It’s a new year and there are certainly projects that have been scheduled for this year. And what better way to utilize project management software to get the jobs done? Whether you’re an individual or small business looking to keep track of a few projects, a multi-billion-dollar company with a project portfolio to match, or anything in between, it’s now possible to find project management tools designed with you in mind.
Project management software helps project managers and their team collaborate with themselves, complete client requirements and manage time, budget, and scope constraints and deliver results. This business application provides benefits especially if chosen correctly to match an organization’s requirements.
What Is Project Management Software?
Let’s say you’re building a house. It’s a complex process where some tasks must be done in a particular order. You cannot install windows if you haven’t put up the walls yet. You probably have dozens of people helping you build the house, too, and you have to know which days people are available to pour the foundation, lay the tile, and so forth. The way to track all the jobs that need to be done in a complex project and the people doing them is to use project management software.
Project management software helps project managers, or PMs, manage projects. PM software can be installed on premise, but many new tools are offered online as a Saas. The software is a type of online and collaborative app where everyone who’s working on a project can go to see who’s doing what when, and whether each job is on track to be done on time. They offer features to make charts and reports, share documents, track budgets, allocate resources, manage tasks, plan projects, and communicate with teams. Everyone sees which tasks are assigned to them and when to start working.
Often, project management software includes additional portfolio management tools or program management tools in addition to features for project management.
In this article, we will take a look at a list of the best project management software, in terms of complexity, price points and functionality.
Zoho Projects: Best for adaptability to multiple sectors
As an award-winning collaboration and project management software, Zoho offers flexibility and customizations to suit the needs of traditional project managers as well as agile teams.
Zoho Projects has nearly all the standard features you’d expect from a project management app, at a particularly affordable price.
Tasks are viewable in either Kanban or more traditional styles, with dependencies able to be set between each task. Tools like issue and workflow management, Gantt charts, and customized reporting mean the tool can handle even relatively complex project requirements. There’s also strong integration with other services, both Zoho’s own suite of apps, and those from major players like Google and Microsoft.
Basic time tracking is built in, and although it doesn’t replace a dedicated tracking tool, there are enough features included to make it useful. Contacting other project team members can be done via the inbuilt chat app, which saves jumping out to external tools like e-mail or Slack.
The free tier is limited to three users, with just 10MB of storage and two projects. It’s sufficient for small projects or getting a feel for the software, however, and all of the paid plans are available on a 10-day trial. Other plans which allow for more users, more projects, and more storage start range from $3 per user to $6 per user. Both Web and mobile versions of Zoho Projects are available.
LiquidPlanner: Best for Complex Projects
LiquidPlanner is one of those pieces of software that tries to be many things to many people, and unlike most others with such grand ambitions, it generally succeeds.
As well as being a powerful way of running traditional projects, with all the features you’d expect, LiquidPlanner performs equally well as a helpdesk-style issue tracker and general resource management tool.
Strong reporting is built in, along with integration with major cloud storage providers. There’s also Zapier support, so you can build your own automated connections with other business tools as needed.
One-off pieces of work can be assigned to any user or group, and the impact of that extra work on the people performing it is automatically taken into account when estimating project deliverables.
With extra features comes extra complexity, of course, and while LiquidPlanner does a good job of explaining some of its trickier aspects and then getting out of the way, it still requires a greater time investment to set up, learn, and master than many of its competitors. For that reason — not to mention the cost — it’s better suited to larger teams and organizations than small, ad-hoc groups.
LiquidPlanner doesn’t offer a free tier, although you can trial various plans for two weeks.
Teamwork Projects: Best for Powerful Simplicity and Remote Teams
If you’ve ever been daunted by the sheer complexity of using a fully-fledged project management system, it’s well worth taking a look at Teamwork Projects. Despite its full feature set, the app’s interface is straightforward and easy to use, doing a good job of surfacing useful information without throwing endless lists and complex charts at its users.
Teamwork is a work and project management software that helps in-house teams and agencies improve collaboration, visibility, accountability, and ultimately, results. It is a flexible, fully featured project management solution that helps you to manage the entire project lifecycle from start to finish.
Tasks are viewable as kanban boards or traditional lists, and the sensible menu options help avoid the need to dig through multiple screens to find the detail you need.
As with many other similar tools, Teamwork Projects lets you automate various actions, both within the app itself and using outside tools and services. These sort of integrations can be a real time saver, although you’ll need to devote some effort to the initial setup.
The company offers several pricing options, from the limited free tier that only permits two projects and has limited storage space, through to a high-end enterprise version. Most smaller teams will get by on the $10/month plan for 5 users, since it includes unlimited users and 100GB of storage space, with extra users costing $10/month each. Mobile apps are available for iOS and Android, along with the standard Web view.
Wrike: Best for Scaling Organisation and Speedy Setup
This award-winning project management software is suitable for teams of five or more, as the software allows for an unlimited number of users. The tool is highly configurable and allows users to customize workflows, dashboards, reports, and request forms.
Standard project management features like Gantt charts, useful dashboards, and a comprehensive reporting suite are built in, and getting up and running on a small- to medium-sized project can be done quickly without learning all the ins and outs of a new, complicated system.
A time tracking tool is built in, available to both the individual working on a particular task and whoever is managing the project as a whole. Like those found in other project management tools, it’s not a replacement for a dedicated time tracking system but easily handles most basic requirements.
The interface is functional, and while it could do with a bit of a visual refresh, is fine for the job. The free plan is generous with the number of projects you can create — it’s unlimited — but has restrictions on the number of users and available features.
Paid plans are a bit more expensive than some of the competition, starting around $9.80/month per user, but open up all of the software’s options. Wrike is available on the Web, along with iOS and Android app versions.
Celoxis: Best Value and for Customer Service
Celoxis is a comprehensive and web-based all-in-one platform for project portfolio management and work collaboration. One of the world’s most adopted tools in PM, Celoxis is the software of choice for brands like HBO, Rolex, Virgin Care, KPMG, Singapore Post, Del Monte, LG and Deloitte for streamlining their projects, processes and people.
Celoxis’ real world project schedules and powerful interactive Gantt Charts packs all of the team and work dynamicities including geographically distributed project teams working in different timezones, part-time resources, unavoidable absences, interim resource swaps, and even inter-project dependencies.
Task management within Celoxis is strong and unique. Teams get an edge over other tools by eliminating multiple software they’d use otherwise. Celoxis lets them see their tasks and to dos, report bugs, manage tickets, or fill time all from a single tool. They also get relevant notifications to their inbox and can send updates directly even without logging in. Collaboration is powerful with project discussions, comments, file sharing, document version control, and activity stream. 80% of their typical actions such as starting a timer, attaching a file or updating status can be done straight from their dashboards.
Celoxis provides a single source of truth for executives with a real-time project tracker, resource availabilities and utilization, timesheets, project finances, risks, issues and to-dos.
The software comes with powerful analytical capabilities and their rich and interactive charts breathe new life into your project data. Organizations can leverage their built-in best practice reports and dashboards to gather 360-degree real-time insights around project health, tracking actuals vs estimates, team utilization and profit margins. With their exhaustive custom field library including formula fields, you can easily track all of your financial KPIs such as NPV.
It is also extremely customizable and flexible when it comes to different organizations and industries. With their unique custom apps, you have the power to create and configure intuitive project and business processes within the project management system. And it is one of the few project manager software programs to be available both in SaaS and On-Premise flavors. SaaS costs $25/user/month and On-Premise costs $450/user one-time. Both require a minimum 5-user sign-up and come with 30-day free trial.
Microsoft Project: Best for Big Projects
Microsoft Project has been around for over 30 years in one form or another, and it’s still the preferred tool of many experienced project managers. With its higher pricing and steep learning curve, it’s very much aimed at those responsible for very large, complex projects, who have the expertise, time, and budget to get the most out of this comprehensive tool.
Project looks and feels like other Microsoft Office apps, but with few tutorials or hints, it can be daunting for newcomers to the project management space. Trained professionals, however, will appreciate the extremely granular detail available for each task and resource, whether that resource is a specific person, role, physical material, or something else.
Reporting is similarly powerful, with both pre-built and customizable reports that can be quickly exported to Microsoft Powerpoint for those inevitable management summaries. Integration with non-Microsoft tools is limited, however. MS Project can be tacked onto an existing Office 365 subscription, at a couple of different price points, or purchased as a one-off piece of software to be installed on a single computer. Features differ between versions, but subscription prices for the professional start at $30/month per user.
Project Management Software – Comparison
Below is how we compared our top 6 incredible project management app with features, pricing, and expert ratings.