In this article you’ll find a comparison of project management tools so you can choose the best project management software for your projects.
Project management is a broad industry involving many different methods and environments.
In this project management tools review, I’ve selected 10 project management software programs that can adapt to different environments (IT, healthcare, finance).
I’ve also included a list of project management software for various use cases—the best project management software for construction, agile teams, free and open source, etc. Find the list on the right side below.
What is project management software?
Project management software helps project managers, or PMs, manage projects. PM software can installed on premise, but many new tools are offered online as a Saas. They offer features to make charts and reports, share documents, track budgets, allocate resources, manage tasks, plan projects, and communicate with teams.
Often, project management software includes additional portfolio management tools or program management tools in addition to features for project management. However, if you’re looking for higher-level PMO tools you’ll have better luck here: A Complete List Of The Best PPM Tools
The 10 Best Project Management Tools Reviews
In this post, we’ve tried to cover a broad spectrum in our list of software, considering complexity, price points and functionality of various PM tools. But it’ll come down to your workflow and what specific functionality you need to make that function better. Have a look around, take advantage of the free trials in order to really find the best project management tools for your agency or studio.
The Digital Project Manager is reader-supported. When you click through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
1. monday.com – Best For Workflow Automation
monday.com is a great project management software because of the way the tool has done away with a lot of the trimmings of typical management tools and focused on simple, visually intuitive layouts that help clarify the sequence of work.
monday.com features for managing projects include resource and project management, time tracking, collaboration, and reporting features. For example, users can upload and attach files to cards, make comments, mention teammates, and more. It also offers a great project reporting dashboard that can collect data from multiple boards, allowing better tracking abilities of progress. And while monday.com doesn’t offer a complete set of tools for project accounting and invoicing solution as other tools, you can use monday.com to track hours, timelines, and invoices.
Overall, it’s a highly customizable tool that lets you work in whatever methodology—kanban or otherwise—that fits your project and team. You’ll also find some useful workflow tools for automating parts of your process.
monday.com’s integrations include project management apps like Slack, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform and many more, accessible via Zapier.
monday.com costs from $17/month for two users.
2. Teamwork – Best For Remote Teams
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.
Teamwork includes features that help you structure your projects and milestones: create task lists, tasks, and subtasks to break down the work into action items for your team. You can add due dates, priority, description, supporting documents, or tags to help mark up your tasks with useful information. There’s also a useful “Workload” feature that provides a big picture of your team’s capacity. The collaboration features in this project management software are great—collaborate with clients and/or your internal team with comments on tasks.
Overall, Teamwork is an intuitive and highly customizable tool. It has a lot of features, so it does come with a learning curve to get up to speed. However this is made much easier with ongoing webinars, access to help docs, an online resource center, and a dedicated customer support team.
Teamwork integrates easily with other tools including Gmail, Harvest, HubSpot, QuickBooks, Slack, Dropbox and more.
Teamwork costs from $10/user/month. They also offer a 30-day free trial.
3. Celoxis – Best 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, @mention 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.
Celoxis 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.
Celoxis is 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.
Celoxis 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.
4. Forecast.app – Best For Automating Finances & Operations
Forecast is an all-in-one platform for resource and project management, used in 40+ countries worldwide, by agency, software, and consulting companies. It’s equipped with tools to manage everything from quote to invoice, plus it offers intelligent automation to predict project delivery dates, forecast capacity needs, and become more efficient. Their AI uses cumulative learnings from hundreds of thousands of projects and creates rules based on that user data.
Let’s talk about features. The Auto-Schedule feature is great for project scheduling, providing estimates, automatically assigning resources to tasks. It’s got a drag-and-drop module that lets you adjust plans and resources in an instant. Another cool feature is that the tool automatically builds a budget for every project with key financial metrics to track planned vs. actuals. It also supports various billing types (fixed price, time & materials) side-by-side and in real-time. It has advanced up-to-the-minute reports you can customize. And finally, the built-in timesheets are simple and intuitive which means you won’t have to bug your team to fill out their timesheets.
Forecast also introduced a one-of-its-kind feature to manage projects in a retainer setup. A dashboard with retainer periods and totals lets you track the financials of ongoing projects without losing sight of staff workloads and time spent on delivery.
Forecast integrations include several turnkey integrations with mainstream project management tools and two-way sync with Jira on the market. It also complements accounting systems like Quickbooks and Xero with PM capabilities.
Forecast is currently used in 40+ countries worldwide, by agencies, consulting companies, and enterprises – has Lite, Pro, and Enterprise options that cost from $29/user/month (14-day free trial).
5. Paymo – Best For SMBs
Paymo is a full-featured tool targeting small to medium businesses, with tools to manage a project from brief through to invoicing with a set of tools that cover project management, collaboration, time tracking, team management, timesheets, and accounting. This is a cost-effective solution if you’re looking for an end-to-end agency powering the platform.
Project execution is covered robustly with solid task management functionality which gives the ability to brief resources easily through tasks that can be templated and defined with task durations allocated, and hours budgeted to complete the task. You can add files to tasks, comment on tasks and create dependencies between tasks. Helpfully, they also support multi-user task assignment so more than one person can be held responsible!
The project schedule is an integral part of Paymo. You can create project milestones and they have an inbuilt critical path generator so you can see the tasks that are holding up a project, and the latest that each activity can start and finish to keep the project on track. Paymo generates Gantt charts to illustrate the start and finish dates as well as the summary elements of projects.
Paymo supports file sharing and the ability to attach files to tasks and organize files within a central file storage location for each project.
Project communication is well supported. Email notifications are provided for important updates that are automatically sent to resources, like being assigned a new task or being removed from a task. There is also a dashboard where you can see the recent activities, collaborate with other team members using a designated discussion area, and create shareable notes.
With built-in timesheets (and the ability for automated time tracking), financial management and project reporting are very rich. You can set a project budget and measure an outcome against that budget and include tracking of expenses for a project or work item enabling you to view the financial health of a project in terms of estimate vs actual budget. Reports can be exported and downloaded with the ability to create reports to show the time allocated and/or spent on certain tasks or projects or users within projects.
Paymo has some useful add-ons and integrations. Paymo for mobile and desktop allowing you to track time with a dedicated app that can analyze your desktop activity to auto-assign it to a project. With their Zapier integration, you’ll be able to connect Paymo with more than 500 apps including Google Apps, QuickBooks Online, Slack or Xero. They also have their own API so you can do your own integrating if you’re feeling nerdy.
There are two paid plans, the lowest one starting at $11.95/user/month – no seat cap. Yearly subscribers are also eligible at a 20% discount. Free trial available.
6. TeamGantt – Best For Visual Planning
Used by Amazon and Netflix, TeamGantt is a project management tool with a freemium version for smaller groups and teams who don’t yet need an upgrade to a paid plan. Obviously, TeamGantt specializes in Gantt charts and other task planning but they also track workloads and team availability, collaboration features like chat and tagging, and customizable alerts.
Project managers should be aware that TeamGantt works best for simple projects but the software struggles to handle more complex projects across multiple teams. For example, it is not easy to gauge project status at a quick glance.
TeamGantt scores well in the Usability segment of the evaluation criteria, as it is incredibly flexible to use. The tool is accommodating to however you may want to set up and track your projects, no matter their structure or constraints. Additionally, providing an easy “read-only” URL makes it great for sharing with outside parties for input.
TeamGantt costs from $24.95/month and has a freemium version of the software for up to 3 users.
7. Wrike – Best For Scaling Organizations
Wrike is an enterprise grade all-in-one and real-time collaboration tool. Wrike’s toolkit functions across project planning, collaborating, reporting, workflow automation and 3<sup>rd</sup> party integrations. Wrike is a good tool if you’re looking to create efficiency with workflow management.
It connects tasks, discussions, and emails to your project plan to provide a big picture of project progress with real-time updates and cross-project reports and newsfeed. Wrike helps accelerate project delivery by helping your resources to prioritize their tasks and connects the tasks with discussions, files, and emails to your project plan.
Task management within Wrike is strong, as tasks are handed off, new contributors get the complete context, access to previous decision-making discussions (including proofing), and relevant files are already attached, so they have all the info they need.
Project schedules are pretty powerful within Wrike – they’re live and dynamic so that the whole team can see make changes and update their part of the workload at any time and see any changes in real-time. Helpfully, their Dynamic timelines can show cross-project charts, so you can see the whole picture and avoid any clashes between projects. Best of all, people are automatically notified whenever changes to the schedule are made.
Project communication with Wrike is powerful with real-time team collaboration with discussions, files attached to tasks, and a built-in live document editor which enables real-time collaborative text editing right in your workspace.
Wrike helps you see the tasks, projects and project portfolio – with multiple teams and multiple projects running concurrently, Wrike’s real-time dashboard keeps you on top of your team’s work without extra email and status meetings. There’s a handy resourcing overview to show you at a glance, who’s working on what, the dependencies and duration for the task, and when it should be completed. It helps you build repeatable processes, streamline operations, and get real-time visibility into the status of specific clients, projects, and key milestones.
Wrike has some pretty powerful project and business reporting built in to give insights with some pretty, and interactive infographics. The reports and helpfully automatically updated with the most recent data every 15 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about recreating reports or pulling new information. There are endless options – you can use their reporting tool to get valuable business insights and project snapshots to create highly customizable, detailed, real-time reports very easily.
Wrike costs from $49/5 users/month. It’s one of the best free project management software programs out there, offering a pretty fully-featured “freemium” plan for 10 users or less.
8. Microsoft Projects – Best For Large Teams
MS Projects is Microsoft’s answer to project management. This tool lets users manage agile projects using simple, visual task boards that support Scrum, Kanban, or custom workflows and choose whatever methodology makes sense for the project: agile, waterfall, or hybrid.
This PM software is particularly easy to use and learn if you are at all familiar with the Microsoft family of products, which most offices are these days. Online tutorials and forums can fill in any gaps, making the learning curve small. Thus, it evaluated well in Usability.
Side note: This is a standard and industry-accepted tool, but it’s not perfect. One major downside is that it’s not easy to run on iOS. If you like MS Projects but are looking for similar options that run on a Mac, check out my post on MS Project options for Mac.
MS Projects integrates easily with other Microsoft and Windows products.
One con is that this software tends to use quite a bit of memory and CPU, which is a common problem with Microsoft products.
MS Projects starts at $12.80/user/month and has a free 30-day trial.
9. Nutcache – Best For Small Teams
Nutcache is a very affordable project management software tool with some great functionality across project management, project dashboards, collaboration, expense management, time tracking, and billing and invoicing. If you’re looking for a complete agency project management solution, that’s cheap (or free if your team is less than 20 people), it’s a good place to start.
Nutcache enables you to flexibly manage projects with boards, lists or cards to reflect your preferred project workflow – it’s here that you can add tasks, subtasks, checklists, set deadlines and upload relevant files as well as invite team members and clients to collaborate and comment on different tasks. You can get notified each time a card or list is modified or browse through a card’s activity, using notes and comments for updates. The project dashboard overview provides low-level reporting by providing a summary of project information – with task tracking and budget and deadline information you can easily review a project’s status.
Timesheet reporting and expense tracking is built in, with the ability to run multiple timers on projects as you work so your time logging can be done for you. Online invoicing, and payment is possible through online payments through Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net or 2Checkout so you can invoice and track payment easily.
Nutcache has a free version of their project management software tool for up to 20 users; thereafter it costs from $6/user/month.
10. Asana – A team task management app that lets you organize items as a list, timeline, board, and more—all with easy drag-and-drop functionality.
Asana is a task management solution with automation tools, a rule builder, and other workplace management items. Asana’s Timeline lets users create a plan that shows how the pieces of a project fit together and help keep work on track as things change.
Asana has a colorful, rich, and inviting user interface with everything from compartmentalized productivity items to playful cartoon animations that “zoom” across the screen to celebrate finishing a task. This scored them very well in the UX category of the evaluation criteria.
Integrations include Jira Cloud, Salesforce, Adobe Creative Cloud, Tableau, Slack, Microsoft Office 365, Gmail, CSV Importer, JotForm, EverHour, OneDrive, Zoho Cliq, Box, Mailbird, Instabug, DRopbox, Gitlab, Trello, VElocity, Tick, and many more per their website. Additionally, users can connect Asana to Zapier, Automate.io, and others to integrate with hundreds of more available apps.
One minor gripe is that having an active, real-time chat function would benefit this app in particular. Asana bills itself as more of a holistic solution to the project and task management but communication is limited to cumbersome comment sections.
Asana starts at $10.99/user/month and has a freemium version of the software.
Best Project Management Software Comparison Chart
Find below a summary of the best project management software tools available in the market.
Other Project Management Software To Consider
Although not included in this review of project management software, below is a list of additional PM tool options. Check them out if you’re looking for the best project management software for your agency or studio:
Want Help Finding The Right Solution?
This is pretty useful. We’ve partnered with the software comparison portal Crozdesk to give you access to free software advice – taking the hassle out of the research process.
Submit your requirements to get custom product shortlists from their team of software experts (via phone or email) with zero obligations. It’s quick and you’ll get a free comparison report at the end covering the top solutions that best fit your needs. Give it a try below.
Best In Breed – The One Trick (Project Software) Ponies
But what is the ‘right project management tool?’
There are lots of tools out there that do a single project related job, really well. These are the specialist one-trick-pony tools for resource scheduling, communication, managing tasks, making gantt charts, creating reports, managing digital assets, managing requirements, etc. Tools like Slack, Microsoft Project management software, Harvest and Dropbox are examples of these specialist project tools. Specialized tools can be great, especially for a small team, or when working with niche requirements or few clients.
Project Management Tools Enable You To Work Smarter
However, if you’re not careful, you end up with a collection of unrelated SaaS online project management software that doesn’t sync properly. You use one tool for communication, another for file sharing and yet another for task management. And you end up entering the same data into each application.
Maybe there’s a better way? Instead of using dedicated tools and manually tying them together, use a project management tool with shared-data functionality built-in. This facilitates better briefing, contextual communication and more straightforward management of project teams and clients.
What Makes A Good Project Management Tool?
In defining a good digital project management tool we’ve focussed on tools that facilitate the ‘doing’ aspect of a project. That means getting people together to create something amazing for a digital world.
So what does it take to deliver a digital project? We’ve identified five key aspects of functionality that we think makes delivering digital projects easier. You can use them to get rid of your post-its, spreadsheets, and emails, and to run your project more efficiently.
- Task lists – Projects are made up of sub-tasks, and sub-sub-tasks, checklists and to-do’s. Being able to outline what needs to be done, by when, by who, is critical to delivering a project well.
- Schedules – Timelines, calendars and Gantt charts help you know where tasks fit within the broader scheme of a project. This is key to being able to deliver a project on time.
- File sharing – No one likes having to waste timing trying to dig around for random files. The ability to organize and share key project files and assets is important to deliver a project efficiently.
- Communication – Contextual project-specific communication to hash things out quickly and chat with your team and client is vital to keep tasks on track.
- Reporting – As project managers, it’s our job to know whether or not our project is on track and to use this information in communication. Therefore, it’s essential to know how a project’s tasks are progressing—will it be delivered on time, or not?
But You’re Missing Stuff…
Yes, lots. With any project management software, you have to draw a line between what’s essential, and what’s not. In our criteria for project management programs we’ve focused on the execution of a project. That means we haven’t centred on planning, billing, or other functionality. For that reason, we’ve not focussed on the pre-project estimating, or the post-project aspects of PM software. That said, there are many similarities between these tools.
What Do You Think?
What do you think we’re missing from this project management tools review? Have different criteria for selecting a PM tool? We’d love to hear if you’ve got any suggestions, tips or thoughts on using this kind of PM software. Why not share them using the comments below?