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Quickly Compare 10 Microsoft Project Alternatives For Creating Gantt Charts

By 10/01/2018 47 Comments

Is there really a viable Microsoft Project alternative for project scheduling software to create project plans and timing plans? Find out with our newly updated article for 2019 which provides a cheaper pay as you go version of Microsoft Project,  some great new MS Project alternatives and a downloadable how-to guide for choosing a Microsoft Project alternative for your project schedules.

Microsoft Project Alternatives Logo Soup

Enough jibber jabber – take me to the best Microsoft Project alternatives…

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 out there that can do the job, isn’t there?”  You respond something like, “Umm, well, maybe…”. And that’s the point of this article. For those of you who are on the hunt for a Microsoft Project 2016 alternative, you’ve come to the right place.

For a lot of agencies, the default project management tool for creating project plans is still Microsoft Project. If we’re really honest, though, for most of the digital projects that we manage, Microsoft Project management does far more than we ever need it for – it’s got stacks of features that most people never use, hasn’t really changed that much in 30 years, and doesn’t necessarily do much to streamline process within project management. So are there any real Microsoft Project alternatives – paid, or even better, for free – that are worth using?

Wait a minute though…

Before looking for Microsoft Project alternatives, did you know that the real deal is actually not that expensive?

Why would you use Microsoft Project?

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. Your best choice might be to buy MS Project.

How much does Microsoft Project cost?

It’s simple and affordable to subscribe to an Office 365 version of Microsoft Project for just $30/month. In fact, now you can pick up a copy of Microsoft Project on Amazon for less than $600.

There’s also been an interesting shift in the Microsoft Project alternative world with pricing that it’s worth being aware of. The cloud-based, online Microsoft Project alternatives are now almost all charging by the user— rather than by the number of projects—which is making common Projects alternatives on average cost about $180/user/year; much more expensive than they used to be. They’re also nearly all transitioning from being simple Gantt chart tools to trying to include project, task and resource management tools. In short, making your choice of an MS Project alternative is becoming more complex.

What is Microsoft Project?

What is MS Project? It’s 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

Best Microsoft Project Alternatives For Project Scheduling Software


In this review of Microsoft Project alternatives, we break down the features, pricing, pros & cons of the following tools.

List of Microsoft Project Alternatives:

  1. GanttPRO –
  2. Wrike –
  3. Celoxis –
  4. Instagantt –
  5. Mind Genius –
  6. Clarizen –
  7. Smartsheet –
  8. Omniplan –
  9. Tom’s Planner –
  10. Microsoft Project Online Professional –

Project Scheduling Software Selection Criteria (For A Microsoft Project Alternative)

We’re project managers, right, so let’s first define the requirements. we need to properly define what our alternative needs to do. There are loads of project scheduling software alternatives out there, many of which do all kinds of things that we, as digital project managers will never make use of, so what do we actually use it for?

Here are four common use cases that a project scheduling tool, or any MS Project alternative needs to master:

  1. Create a Gantt chart – demonstrate in detail the work breakdown structure (WBS) with tasks, sub-tasks, showing duration, start and end dates, dependencies and assigned resources
  2. Create a project exec summary chart – provide a high-level view of the project plan to provide a project snapshot that anyone can understand
  3. Import and export .mpp files – seamlessly import someone else’s project plan, make edits and send it back to them without giving anyone a headache
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans – be able to share something that looks presentable

I know. I know. I know. There are loads of other things that MS Project does – resource management and project portfolio management with business intelligence integrations are great. But generally speaking, all we’re really doing is scheduling our projects – yes, there are lots of other great functionality, but be honest, you don’t use them very much!

gantt pro logo microsoft project alternative project management software
  • 9.0
  • 14-day free trial.
  • from $5.90/user/month.

GanttPRO –

GanttPRO is online Gantt chart software with lots of useful features. If you are not new to the world of project management, you know how painful it is to find a nice looking and powerful Gantt chart and a MS Project substitute. In GanttPRO, you will find both. This Gantt chart tool looks really nice with its intuitive UX/UI design.

ganttpro screenshot - microsoft project alternatives for creating gantt chartsBesides, it offers a wide range of project management features. Here you can easily create tasks, assign them, and connect them with dependencies, set milestones, enable the critical path to see the most important tasks or create a baseline to compare a current state of your plan with what you have initially planned. Thanks to the auto-scheduling function, any change in your tasks, dates or dependencies will be automatically reflected. GanttPRO is also a good collaboration tool. It allows users to comment on tasks, export, import and share charts with Public URL as well as get notifications, mention team members, browse History mode, etc. 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 $5.90 per user if billed annually.

Summary of GanttPRO:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Pass
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Pass
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 9.0
  • 8.0
  • 14-day free trial.
  • from $9.80/user/month.

Wrike –

To illustrate the point that the crossover between cloud-based Gantt chart creating Microsoft Project alternatives and project management tools is narrowing, it’s worth considering an all in one project management and scheduling tool like Wrike. While it doesn’t fall neatly into our selection criteria (it does much more than simply create Gantt charts), it’s worth including as an alternative way of approaching the challenge to create shareable project plans.

wrike screenshot - microsoft project alternatives for creating gantt chartIt’s a project management tool more akin to JIRA, Clarizen or Asana – based around tasks, Wrike allows you to define and assign tasks and track their progress in real-time. You can easily import your .mpp Microsoft Project plans into the interface, although exporting is limited to .XLS. The Gantt chart view works but the control of interdependencies and predecessors is a bit cumbersome so it’s not a clean like for like solution, but it’s definitely a workable solution. For the price (which they’ve priced very competitively), you can create Gantt charts and you’ve then armed with a swathe of other project management tools and potential integrations and features that you might find useful.

Wrike costs from $9.80/user/month.

 Summary of Wrike:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Fail
  3. Import and export mpp files: Pass
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 8.0
  • 9.0
  • 30-day free trial.
  • from $25/user/month.

Celoxis –

More than just a Gantt chart tool, Celoxis is a comprehensive but easy to use, project management tool used by HBO, Deloitte and Rolex that handily comes in two flavours – as an online app or on-premise. When compared to MS Project, it’s a lower cost, yet fuller featured product with powerful interactive Gantt charts, handy portfolio dependencies and all the keyboard shortcuts you could want.

celoxis screenshot - microsoft project alternatives for creating gantt chartsJust as you would with Microsoft Project manager, Celoxis allows you to create tasks, subtasks, milestones, assigned resources and dependencies to tasks. It is a comprehensive and enterprise-grade integrated solution that you can use to not only create Gantt charts but also use to manage your project portfolios, workflows, expenses, time sheets and resources. It is really a complete and full-featured project management tool with project tracking, resource management, risk management and reporting all rolled into one, together with the full-blown capabilities for collaboration with clients. Celoxis offer the option of a product demo or a free 30-day trial if you’re looking to take it for a test drive.

Celoxis costs $25/user/month for SaaS users and $450/user for on-premise.

Summary of Celoxis:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Pass
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Pass
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 9.0
instagantt logo - microsoft project alternatives
  • 9.5
  • 7 days free trial.
  • from $5/user/month.

Instagantt –

Instagantt is a Project Management tool that was built with UX and beautiful design in mind. It has all the most powerful features to manage your projects, and some great features like easy scheduling with Drag & Drop, dependencies between tasks, subtasks, milestones and holidays. With a simple but powerful Hour Estimating and Budget Estimating tool, it’s the perfect tool for balancing the workload inside a team or for forecasting a complex project on. It also has a great feature that let you manage all your projects simultaneously on the same Gantt Chart.

Instagantt Screenshot 0 microsoft project alternatives

It was born 5 years ago as a plug-in for Asana, and now it has just released it’s Standalone version which doesn’t require Asana. Now you can track Estimated Hours, Actual Hours, Estimated Cost and Actual cost, and also track the Priority and Risk of a task. In terms of resource management, you can assign tasks to real collaborators or just to virtual resources, which makes it really useful for planning quick projects. It has some other powerful tools like Critical Path, or their first-class Baselines, which is an amazing functionality for tracking the changes of a project over time. Another great feature of Instagantt are their “Public Snapshots” feature, which let you create and share a read-only link to any project.

Instagantt costs $7/month for a single user, or $5/month when purchasing more than one user. It also has 7 days of free trial.

Summary of Instagantt:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Fail
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Pass
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 9.5
MindGenius logo - Microsoft project alternatives
  • 9.5
  • free 14-day trial.
  • $160/year.
  • $256 one-time cost.

MindGenius –

With MindGenius users can work through the various stages of project management including initiation, planning, scheduling, delivery, monitoring and control.

mindgenius screenshot - microsoft project alternative - gantt chart

Get your project off to the right start by full understanding requirements, agreeing project scope and preparing your work breakdown structure before seamlessly converting your plans into a Gantt chart to manage individual tasks and monitor your project to successful completion. With its core upfront planning capability complemented with integrated MS Project functionality, MindGenius saves you time, helps you focus on the right things, reduces stress by putting you in control and basically gets the job done.

MindGenius costs $160 for the first year, and $56 annual payment from year two on. There is also an option for one-time payment of $256 for perpetual use of the tool.

Summary of MindGenius:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Pass
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Pass
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 9.5
  • 10
  • 30-day free trial.
  • from $30/user/month.

Clarizen –

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, Clarizen delivers secure, cloud-based collaborative work management solutions built on the vision of business agility.

clarizen screenshot - microsoft project alternativesfor creating gantt chartDiscussions, 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

Summary of Clarizen:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Pass
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Pass
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 10
smartsheet logo project scheduling software
  • 8.0
  • 30-day free trial.
  • from $14/user/month.

Smartsheet –

Smartsheet’s online project management tool takes some of the most useful features of Project, marries it with the ease of use of an online spreadsheet, and then layers in team collaboration and time-saving automation features. It’s a paid, cloud hosted and web-based system complete with mobile apps which enable some pretty powerful collaborative tools with alerts and reminders as the project timeline changes over time.

smartsheet screenshot - microsoft project alternatives for creating gantt chartIt delivers the basics well – creating pretty drag and drop Gantt charts with tasks, subtasks, milestones, assigned resources and dependencies to tasks. It also offers a broader capability for resource management, reporting, and forms; they’ve begun to layer on a lot of features although I’m not sure how helpful they really are in the world of digital project management. Smartsheet is one of the better-known products and with good reason – it’s a solid product. The only real snags are the inability to produce a high-level project summary and the inability to export as a .mpp; you can only export as XML.

Smartsheet costs from $14/user/month.

Summary of Smartsheet:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Fail
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Fail
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 8.0
omniplan logo microsoft project alternative project management software
  • 8.0
  • 14-day free trial.
  • from $149.99/user/month.

Omniplan –

Alright, there you go, for you crazy digital project managers who are still holding on to your creative side, and are playing around on Macs, here’s a couple of desktop based option for you. Desktop-based Microsoft Project alternatives are important because we can’t always be on the interwebs, like when we’re on planes (yes, I know, some of them offer overpriced terribly slow WiFi but you know what I mean). Omniplan is made by the Omni group – makers of Omnigraffle, so these peeps know what they’re doing.

omniplan screenshot - microsoft project alternatives for creating gantt chartIt delivers the basics well – creating pretty drag and drop Gantt charts with tasks, subtasks, milestones, assigned resources and dependencies to tasks. Powered by your own, or the Omni sync server, it also has some more advanced collaboration features which work pretty nicely. Keeping projects up-to-date is powered by whole-project sharing where change-tracking, automatic publishing, and instant updates notify you when changes are made to the timeline, tasks, or amount of work completed, Omniplan allows you to accept or reject the changes one by one, or en masse.

Omniplan costs from $149.99/user.

 Summary of Omniplan:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Fail
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Pass
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 8.0
tom's planner logo microsoft project alternative project management software
  • 6.0
  • free demo.
  • from $7.50/user/month.

Tom’s Planner –

Tom’s Planner is paid web-based Gantt chart software that allows anyone to create, collaborate and share Gantt Charts online with drag and drop simplicity. It’s billed as a more simple and collaborative alternative to Project, but is really aimed at replacing teams trying to collaborate using Excel. Because of that, it looks a lot like MS Excel – there isn’t a way to define dependencies and defining non-working time (e.g. bank holidays).

toms planner screenshot - microsoft project alternatives for creating gantt chartThat said, if you’re looking to produce a simple project plan, it’s pretty good. It’s web based, extremely intuitive and easy-to-use. A great feature is being able to publish your charts online and invite others to collaborate on projects (a free account suffices to accept invitations), add links to other websites and other online documents and embed your schedule in your own blog/website or intranet. The real selling point here is that it’s online, shareable, and collaborative, the downside is that it’s very basic.

Tom’s Planner costs from $7.50/user/month.

Summary of Tom’s Planner:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Fail
  2. Create a project overview chart: Fail
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Fail
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 6.0
microsoft project online - project scheduling software
  • 10
  • 30-day free trial.
  • from $30/user/month.

Microsoft Project Online Professional  – 

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 2016 from virtually anywhere as an always up-to-date desktop subscription through Office 365.

microsoft project online - gantt chart

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.

 Summary of Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365:

  1. Create a Gantt chart: Pass
  2. Create a project overview chart: Pass
  3. Import and export .mpp files: Pass
  4. Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: Pass
Score: 10

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.

Software Overview Trial/Demo Price Score Site
GanttPROgantt pro logo microsoft project alternative project management software Read GanttPRO features & functionality 14 days free trial. from $5.90/user/month. 9 Check out GanttPRO
Wrikewrike logo - microsoft project alternative project management software Read Wrike features & functionality 14 days free trial. $9.80/user/month. 8 Check out Wrike
Celoxisceloxis logo microsoft project alternative project management software Read Celoxis features & functionality 30 days free trial. from $25/user/month. 9 Check out Celoxis
Instaganttinstagantt logo - microsoft project alternatives Read Instagantt features & functionality 7 days free trial. from $5/user/month. 9.5 Check out Instagantt
MindGeniusMindGenius logo - Microsoft project alternatives Read MindGenius features & functionality 14 days free trial. $160/ year.

$256 one-time cost.

9.5 Check out Mindgenius
ClarizenClarizen-logo-microsoft project alternative project management software Read Clarizen features & functionality 30 days free trial. from $30/user/month. 10 Check out Clarizen
Smartsheetsmartsheet logo microsoft project alternative project management software Read Smartsheet features & functionality 30 days free trial. from $14/user/month. 8 Check out Smartsheet
Omniplanomniplan logo microsoft project alternative project management software Read Omniplan features & functionality 14 days free trial. from $149.99/user/month. 8 Check out Omniplan
Tom’s Plannertom's planner logo microsoft project alternative project management software Read Tom’s Planner features & functionality Free demo. from $7.50/ user/month. 6 Check out Tom's Planner
Microsoft Project Onlinemicrosoft project online - project scheduling software Read Microsoft Project Online features & functionality 30-day free trial. from $30/user/month. 10 Check out Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project for Mac

Microsoft doesn’t produce Microsoft Project for Mac users. In fact, the last time that there was a version of Microsoft Project for Apple users was back in 1993 with Microsoft Project 4.0 for Mac. Sadly, that doesn’t work now! So if you’re on the Apple train and you’re trying to create a Gantt chart on a Mac, the first thing to remember is that you could just use Bootcamp or Parallels to get Windows on your Mac, and then use the PC software we’ve listed above. If you can’t do that, as well as the obvious web-based alternatives, there are a few dedicated Microsoft Project for Mac, Gantt chart options that you can install on your Apple Mac or iPad.

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:

  1. Team Gantt –
  2. Project Libre –
  3. Merlin Project 5 –
  4. Edraw Project –
  5. GanttProject – 
  6. ProjExec –
  7. Rational Plan –
  8. Ganttology –
  9. SmartDraw –
  10. Creately –
  11. –
  12. WorkZone – 
  13. TaskRay –
  14. Teamweek –
  15. Hyper Plan – 
  16. Office Timeline – 
  17. Tiemchart – 

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. And if you’re a Mac user, you’re probably best off getting a PC, or failing that, try using Omniplan.

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.

What to consider

But with so many options on the table, what are the things worth considering when choosing a Microsoft Project alternative? I think it’s worth thinking about three areas when choosing a Microsoft Project alternative:

  • Functionality – does it do what I need it to do? (we’ve covered this already above)
  • Workflow – how nicely does this play with my other project management toolkit?
  • Cost – is this actually cheaper than Microsoft Project?

Considering where the Gantt chart and project schedule is 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, time sheets and project reporting. There are features within Microsoft Project that support this, and many of the alternatives include them too.

What do you do with 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 be using 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.

Considering the cost of MS Project Alternatives

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 2016 for less than $600?

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 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?

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:


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 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? What other great alternatives to Microsoft Project are there 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?

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads 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.


  • 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.

  • 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

    • 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

  • 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

  • Alan Metcalfe says:

    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.

  • Joanne says:

    Good article, thanks for the info!

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

  • 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))

  • 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”).

    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?


  • Dan Gould says:

    I just used 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • Ben Aston says:

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

      • 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) ( The service seems to be in compliance with ITAR: 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!

  • Alex Homsi says:

    ProjExec ( 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.

  • 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!

    • 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!

  • 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!

  • Maria Ryke says:

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

  • Malcolm West says:

    HI Ben,

    Interesting review but not quite sure how you missed Planner from PROJECT in a box. now quite a mature product and completely free for ever for all organisations to download .

    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.


    Malcolm West
    MD PROJECT in a box

  • Robert says:

    Another good “alternative” can be MS Project by itself, this program is available in cloud at Full version of Project but online, not bad.

  • 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.

  • Jo T says:

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

    • 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?

  • […] you start looking for a Microsoft Project Alternative, did you know there’s actually a way to open and read Microsoft Project .mpp files without […]

  • Johan says:

    I would highly recommend to take a look at Hansoft ( ) 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.

  • […] but is usually presented as a Gantt chart, and made in Microsoft Project, or one of the other Microsoft Project alternative planning […]

  • Bre says:

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

  • Liz says:

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

  • Biraj Borah says:

    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 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,

  • […] the last few days, we, at SmartBox software, conducted a little experiment to test our Project Scheduling Smart Assistant (PSSA) software. Like any good scientific experiment, we started out with a […]

  • Damo says:

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

  • omaravaza says:

    Great compilation. Please also checkout Avaza (

    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!

  • Danny says:

    GanttPRO’s price/options is the best so far!

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