Trello is one of the best-known Kanban project management tools available today, and, because it offers a free version, it’s often the go-to Kanban tool. However, when you need a little more oomph from your Kanban tools, such as the extra functionality or integrations that don’t come with Trello’s free version, you’re going to need to pay for those “Power-Ups”.
Before you sign up for something that doesn’t quite serve your needs, it pays to look at alternatives to Trello—and there are plenty of Trello competitors on the market.
What is Kanban? Kanban Definition
Kanban is a project management and workflow method based on a work management system developed in Toyota manufacturing plants in the 1960s. The Kanban method allows you to minimize multitasking, streamline your work in progress efficiency, and improve the speed and quality of the work your collaborative and self-managing team produces.
For an in-depth discussion on what Kanban is, check out my detailed breakdown of this workflow methodology here.
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Kanban Tool Comparison Criteria
What do I look for when I select the best Kanban tools? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Is the user interface clean and attractive, even when navigating complex projects? Does the task management tool make it easy to assign, tag, share, and comment without hassle?
- Usability: Kanban boards should have a small learning curve thanks to drag-and-drop functionality, easily modifiable data fields, and simple resource management features.
- Integrations: Does it offer any third-party add-ons? Any pre-built integrations for things like G Suite, Slack, Asana, Microsoft platforms, or GitHub?
- Value for price: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible? I’ve pointed out free Trello alternatives where possible.
Trello Alternatives: Key Features
These are some of the key features I look for when selecting a Trello alternative:
- Work-in-progress limits
- Recurring tasks and/or task templates
- Time tracking integration within task views
- Bottleneck flagging of some sort
- Different ways to sort cards (alphabetically, due date, assignee)
- Workflow automations, like status changes or notifications
10 Top Kanban Tools (The Best Trello Alternatives 2021)
Here are a few of the best Kanban tools:
monday.com, an award winning platform, is one of the few tools that prides itself in ‘not being a project management tool’! They’ve done away with a lot of the trimmings of typical tools and focused on simple structures that help clarify the sequence of work that needs to be done.
This tool is a great Trello alternative that can actually offer quite a bit more than Trello can. monday.com features include multiple views of work—view as a list, on a map, on a Kanban board, in a spreadsheet, and other views. 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.
Some standout features of this tool include tools to automate certain processes, as well as customizable task boards that lets users manage tasks by cards, assignees, due dates, hours spent, etc. Overall, it’s a highly customizable tool that lets you work in whatever methodology—kanban or otherwise—that fits your project and team.
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. The company’s customer support is available 24/7 by phone or email.
ClickUp is a project management software and Kanban 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 on Kanban boards, as well as calendars, Gantt charts, timelines, and more.
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.
Smartsheet is an entire online project management suite, but in the suite, they also offer some useful kanban tools. You start by setting up a pre-built Kanban sheet template, to which you can import any existing kanban board data from Trello, Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project.
A useful feature of Smartsheet’s kanban tool is that you can switch between traditional, grid, Gantt, and calendar views, helping you to see tasks in different ways. It offers all the kanban essentials like attachments, custom fields, and searching for or filtering cards based on different criteria.
In many ways, Smartsheet’s kanban capabilities are comparable to Trello, but for the price, it does offer a few additional features like multiple views that are only available to Trello users through Trello’s paid powerups.
Smartsheet offers most of the integrations you’d need in a kanban tool: 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.
MeisterTask is a beautifully designed and incredibly intuitive Kanban tool. Its Kanban boards can be customized to fit any workflow, from software sprints to sales funnels, and from editorial calendars to your company’s onboarding process. Teams can collaborate on one simple platform, where they can communicate, work together on tasks, and easily track the time they spend on them.
With MeisterTask, you can not only visualize processes but also automate them in various ways. Creating recurring tasks, adding predefined checklists, notifying stakeholders when a task is completed, or ensuring that tasks are assigned and tagged correctly when they are moved to a specific section — all of this can be done automatically. Larger teams will find MeisterTask’s sophisticated roles and permissions management as well as the insights gained through various statistics and reports particularly useful.
MeisterTask offers an extensive online help center, free webinars for new users, and fast email support in case you need to talk to a real person. However, thanks to MeisterTask’s focus on simplicity, even companies who are just getting started on their journey to digital organization are usually able to get productive within minutes after signing up.
MeisterTask integrates with the mind mapping app MindMeister where you can brainstorm and plan with a mind map and then export it onto a Kanban board. MeisterTask comes readily integrated with popular tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, GitHub, Zendesk, Harvest, and various email apps. In addition to these native integrations, you can use Zapier or IFTTT to connect your projects with hundreds of other tools.
MeisterTask costs from $8.25/user/month. They also offer a free plan with limited functionality.
Kanbanize is a Kanban software for agile project management. Kanbanize help companies visualize work, track projects, and optimize workflows to achieve organizational transparency increase efficiency.
To bring simplicity, productivity, and efficiency to the way you work, their features include initiatives and timeline workflows for planning, customizable Kanban boards, business automation rules, a powerful analytics module, and more.
Within the system, users can structure and visualize their daily work – plan initiatives and projects, break them down into manageable tasks, visualize dependencies, and create multiple workflows for cross-functional teams.
Work and project progress is shown in real-time to eliminate the need for constant status updates and reporting. As a result, project delivery becomes transparent and more predictable and you can increase your efficiency by spending time on the work that brings value.
Having the ability to integrate with multiple other systems such as Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, Jira, and other tools (and you can also connect through Zapier), Kanbanize brings more agility to your business processes.
Kanbanize costs from $149/15 users/month.
Kissflow Project is a collaborative project management tool designed to focus on collaboration, transparency, coordination, and productivity. Tracking features are streamlined to provide a clearer view of items and tasks that actually matter.
Kissflow Project is a customizable platform with multiple views for projects, including Kanban boards, list views, and swimlanes. The tool includes three project states to reduce the amount of tracking users need to do by allowing team members to mark tasks with one of three statuses — on hold, in progress, and done.
The tool allows users to share project plans, documents, and other files, as well as discuss projects directly within the software. Team members also get reminders when due dates are approaching. Another great feature is the ability to set priorities and assign team members to them.
Kissflow integrations include native Microsoft and G suite integrations, and the platform offers a REST API and webhooks.
Pricing for Kissflow Project starts at $35 per month.
- 10 days free trial
- From $4/user/month billed annually. Also has a freemium version upto 3 users for 2 projects
Zoho Projects is an award-winning project management and collaboration tool from Zoho. It offers flexibility and customizations to suit the needs of traditional project managers as well as agile teams.
Drag and drop kanban cards towards completion. The cards can be sorted as per status, priority, completion percentage or even across task lists.
The dashboard can be fully customized according to user preferences. And with Zoho’s Analytics integration, these capabilities can be extended – users can generate 50 plus charts and reports with this integration.
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 offers free onboarding for its customers, free support and a comprehensive online help guide for all users.
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. Integrations via Zapier and Zoho Flow are also supported.
Starts from $4/user/month billed annually. Also has a freemium version upto 3 users for 2 projects. No credit card information required.
ZenHub is an agile project management tool within GitHub with Kanban board views among other project planning features and is used by the likes of Shopify, Microsoft, Adobe, Comcast, and SAP. If you are already using GitHub, you’ll love ZenHub—it lets you assign tasks, build your timeline, and design stories and sprints without leaving the platform.
Some of ZenHub’s noteworthy features include tasklist boards, a real-time reporting suite, workflow automations, and visual roadmaps. Unlike some other comparable software, ZenHub lets you stack epics within epics to more easily represent a larger idea or body of work. The user interface is also top-notch—easy to navigate and looks quite smart.
Despite doing a lot, using ZenHub may require you to still pop into the GitHub project to more granularly modify issues and milestones. However, you’ll find the pros outweigh the cons. For example, ZenHub Workspaces also allows for different teams to customize their Kanban board view even when working from the same set of GitHub Repositories.
ZenHub’s API lets you connect the platform with other services such as Slack, Gitter, HipChat, Spark, and other project management tools.
ZenHub is free to use on public repositories. Paid plans cost from $7.95/user/month and come with a 14-day free trial.
Designed uniquely for software developers (and specifically with distributed work teams in mind), Blossom is a more specialized tool. It offers features that are especially useful for software development teams, but beyond software dev, it’s also a viable Trello alternative.
In fact, with its clean, simple interface, built-in integrations, and extra functionality (make work in progress limits, analyze performance, and more), it’s arguably better than Trello for only a slightly higher price.
The product is easily integrated with GitHub, and thanks to its automatic project status updates, you don’t need to leave your code base and can focus on getting projects completed. A bonus of using Blossom is that they offer full training, including online and in-person options, to make it easy to onboard your team.
Blossom costs from $19/month for teams of up to 5 users. Blossom goes the extra mile by offering free trial periods for all versions (Startup, Company, and Enterprise), so you can try the full product as opposed to a typical promo version that’s limited in features and functionality.
Breeze is one of the few Kanban boards online that offers a full suite of project management tools, including everything from budget management and time and expense tracking, to milestone tracking, project planning, and portfolio management.
It has a simple interface, and, although it does provide a wider scope of tools than many platforms, Breeze makes a point of not being a “feature factory”, keeping only the features that are critical. For it’s simplicity, it’s a bit pricey, but if you want something clutter-free, lightweight, and streamlined, it’s worth the price.
Because Breeze wraps a kanban tool inside of a full management suite, the added functionality—and correspondingly higher price—isn’t a great fit for simpler projects.
On the other hand, the all-encompassing nature of this platform is a major advantage for some teams, as you may save time, resources, and headache by managing everything in one place.
Breeze does come with built-in Google Drive and Dropbox integrations, but compared to the integrations offered by other similar tools on the market, it could up its value by offering a few more.
Breeze costs from $29/user/month and offers a free trial version.
Summary Of The Best Kanban Tools:
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How To choose The Right Kanban Tools For Your Team
As with anything involving project management, there are a few things to consider before making your selection among workflow apps. In your decision, account for these important considerations:
The Size Of Your Team
Which app is going to best suit your team, and will it scale properly to suit a growing team over time?
Which Tools It Should Integrate With
Maybe you’re using GitHub, Slack, Asana, or other team management tools, or maybe you need it to work across multiple devices, including mobile. Make sure the tool you choose covers all your needs—or is customizable enough that it can be upgraded later.
Not all tools can handle the volume of projects some businesses produce, so check how many projects you will easily be able to manage at once.
Set-up Time And Cost
How soon can it be installed, or is it immediately available on the cloud? What kind of ongoing support do they offer? Is it a hosted solution or will you have to maintain the infrastructure?
Ease Of Onboarding
How simple is the platform to start using right away, and how much training will be needed to get everyone up to speed?
What Do You Think?
What other considerations have you made when looking for a Trello alternative? Have any recommendations for good project management software? Let us know in the comments below.