quoteBy quote
Storage:10GB50GB100GB1TB

Teams is the cheapest at $19 per month on an annual contract for five users. You can add additional users for $4 per month each.

You’ll get most of the collaboration and project management features with Teams, but none for project accounting, resource planning and business intelligence. Still, it’s a great deal for small businesses on a budget, more so than Wrike.

Professional adds project management features, Premier adds resource planning features and Enterprise adds business intelligence. There are a few feature exceptions, so you’ll want to check out the Mavenlink website for details.


Pros:

  • Good visualization features
  • Cheap small business plan
  • Task dependencies

Cons:

  • Limited integrations
  • No two-factor authentication
  • Plans get expensive

Monday.com (formerly Dapulse)

Launched as an independent startup in 2014, Monday.com might be the least-known project management tool to make our list, but don’t be fooled. Not only does the software pack most features we looked for, but Monday.com feels different from the rest of the crowd in a Friday kind of way. Also, it’s cheap.

The idea behind Monday.com was to create a Facebook-like experience, minus the memes, but with the same simplicity and social features. Central to that approach is a colorful UI that inspires creativity.

Links down the left include an inbox, where you can check messages, and boards. Boards are to Monday.com what projects are to other PM tools, though not entirely.

Boards don’t have to be project plans. Monday.com provides dozens of board templates, such as lead management for sales, weekly to-do lists, feature backlogs for developers and an invoice tracker for freelancers. For some, its flexibility will be a reason to pick Monday.com. For others, it’ll just get in the way.

Monday.com’s project plan template includes room to add a description and groups, plus options to invite subscribers and set permissions.

One weakness of the tool is that there are no start and end dates at the project (board) level. Instead, these can only be added to tasks, which Monday.com terms “pulses.”

Tasks can be created for each project, subdivided by group, assigned an owner and given a status. You can also import them from a spreadsheet.

Click on any task to add descriptions, updates and attach files. Tasks have activity logs for monitoring goings-on.

A miss by the Monday.com development team is not adding task dependencies. In a blog post, the company states that this was done to encourage communication, which is a flimsy excuse at best.

A Monday.com Standard subscription gives you 50GB to host files. The two more expensive plans come with unlimited storage, an advantage over Wrike and Mavenlink. You can use that storage to host files related to projects, including documents, images, videos and anything else, as long as they’re under 500MB.

Instead of local folder uploads, you can add files from Google Drive or Dropbox to get around the 500MB cap. Those files don’t count toward your storage, either, since they use links to your cloud storage account.

No other cloud storage services are supported by Monday.com. The software has more integrations, though, including Trello, Slack, Microsoft Excel and Zapier.

Like Wrike, Monday.com has a two-factor authentication feature to keep your account safe. Unlike Wrike, that feature is available for all subscription types. Monday.com also delivers with desktop clients for Windows and macOS, as well as smartphone apps.

Monday.com Pricing

There are four Monday.com subscriptions: Basic, Standard, Pro and Enterprise. On each, you can go month-to-month or save with an annual or biennial subscription. You can try the service first with a 14-day trial.


Pricing per Month on an Annual ContractBasic:Standard:Pro:Enterprise:
Approximate Cost/User/Month:$5$8$12$24
Cloud Storage:5GB50GBUnlimitedUnlimited

Monday.com Standard is the most popular plan and has an average cost of $8 per user, about one-third the cost of Wrike Business and one-fifth the cost of Mavenlink Professional.

Monday.com Basic lets you build unlimited boards, but search and filter options are limited, so you can’t share boards with guests or integrate with external apps. Tagging and private boards are disabled.

Make sure you check out the Monday.com website for details on what features you’ll be getting.


Pros:

  • More than project management
  • Affordable subscriptions
  • Unlimited storage available

Cons:

  • No task dependencies
  • Can be confusing
  • Have to buy bulk licenses

Asana

You may not have heard of Monday.com before now, but if you’re familiar with the project management SaaS market, you’ve almost certainly heard of Asana. Businesses looking for an affordable project management solution should consider it. It’s not as powerful as Wrike, but Asana is far from featureless and should save you a bundle of money.

The Asana web design is intuitive and doesn’t take long to figure out. The company has refined the user experience since 2008 and it shows. There’s even a tutorial to walk you through the basics, complete with a purple narwhal that screams enterprise software.

Navigation links down the side of the interface include “my tasks,” “inbox” and “dashboard.”

“My tasks” lists any task assigned to you. View them as a list or switch to a calendar for better visualization. The dashboard can be customized to show project summaries for a high-level overview of what’s happening.

Setting up new projects with Asana is quick work. Just add a project name and description and choose between two different layouts: list and board.

Once created, you can add tasks to projects. You’ll need to add a task name, description, due date and assign an owner. Asana Premium subscribers have the option of custom fields. Dependencies are available, so that one task isn’t started preemptively.

You can create subtasks and tasks can be subdivided into sections for clarity. Tasks are able to be commented on and have files attached.

For file uploads, there’s good and bad news. The good news is that Asana provides unlimited cloud storage, no matter what subscription type. The bad news is that files uploaded from your computer can’t be larger than 100MB.

Get around that little problem by using one of four available cloud storage integrations. The options are Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Box, the same as Wrike.

There are a handful of built-in app integrations available for Asana and many more using Zapier as a middleman. Noteworthy inclusions are Slack, Hipchat, Marker.io, GitHub, Instabug and TimeCamp. We also like that Asana integrates with Evernote, our pick for best note-taking app.

A handful of the best single sign-on services are available, such as OneLogin and Okta. These are important since Asana has neglected to incorporate a two-factor authentication feature.

Asana doesn’t provide clients for desktop use. Smartphone apps for Android and iOS will let you remotely monitor projects, update tasks and communicate with collaborators.

Asana Pricing

Asana stands out as a budget-friendly alternative even though it locks you into purchasing a set number of licenses, whether you need them all or not. The fewest licenses you can have is five, after which tiers increase by five or 10 counts, up to 125 users. If you need more than that, you’ll have to contact sales.

There are two paid plans to pick from in Asana Premium and Asana Enterprise.


Pricing per Month, Billed AnnuallyPremium:Enterprise:
Cost per User per Month:$9.99By quote

Before you look at Premium, Asana has one of the best free project management plans available. Asana Basic is good for up to 15 people and lets you create unlimited projects and tasks. Important feature limitations are no task dependencies or start dates (you can still add due dates).

Asana Premium is cheap, costing $9.99 per user per month. The company doesn’t advertise its Enterprise pricing, just that you get power features, such as access to a customer success team, custom branding and more advanced security features, including user provisioning, cross-regional backup and security assertion markup language.


Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Unlimited storage

Cons:

  • Limited communication options
  • Limited reporting options
  • No desktop apps

Smartsheet

Smartsheet bucks market trends with software that’s for more than project management. Unlike Monday.com, it feels more backward than forward, using a spreadsheet-like setup.

Like Excel, the Smartsheet experience hinges on the use of  “sheets,” which store information and files. In addition to managing projects, sheets can be used to oversee business processes, contacts, checklists and anything else you can think of.

Sheets have columns that can be customized and sorted. If using a sheet to track project tasks, you can have columns for elements such as priority, assignee, status and due date, and sort data by those columns.

To save time, Smartsheet provides many templates, including some for project management. Examples include a GTD action tracker, a to-do list with progress or using Gantt charts with Agile projects.

For visualization, projects can be viewed as cards, while tasks can be reviewed using Gantt charts and calendars. Smartsheet lets you run reports across multiple sheets, such as viewing tasks across several projects for a group or individual.

Sheets can be configured with dependencies, linking task to task. Adjusting the dates of a task alters those of any dependencies. You can also indent or outdent rows to create parent-child relationships, which is useful for creating subtasks.

Tasks can be commented on, reminders set and automated actions created, such as approval requests, which send alerts when preset rules are triggered. These requests can be responded to using the Smartsheet notification center and email.

You can upload project files to tasks, making use of generous pooled storage space (100GB per user on a Smartsheet Business plan). If that’s not enough, Smartsheet integrates with Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box and Egnyte Connect.

Smartsheet has an impressive app library that extends beyond cloud storage. Connection options include Evernote, Slack, Salesforce, Quip and Zapier.

Smartsheet Pricing

Smartsheet is priced a little higher than average, in line with Wrike. There are three subscription options.


Pricing per Month, Billed AnnuallyIndividual:Business:Enterprise:
Cost/User/Month:$14$25By quote
Sheets:10100/userUnlimited
Storage:50GB100GB/user100GB/user

Smartsheet Individual isn’t just for individuals, though it is severely limited by the fact that you can only create 10 sheets. Automated actions and activity logs aren’t available, among other features. Smartsheet Business will make more sense for medium-sized businesses, though SSO integrations are off the table, unless you upgrade to Enterprise.

Any license can be used to connect with unlimited collaborators, who can view and edit sheets, but not create them. Smartsheet also has one of the more generous trial periods of any PM software we looked at. You get a full month to try the service.


Pros:

  • Several cloud integrations
  • Generous internal storage
  • Templates for fast setup

Cons:

  • No two-factor authentication
  • Live support limited to Enterprise
  • Outdated approach to PM

TeamGantt

TeamGantt comes packed with useful features built around organizing and visualizing workflow. As you probably guessed from the name, Gantt charts are key to the user experience, providing a big picture look at what’s going on with your project.

List and calendar views are available, but there’s no board view. We wish TeamGantt provided pre-made templates to speed along setup. Once you’ve got everything for your project sorted, you can, at least, save it as a template for use later.

Tasks can be assigned team members, start dates and end dates. Comments can be added and documents attached. Tasks can be color-coded to enhance visualization.

You can create task dependencies, in addition to subtasks. Each task has an activity stream to monitor what’s happening, reporting tools to check project health and sticky notes for important notices.

Resource management is another hit: you can quickly check on individuals to see what tasks are assigned to them. You can create work-hour estimates for tasks and track actual work hours.

For all the good, TeamGantt falls short when it comes to integrations. There’s no Dropbox, Google Drive or Box connections. There’s also no Zapier support, making TeamGantt one of the few online project management services without it. You can integrate TeamGantt with Trello.

Enterprise customers get the benefit of single sign-on integrations, which is useful since TeamGantt neglects two-factor authentication.

TeamGantt Pricing

TeamGantt has two price plans called Standard Team and Advanced Team, which have monthly and annual payment options. You’re charged per user with a minimum of five required.


Per Month Cost on an Annual Subscription
Standard Team:Advanced Team:
Cost/User/Month:$8$12.50

Subscriptions come with unlimited projects and the costs are competitive, making TeamGantt a nice choice for small businesses.

TeamGantt Advanced adds resource management features such as time tracking and financial estimates. There’s also a free version available for three collaborators and one project, plus an Enterprise subscription with single sign-on integration and a dedicated account rep.


Pros:

  • Project visualization
  • Workflow control
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • No cloud storage integration
  • No Zapier integration
  • No real-time chat

Microsoft Project Online

Opinions of Microsoft run the spectrum, but when it comes to longevity, you have to hand it to Team Gates. Microsoft Project, the company’s PM solution, proves the point. It was the company’s third Windows-based tool when it was launched in 1984. Many consider it the gold-standard for project management software. We take a lesser view.

MS Project works best for businesses already immersed in the Microsoft ecosystem. It’s not as easy to use as other cloud PM tools, in part, because it packs so many features under the hood and, in part, because of design issues.

MS Project looks like Microsoft Excel and, like Excel, issues with text running long from one element to the next can make things look messy, if you don’t make adjustments. That’s just one aspect that requires tinkering to get Project “right.”

That may not seem like a big deal, but the amount of time spent finessing Project can detract from other work and isn’t something you have to worry about with tools such as Wrike or Asana, which take minutes to setup.

Microsoft doesn’t provide much of a tutorial process, either. The feeling that the tool is aimed at trained project managers is strengthened by the fact that Microsoft offers certification for the software. If you can handle the learning curve, though, MS Project offers more features than most of the competition.

Those features include excellent planning and scheduling options. You can create project tasks, assign them and schedule them. Tasks can be linked to create dependencies. You can also create summary tasks, which are made up of subtasks.

Project’s team calendar helps maintain visibility, as does a customizable dashboard that works well for tracking KPIs and supports graphs, charts and all kinds of other nerdy goodness.

MS Project has a timeline view that works as a Gantt chart, offering a top-down look vital to management. The formatting can be modified to fit a PowerPoint presentation or email.

For all its features, there’s no option to attach files to tasks in MS Project. Instead, you can add file link fields, though that isn’t convenient. Unsurprisingly, the software doesn’t integrate with Dropbox, Google Drive or any other cloud storage service.

MS Project Online Pricing

While Microsoft has an on-premise version of the software, MS Project Online offers better scalability and faster implementation, not to mention more frequent updates.

You can choose between three Project Online subscriptions: Essentials, Professional and Premium. Essentials works more as a collaborator add-on for Professional and Premium, since it comes with few features.


Pricing per Month, Billed AnnuallyEssentials:Professional:Premium:
Cost per User per Month:$7$30$55

Essentials subscribers can update task statuses, add documents, communicate and submit timesheets. It’s similar to Wrike’s “collaborator” user profile, except that it isn’t free. Project Professional also costs around 20 percent more than a Wrike license.

Professional and Premium licenses are required to install the Project desktop app, plan projects, assign resources, run reports and save files to the cloud. Premium adds features for gathering and evaluating project proposals, plus resource allocation analytics.


Pros:

  • Strong project planning features
  • Multiple views and reports

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Hard to use
  • No cloud integrations

Podio

Podio is one of the more famed names among project management tools, thanks, in part, to its parent company being Citrix. Podio’s also a good tool, especially for those who prefer flexibility in the layout of their software.

That flexibility comes with an unconventional design and initial setup can take time. Each project gets its own workspace, where you add and arrange tiles for tasks, files, calendars, contacts, text, images and more.

There’s also a Podio App Market that’s packed with add-ons to customize the experience even more. Apps are grouped into categories like IT management, innovation, marketing and legal to help you explore appropriate additions.

We like the inclusion of live chat, in addition to project comments, an activity stream and notifications. Those tools make project communication easy.

Podio doesn’t limit file storage. That generosity is hampered by a file-size cap of 100MB, but Podio integrates with more cloud storage options than most PM software to help you get around the cap. Options include Box, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, SugarSync and ShareFile. You can also link notebooks and notes from Evernote (read our Evernote review).

Task management is a weakness. Podio provides no way to create subtasks or dependencies, making it a poor choice for businesses that need workflow control. There’s no native Gantt chart view, either. Podio integrates with SmartGantt, but that comes with an additional monthly cost.

Podio Pricing

There’s a free Podio plan for up to five employees that includes task management. For a more complete feature set, you’ll want to sign up for a Basic, Plus or Premium subscription. Each comes with a 14-day trial.


Pricing per Month Billed AnnuallyPodio Basic:Podio Plus:Podio Premium:
Cost/User/Month:$7.20$11.20$19.20

You only pay for employees, unlimited external users are included for free. Podio Plus adds automated workflows and read-only access, while Premium adds visual reports and contact syncing.

Overall, the pricing is reasonable, especially since there are no minimum user requirements. If you prefer to go month-to-month, instead of annually, you can do so without spending much more money.


Pros:

  • Flexible design
  • Many app integrations
  • Unlimited external users

Cons:

  • Learning curve
  • No task dependencies
  • No Gantt charts

Airtable

Airtable is another project management tool that takes a slightly different, less intuitive approach to UX than easier tools such as Wrike and Asana. You create “workspaces” in the Airtable interface and add “bases” to them.

Bases contain project information in tables. You can store non-project information, as well, making Airtable more a simplified relational database than a dedicated PM tool. Base templates are available, with several options for projects.

You can create project tasks with deadlines, notes and due dates. Subtasks and task dependencies are missing features. It’s also difficult to track individual tasks assigned to you and there’s no activity stream overview.

Airtable integrates with many cloud apps, including other project management software (Asana and Basecamp) and task management software (Trello and Wunderlist). Other integrations of note are Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, GitHub, Slack and Evernote.

Airtable provides two-factor authentication for all account types, plus OneLogin and Okta integrations for Airtable Enterprise users. In addition to the web interface, apps are available for desktop computers and mobile devices.

Airtable Pricing

There are three subscription options for Airtable, each with a 14-day free trial. You can subscribe month-to-month or pay for a year in advance to receive a nice discount.


Pricing per Month, Billed AnnuallyPlus:Pro:Enterprise:
Cost/User/Month:$10$20By quote
Bases:UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Records per Base:5,0005,000Increased
Storage per Base:5GB20GB1000GB

AirTable Pro has more design features, including personal views, modular apps called blocks, branding and more colors and styles to choose from. There’s also a free version called AirTable Basic that comes with unlimited bases and many of the key features.


Pros:

  • Multiple integrations
  • Unlimited bases
  • Flexible use

Cons:

  • Difficult to master
  • Limited internal storage
  • Not good for communication

LeanKit by Planview

LeanKit has more features than most of the software that made this list. The reason we didn’t rank it higher is that the design feels about 10 years old. LeanKit relies on a Kanban-board approach, which is a fine idea, but the design distracts with rough edges, all-caps labels and other questionable choices.

The best thing about LeanKit is the number of fields and features available in card creation. You can add descriptions, card type, priority, assignees, tags and attachments.

You can add child cards to organize your workflow and each card can have unlimited tasks. You can convert cards to tasks, if needed.

LeanKit uses Microsoft Azure to store files. For Premium and higher level accounts, there’s no limit on storage for file attachments, though there is a 75MB file-size cap. There’s no built-in integration for cloud storage, even for Dropbox and Google Drive. That’s probably the biggest reason to stay away, especially with that 75MB cap.

LeanKit works well for Lean and Agile software development. It’s difficult to track personal responsibilities, however, unlike tools, such as Wrike, that have a dedicated view for your own tasks.

Planview hasn’t released a desktop client for LeanKit. There are, however, smartphone apps for Android and iOS.

LeanKit Pricing

LeanKit lands among the most expensive PM software. The cheapest subscription, LeanKit Select, costs $19 per user each month, so small business owners might want to look elsewhere.


Pricing per Month Billed AnnuallySelect:Advanced:Enterprise:
Cost/User/Month:$19$32By quote

Most features are available to LeanKit Select users. Some added features for LeanKit Advanced include multiple board connections, custom card fields and better reporting and security settings.

You can try the service out first with a 30-day trial.


Pros:

  • Multiple card fields
  • Unlimited file storage
  • Packed with features

Cons:

  • No cloud integrations
  • Expensive
  • Clumsy design

Basecamp

Basecamp has been around for some time, since 1999, though the company first focused on web development before moving into applications. In addition to its project management software, released in 2004, Basecamp is known for developing Ruby on Rails, an open-source framework for web application development.

The overall design of Basecamp feels haphazard, especially when compared to more modern-looking tools. That’s one reason we ranked it so far down on our list, despite being another big name in the PM SaaS landscape.

The software provides excellent collaboration features, but comes up short in workflow features. For example, Basecamp doesn’t support subtasks or dependencies. Resource management is another shortcoming, missing task-completion estimates and time-tracking, among other things.

The area where Basecamp shines is communication. Features that drive project discourse include commenting, message boards, direct messaging and real-time chat. There’s also an “automatic check-ins” feature, which you can use to gather information such as project progress, meeting notes and priorities.

Projects include space to share documents, and we like that Basecamp maintains a version history for all of them. We also like that documents are displayed as tiles and sortable.

Basecamp provides 100GB of storage. To save space, you can link files from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or OneDrive. Other integrations include Hubstaff, Instabug and TaskClone, which lets you upload Evernote and OneNote checklists.

For those who don’t want to use the web app, computer downloads for PC and Mac are available. Smartphone apps for Android and iOS are offered, as well.

Basecamp Pricing

Basecamp provides flat pricing, instead of the usual per-user approach. The cost is $99 per month for unlimited users, which means it’s either going to be too expensive or a great deal for your business.

Basecamp provides a generous 30-day free trial to figure that out. While you can pay for a year in advance, the company will refund you if you cancel early, which is a surprising and welcome practice for a cloud SaaS provider.


Pros:

  • Flat subscription rate
  • Unlimited users
  • Great communication tools

Cons:

  • No task dependencies
  • Limited reporting features
  • Chaotic design

Final Thoughts

Sorting through the dozens of project management tools to find one with the design, features and cost to fit your business needs is a project in itself. Hopefully, by detailing the essentials of what we consider the 11 best options, we reduced the workload for you.

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Wrike nails project management in every way, from ease of use to project oversight to task management. That’s why we ranked it ahead of big names like Asana, MS Project, Podio and Basecamp. With a 14-day trial, you can make that judgment for yourself.

We left some big names off our list and we expect to hear about it. Share your project management preferences below, and thanks for reading.

5 thoughts on “Best Project Management Software 2018”

  1. You made my day with that list and saved a lot of time. Thank you!

    I found it rather subscription option tools, but do you have a list of one-time payment software with a lifetime license.

    As an individual PM I prefer to be sure I will have my software when I need it.

  2. MS Project has a license … Most of the good PM tools I’ve found are subscription-based now. There’s an advantage to that, though, which is that you don’t have to pay for new software upgrades.

  3. Check out Project Insight and include it in your list! I have nothing but good things to say about them and I’m sure others may love it too!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll take a look but have heard so many mixed reviews about Project Insight … That, and there are several dozen PM tools out there to review that it makes it hard to cover everything.

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