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10 Best Project Management Software For Small Business

By 15/04/2021 No Comments

Quickly compare the best project management software for small teams with overviews, pricing, free trial, and evaluation criteria to consider.

If you are a project manager for a small team, you have probably thought to yourself at least once: “Are these docs and spreadsheets really the best project management software for small creative teams?”

The right software or combination of software can make your workflow more organized, more efficient, and more informed. However, as a small team, you’re probably trying to avoid software that costs a lot, takes a specialization to learn, or weighs your team down with a bunch of complex features you don’t need.

In this post, I’ll talk about how to navigate managing a small team with the right apps and tools as well as outline some of the best, lightweight small business project management software.

10 Best Project Management Software For Small Business

Here’s our pick of the best project management software for small business in 2021.

  1. monday.com - Cloud-based work OS, where teams create workflow apps in minutes to run their processes, projects, and everyday work
  2. CROOW - Best for workflow customization, automation, and visibility into overall business performance
  3. Forecast.app - Best for managing your projects, resources, and finances in one
  4. Zoho Projects - Best flexible work allocation tools
  5. Kissflow Project - Best for offering essential features at an affordable price
  6. Wrike - Small business project management tool that excels in easy workflow visualization with drag-and-drop dashboards and charts
  7. Teamwork - Easy to use project management software designed to keep multiple projects moving forward from one central workspace
  8. TeamGantt - Planning software for small business with easy-to-use Gantt chart tools for advance scheduling and quick wireframing
  9. Trello - Web-based Kanban-style list-making application with chat and file storage to bolster collaboration across small remote teams
  10. Paymo - Project management tools designed for small and medium businesses for industries from creative agencies to law firms

Looking for more? Check out our main article on best project management software.

Below you’ll find an overview of each of the 10 best project management software for small business, with screenshots, feature overviews, and pricing.

Jump to project management software for small business overviews

MS Project Common Questions

What is Microsoft Project?

What is Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project is a project management tool used by different types of users, with varying levels of access. The software provides tables, views, filters, fields, calendars, and a database for doing things like:

  • Developing project plans
  • Assigning resources
  • Tracking time & progress
  • Creating Gantt charts
  • Creating & managing budgets
  • Balancing workloads
  • Scheduling tasks & resources
  • Creating graphical reports
  • Storing project data in a shared database

Is Microsoft Project useful?

Is Microsoft Project useful?

For a lot of agencies, yes. In many cases, the default project management tool for creating project plans is still Microsoft Project, and it provides a lot of useful tools. For starters,  Microsoft Project is not just a fuzzy old tool that Microsoft doesn’t really care about—they’re introducing some really smart integrations with Power BI, Internet of Things, bots and machine learning that are awesome. In fact, your best choice might be to buy MS Project.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Project?

What are the benefits of Microsoft Project?

Here are some of the main benefits that MS Project can provide:

  • Deploy resources as efficiently and effectively as possible, reducing downtime and increasing utilization.
  • Provide a big picture view of organizational capacity to prevent overbooking and support hiring decisions.
  • Forecast revenue by providing reports on upcoming projects and planned resource deployment.

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How much does Microsoft Project cost?

How much does Microsoft Project cost?

It’s simple and affordable to subscribe to an Office 365 version of Microsoft Project for just $30/month.

In fact, now you can pick up a copy of Microsoft Project on Amazon for less than $600.

There’s also been an interesting shift in the Microsoft Project alternative world with pricing that it’s worth being aware of. The cloud-based, online Microsoft Project alternatives are now almost all charging by the user— rather than by the number of projects—which is making common Projects alternatives on average cost about $180/user/year; much more expensive than they used to be. They’re also nearly all transitioning from being simple Gantt chart tools to trying to include project, task and resource management tools. In short, making your choice of an MS Project alternative is becoming more complex. Microsoft project costs $9 per user per month for the cloud-based, pay-as-you-go version.

Is Microsoft Project easy to use?

Is Microsoft Project easy to use?

Yes and no. Microsoft Project is used by many large organizations, and MPP files are still an industry standard. However, for many of the digital projects that we manage, Microsoft Project management does far more than we ever need it for. It’s got stacks of features that most people never use, hasn’t really changed that much in 30 years, and doesn’t necessarily do much to streamline processes. MS Project is still useful, but there are reasons why some agencies are looking for more lean and collaborative Microsoft Project alternatives.

Is Microsoft Project free?

Is Microsoft Project free?

No, Microsoft Project is not free as a stand-alone solution. It is included in the Office for Windows Suite, so users who already pay for Office for Windows can use Projects for free.

Is Microsoft Project the best project management software?

Is Microsoft Project the best project management software?

It depends on what you need to use it for. MPP files are the still the industry standard, and Microsoft Project is a secure, trusted legacy system. For complex, enterprise level project planning, Microsoft Project should be at the top of your list. However, there are alternatives to MS Project that have better support for collaboration and are rated as being much easier to learn and use—many of which are in the list below.

Just realized that you need a different type of tool? Check out these other reviews:

Project Management Software for Small Business Comparison Criteria

What are we looking for when we select the best project management software for small teams for review? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:

  1. User Interface (UI): Is the user interface easy to navigate, lightweight, and fast to load and update?
  2. Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training? What is the learning curve like?
  3. Functionality:
    • Flexible Alerts – Can users customize what alerts they receive, where they receive them (in app, email, SMS, etc.), and when they receive them (activating a night mode, etc.)?
    • Asset Storage – Is there room within the software to house logo images, text files like meeting minutes, marketing assets, and so on?
    • Team Collaboration/Communication – Are there simple chat, direct messages, mentions, and file sharing features?
    • Knowledge Base Is there space within the app to log and address common issues, FAQs, onboarding and training materials, and wiki entries for the benefit of the whole team?
    • Project Types Is the software able to handle everything from simple to complex projects? Does the project management platform allow for global contributions from teams all over?
  4. Integrations: Does the software connect with other popular tools that might come in handy for small teams, like Google and Microsoft products?
  5. Value for $: Is the price affordable for small businesses and small creative teams? Does it offer scalability options in the case of team expansion?

Best Project Management Software Key Features

  1. Project plan features such as templates, filters, mobile app use, and task lists
  2. Team collaboration automation, streamline features, subtasks
  3. Real-time commenting and notifications between team members
  4. Invoicing, scheduling, and billing features
  5. Real-time help desks and customer feedback
  6. Task management features

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Overviews Of The Best Project Management Software For Small Business

Here’s a brief description of each of the best small business management software that are featured on this top 10 list.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $17/month for 2 users

monday.com - Cloud-based work OS, where teams create workflow apps in minutes to run their processes, projects, and everyday work

Small teams can easily keep track of each other's work, timelines, and upcoming tasks.

Monday handles everything from simple to complex projects by providing efficient time tracking, portfolio management, and resource management tools.

  • freemium version
  • From $20/month, billed annually

CROOW - Best for workflow customization, automation, and visibility into overall business performance

Project teams can plan projects with customizable Kanban, Gantt, calendar, and list views.

CROOW is a project management platform with a simple and flexible structure for project collaboration. The tool supports waterfall and agile methodologies, offers multiple views such as Gantt and Kanban, and automates workflows through customizable templates.

The tool includes project planning features for managing to-dos, timelines, and deliverables. Users can also create tasks, assign due dates, and communicate with team members through comments and message boards. Another great feature is the option to create custom workflows that correspond with specific project plans.

CROOW offers additional project and business management features such as automated processes and notifications, forecasting and reporting on dashboards, and Kanban and Gantt views. Users can also manage workloads with resource scheduling capabilities, as well as manage digital assets within the platform. CROOW also provides users with the use and integration of their Agile Management System framework.

CROOW offers a freemium plan, as well as paid plans starting at $20 per month.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $29/user/month

Forecast.app - Best for managing your projects, resources, and finances in one

Forecast’s auto schedule feature turns a rough list of tasks into a comprehensive project plan

Forecast is a project management software for small business that unites your projects, resources, and financials in one AI-powered platform. Project managers can leverage Forecast’s workflow automation capabilities to create smart schedules, estimate timeframes and budgets, and populate timesheets instantly. Forecast is currently used in over 40 countries by an assortment of agencies, consulting companies, SMBs, and enterprises.

PMs can control the workflow by building out detailed task lists and flagging clear priorities. Task cards allow every team member to easily comment, share files, and register time spent. Everything related to the specific task appears in one place, including dependencies and subtasks. You can put together projects for any type of work: fixed price, time and material, or retainer.

Forecast’s AI learns from previous work and suggests the number of hours you normally register on similar tasks to help you log time faster. You can monitor time registrations from a team perspective and notify each member if they forget to enter something in. Time tracking utilization on a company-wide level is calculated for you for easy alerts, estimates, and reporting.

Forecast integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, iCloud Calendar, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Outlook, Harvest, Trello, Asana, GitLab, Github, and dozens more using a paid plan through Zapier. Higher-tier subscriptions include native integrations with Timelog, Xero, QuickBooks Online, JIRA, Azure DevOps, Salesforce, Okta, OneLogin, and Azure Active Directory.

Forecast cost from $29/user/month with a minimum of 10 users and offers a 14-day free trial.

Pros

  • Projects, resources and financials connected in one platform
  • AI powered auto-scheduling and time entry suggestions
  • Excellent iOS and Android apps
  • Automated cost and budget estimations

Cons

  • No browser extension for time tracking
  • No asset management
  • Minimum of 10 seats
  • freemium version
  • 10 days free trial. No credit card required
  • From $4/user/month, billed annually

Zoho Projects - Best flexible work allocation tools

Zoho Projects includes a portfolio dashboard that includes Gantt charts, project status insights, and an overview of project ownership.

Zoho Projects is an online project management tool that lets teams plan, track, and collaborate on project work. The tool is scalable for small businesses and mid-size businesses.

Zoho Projects allows users to set up project plans, as well as create and assign ad-hoc tasks across the team. The tool also includes features like flexible work hours, baselines, and critical paths in Gantt charts, team based work allocation, and task reminders. Time tracking and resource utilization features help managers ensure that employees are not over or under worked.

Users can automate task transitions and workflows, track activities and progress by using the advanced reports, and manage budgets with expense management features. Collaboration features include team-wide and individual discussion management, a meeting tab to facilitate virtual meetings, a social feed to interact with and keep track of all your project activities, a forum to discuss ideas and solutions, and a central document management module to manage all information. Mobile applications are also available.

Zoho Projects has several integrations with Zoho apps like Zoho CRM, Zoho Cliq, Zoho Meeting, as well as with other third party apps like Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, Zapier, Zendesk, and ServiceNow.

Zoho Projects offers a free plan as well as a 10-day free trial for paid editions, which start at $4 per user per month.

  • freemium version
  • 15 days free trial
  • From $35/month (Includes 5 users)

Kissflow Project - Best for offering essential features at an affordable price

Kissflow Project allows users to plan their team’s work, see who’s working on what, and deliver great results with minimal tracking.

With Kissflow’s easy automation, streamline and organize subtasks all while taking advantage of their multiple easy-to-use task lists, kanban, and matrix viewer for simpler insights.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $9.80/user/month and has a freemium version for up to 5 users

Wrike - Small business project management tool that excels in easy workflow visualization with drag-and-drop dashboards and charts

Each team member has their own dashboard showing overdue tasks, upcoming deadlines, progress, conflicts, and more.

Their agile development software transforms team collaboration, customization to suit specific cases and organizations, and aims to eliminate needless meetings and endless email threads by incorporating real-time commenting and notifications between team members.

  • freemium version
  • 30 days free trial. No credit card required.
  • From $9/user/month (starting from 5 users)

Teamwork - Easy to use project management software designed to keep multiple projects moving forward from one central workspace

Teamwork allows users to view tasks on Kanban boards, as well as see status, due dates, and other assignees.

Trusted by over 6,000 businesses and 20,000 agencies, Teamwork provides tons of project management features, as well as offering a free project management system.

  • freemium version
  • 14 day free trial
  • From $24.95/month

TeamGantt - Planning software for small business with easy-to-use Gantt chart tools for advance scheduling and quick wireframing

Visualize projects and tasks on colour-coded, intuitive Gantt charts.

This project management platform is packed with collaborative tools and useful features such as project plan templates, project planning filters, and is mobile app friendly.

  • freemium version
  • From $9.99/user/month

Trello - Web-based Kanban-style list-making application with chat and file storage to bolster collaboration across small remote teams

Organize tasks and projects on custom boards and within custom columns that fit your team's workflow.

Helping teams move forward, Trello insists on providing an easy learning curve for their software. Their learning board is just the beginning – offering collaboration tools and software tools to take care of any simple project.

  • 15 days free trial
  • From $9.56/user/month

Paymo - Project management tools designed for small and medium businesses for industries from creative agencies to law firms

Breakdown team schedules by each individual team member as well as providing a view of open hours, active projects, and more.

Paymo is the all-in-one tool for invoicing, scheduling and billing. Paymo’s methodology is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.

The Best Project Management Software For Small Business Summary Chart

Software Overview Free Option Price Site
monday.com monday.com logo Read monday.com features & functionality

14 days free trial

From $17/month for 2 users Check out monday.com
CROOW CROOW logo Read CROOW features & functionality Freemium version From $20/month, billed annually Check out CROOW
Forecast.app Forecast.app logo Read Forecast.app features & functionality

14 days free trial

From $29/user/month Check out Forecast.app
Zoho Projects Zoho Projects logo Read Zoho Projects features & functionality Freemium version

10 days free trial. No credit card required

From $4/user/month, billed annually Check out Zoho Projects
Kissflow Project Kissflow Project logo Read Kissflow Project features & functionality Freemium version

15 days free trial

From $35/month (Includes 5 users) Check out Kissflow Project
Wrike Wrike logo Read Wrike features & functionality

14 days free trial

From $9.80/user/month and has a freemium version for up to 5 users Check out Wrike
Teamwork Teamwork logo Read Teamwork features & functionality Freemium version

30 days free trial. No credit card required.

From $9/user/month (starting from 5 users) Check out Teamwork
TeamGantt TeamGantt logo Read TeamGantt features & functionality Freemium version

14 day free trial

From $24.95/month Check out TeamGantt
Trello Trello logo Read Trello features & functionality Freemium version From $9.99/user/month Check out Trello
Paymo Paymo logo Read Paymo features & functionality

15 days free trial

From $9.56/user/month Check out Paymo

What Do You Think About This List of Best Software to Run a Small Business?

Have you tried out any of the project management software for small teams listed above? What tools do you rely on for project management for small business? Let us know in the comments below.

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of thedigitalprojectmanager.com. I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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