- How to Pick the Best Project Management Software
- Core of Project Management
- Views Galore
- Security and Privacy
- Service and Support
Project management software is a crowded area, with a lot of excellent choices competing for your attention and dollars. The world’s biggest companies use the tools to work better and smarter, and businesses of all kinds take advantage of their many useful features.
We’ve looked at plenty of programs over the years and we’re going to share what we’ve learned in this roundup of the best project management software.
A good project management tool can make a difference to your bottom line. By eliminating drudge work, streamlining communications and storing critical files in one place, they make life easier for your team and help you get more done in less time.
This roundup is the best of the tools we’ve looked at. To give you a sneak preview, our overall favorite is monday.com, so skip to it if you’re in a hurry. We chose it for its combination of usability and power.
Outgoing champ Wrike is still a big hitter, but it’s more complex. If you require dependency management and subtasks it’s the better choice. Beyond that, our other favorites offer different things, so read through and try to find one that suits you.
Here are our top 5 project management software solutions:
Do you want to look at the full list? We have you covered right below .
If you’re looking for some special use cases for your next project, here are some articles that will help you along the way:
How to Pick the Best Project Management Software
There is a lot of competition in the project management market, so differentiating between the best platforms can be challenging. Some have unusual features, many have a quirk or two and most are good at some particular aspect of project management.
There are no duds among our top picks, so we encourage you to identify your own priorities, then read through our reviews and see which fits your needs best. All of these tools offer a free trial of some kind and most let you sign up without providing credit card details, so think about what you want, then pick one and test it.
Core of Project Management
Task management is key to most project management software. Tasks may be called “issues” or “items,” but tools that change the terminology still work in much the same way. Tasks can be assigned to team members and scheduled. When they’re done, you can mark them as complete, so everyone can see what’s getting done.
Many tools go further and allow you to break tasks into subtasks, with some offering full dependency management. That lets you make sure any tasks that depend on others are scheduled after those tasks, helping you avoid costly delays.
Here’s a breakdown of what the project management tools offer in terms of subtasks and dependency management:
|Best Project Management Software||Tasks:||Subtasks:||Task Dependencies:|
We look at several features when assessing project management software. Plenty of storage space is useful for sharing project-related files. If you’re just sharing documents and images you won’t need a huge amount, but your needs will be higher with video and audio.
Some tools offer unlimited space, but there are usually file-size limits in place. They vary though, so if you have specific needs, it can pay to check the details. If you’re looking to move a lot of files online, our business cloud storage articles offer plenty of ways to do so when getting set up online.
Integrations with other platforms can extend the reach of an app and help you keep as much of your business in one place as possible. In addition to file sharing, you can integrate your email and contacts, as well as tasks from other management applications.
Most tools integrate with at least a few platforms, but some let you connect with many more. It’s worth mentioning Zapier here because a tool that integrates with it can connect with a huge range of applications.
Some platforms have an unusual feature or two. It’s worth looking out for them because they could make the difference to your bottom line. For example, Airtable’s blocks offer uncommon functionality and Mavenlink has strong financial features. Our online accounting articles will also be of interest if you’re looking for a money-focused tool.
Built-in team chat and messaging systems are common, as are the ability to comment on and document individual tasks. Some tools have shared wiki creation or note taking, which can help you document your projects and keep everyone on track with the latest developments.
Those communication options make it easy for your team members to stay on the same page, no matter where they are, and enjoy the benefits of working remotely.
Auditing tools are good, too, and they can be essential for those who need to keep people accountable or want to see who’s doing what.
Finally, mobile apps are useful to have because they enable you to keep tabs on things when you’re away from your desk. Most platforms have dedicated applications for Android and iOS.
One key difference between these tools is how they present your data. A kanban-style approach is common, sorting your tasks into columns that represent different stages of your project.
You may have heard of Trello. It’s a good tool, but not quite complex enough to cross the line separating task management and project management (read our Trello beginner’s guide). Trello uses a kanban board as its view, as do monday.com and LeanKit.
Other tools use a Gantt chart, which shows you how everything fits together. Gantt charts let you see which tasks need to be done first and work out if any changes you make will cause problems with your workflow.
Some use a plain old list, which works well enough. Asana does a good job of it, as does Wrike. Most tools have a calendar view, as well as report generators. More exotic views, such as PERT, can be found, too.
The best tools offer multiple ways to view your data, but the more options provided the better the interface will have to be to keep everything clear.
These tools take various approaches. Some, such as Freedcamp and Asana, go for the friendly arm round the shoulder, making themselves welcoming and easy to work with. At the other end of the spectrum, tools such as LeanKit and Mavenlink keep the focus firmly on making your business money.
Some funnel you into a particular way of working, while others offer you the leeway to control and refine everything according to your needs. These tools offer a lot of power, but you’ll need to think carefully about the choices you make. Remember, your goal is to make things easier for your team to get things done.
Which you prefer will come down to you. Be aware that if you find one tool isn’t for you, others can feel different to use, despite having a similar structure. If you don’t like the first one you try, don’t give up.
Security and Privacy
We value SOC 2 certificates and compliance with the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. privacy shields and General Data Protection Regulation. You can read about the latter in our GDPR piece.
Services that give us options for tuning our access settings are good, too. If you can set your own security policies and control how you authenticate users, you can strike the right balance between safety and usability.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a password policy, our how to set up a strong password guide will give you hints as to what’s suitable.
Features such as two-factor authentication are important, too. Read our what is two-factor authentication article if you want to learn why.
There are many dangers lurking on the web, as our articles on online security describe. Our favorite services do what they can to protect you from harm. Pick a good one and stay safe.
Service and Support
Project management software isn’t there to help you draw pretty charts. It’s there to help make your project go quicker and eliminate problems. If you run into an issue, it’s critical that you get it fixed as soon as possible. We take a close look at the support options each platform has.
In addition to documentation and tutorials, we look at the options you have for getting in touch, and we’ll usually try one or two of them to make sure responses are fast and accurate.
We appreciate being able to get in touch using a contact form or email address, as well as a live option, such as the phone, or direct chat. We’re also on the lookout for overly enthusiastic sales people and privacy issues — we’ve caught support staff accessing our project internals before, for example.
Without further ado, here’s our list. We’ll begin with our favorite service, monday.com
If you want something easy to use, with a slick, modern interface, look no further than monday.com. It makes project management a breeze, but it has plenty of advanced features, despite its friendly interface.
It can display your project in different ways, with its main kanban view complemented by a calendar, timeline, activity log and chart views.
It’s also customizable, offering a great deal of control over fields and letting you set up a system as simple or complicated as you need. It comes with many templates, letting you start quickly and look at the different ways to use the platform.
You get plenty of storage, with 5GB on its Basic tier and unlimited storage on the Pro plan. You can also make use of data on other platforms via monday.com’s integrations with Zapier, Slack, Trello and Dropbox. If you’re using it with Slack, you might also want to look at our best cloud storage for Slack guide.
It offers top-quality security, with GDPR and EU-U.S. Privacy Shield compliance, SOC 2 certification and 256-bit encryption. You also get the option to use two-factor authentication, as well as a broad range of security settings and logs. Our 99 free tools to protect your privacy article lists lots of other ways to help keep your data safe.
In addition to plenty of in-app guidance, monday.com has a large knowledgebase and regular webinars to help learn your way around (we also have a monday.com tutorial to help you). Its support is fast, too, getting back to us in just four minutes. That makes it a great choice if you’re worried about getting stuck when using it for the first time.
- Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Basic features
- Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Expanded features
- Minimum users: 3, Price per user, Advanced features
- Enterprise-level features.
monday.com’s pricing starts at $25 per month for a team of five users, so it’s an excellent value if your team is a decent size. If there are just one or two of you, it isn’t as good, but you can check it out for free, courtesy of its 14-day trial. To learn more about it, read our monday.com review.
- Slick interface
- Excellent feature set
- Easy to use
- No free plan
- No dependencies
Wrike has an excellent feature set, including dependency management, report creation and calendar views, which can be overlayed on top of one another to compare schedules.
You can upload files and attachments and leave comments on them, including at specific points in video files, making Wrike a useful tool for working with videos. You get 2GB of storage space on its free plan, which rises to 100GB at the Enterprise level. If you use a lot of large files, you’ll want them protected if disaster strikes, so take a look at our best online backup services article for guidance.
It has two-factor authentication and Enterprise users get an impressive selection of security options. In addition to managing your password policy, you get control over file storage and network access. You can even block people from unrecognized IP addresses to make life extra difficult for would-be hackers. Our cybercrime article has tips for staying out of trouble online.
Wrike has outstanding support. We got a response to our live chat inquiry in three minutes and a question we asked via its contact form was answered in 30 minutes over Thanksgiving weekend. You can also speak on the phone to someone if you prefer. There’s also a large knowledgebase to help you if you get stuck.
Despite being top quality, Wrike isn’t too expensive and even has a free plan. At $9.80, its basic plan won’t break the bank. Its premium tiers are more expensive but you get plenty for your money, including the fine control over your security mentioned above.
- Maximum of 5 users. Basic features.
- Price is per user. Plans for 5, 10 and 15 users.
- Price is per user. No monthly option. Plans for 5 to 200 users.
- Plans for 5 to an unlimited number of users.
It’s one of the best all-around platforms out there and we highly recommend it. You can read more about it in our Wrike review.
- Watertight security & privacy
- Strong selection of features
- Good help & support
- Not always easy to use
If you’re worried that the tools here sound too complex, Asana may be the one for you. It’s as easy to use as you could want and sits just on the right side of the task management versus project management debate, giving you enough control to manage projects effectively, without doing so much it becomes confusing.
Its main view is just a list of tasks, but you can add subtasks to break them down. It includes dependency management on its paid plans, as well as proofing, resource management and various integrations. There are also calendar and timeline views, and you get unlimited storage space for attachments.
Asana’s celebrations are a great way to reward you for getting things done and add a touch of fun to your work routine. They can also motivate staff and increase engagement. As you tick tasks off, you’ll sometimes find a unicorn or narwhal scampering across your screen or see a colorful face pop up from under a window. If those things don’t motivate you, you have no soul.
If you’re due a break from work, look at our entertainment articles for help amusing yourself online.
Asana has a usable free tier that’s ideal for managing personal projects or just as a quick tasks list. Its paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month. Beginning with its free plan and upgrading if you need the features is a great entry point if you’re new to project management software.
- Up to 15 users
- Price is per user. unlimited users, expanded features
- Price is per user. unlimited users, even more features
- Custom pricing, advanced security features
You don’t need to worry about security, either, because Asana is SOC 2 certified. Single sign-on and SAML are also available if you want to ensure your data is kept safe. Read our article on cybercrime to learn more about the online gremlins you need to avoid.
If you’re considering Asana, check out our Asana review. Our Asana beginner’s guide is a great place to start if you’re learning to use the software.
- Fun to use
- Helpful guidance
- Easy & intuitive
- Lots of integrations
- Strong security
- Not everyone likes colorful animals
- Slow support
A Gantt chart can be an asset when managing your projects because it shows you how everything fits together and lets you spot scheduling issues in advance. You can also move tasks around easily and see how your changes affect the wider project.
TeamGantt does what it says on the tin, giving you a Gantt-based tool that can help keep everyone on your team on the same page. In addition to its headline Gantt view, you get list and calendar views to keep track of things and several ways to filter and control the information you see.
Moving tasks around is easy in TeamGantt, making it a great way to organize and reorganize your projects visually. Adding dependencies is simple and scheduling conflicts are marked in red, quickly bringing them to your attention.
TeamGantt offers time tracking features to help keep your budget under control and lets you assign milestones. You can use its “baseline” feature to compare your results with your expectations and refine your approach accordingly. If you need to improve your workflow, read our best virtual team software tools article for helpful options.
TeamGantt eases you in with templates and a useful sample project. There’s also plenty of help and text giving you tips. There’s a large knowledgebase, dozens of help videos and regular live classes to help you learn how to use it, as well. Its support team responded to our inquiries in good time, too.
It’s cheap, with a free plan for up to three users and the next two tiers costing roughly $8 and $12 per user, respectively. You can try the paid plans for free before deciding which features you need. If you’re thinking of signing up, read our TeamGantt review for more details.
- Easy to use & intuitive
- Strong task management
- Few integrations
Freedcamp is a newcomer to our list of favorites, but earns its place by being enjoyable to use, feature-rich and cheap. It isn’t easy to get those things in one package, but that’s what you get here.
It’s as cheap as its name suggests, with a free tier, several ultra-cheap tiers and Business and Enterprise plans that cost far less than most platforms. There are further discounts for nonprofits and educators, making Freedcamp a great choice for them.
Even on its free tier, you get unlimited storage, which is a strong reason to use the platform if you have lots of files to share with your team. The file-size limit for non-paying users is only 10MB, which could be restrictive, but it increases on other plans.
It has many extensions, with its own app marketplace. They’re a mixed bag, but you get plenty of choices.
There’s also wiki creation and invoicing, which are excellent features given the cost of the platform and can help you with internal documentation and admin. You also get two-factor authentication included in its relatively inexpensive Enterprise plan.
Freedcamp isn’t bug-free, as not everything works perfectly, but, hopefully, it’ll improve as it develops.
Its support responds quickly to requests and it has a decent selection of videos and knowledgebase articles to help you solve problems. If you’re thinking of signing up, head to our Freedcamp review for more information.
- Great value
- Unlimited storage space
- Friendly approach
- Attractive interface
- Good support
- Website & knowledgebase have gaps
- Rough edges
Podio combines ease of use with power and flexibility, and it does so without being too expensive, making it one of our favorite platforms. Its code-driven fields are a useful customization option and the potential is there for creative types to use them to do things other platforms can’t.
In addition to having a free plan, its paid tiers start at $7.20 per month. Even the cheapest plans include plenty of features, and the free offering is worth testing to see if the platform suits you.
Podio keeps things basic, with no subtasks or dependencies, but it allows you to track workflows by setting up relationships between events. You can also set up deadlines and assign people to keep them, which is a great way to hold people on your team accountable.
It offers unlimited storage, with a 100MB file-size limit, which should allow you to run most kinds of projects without problems. It uses 256-bit encryption, so your data should be safe from prying eyes, too. If you’re concerned about being spied on when using cloud software, take a look at our how to protect your privacy article.
Podio’s support is a mixed bag. It responded to us quickly, but its forum and webinars aren’t as good as they could be.
It has its own app market, giving you all sorts of ways to extend it. Many of the apps are effectively just templates, but still useful.
Podio’s customizability makes it a great choice for hands-on users who want to tune everything to their needs. You can read more in our Podio review.
- Versatile custom templates
- Excellent interface
- Unlimited storage
- Highly tunable
- No subtasks or dependencies
- Takes getting used to
Smartsheet is a no-nonsense tool that lets you enter data easily and plan your projects in a structured way. At first glance it looks like a spreadsheet, but you can do far more with it than you can with something like Microsoft Excel.
There are several templates to help you get started, and choosing the right one can save you a lot of time.
The data on sheets can represent whatever you like. If you set it up to manage projects, items will likely be tasks. You can give them start and end dates, as well as assign them to whoever you want. You can also create subtasks and give each task a predecessor, so dependency management is available, too.
You can view your projects in several ways. There’s a kanban view and Gantt chart, as well as a calendar, so you aren’t stuck in spreadsheet mode all the time.
It has a strong selection of add-ons. In addition to integrating with platforms such as Jira and Salesforce, it has several extensions of its own that offer more features.
With 250GB of storage per user, you get plenty of room to share files. If you need more, though, take a look at our best online storage for teams article. Smartsheet integrates well with those and has options to work with Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.
Prices start at $14 per month, with its $25 Business plan offering most of its core features. You can try it for free for 30 days if you’re curious to learn what it can do for you.
We gave Smartsheet high marks in our Smartsheet review. It’s a quietly effective tool that works well and we didn’t encounter bugs or major problems during our time with it.
- Plenty of handy templates
- Easy-to-use reports
- Range of useful views
- Support could be quicker
LeanKit is a business-focused project management tool that’s full of useful features. It looks complicated, but doesn’t take long to figure out. It’s based around a kanban view and allows you to customize its layout, so columns can represent different things.
When you start with LeanKit, it’s worth looking closely at its sample project, which is full of items explaining the interface and features and works as an excellent introduction to the platform. You also get a free e-book, which is a handy, compact guide to using LeanKit, so look for it if you don’t see it at first.
It has unlimited storage space, which is fantastic. There’s a file-size limit of 75MB, though, so if you need more, read our top cloud storage 2020 article for a roundup of your options.
LeanKit gives you plenty of control over your password policy and allows you to lock out people who make errors, giving you a way to guard against leaked passwords. It doesn’t have two-factor authentication or encrypted attachments, which is a shame.
It has many integrations and templates, including many pitched at software developers, who will also appreciate its well-documented API.
It starts at $19 per user for its LeanKit for Teams plan, which isn’t the cheapest out there, but you get a lot of features.
LeanKit looks complex and its presentation isn’t always the best, but it’s easier to use than it looks. We gave it a high rating, praising its features and all-around quality. It has a free 30-day trial if you want to give it a spin. Read our LeanKit review for more details.
- Detailed control over tasks & dependencies
- Easier than it looks
- Excellent templates
- Unlimited storage (with file-size limits)
- Developer-friendly features
- Dated looking
- Some marketing jargon
Airtable is another spreadsheet-like platform, with many features and tutorials available to take it further.
Its “blocks” are a great way to extend it by adding new features and include several ideas that we haven’t seen anywhere else. Though some of them are quite specialized, we’re sure they could be transformative for the right businesses and the potential for savings is huge.
Airtable also has perhaps the best selection of templates we’ve seen in the category. They make getting started with a new project as quick as possible and allow you to experiment with different setups without having to do everything yourself.
Airtable has excellent support, offering most of the options you’d expect, as well as its “universe.” Another great idea, “universe” lets you look through other projects for inspiration. Because Airtable is so versatile, it’s useful to see the creative things others have done with it. If you’re proud of what you’ve done, you have the opportunity to show it off, too.
Airtable’s also one of the best platforms for security and privacy, including every feature we look for. In addition to two-factor authentication, it has AES 256-bit encryption and SOC certifications. Plus, it gives you information about the IP addresses accessing your account.
If you’re not worried about people snooping on your data, you will be after reading our article on PRISM, Snowden and government surveillance.
- 1,200 record, 2GB file storage
- 5,000 records, 5GB file storage
- 50,000 records, 20GB file storage, Blocks, Calendar features, Priority support
- Admin panel, Unlimited workspaces, 1TB file storage, (Contact sales for pricing)
Airtable has a free tier and inexpensive paid plans that offer more features. Even if you start with the free plan, you can try the Pro tier for 14 days to see if it’s worth paying for. Check out our Airtable review for more.
- Many ways to manipulate data
- Good range of templates
- Plenty of help & guidance
- API with automatic code generation
- Can be unclear
- Few communication tools
- No dependencies or subtasks
Mavenlink is a great tool for helping you make money. If you’re all about the bottom line, the service is an excellent choice.
It has a strong feature set that includes automatic financial tools and invoice generation. You can also use it for time tracking, and if you assign hourly rates to everything, you can keep an eye on costs. If you need help managing your finances, it’s worth looking at our list of the best accounting software for a roundup of available tools.
Mavenlink includes dependency management and several views, including an activity view, Gantt chart and time and expenses. It isn’t the easiest tool to use, but it has several customization options, so you can make your workspace feel like home.
It isn’t cheap, but in addition to its features, you get strong security, with encryption used for transit and storage and two SOC certificates. It provides a good selection of options to manage your own security, giving you information on active sessions, as well as letting you tune password settings for your team.
If you need help managing your passwords, read our best password manager article for tips.
Mavenlink has a strong knowledgebase. It also has live chat support if you get stuck. There are a few issues with the interface, but they won’t hold you back much once you get to know the platform.
Business users will find a lot to like in Mavenlink. There’s a 10-day trial if you want to check it out. Read more about it in our Mavenlink review.
- Invoice generation
- Strong financial features
- Business-focused tool
- Excellent planning & dependency management
- Awkward sign-up process
- Support issues
- Usability problems
Basecamp is an accessible, user-friendly tool that your team members will enjoy using. It’s a great choice for educators, who get it free, as well as those looking to organize a team or less formal office projects.
It’s breezy interface is easy to navigate, despite having a few minor bugs. There are wizards and tips that help you get things done quickly and easily, which means it’ll suit people who don’t want to put too much effort into figuring out how to use the platform.
It has strong communication features, as well as file sharing. Its “Campfires” provide group chats that everyone on your team can participate in and let you share audio and video.
If you plan to take advantage of its video sharing features, our best cloud storage for large files article will also be useful.
Its three-minute response time to our support inquiry makes it our record holder for support speed, and it has a strong selection of videos and tutorials to help you if you get stuck.
You can assign tasks to people, but it lacks subtasks and dependencies. You get notifications when things are completed and you can integrate it with external calendars.
Its simple pricing system — $99 per month, regardless of team size — could be excellent value if you have a large team, but it’s less so if your team is small. If you fall into the latter camp, take a look at our small business articles for software that’s a better fit.
- 3 projects, Maximum 20 users, Limited features
- Unlimited projects, Unlimited users, All features
Despite Basecamp’s casual exterior, it boasts strong security and privacy. In addition to having encrypted attachments, it won’t hand over your data to anyone unless compelled to do so by law and will inform you if that happens. Find out more in our Basecamp review.
- Good value for large teams
- Free for classroom use
- Useful wizards
- Expensive for individuals or small teams
- Interface issues
There are tools we like that didn’t quite make our list. ClickUp, which you can read about in our ClickUp review, narrowly missed the cut. Redmine and GanttProject deserve mentions as alternatives for those who want to set things up themselves. They aren’t slick, full-featured services like most of the options here, but check them out if you like a challenge.
Microsoft Project was too much of a hassle to sign up for, so we didn’t. Jira is mostly good and would have made the list if not for a privacy issue with its support, as you can read in our Jira review. We liked the look of Workamajig, but the company wouldn’t give us access to the software for review. Make of that what you will.
We think our list covers most bases, though, and you should be able to find something here that meets your needs.
All Project Mangement Tools Rated
Project management software is a mature area with a great selection of tools that can make a difference to your team.
We haven’t found any truly bad tools and feel that it’s a great time for users to take the plunge into a competitive and high-quality market.
Our favorite program, monday.com, wins because of its usability. Wrike is more complex but offers more power. Basecamp is a good tool for communications, while Mavenlink is great for those who are focused on money.
All the tools here have a free tier or a free trial, so it’s easy to sign up for and test any one of them. There’s nothing to stop you from trying several to figure out which suits you best.
We’re keen to hear if you’ve tried any of our picks or have recommendations for others. If they’ve helped your business or projects, we’d love to hear about it. Please let us know how in the comments below. Thanks for reading.