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.
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1. Hive – Best All-In-One Solution.
Hive is a project management tool and collaboration platform that powers companies like Starbucks, Uber, WeWork, and IBM. With AI-based analytics, thousands of integrations, flexible project views, and more, Hive streamlines your work in one centralized platform. Used by teams of varying sizes, from 10 people to 1,000, Hive is a great option for a diverse range of companies and work styles.
Hive’s time-tracking, analytics, and flexible view capabilities allow for transparent understanding of other team members work and upcoming projects. Hive also has one of the first full email integrations in any project management tool, which allows you to send and receive Gmail and Outlook messages from the app. Choose Hive if you’re in the market for a well-laid-out, comprehensive project management tool that can be scaled up or down based on team needs.
The tool costs $12 per user per month when billed annually.
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.
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.
4. 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.
5. Clarizen – Best For Scaling Organizations.
Clarizen is an enterprise-grade professional service automation software solution, designed to speed up the way you do business – integrating work, content, and process tightly together to enable more efficient working. Clarizen’s real focus is making projects happen faster with timesaving workflows. Clarizen is a great project management tool if you have lots of repeatable projects that require repeatable processes as workflow automation is pretty flexible and powerful.
It covers off the PPM basics of task lists, schedules, docs and files, communications and reporting without breaking a sweat. Clarizen’s project planning tools are a powerful mix of functionality across the planning, executing and controlling of a project. Within planning project workflows and full-featured resource, schedule and task planning tools. It also offers project and portfolio optimization so that you can easily and quickly align projects to business objectives.
For project execution, Clarizen enables everyone on the team to be aligned with a dashboard that enables teams to see how their contribution fits into the bigger picture. They can view the project timeline and milestones, budget, discussions, and shared documents.
Instead of being obligated to make educated guesses, project managers can make accurate data-based decisions that align project selection and investment with big picture priorities. Changing tasks and schedules takes a few clicks. Project managers can run hypothetical scenarios to see the impact of changes before they go live. They can also alert end users via their personal dashboard of any changes to their workload. Because resource scheduling is built-in, Clarizen delivers real-time insights into all available resources, schedules, and tasks.
Clarizen has some really powerful integration options out the box that is worth considering if you have other business-critical systems already in place. You can combine the power of Clarizen with other enterprise tools including Jira, SharePoint, Tableau, Salesforce and Intact with a subscription to an App integration. This means you won’t have to play around with the APIs yourself. On top of integrations, Clarizen has an App marketplace to add additional functionality to the system. These include helpful add-ons like active directory sync, Excel reporting integration, and priority automation, many of which are free.
Clarizen offers a free trial and costs from $60/user/month.
6. 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.
7. Nifty – Best For Cross-Organizational Reporting.
Nifty is a project management tool that reduces project development cycles and improves team productivity by measuring progress by milestones and ensuring organizational goals remain on schedule. Nifty allows you to manage tasks through Kanban or list views, has a built-in calendar that can be integrated with Google, and includes features for file and document sharing. Nifty also has some great collaboration features, such as individual discussion threads that are project-specific.
Nifty is flexible to your team’s project workflow, and the cross-organizational project overview tab provides insights into high-level timelines, as well as task-level deep-dive analyses for projects. Nifty’s help center assists with ensuring maximum team efforts on the platform.
Nifty allows you to import data from Asana, Basecamp, ClickUp, and Trello, and has native integrations with Slack, Zoom, GitHub, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Google Calendar, while its Zapier integration connects Nifty with over 1000 additional apps.
Pricing starts at $39/month.
8. 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).
9. Workzone – Best For Mid-Sized Businesses.
Workzone is a great project management software for marketing, agency and operations teams of 5+ users. It’s powerful but it’s still easy to use and adopt. Organizations small and large run their projects and keep their teams in sync—it’s been used and developed for 20 years, so the company has built some really useful features to answer real-world problems.
Some of Workzone’s standout features include a useful all-projects dashboard, personalized to-do lists, and an interactive Gantt chart. Workzone also offers secure file management and creative review tools, customizable project intake forms, workload management, time and expense tracking, and powerful reporting. Flexible permissioning allows for giving different levels of access to different users, providing extra layers of security and control.
For new teams who aren’t used to working with a project management software, Workzone is a smart choice because they assist in implementing the software—their team helps your team build the foundation, processes, and discipline you need to get the most out of the software and use it to manage projects successfully. Their level of support is hard to find—they offer needs assessment, success planning, setup and customization, training, and ongoing coaching.
The tool integrates with standard industry software including various communication, IT, file sharing, time tracking, accounting, marketing, and CRM software. You can extend Workzone’s functionality through their extensive APIdeveloper API and Zapier.
Workzone pricing starts at $40/user/month for up to 5 users. Price per user lessens with the number of users…for instance, for 15 users the price per person starts at $24/user/month.
10. 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.
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?