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.
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.
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1. ClickUp – Best free plan for project management software
ClickUp is a project management software tool with powerful features for managing and completing all your team’s projects in one platform. Users can plan projects, schedule tasks, and manage resources in a centralized workspace, as well as communicate and collaborate with team members and guests.
Task management features include task checklists, subtasks, and task templates, as well as the ability to filter, sort, search for, easily reorder, and view tasks in the manner most convenient for the team. Users can also create Gantt charts, calendars, and timelines to visualize tasks.
ClickUp also includes features for creating, sharing, and collaborative editing for Wikis and documents. Users can comment on documents and tasks, assign comments, and chat with other team members for increased communication and collaboration. Reporting features include the ability to create custom dashboards, as well as six built-in report types for team reporting.
ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp’s free plan is robust and includes all primary features. The unlimited plan starts at $5 a month per user and offers additional functionality.
- Free forever plan allows unlimited members
- Unlimited file storage on all paid account tiers
- Can email (set-up) a task directly from Outlook
- Read-only guest permissions are limited to paid account
- Reporting suite is limited to paid plans only
- Granular customization options results in a time consuming set-up
2. 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.
- Huge focus on collaboration
- Long list of supported integrations
- Easy to customize a workflow or Board
- Helpful visual/color coding customization
- Complex pricing rubric
- No option to create recurring tasks
3. Smartsheet – Best For Flexibility & Customizability.
Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-like project management tool. It has won a few awards for quickly becoming a favorite business app. It’s a nice project management software if you’re comfortable working in Excel but wants a break from complicated formulas—Smartsheet performs all the calculations for you across multiple sheets. You can also add customized brand logos and set color themes for individual projects.
Smartsheet has useful project management features such as workflow automation and visualization of tasks in Gantt, calendar and card views. Team members get notified of critical changes in real-time, and the tool provides shared views, detail history, activity logs, automated alerts, reminders, and status reports to keep everyone aligned and informed. The Critical Path feature highlights all the tasks which directly impact your project completion date to keep an eye on important milestones. Reporting is a strong feature of this tool, with editable summary reports that you can easily export to Excel.
Smartsheet integrations include Microsoft and Google apps, as well as development essentials like Jira, and useful business apps like Salesforce, ServiceNow, Slack, Box, and Tableau. The platform is extensible through a REST API and webhooks.
Smartsheet costs from $14/user/month and offers a 30-day trial.
- Sheet-to-sheet linking
- Many project templates & resources
- Ease of sharing
- Easily customizable dashboards
- Jira, Salesforce, Dynamics connector limited to Premier plan
- Changes don’t update in real-time
- Can’t customize chart colors
- 14 days free trial
- Premier plan starts at $50/month for the first user, plus $10 USD/month for each additional user
4. FunctionFox – Best project management software for creative teams and agencies
Built by creative professionals for the creative industry, FunctionFox features user-friendly tools to help you create detailed project schedules, track your progress through interactive gantt charts and calendars, manage your resources with action assignments and to-do lists, and communicate and collaborate through the project blog. FunctionFox is entirely web-based so it allows both in-office and remote users to work together seamlessly.
FunctionFox’s intuitive project scheduling tool allows you to allocate work to your team through action assignments, mark out important dates within a project using milestones, and schedule project meetings. Keep a close eye on your team’s capacity through to-do lists and the availability tool, and monitor project timelines with interactive gantt charts and project calendars. The project blog feature allows your team to communicate in real time, and the tool also offers flexible, comprehensive reports that can be exported in an Excel format.
FunctionFox is easy to use and made even easier with the tutorials and support provided. All customer support is unlimited, ongoing, and included in the subscription cost. The FunctionFox website also includes a help center, and there are detailed help files included within the software itself.
Project scheduling tools are included in the FunctionFox Premier plan. Compatible with all up to date web browsers, users can also schedule projects and monitor deadlines while on the go using the mobile site, an iPhone/iPad, or Android apps.
Pricing for the Premier plan starts at $50 per month.
- Multiple project views for easy project scheduling: calendar view, Gantt view, or table view
- Actionable task assignment to do lists
- Project blogs keep communication in a central location
- Does not integrate with Google Calendars and other software
- Gantt charts and schedules are only available through the Premier plan and In-House plan
5. 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).
- Predictive tasks for spreadsheets
- Can manage resources across multiple projects
- Easy to plan projects and timelines
- Milestone data is lumped together rather than separated
- Additional fee for onboarding/training
- Higher learning curve.
6. 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.
- Features can be turned on/off (tasks, messages, time, risks, billing)
- Easy zoom in/zoom out on project plans
- Easy to communicate task status with clients or team
- No CSS template option for advanced customizability
- No industry-specialized project templates or formats
- No way to measure your team’s capacity
7. Kintone – Best for custom project workflows
Kintone is a project management platform that allows project managers to track, prioritize, and review their team’s tasks for any given project workflow—no matter how complex.
This highly-customizable platform gives users the power to create a tailored project management solution using its drag-and-drop interface built for non-coders. Users can design the necessary workflows and easily review all related tasks.
Kintone’s customization features include the ability to create automated reminders, filter tasks or project phases by data field or team member to generate custom reports or dashboard views, and automate handoffs between team members for multi-step workflows. You can also view, edit, and update workflows from the platform’s mobile or desktop applications, so oversight doesn’t stop when you leave your desk.
One of the Kintone’s most valuable features is its built-in communication channels. These chat tools allow you to discuss projects with your team directly in the database, meaning your conversations and data stay connected. You can also create “spaces” for conversation organized by topic, team, project, or department. The best part is these spaces stay visible to everyone, so teammates who miss a discussion can come back later and catch up.
Kintone’s project management tool also features integrations with Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, Outlook, Tableau, Dropbox, Salesforce, HubSpot, and many more through Zapier.
Kintone starts at $24/user/month.
- Flexible pricing that includes special deals for schools and NPOs
- Admin accounts have access to tons of customization tools
- Data is easy to pull and manipulate into good looking reports
- No single-user plan available (minimum 5 users)
- Limited to 5GB/user storage on every pricing tier
- No native templates for common project types or documents
8. 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.
- View all projects on a single Kanban board
- Seamless time tracking
- Easy to use project filters
- Free for 1 user
- Not great at tracking a large number of projects
- No way to invite collaborators/reviewers
- Some data export limitations
9. 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.
- In-app timer for task tracking
- Customizable widgets for groups or individuals
- Percentage of project tasks-per-user feature
- Very interactive Gantt chart
- Some difficulty with report building
- Complex menu structure
- Resource planning is not automated
10. Zoho Projects – Best For Adaptability To Multiple Sectors
Zoho Projects is an award-winning collaboration and project management software from Zoho. It offers flexibility and customizations to suit the needs of traditional project managers as well as agile teams.
With an easy Gantt chart generator, Kanban style task management, coupled with high-level features such as resource utilization charts, critical path, baseline and automation features, Zoho Projects offers a complete and unique experience for teams of all sizes.
All aspects of the UI from theme colors to arrangement and visibility of the various modules can be changed to suit a user’s preferences. By converting projects into templates, users can reuse previously created timelines and assignees for future projects. Zoho projects also offer free onboarding for its customers, free support and a comprehensive online help guide for all users.
Zoho Projects stands out in cases where there are multiple hand-offs involved. It is especially popular among IT companies, consultants and education organizations. With Blueprints, users can create and automate workflows, notifications, and escalations. The tool is used by over three million users and hundreds of big brands across the globe.
Being part of the Zoho’s ecosystem allows Projects to connect to several of Zoho’s own services such as Zoho Books, Zoho CRM, and Zoho’s finance suite. The new Zoho marketplace allows 3rd party integrations as well.
Starts from $18 for 6 users. Free 10-day trial available. No credit card information required.
- Unlimited number of projects
- Easy workflow automations
- Robust communication features
- Time-track multiple tasks at once
- Does not integrate with Quickbooks
- Lacks some reporting features
- Lack of file type export options
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:
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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?