In the modern workplace, project management software is a must.
Microsoft research shows that up to 80% of company time is spent on collaborative projects. Compared to just five years ago, workers are on twice as many teams.
When team members aren’t on the same page, quality of work suffers. Timelines get stretched, and tensions flare. And without project management software, employees who see wires getting crossed can’t do much to stop it.
Selecting Project Management Tools
Project management platforms are anything but one-size-fits-all. If you need more help deciding which software is best for your team, there are some specific factors you need to consider:
The type of work your company does
Not all tools can accommodate all types of work. If you’re a book publisher, for example, your project management software needs are very different than a software development shop’s.
Some questions to ask yourself: What size are the files your team works with? Is data security a critical priority? How quickly do you progress from one stage to the next? How important are integrations with other tools?
The size of your team
If you’re on a three-person team, you might be able to get away with basic project management software. But if you’ve got 100 people contributing to the same system, you’ll need a platform with all sorts of customizable permissions and identification tags.
Your company culture
Is everyone on your team in the same office? If so, project management software features like instant messaging may not be that important. But if you have a remote work culture, you’ll want software that emphasizes communication. If you have a deadline-oriented culture, reminder features are probably important to you.
Last but not least, think about how much you have to spend on project management software. Most options are priced monthly. To get a true picture of the cost, multiply by 12. Think, too, about applicable fees, service costs, and promotional periods.
Top Project Management Software
Given all that, which project management software makes sense for your team? The following are popular picks:
1. Teamwork: Best for flexibility and scale
With an intuitive interface, a generous free plan, and a slew of extra features, it’s hard to find much to dislike about Teamwork. Users can organize projects by task lists, portfolios, boards, and more.
Small teams can get started with the free version, which offers 100MB of file space and up to five user accounts. Paid plans, which add useful integrations like Slack and Google Drive, start at $9 per month. Enterprise users get best-in-class security, 500GB of storage, and unlimited project templates.
2. Wrike: Best for ease of use
Setting up Wrike is simple, which is why this project management software is popular with enterprise teams. Users can edit documents directly in the cloud, customize their dashboard, and set up recurring deadlines.
With that said, Wrike is missing some critical live-chat and time-tracking features. Invoicing based on billable hours would be nice as well. And Wrike’s premium usability comes at a premium price: Although it offers a free version, Wrike’s lowest paid plan costs $9.80 per user per month. Across even a dozen users, that totals more than $100 per month. Users should decide whether Wrike’s fast setup outweighs its steep price.
3. Asana: Best for high-dependency projects
One of the biggest names in the project management software space, Asana is great for collaboration. It’s certainly a capable tool, but its many features mean a steep learning curve for some users.
Asana has a free version, but like Wrike, its paid tiers are pricey. At $13.49 and $30.49 per person per month, respectively, Asana’s premium and business plans offer a nice timeline view. However, Asana isn’t a great choice for graphic-intensive projects, such as video editing.
4. Trello: Best for lightweight project management
Trello is, in some ways, the inverse of Asana: It’s easy to use — but at the expense of its feature set. Although Trello is intuitive, it’s missing some key reporting and time management tools.
Trello does have an attractive free tier and mobile app. Its paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month, which adds features like unlimited boards, priority support, and board collections. Enterprise users gain permissions customization and security features like single sign-on.
5. Zoho Projects: Best for integrations
A key part of the Zoho business suite, Zoho Projects is a project management software that simplifies document management, time tracking, and report generation. But where Zoho Projects really shines is in its integrations: From Github to iCal to Slack to Office 365, Zoho Projects hooks up with a huge array of other tools.
Zoho is reasonably priced for small teams at $150 per year. Its most popular plan, Zoho Premium, is $1,020 per year and comes with a customizable chatbot. Unfortunately, Zoho’s Gantt charts aren’t as usable as others in this list.
6. Kintone: Best for no-code project management
Companies with complex projects and limited developer resources will appreciate Kintone, a click-based project management software. But Kintone doesn’t include a free version, with pricing starting at $24 per month per user.
That cost may be worth it for teams looking to build their own workflow automation applications. Kintone is particularly popular among nonprofits and businesses that need to organize large amounts of data.
7. Smartsheet: Best for spreadsheet-style project management
There’s no doubt that Smartsheet is powerful and customizable. Smartsheet’s spreadsheet-like interface intakes data from web forms and exports data effectively. But as a project management software, it falls short in usability. Its interface is a bit outdated, and its auto-save feature doesn’t always seem to work.
Smartsheet does have a free trial, but it doesn’t offer a free version. Plans begin at $19 per person per month. The step-up plan, Smartsheet Business, costs $38 per person per month and includes premium support and APIs.
8. Redmine: Best for free project management
The only open-source project management software on this list, Redmine is free. With that said, there’s a reason it’s free: Redmine requires self-installation and limits support features to community tools and templates.
Based on Ruby on Rails, Redmine has relatively good permissions tools. Its issue management system lets team members define and tag issues according to priority. It offers a calendar, Gantt charts, and time tracking, but the user interface for these tools isn’t particularly sharp.
9. ProofHub: Best for freelancers
Just because they aren’t regular employees doesn’t mean freelancers don’t need to collaborate. ProofHub is a competitively priced project management software with a smart interface and easy setup.
Although ProofHub balances features and simplicity well in many areas, it’s missing budgeting tools that many other project management software platforms offer. It also can be a bit slow to operate, particularly because it doesn’t let users set up recurring tasks. For small and remote teams, however, it’s a decent choice.
Whatever your project management software needs, there’s a tool out there for you. Do your research, think about usability, and ask which features actually matter to you. Try the free version first if there’s one available. Getting the project management software for your team is worth the squeeze.