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10 Best Project Management Software For Startups [2021]

This project management software for startups review covers 10 tools and all the info you need: pros and cons, pricing, features, integrations, and screenshots to help you choose something that fits your needs.

By 03/01/2021 No Comments

10 Best Project Management Software For Startups

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

  1. monday.com - Best for collaborative creative teams
  2. Hubstaff Tasks - Best free project management for startups
  3. Forecast.app - Best for managing your projects, resources, and finances in one
  4. Kissflow Project - Best for customizable form building
  5. Freedcamp - Best mobile app
  6. Trello - Best for Kanban boards
  7. Wrike - Best for external collaborators
  8. Teamwork - Best for product management teams
  9. TeamGantt - Best for Gantt charts
  10. Basecamp - Best for project stand-ups

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

Jump to project management software for startups 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:

Quickly compare the best project management software for startups with pricing, main use case, and evaluation criteria to consider.

In this post, I’ll speak to the specific tools useful for any startup project manager. Startup project management requires that you keep your finger on the pulse of an organization that’s not really established yet—roles shift, products change often from MVP to final version as you work to more agile/scrum methodologies, and your org has to be ready to scale at any moment.

Startups are different from small businesses, as team members are often working across many areas of the business and rely on transparency and quick access to updates happening anywhere in the organization in real-time.

Project management for startup companies tends to need speed, reliability, flexibility, and interconnectivity with other useful apps. Startup projects don’t have time to waste and tend to need software that can keep up with them. Here’s our pick of the best project management software for startups in 2021.

Startup Project Management Software Comparison Criteria

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

  1. User Interface (UI): Is the interface modern, simple, and easy to understand and navigate?
  2. Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training to reduce the learning curve?
  3. Integrations: Does it connect with software you most likely already use, like Slack, G Suite, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Dropbox, JIRA, Evernote, Excel, Salesforce, Proofhub, and so on? If it doesn’t have file sharing built-in, you’ll definitely want to make sure it integrates with a file management tool to keep all of your file versions for different projects in a central location. Software development teams will probably want a pre-built integration with Jira.
  4. Value for $: Is the price accessible for small teams and startups? Does it offer a free plan to start, or any free trials or freemium subscriptions?

Key Features Small Business Task Management Tools

Here are some of the features I look for when evaluating a project management system for startups and small businesses.

  1. Streamlined work management features: Most startups don’t have a lot of resources to dedicate to training and onboarding, so the tool must offer simplified “get-up-and-go” project planning with a manageable learning curve.
  2. Team collaboration software and file-sharing: Communication and distribution of limited (but expanding) assets are critical to getting any startup off its feet.
  3. Real-time updates between team members: Things are moving fast and changing often so it’s imperative that different team members are getting the most current information as soon as possible.
  4. Roadmap with automated follow-ups: Not only will your startup squad need a crystal clear roadmap for where they are going but you will want some way to ping team leaders if a project or task requires follow up or course correction.
  5. Collaboration tool that can span different projects: Startups are juggling many projects at once, from social media upkeep to product development to hiring; you’ll need an app that unifies collaboration for all branches in a central location.
  6. Scrum boards for backlog visibility: This helps busy teams visualize what needs to be done for each sprint and put a pin in items that are lower priorities. It also helps startup PMs keep track of great ideas for their product roadmap and future vision.

The Best Project Management Software For Startups DPM Logo Soup 2021

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Overviews Of The Best Project Management Software For Startups

Here’s a brief description of each of the best project management tools for startup companies.

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

monday.com - Best for collaborative creative teams

Monday.com assists teams with setting up and following clear processes, workflows, and time frames.

monday.com may seem like the most popular project management software that players in the big leagues use today. Though that is mostly true, monday.com is also one of the most helpful tools startup teams should consider implementing early on so that they can eventually join the bigger players. As a bonus, monday.com is easy to set up and we know how important it is to stay on track on all of your projects as you grow.

monday.com knows how important collaboration is for creative teams so it lets you connect in a variety of different ways without ever leaving the platform: commenting, file attachment, @-tagging, “liking” posts, and assigning tasks with point-and-click ease. You can also build team-specific dashboards and project boards so that everyone can easily see what is being worked on.

monday.com integrates with the tools you already know and love, making the transition for your startup team hassle free. Integrations include project management apps like Slack, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform and many more, accessible through a paid plan with Zapier.

monday.com costs from $10/user/month and they offer a free forever option for a maximum of 2 seats and limited features.

  • freemium version
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $5/user/month

Hubstaff Tasks - Best free project management for startups

Hubstaff Tasks offers project planning that’s simple, collaborative, and visual.

Hubstaff Tasks is a project management software for startups with multiple task tracking and collaboration features. Its interface is based on the Kanban methodology; it lets you organize tasks in different project stages, which are represented by columns. Each task can be categorized using color-coded labels. One of its notable features is custom workflows. These let you automate assigning tasks to team members at different project stages and moving them forward with one click.

You can create checklists within each task and track them from the project view using progress bars. Files can also be attached to task cards, but the free plan only allows up to 100 MB of storage per user. Switching to the sprints view displays all your assigned tasks, organized by sprint. You can move tasks to current or future sprints or to the backlog with a drag-and-drop mechanism similar to Kanban.

Hubstaff Tasks integrates with Active Collab, Asana, Breeze, ClickUp, GitHub, GitLab, Insightly, JIRA, LiquidPlanner, Mavenlink, Paymo, PivotalTracker, Podio, Redbooth, Redmine, Teamwork Projects, Trello, Unfuddle, Wrike, Zoho Projects, Slack, Zendesk, Salesforce, QuickBooks, and other apps. You can boost your integration options with a paid plan through Zapier, unlocking hundreds of other possible connections.

Hubstaff Tasks is free for up to 5 users and 10 projects. The premium plan starts at $5/user/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 startups 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.

  • freemium version
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $7/user/month

Kissflow Project - Best for customizable form building

Kissflow Project allows users to plan their team’s work, see who’s working on what, and deliver great results with minimal tracking. It ensures 360º visibility into projects with Kanban, list, and Matrix views.

Kissflow Project is a collaborative project management software that gives users the ability to keep track of progress and see everything at a glance. Make use of Kanban, list, and matrix views to gain insight on your projects in the best way that works for you and your small team.

What makes Kissflow Project great for startups is their easy to use customizable form builder that comes with more than 25 field types that you can simply drag and drop into place. You can use forms to standardize and optimize task or content requests so that all necessary information gets collected in one go. This is great for small teams who don’t have time for a lot of back-and-forth.

Kissflow integrations include native Microsoft and Google Workspace integrations, and the platform offers a REST API and webhooks.

Kissflow Project costs from $7/user/month and they offer a 14-day free trial.

  • freemium version
  • 14 day free trial period
  • From 1.49/month/user

Freedcamp - Best mobile app

Teams can view upcoming tasks on calendars and schedules.

Freedcamp is a project management software that comes with something that most startups today consider as the industry standard: a robust mobile app that’s available on iOS and Android. This means that startups without an office or with limited available computers can access project management data on their personal smartphone device or tablet.

Freedcamp lets users save passwords, create invoices, back up and edit files—all this on top of the project templates, CRM features, and white labeling capabilities you would expect from a solid project management tool. Freedcamp also has calendars, discussion boards, milestones, a team/process wiki builder, issue tracking, and a time tracker too.

Freedcamp integrates with thousands of solutions through Zapier (which requires a separate paid plan of its own).

Freedcamp is free to use with some feature limitations. Their paid plans cost from $1.49/user/month, which you can try through their 14-day free trial.

  • freemium version
  • From $5/user/month

Trello - Best for Kanban boards

View tasks and projects on side-by-side Gantt charts and Kanban boards for increased visibility.

Trello is a project management solution that is most known for its Kanban boards. It offers startup teams a comprehensive tool that can be quickly set up and understood with its intuitive drag-and-drop interface for customizing boards and a no-code workflow automation builder. Their free plan lets you run 250 automated command runs per month, which is noteworthy because many PM tools limit automations to paid subscription plans. Startups take note!

Trello is great for startup teams thanks to a feature-packed free plan that Kanban board cheerleaders in particular will appreciate. You get unlimited cards, unlimited members, up to 10 boards per workspace, a list of free integrations with other PM tools (Google Drive, Slack, etc.), unlimited activity logs, mobile app access, and 2-factor authentication for log-ins.

Trello integrates with Confluence, Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and other third-party apps you typically find in a modern tech stack.

Trello is free to use. Paid plans cost from $5/user/month and come with a 14-day free trial.

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

Wrike - Best for external collaborators

Project managers and team members can plan projects and track progress on Gantt charts broken down by team members.

Wrike is a project management solution that lets users customize workflows, set timelines by creating Gantt charts, prioritize important tasks with a pin feature, collaborate with proofing and approving features, and track time within the platform.

Wrike has a free plan for unlimited users…and that includes at least 20 external collaborators! Collaborators are a user type in Wrike that can be assigned to contractors or stakeholders that may not be a part of your core team. They will have access to the “My To-do” tab and the Wrike inbox, plus they can create tasks, folders, projects, and spaces. As an account owner, you’ll be able to limit what they can and cannot see.

Wrike offers 400+ pre-built native integrations, including integrations with the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.

Wrike is free to use for unlimited users with some feature restrictions. Paid plans cost from $9.80/user/month with a 14-day free trial. Plans come with free collaborator seats at 20 collaborator invites or 15% of your license count, whichever is greater.

  • freemium version
  • 30 day free trial. No credit card required.
  • From $10/user/month (starting from 5 users)

Teamwork - Best for product management teams

Users can view workload along with estimated time, progress, logged time, time remaining, and more.

Teamwork is a project management software that lets users manage multiple products across their lifecycle without it being complicated to use. But that doesn’t mean it’s a simple tool. It comes with advanced features built to scale with your organization as you grow.

Teamwork offers a variety of ways for users to view their data, collaborate on it, and iterate. Take advantage of project and task management features like templates, time tracking & invoicing, custom fields, custom workflows, workload resource management, as well as utilization reports.

Teamwork integrates with Slack, Xero, Hubspot, Google Drive, Dropbox, QuickBooks, and Zapier.

Teamwork costs from $10/user/month which you can try free for 30 days. Teamwork offers a free forever plan for individuals and small teams with access to limited features.

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

TeamGantt - Best for Gantt charts

TeamGantt offers intuitive and colour-coded Gantt charts for tracking progress and timeline.

TeamGantt is a project management tool that offers the most comprehensive Gantt chart building tool. They promise users a simple, easy-to-use, online Gantt chart maker for planning, scheduling, and managing projects. Simply drag and drop tasks according to start and end dates, link dependencies, and flag milestones.

TeamGantt lets you view all of your projects in one screen so you can easily see where things may come in conflict with each other. Your team can also see workloads and team availability to facilitate management of resources. Planned and actual timeline views allow you to gain even more insight on where estimations went wrong so that you can better allocate resources in the future.

TeamGantt integrates with Trello, Basecamp 2, Dropbox, Slack, and Zapier.

TeamGantt costs from $24.95/user/month. TeamGantt offers a free forever plan for 3 people with limited use of features.

  • freemium version
  • 30 day free trial
  • From $99/month unlimited users

Basecamp - Best for project stand-ups

Team members can use message boards and group chats to collaborate on projects, as well as keep track of to-dos and schedules.

Basecamp is a project management software that startup creative and technical teams can leverage for real-time chat, to-do lists, file storage, and documents/calendars. All for unlimited users on any plan level. Not to mention, the Basecamp team wrote a book on remote work which sort of makes them an authority on online project management.

Basecamp has two features that make stand-ups easier: “campfires” (AKA quick real-time group chats) and automatic check-ins (pre-scheduled Q&As). The campfires are a great way to meet with targeted team members for conversations, brainstorming, and file sharing. Automated check-ins can replace or enhance the stand-up process, asking things like: What are you working on today? What is impacting your work? Are there any roadblocks you want to address?

Basecamp integrates with tools for software development, time tracking, invoicing, accounting, reporting, charts, planning, and so much more.

Basecamp costs from $99/month. Basecamp also comes in a free but limited version.

The Best Project Management Software For Startups Summary Chart

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

14 day free trial

From $17/month for 2 users Check out monday.com
Hubstaff Tasks Hubstaff Tasks logo Read Hubstaff Tasks features & functionality Freemium version

14 days free trial

From $5/user/month Check out Hubstaff Tasks
Forecast.app Forecast.app logo Read Forecast.app features & functionality

14 days free trial

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

14 days free trial

From $7/user/month Check out Kissflow Project
Freedcamp Freedcamp logo Read Freedcamp features & functionality Freemium version

14 day free trial period

From 1.49/month/user Check out Freedcamp
Trello Trello logo Read Trello features & functionality Freemium version From $5/user/month Check out Trello
Wrike Wrike logo Read Wrike features & functionality

14 day 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 day free trial. No credit card required.

From $10/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
Basecamp Basecamp logo Read Basecamp features & functionality Freemium version

30 day free trial

From $99/month unlimited users Check out Basecamp

Other Project Management Software For Startups Options

Here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list. If you need additional suggestions for handy project management software for startups, check these out.

    1. Asana – Best for easy user adoption
    2. Notion – Best for engineering teams
    3. Kerika – Best for task boards and whiteboards
    4. OdooBest open source project management software

What Do You Think About This Startup Management Software?

Have you tried out any of the above tools for startup companies? What do you think are the best project management tools for startups and small businesses? Is there any project management software for entrepreneurs that you would recommend be added to this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

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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