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10 Best Microsoft Project Alternatives Online [Free & Paid]

By 03/01/2021 45 Comments
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On the hunt for a Microsoft Project alternative? You’ve come to the right place. In this review, I’ll go over some great new MS Project alternatives and a downloadable how-to guide for choosing a Microsoft Project alternative for your projects.

List Of The Best Microsoft Project Alternatives 2021

Here’s my list of the best MS Project Alternatives for 2021:

  1. monday.com - Best for flexibility and customization
  2. Hive - Best Microsoft Project alternative for scalability
  3. Smartsheet - Best built-in critical path feature
  4. GanttPRO - Best Microsoft Project alternative for Mac
  5. Clarizen - Best enterprise Microsoft Project alternative
  6. Forecast - Best Microsoft Project Alternative for resource management
  7. Zoho Projects - Best for project visualization
  8. Workzone - Best for interactive Gantt charts
  9. Microsoft Project Pro - Robust project planning tool from Microsoft Office
  10. Merlin Project - Microsoft Project alternative for Mac, iPad, and iPhone with granular controls for customization

Below you’ll find an overview of these tools with screenshots, features, and pricing.

Jump to Microsoft Project alternative 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

You can learn more about Microsoft Project features, benefits, cost, and use cases in my overview of Microsoft project management software.

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.

You can learn more about MS Project and MS Teams features in my overview of Microsoft project management software.

Just realized that you need a different type of tool? Check out these other reviews:

Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best Microsoft Project Alternatives

DPM Microsoft Project Alternatives Logo Soup

If your company is feeling the pinch, your request to purchase a shiny new copy of Microsoft Project might elicit a response that goes something like,

“Surely there is a free Microsoft Project alternative that can do the job, isn’t there?”

Yes—there are dozens of paid and free MS Project alternatives out there. Below, you’ll find the ones that made my shortlist, followed by details and screenshots, to help you choose the right one.

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Best Microsoft Project Alternatives

In the overview of Microsoft Project alternatives below, I break down the features, pricing, and main benefits of the best Project alternatives.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $17/2 users/month

monday.com - Best for flexibility and customization

monday.com offers multiple views of a project

monday.com 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 Microsoft Project alternative in that it functions a lot like a spreadsheet—but one that’s more intuitive to use and modify without having to mess around with formulas. Likewise, it offers more than a basic spreadsheet by giving you various views of your projects—view as spreadsheets or as lists, on a map, on a Kanban board, and other views. Users can upload and attach files to cards, make comments, mention teammates, and more.

It offers the ability to create summary charts as well as export and share project plans. However, one downside is that it doesn’t allow you to make Gantt charts in the traditional sense (they have a feature that serves the same purpose and works just as well, called “timelines”), nor can you import or export MPP files. That said, monday.com is designed as a true alternative to MS Project, not something to be used in tandem with it.

monday.com’s integrations include project management apps like Slack, Excel, 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.

  • 14 day free trial
  • From $12/user/month

Hive - Best Microsoft Project alternative for scalability

Hive's Gantt charts can be colour-coded and provide insights on task status.

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 and offers much more than just Gantt charts. Used by teams of varying sizes, from 10 people to 1,000, Hive is a great option as a Microsoft Project alternative for a diverse range of companies and work styles.

Hive’s time-tracking, analytics, and flexible view capabilities allow for a transparent understanding of other team member’s 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 Microsoft Project alternative tool that can be scaled up or down based on team needs.

The tool costs $12 per user per month when billed annually.

  • 30 days free trial
  • From $14/user/month

Smartsheet - Best built-in critical path feature

Smartsheet Dashboard.

Smartsheet’s online project management tool takes some of the most useful features of Microsoft Project, combines them with the simple use of an online spreadsheet, and then incorporates team collaboration and automation functions to save money. It offers the basics: functions such as making a schedule of beautiful activities with tasks, subtasks, activities, assigned resources and sections on tasks.

Smartsheet helps you organize projects, grids, calendars, dashboards, portals, forms and more all from a unified control center. They have pre-built Gantt chart templates with customizable fonts and colors, “% Complete” and “Assigned To” columns and more. It has useful 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.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $8.90/user/month

GanttPRO - Best Microsoft Project alternative for Mac

GanttPRO offers charts that are clean, intuitive, and easy to understand at-a-glance.

You’re probably aware of how painful it is to find a nice looking and powerful Gantt chart and an MS Project substitute. In GanttPRO, you will find both. This Gantt chart tool looks really nice with its intuitive UX/UI design and a short learning curve.

GanttPRO offers a wide range of robust project management, project portfolio management, team collaboration, resource and cost management features. In this MS Project alternative, you easily create tasks with lots of settings like statuses, priorities, dates, deadlines, progress, time log, etc., assign them, set dependencies between connected tasks, and add milestones. Thanks to the Auto-scheduling feature, any change in your tasks, dates, or dependencies will be automatically reflected.

Moreover, you can switch between views to get more flexibility. Besides the native greatly looking Gantt chart timeline, there are also the Board view and My tasks view.

If you already started your plan in MS Project but need to change it, import it directly to GanttPRO, in seconds.

GanttPRO provides:

  • Intuitive project management, robust portfolio and program management with a high-level picture.
  • Team collaboration with comments, real-time notifications, attachments, and mentions.
  • Advanced resource management: manage resources from all your projects in one place, see their availability, who is overloaded/underloaded, and with the help of drag & drop simplicity, redistribute tasks.
  • Task time tracking.
  • Advanced export and Sharing.

You can try a 14-day free trial or book a personal demo. A plan for 1 user starts from $15 if billed annually. Team plans start from $8.90 per user if billed annually.

  • 30 day free trial
  • From $30/user/month

Clarizen - Best enterprise Microsoft Project alternative

Clarizen allows users to visualize tasks, dependencies, timelines, and more in one view.

Companies are quickly finding that traditional, siloed, on-premises project planning and task management tools don’t work well in today’s environment. These tools are too complex and too narrowly focused and do not have the real-time information, the responsive planning, and flexibility required to keep everyone in the loop and everything on track. While it’s easy to download a simple task management tool, they do not support the collaborative interaction needed to complete process or project-related tasks. By contrast, delivers secure, cloud-based collaborative work management solutions built on the vision of business agility.

Discussions, tasks, projects, and portfolios are all accessible from Clarizen’s scalable enterprise platform. Our intuitive, easy-to-use and flexible solution offers a single source of information to improve work execution, collaborate in-context, optimize resources and respond faster. Clarizen provides:

• Centralized project and portfolio management – organize complex projects and automate workflows
• Change and issue management – track, manage and prioritize change requests and resolve issues
• Resource optimization and robust collaboration – execute on feedback and tasks in real-time to streamline how you work

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $29/user/month

Forecast - Best Microsoft Project Alternative for resource management

Create interactive project plans to set the right expectations from the start of the project.

Forecast is a powerful combination of resource management and project management built on the foundation that successful projects require a combination of short and long term planning. You can build advanced interactive Gantt charts with Forecast’s full suite of project management features.

Powered by AI, it is designed for companies that want to monitor the progress of their projects, programs, and portfolios in real-time. Forecast learns from hundreds of thousands of projects and turns a simple list of tasks into a project plan with assigned team members, estimated task duration, and precise delivery dates – allowing you to be more efficient and build project timelines in seconds.

Team members can collaborate and comment on tasks, and Forecast gives you profitability insights as well, so management can monitor revenue by project.

Forecast is currently used in 40+ countries worldwide, by agencies, consulting companies, and enterprises. The tool offers Lite, Pro, and Enterprise options that cost from $29/user/month, as well as a 14-day free trial.

  • 10 day free trial
  • From $3/user/month

Zoho Projects - Best for project visualization

Zoho Projects allows users to visualize complex projects in simple ways.

Zoho Projects is a MS Project alternative that has a simple, easy-to-use interface that also comes with a mobile application. Zoho Projects has extensive Gantt chart features and capabilities at an affordable price range which creates an all-round project management experience. It has an intuitive Gantt chart that can be operated with simple drag-and-drop actions. It supports all four kinds of dependencies and contains a critical path and baseline to help avoid delays.

Zoho Projects comes with features like task management, time tracking, and resource utilization. All projects can be split into milestones that you want to reach at various time periods. Task management is easy with features like custom fields and statuses, task recurrence, reminders, and a Kanban view. You can manage your time by splitting and allocating your available hours to all your work items.

The resource utilization chart comes with simple seesaws that depict the workload of your resources. While allocating tasks, you can easily see who is over-utilized, under-utilized, or unavailable too. Collaboration is possible with any of the project’s stakeholders with interactive feeds and forums, wiki pages and built-in chat.

Zoho Projects integrates with several Zoho applications like Zoho CRM, Zoho Books, Zoho People, and other applications like Office 360, Google Drive, G Cal, GitHub, BitBucket, and Crashlytics. Zoho has a Marketplace that has several pre-built extensions. Zoho Projects also has support engineers and live chat support to help with onboarding.

Zoho Projects costs from $3/user/month. The available plans are Standard, Premium, Express, and Enterprise.

  • Free demo
  • From $24/user/month

Workzone - Best for interactive Gantt charts

Workzone's interactive Gantt chart displays your project schedules graphically across a timeline.

Microsoft Project’s advanced features are meant for formally trained project management professionals, while Workzone provides robust features designed to be used successfully by the entire team, even those with no background in project management.

Unlike MS Project, Workzone includes five-star customer service. In fact, Workzone has a battle-tested approach that includes comprehensive onboarding and unlimited support. For anyone who struggles to make MS Projects useful to their teams, I’d recommend Workzone if for nothing else than the level of training and ongoing coaching that they offer.

Workzone’s interactive Gantt Charts, 10,000 ft project portfolio view, and project calendar allow teams to always know what’s going on and avoid bottlenecks. In the Gantt charts, Workzone links dependent tasks and uses a specific task’s end date to calculate the following task’s start date for projects with tasks that follow a set sequence. Plus, it automatically notifies the next party downstream when the dependent task is completed. In addition to those features, it offers secure document management and file-sharing, file versioning, customizable reporting, resource and task management, user permissions, and time tracking to keep teams productive. The software is cloud-based and offers automated emailed reports with up to date project status information.

Already an MS Project user? Import your Microsoft Project files directly into Workzone. I’m not sure if you can export .mpp files, but I do know that the tool offers file sharing at various permission levels as well as workload reports, so it’s easy enough to share out your resource plans.

Workzone has integrations with over a dozen standard workplace tools for comms, accounting, CRM, etc. Notably, it also integrates with MSTeams, so that could be useful for anyone who can’t leave the MS ecosystem fully. You can also extend Workzone’s functionality through their extensive 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.

  • 30 day free trial
  • From $30/user/month

Microsoft Project Pro - Robust project planning tool from Microsoft Office

Microsoft Project Pro's Gantt charts allow users to visualize tasks side-by-side with a task list.

Well done for making it all the way down to the bottom. Here’s your prize. Not many people seem to be aware of this product, and even Microsoft keep pretty quiet about it, but there’s an alternative to spending $500 on a Microsoft Project licence, you can pay as you go. and get the control and capabilities of Project Professional 2019 from virtually anywhere as an always up-to-date desktop subscription through Office 365.

The upside is that you get what you wanted from the start; you don’t need a Project alternative when you can actually pretty much have the real deal. The downside is that all those bells and whistles and add-ons that you can get with some of the other products might actually be quite useful after all.

Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365 costs from $30/user/month.

  • 30 day free trial
  • From $99/year

Merlin Project - Microsoft Project alternative for Mac, iPad, and iPhone with granular controls for customization

In addition to Gantt charts, Merlin Project also displays work distribution among team members and clients.

In its latest iteration, Merlin Project works pretty well. It’s a great Mac alternative to Microsoft Project, and looks very similar, with many of the granular controls for creating project plans that many of the other options out there gloss over.

You can create tasks and subtasks with dependencies and constraints, add work and duration separately, assign resources with an option to decrease duration or increase work, see how much work each resource has assigned, and add your own fields to each task, for which you can define the field type (e.g. checkbox, date, etc.). Merlin Project also comes with some cool new features such as Kanban board, resource pools, mind mapping and even a standalone app available in the Apple App Store.

Importing in and out of Merlin is pretty straightforward, import native MPP and export MS Project XML, but you lose a lot of formatting which is annoying.
Merlin Project costs $99/year.

Summary Of The Best Microsoft Project Alternatives For Creating Gantt Charts

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the baffling array of Microsoft Project Alternatives out there.

Below, we’ve put together a reader-friendly table neatly summarizing basic info about the tools described in this article. We’ve investigated the pricing and availability of free trials and demo versions for you to make a side-by-side comparison that much simpler.

Free MS Project Alternatives

They come with limited functionality, but here are a few Microsoft Project free alternatives:

  1. Project Libre – open source project management software
  2. GanttProject – free project management and scheduling app to make Gantt charts on Windows, OSX, and Linux
  3. Ganttology – interactive Gantt chart software with basic free plan (1 chart, 50 tasks) in addition to paid plans
  4. Toggl Plan – simple, sleek project planning software with a free plan (5 people max) in addition to paid plan

Other project scheduling software alternatives worth considering:

There are some new kids on the Gantt chart block! I haven’t had a chance to review these properly, but if none of the above work for you, it’s worth checking some of these out:

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Questions To Ask When Choosing Among The Best Microsoft Project Alternatives


Download Free Guide - How to choose a Microsoft alternative

So what is the best project scheduling software to use as a Microsoft Project alternative? It really depends on whether or not you subscribe to the requirements we set out above.

If you’re actually looking for something a bit more than that, then one of the cloud-based solutions like Smartsheet would probably work out well. As I often find myself offline, on planes, and in the wilds of BC, I would miss having a desktop app to churn out my .mpp’s on the road. So in short, my preference would be for Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365. It does everything I want it to do, in the format I need it. Yes, it’s kind of a cop-out but it works —and it’s actually no more expensive than any of the better, paid alternatives.

That’s how I made my decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing the right MS project alternative for your case:

Where is the Gantt chart and project schedule used in your workflow?

This is a bit of a catch-all, but in choosing a Microsoft Project alternative, it’s worth thinking about how you’re managing estimates, tasks, resources, budgets, risk, timesheets, and project reporting. There are features within Microsoft Project that support this, and many of the alternatives include them too.

How do you use your project plans and schedules?

If they are just Gantt charts that get created at the beginning of a project and are then not updated, it’s very different from the requirement for a tool that needs daily updates.

Consider what you actually use project timelines for; do you print them off every day and baseline progress? How do you share that information with the project team and executive? Consider too how you’ll be updating the timeline throughout the project.

Who will use it?

It’s worth considering if it will be just the project manager updating the project plan, or if the team will need to do it too. If the project timeline needs to be actively updated by the project team, it’s worth considering tools which are easy to use and require minimal onboarding.

What other tools are you using?

Microsoft Project integrates and plays nicely with its Microsoft buddies, SharePoint, and Project Server which are enterprise-based solutions capable of some incredibly smart things with Power BI, Internet of Things, bots, and machine learning. Microsoft Project integrates with a lot of other applications and tools too, including JIRA using the Ceptah Plugin and Daptiv PPM.

Are you always online?

Cloud-based project timeline apps can be great, and they can be kept more up to date with ‘live’ information but consider that they require an active internet connection to work. If you’re ever working offline, and got no cell reception, for example on a plane, you’ll be hooped and want a desktop application instead.

What’s the cost?

The cost of Microsoft Project tends to be one of the primary reasons that people look for an alternative. Microsoft Project isn’t cheap, but did you know that if you do a quick search on Amazon you can find the latest version of Microsoft Project 2019 for less than $600?

Consider Projects vs Users

Most of the Microsoft Project alternatives are priced on a cost-per-user basis. So in working out which solution is the most affordable, consider what makes the most sense for you; is it a tool that many people in the organization will need to use, or will it be used principally by the project manager?

Consider The Lifetime Cost Of Ownership

While web-based apps might seem affordable in the short run, typically costing around $15/user/month, the cost of ownership over 3 years is actually the same as buying a copy of Microsoft Project. So before deciding on subscribing to a service, consider purchasing a desktop-based non-cloud solution like:

Most of the cloud-based Microsoft project alternatives offer at least some paltry freemium offering which might be enough for you:

Summary

While Microsoft Project might seem like an easy tool to replace, when you can subscribe to Project Online Professional for $30/user/month, it’s worth weighing up all the options before subscribing to a cloud-based option.

But if you’re not using it every day, and just need a simple Gantt project planner, there are lots of great, cheap, and even free options for you.

What Do You Think?

What do you think we’re missing? Any other great alternatives to Microsoft Project for project scheduling, making Gantt charts, and project plans? We’d love to hear if you’ve got any suggestions, tips, or thoughts on using this kind of project scheduling software – why not share them using the comments below?

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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.

45 Comments

  • Avatar Meonia says:

    Hi Ben !

    you got right list of Microsoft alternatives and summarized in detail. As you said you will love to hear about any other alternative :) I want to share proofhub. Its a feature rich tool and we are using it since 2012, we are quite happy with their service so i thought sharing can help your post to keep it refreshing

    ProofHub costs from $49/ Unlimited USERS /month

    Summary of ProofHub:

    Create a Gantt chart: Pass
    Create a project overview chart: Pass
    Import and export mpp files: Fail
    Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass

    Overall score: 4/5

    I will share more if i found more competitive alternative!
    Also please let me know where I am wrong.

  • Avatar Steve says:

    Hi Ben, thanks for taking the time to review WorkZone. Just to clarify that in addition to our interactive Gantt Chart, WorkZone does indeed allow for importing/exporting of .mpp files and has reporting features to show a project overview.

    For more information on how WorkZone can help you better track your projects, please visit us at https://www.workzone.com.

    • Avatar Rob Foster says:

      Thanks for this review. We just signed up for Workzone after reviewing solutions with more and less features – so far it’s just right in terms of functionality for us.

      Rob Foster
      Profarma Specialty Group
      Brazil

  • Avatar Adam says:

    There are couple of apps you missed, for example bi-platformed ConceptDraw Project [which works with MS Project files] and Bugzilla – which is simple, but free

    https://www.conceptdraw.com/products/project-management-software/
    https://www.bugzilla.org/
    Cheers!

  • Avatar Alan Metcalfe says:

    Ben,
    Really liked the article and the brief listing format for the comparisons, proved very useful and timely, just had the experience you open with…. MS Project …….. How much!……. is there nothing else out there etc?

    As a result, found your article.
    Coming from an equipment manufacturing environment, dealing with large scale consultants & Construction companies, the ability to develop, share and reiterate schedules in a consistent format, that they can readily import and export in and out of the clients larger project databases is important. (in some cases it’s a contractual, project communications requirement).
    Hence the ability to import & export in .mpp is critical, it’s a shame that the developers for some of the online packages don’t provide this as a defacto standard feature.

    If there was consistent import/export format across multiple platforms, I think more of these smaller packages would be used more readily, especially by smaller contractors/equipment suppliers supplying into larger projects, where MS Project is simply not cost effective solution.

    Having said that, from this same perspective, Primavera Project scheduling software is also prevalent on these larger projects and having a similar capability would be useful.
    I know Excel data can be imported and passed around, but it can be a bit of nightmare, trying to maintain the spreadsheet structure, maintaining the correct data types in fields etc.

    I’d be interested to hear back from readers, if there are any workable, or proven standard file formats for transferring data between these smaller scheduling software packages, into the larger Project schedule software systems.

    Thanks again for a clear and informative article.
    Alan

  • Avatar Joanne says:

    Good article, thanks for the info!

  • Ben, you should also take a look at RationalPlan as an alternative to Microsoft Project https://www.rationalplan.com/
    You will see that the transition from MS Project To RationalPlan is flawless.

  • Avatar Karina says:

    Thank you, Ben, for your review. I just start experimenting after using MS Project for a long time. How do you think is Arike good for small projects?
    I can also share with you my personal discovery – GanttPRO – user-friendly online project planning soft which is free and will stay free forever for everyone who sign up now (well, developers promise it :) ). For me I’ve found 5 features:
    – extremely untuitive interface – after using MS Project GanttPRO is like a child toy)
    – 360 view of my projects with a critical path and zooming
    – export to pdf, jpg, xlsx, ical
    – possibility to share my project plans with colleagues and clients giving the right to edit or the right to view project
    – perfect visibility – graphic interface is hotsy totsy))

  • Avatar Dan says:

    Hi Ben,

    Great list! Thanks!

    We’re a small company and we’ve found that our main criteria is we need “fixed work” resource allocation (versus “fixed duration”).

    https://www.project.net/blog/work-duration-calculation-types

    Other than Project 365 and OmniPlan, it seems all the other solutions use the fixed duration model. We’re trying to get away from Project because we don’t want to continue having to use an outside solution like Basecamp for file sharing and discussions, and we don’t have Macs (OmniPlan also requires an outside platform for file sharing).

    We signed up for Wrike because we loved the feature set, only to find they are fixed duration only.

    Do you (or anyone else reading this thread) have any recommendations for a cloud-based DPM platform that uses/allows a fixed work model and also integrates discussions, file sharing, etc. so we don’t have to run on two separate platforms like we are now?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  • Avatar Dan Gould says:

    I just used Gantter.com and man did love the intuitive old time feel . It worked beautifully for a basic 12 item 56 point steel construction schedule. Thanks for the Recommendation. I like bells and whistles as much as the next person but simplicity is also a wonderful thing sometimes. It was straight forward and quite like using MS project 2003. I also took a look at the Rational plan that is suggested above and as far as I can tell that too looks very good for a good price. i would likely purchase that if I did these schedules more often.

  • Avatar Billy says:

    Hi Ben,

    I’m guessing there is a typo in Smartsheet as it’s saying it could export as XML only, yet in your summary for Smartsheet it says it passes the export as .mpp.
    Thanks for the article, really helpful.

  • Avatar Brandon B. says:

    Here’s the challenge that I keep running into: as a company who from time-to-time runs defense/government projects, there are big questions with regard to security of web-/cloud-based programs. In the research that I have done, specifically related to ITAR/EAR regulations, it is not recommended to use cloud-based programs at all. This really limits my options to a program that we can host on our internal server.

    Anyone else run into this same issue, or am I just making it up?

    • Avatar Ben Aston says:

      I’ve not encountered this challenge – why can’t you just install something like MS Project on your local machine?

      • Avatar Brandon B. says:

        That would be an option, and one that I have considered. However, the cost of setting up an internal server and the licenses for it, not to mention missing out on the incremental product updates, tends to make locally-hosted services less desirable.
        I’m still working on determining whether or not project planning data falls under ITAR/EAR regulations, but so far it is clear that we could not use document storage features of a cloud-based software.

    • I am not sure if that really works but a possible solution would be to use a PM tool from a provider that runs on an AWS GovCloud (US) (https://docs.aws.amazon.com/govcloud-us/latest/UserGuide/whatis.html). The service seems to be in compliance with ITAR: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/govcloud-us/latest/UserGuide/govcloud-itar.html That would mean that instead of hosting the program on your internal server and handle version updates, the software producer would do it for you on a dedicated AWS GovCloud (US) machine and you would have the exact same benefits of a cloud/web-based PM tool. We haven’t tried that yet with RationalPlan but it could be a viable solution… Interesting point of view, thanks!

  • Avatar Alex Homsi says:

    ProjExec (https://www.triloggroup.com) is the IBM-based alternative to MS Project with high fidelity compatibility with all versions of MS Project. It ships as an add-on IBM’s Enterprise Social Platform IBM Connections both on premises and on the IBM Cloud. If your company is using IBM Connections for social collaboration, then ProjExec is the way to go. Usually the cost of upgrading existing MS Project licenses pays for an enterprise-wide license of ProjExec.

  • Avatar Alice says:

    Fantastic review, thank you! I was just a bit surprised about the Merlin evaluation though. I use a Mac and found it to be the best Microsoft Project alternative I have tried. It looks very much like Project, and is sufficiently advanced. That is: you can create tasks and subtasks with dependencies and constraints, add work and duration separately, assign resources with an option to decrease duration or increase work, see how much work each resource has assigned, and add your own fields to each task, for which you can define the field type (e.g. checkbox, date, etc.) This last feature is why I dropped Omniplan – the devil’s in the detail! I needed to add, and filter by, a number of checkboxes and custom dates next to each task (like “urgent” flag, “important” flag, date task was requested etc.). The only downside I found was being unable to save straight to mpp – you can save to xml and whoever has the latest Project version can open it, but older versions don’t. And a quick note about Omniplan: a great feature for those who frequently change task dates and assignments is that you can define whether to adjust duration or work in a clear option button, rather than indirectly by adjusting dates and work/duration values. Hope you find this helpful!

    • Avatar Ben Aston says:

      Hi Alice,

      Thanks for your comments. It seems like my review was out of date – I discovered a few improvements since I last checked it out so thank you!

  • Avatar Nick says:

    Thanks Ben for this lowdown. It’s an interesting to get a PM’s perspective on Project Management software. This is a good guide for PC users although for Mac users the options are a bit more limited. However, there’s also some excellent project management software for those on Mac. This is a really useful article for anyone that needs something suitable for Macs – hope it helps! https://machow2.com/best-alternatives-microsoft-project-mac/

  • Avatar Maria Ryke says:

    For those who are handling with sensitive data, I would also recommend stackfield.com

  • Avatar Malcolm West says:

    HI Ben,

    Interesting review but not quite sure how you missed Planner from PROJECT in a box. https://www.projectinabox.org.uk/planner/ now quite a mature product and completely free for ever for all organisations to download https://www.projectinabox.org.uk/registration/ .

    We found in our commercial products that 80+percent of the plans people created in MS Project used a very basic set of functions, tasks, dependencies, groupings, resources etc so we provided these in a simple to use tool five years ago and now there are well over 100,000 users. We find many people ditching MS Project to use this instead at an organisation wide level as well as on a new user at a time basis.

    Over the years we have added a lot to Planner so it now includes project accounting and costing model and uniquely is also a risk and issue/RAID tool so users can collect all their key project controls data in one place. Of course we also provide reports and all data and charts etc can be exported and dropped to clip board. We even provide two way exchange with MS Project and Excel. We know of other customers who transfer to Primavera through this interface.

    Planner is used by many of our biggest global customers on some huge projects and also by the complete novice to create there first ever plans. A full set of training videos and free technical support is also provided. Although it is free forever it doesn’t mean it is some simple trial tool, we continue to add interesting new features to it based on the dialog with our many customers.

    Hope your readers find this a helpful update.

    Regards

    Malcolm West
    MD PROJECT in a box

  • Avatar Robert says:

    Another good “alternative” can be MS Project by itself, this program is available in cloud at https://www.apponfly.com/en/microsoft-project-standard-2016?KAI Full version of Project but online, not bad.

  • Avatar Pavel Kast says:

    If you are interested in Gantt chart tool then GanttPRO is the best choice. As its just intuitive, fast and smart to use, then other alternatives.

  • Avatar Jo T says:

    Gantter is no longer supported so is in effect a dead programme – and a very buggy one at that.

    • Avatar Ben Aston says:

      Thanks for the heads up on that one – last time I tried it I didn’t encounter any bugs, but good to know! Did you find any good free alternatives?

  • Avatar Johan says:

    I would highly recommend to take a look at Hansoft ( https://www.hansoft.com ) to which you can easily import MS Project XML. It is completely free for up to 9 users (it is intended to be used collaboratively) and then costs 28$/user/month. It is stable, super fast and very flexible.

  • Avatar Bre says:

    What about taskworld – how does this stack up in comparison to say SmartSheet?

  • Avatar Liz says:

    Looking for a recommendation for a novice – what’s a good, free tool to learn project management software on? Thanks!

  • Avatar Biraj Borah says:

    Hi,
    Ben
    It is a great article and a rich collection of MS project alternatives. Like you said you would like to hear about others too. I would like to represent TIEMCHART
    Tiemchart have been helping some of the largest organisation where were initially on MS Project. We have delivered a system that is also taking into account for Human, Material and Assets to account for project progress.
    Please visit our website https://tiemchart.com/ms-project-alternative.html to understand bit more about how we are helping the industry.
    We would love to hear back from you and also will be thankful if you can kindly include our name in your list.

    Thanks & Regards,

  • Avatar Damo says:

    Here is another free and simple project management tool with built in Gantt and Canvas

    https://ruumapp.com/

  • Avatar omaravaza says:

    Great compilation. Please also checkout Avaza (www.avaza.com).

    We offer integrated Project Management, Time Tracking, Expense Tracking, Scheduling, Time Billing, Fixed Fee Billing, 30+ reports and more.

    We also offer great 24/7 customer support, a robust API, and free pieces of training anytime you’d like! All that for a price that most can’t beat!

  • Avatar ziv says:

    You shuld add Proggio.com to your list, it’s a new free tool very easy to use for professional PMOs

  • Avatar Jessica says:

    Hello Ben,
    I enjoyed your summary, especially the visuals. Made it easier to compare and contrast between each tool. I have recently been using Zenkit. Do you know of it? They have a free version, allow offline access, and a similar cloud database function. They recently launched Zenkit To Do app, which has been a good alternative for previous Wunderlist users (like myself) that aren’t too keen on switching to MS To Do.

    https://zenkit.com/
    https://zenkit.com/en/todo/

    Cheers,
    Jessica

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