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10 Best Project Management Software For Startups [2021]

By 03/01/2021 No Comments

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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.

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. Forecast.app - Best for managing your projects, resources, and finances in one
  3. Kissflow Project - Best for customizable form building
  4. Freedcamp - Best free plan for project management
  5. Trello - Best for Kanban boards
  6. Wrike - Best for time tracking
  7. Teamwork - Best for product management teams
  8. TeamGantt - Best for Gantt charts
  9. Basecamp - Best for software development teams
  10. Asana - Best for easy user adoption

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:

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.

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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.

  • 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.

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

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.

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

Freedcamp - Best free plan for project management

Teams can view upcoming tasks on calendars and schedules.

  • freemium version
  • From $9.99/user/month

Trello - Best for Kanban boards

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

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

Wrike - Best for time tracking

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

  • freemium version
  • 30 day free trial. No credit card required.
  • From $9/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.

  • 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.

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

Basecamp - Best for software development teams

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

  • freemium version
  • Free 30 day trial
  • From $10.99/user/month

Asana - Best for easy user adoption

Asana offers clean and intuitive Kanban boards that users can comment on, assign team members to, and set due dates for.

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
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

15 days free trial

From $35/month (Includes 5 users) 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 $9.99/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 $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
Basecamp Basecamp logo Read Basecamp features & functionality Freemium version

30 day free trial

From $99/month unlimited users Check out Basecamp
Asana Asana logo Read Asana features & functionality Freemium version

Free 30 day trial

From $10.99/user/month Check out Asana

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. Notion – Best for engineering teams
    2. Kerika – Best for task boards and whiteboards
    3. Odoo – Best free open source project management software for startups

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.

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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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