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The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2019

By 10/01/2018 44 Comments

On the hunt for a Microsoft Project 2019 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.

Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best Microsoft Project Alternatives

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, screenshots, and scores to help you choose the right one.

List Of The Best Microsoft Project Alternatives 2019

Here’s my list of the best MS Project Alternatives for 2019:

  1. GanttPRO
  2. Celoxis
  3. monday.com
  4. ProjectManager.com
  5. Zoho Projects
  6. Clarizen
  7. Hive
  8. Merlin Project 5
  9. MindView
  10. Microsoft Project Online Professional

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

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

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.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Project?

What are the benefits of Microsoft Project?

Here are some of the main benefits that MS Project can provide:

  • Deploy resources as efficiently and effectively as possible, reducing downtime and increasing utilization.
  • Provide a big picture view of organizational capacity to prevent overbooking and support hiring decisions.
  • Forecast revenue by providing reports on upcoming projects and planned resource deployment.

.

How much does Microsoft Project cost?

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. Microsoft project costs $9 per user per month for the cloud-based, pay-as-you-go version.

Is Microsoft Project easy to use?

Is Microsoft Project easy to use?

Yes and no. Microsoft Project is used by many large organizations, and MPP files are still an industry standard. However, for many 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 processes. MS Project is still useful, but there are reasons why some agencies are looking for more lean and collaborative Microsoft Project alternatives.

Is Microsoft Project free?

Is Microsoft Project free?

No, Microsoft Project is not free as a stand-alone solution. It is included in the Office for Windows Suite, so users who already pay for Office for Windows can use Projects for free.

Is Microsoft Project the best project management software?

Is Microsoft Project the best project management software?

It depends on what you need to use it for. MPP files are the still the industry standard, and Microsoft Project is a secure, trusted legacy system. For complex, enterprise level project planning, Microsoft Project should be at the top of your list. However, there are alternatives to MS Project that have better support for collaboration and are rated as being much easier to learn and use—many of which are in the list below.

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

Criteria For Microsoft Project Alternative Software

There’s loads of project scheduling software out there that does all kinds of things that we, as digital project managers will never make use of. In a tool that replaces MS Project, what exactly are we looking for? Here’s the criteria I use to evaluate Microsoft Project alternative project scheduling tool:

  • User Interface (UI): How well-designed is it? How clear are the displays and navigation?
  • Usability: Is it easy to learn? Are there tutorials, training, and user support?
  • Features & Functionality: How many of the key resource management software features and functions does it provide, and how powerful are they? Specifically, I looked for this functionality:
    • 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
    • Create a project exec summary chart: provide a high-level view of the project plan to provide a project snapshot that anyone can understand
    • Import and export .mpp files: be able to open .mpp files, seamlessly import someone else’s project plan, make edits and send it back to them without giving anyone a headache
    • Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: be able to share something that looks presentable
  • Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? What are the pre-built integrations?
  • Value for $: How appropriate is the price for its features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent and flexible?

I know, I know: There are loads of other things that MS Project does, like resource management and project portfolio management with business intelligence integrations, which is 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!

Best Microsoft Project Alternatives For Project Scheduling Software

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. You’ll also find an overall score to help you quickly compare tools.

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  • 14-day free trial.
  • from $5.90/user/month.

User Interface (UI)

100%

Usability

100%

Integrations

100%

Value for $

100%

Features & Function

100%

Overall Score

100%

1. GanttPROPowerful online Gantt chart software with a beautiful user interface.

You’re probably aware of 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 charts

GanttPro screenshot—thanks to the auto-scheduling function, any change in your tasks, dates or dependencies are automatically reflected.

Besides, 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.

Overall Score: 10
Visit Website
  • 30-day free trial.
  • from $25/user/month.

User Interface (UI)

100%

Usability

90%

Integrations

100%

Value for $

70%

Features & Function

100%

Overall Score

92%

2. CeloxisPopular, widely used tool with comprehensive project and portfolio management features.

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

Celoxis allows you to create tasks, subtasks, milestones, assigned resources and dependencies to tasks.

Just 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.

Overall Score: 9.2
Visit Website
  • free 7-day trial.
  • from $17/month for 2 users.

User Interface (UI)

100%

Usability

100%

Integrations

90%

Value for $

100%

Features & Function

90%

Overall Score

96%

3. monday.comAward-winning, visually intuitive tool for planning, tracking, and collaborating on projects.

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 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.

Monday.com screenshot - Gantt Chart

monday.com offers multiple views of a project—this Team Projects view shows a simple breakdown of tasks by team role.

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.

Overall Score: 9.6
Visit Website
  • 30-day free trial.
  • from $15/user/month.

User Interface (UI)

90%

Usability

90%

Integrations

90%

Value for $

80%

Features & Function

100%

Overall Score

90%

4. ProjectManager.com Fully-featured, award-winning PM software with Gantt chart features to plan, schedule and update in real-time.

ProjectManager.com is a well-rounded, award-winning software used by some big names including NASA, Volvo, Brookstone, and Ralph Lauren. This is an MS Project alternative solution where you can simply plan projects, assign tasks, track progress and collaborate with teams easily.

ProjectManager.com screenshot - Microsoft Project Alternatives

Use ProjectManager.com to plan projects, assign tasks, track progress and collaborate with teams easily.

This tool delivers a ton of useful Gantt chart features that rival MS Project. Using this tool, you can create project plans (Gantt charts), manage tasks, create reports, and manage timesheets, expenses, and workloads. This Gantt chart application also provides a useful feature that lets you easily switch between views—between Gantt chart, task list, and Kanban board views. You can use in the in-app communication features to comment on tasks and assign to team members.

Their real-time reports are easy to use—get pre-set reports (project status, timesheets, expenses) in a single click, or set up your own custom reports. You can also use the real-time dashboard to get a glimpse of your current project stats. And you can use all of these features to schedule and report across multiple projects, as well.

ProjectManager.com integrations include native integrations with GoogleApps like Drive, Gmail, Calendar, etc. as well as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Project. For all other integrations, you can use Zapier to sync ProjectManager.com with other tools.

Pricing for ProjectManager.com starts at $15/user/month, with their basic “Personal” plan requiring a minimum of 5 users. They offer a 30-day free trial (a credit card is required to sign up for a free trial).

Overall Score: 9
Visit Website
  • free 10-day trial.
  • from $3/user/month.

User Interface (UI)

90%

Usability

100%

Integrations

90%

Value for $

100%

Features & Function

90%

Overall Score

94%

5. Zoho ProjectsProject management software that helps businesses plan, track, and collaborate with ease.

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 critical path and baseline to help avoid delays.

Zoho Projects screenshot - Microsoft Project Alternatives

Zoho Projects’ intuitive Gantt chart with simple drag-and-drop actions supports all four kinds of dependencies. It also contains 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 an 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.

Overall Score: 9.4
Visit Website
  • 30-day free trial.
  • from $30/user/month.

User Interface (UI)

100%

Usability

90%

Integrations

100%

Value for $

80%

Features & Function

100%

Overall Score

94%

6. ClarizenFully-featured, enterprise-grade software with additional portfolio, resource, and workflow tools.

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 chart

Screenshot of Clarizen’s Gantt chart tool which lets you execute on feedback and tasks in real time to streamline how you work.

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

Overall Score: 9.4
Visit Website
  • 14 days free trial.
  • from $12/user/month.

User Interface (UI)

100%

Usability

100%

Integrations

100%

Value for $

100%

Features & Function

100%

Overall Score

100%

7. Hive – Ready-to-scale project management and collaboration software used by small teams of 10 up to Fortune 500s.

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 screenshot - microsoft project alternatives

Hive’s time-tracking, analytics and flexible view capabilities allow for transparent understanding of other team-members work and upcoming projects.

Hive’s time-tracking, analytics and flexible view capabilities allow for transparent understanding of other team-members work and upcoming projects. Hive also has one of the first full email integrations in any project management tool, which allows you to send and receive Gmail and Outlook messages from the app. Choose Hive if you’re in the market for a well-laid-out, comprehensive 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.

Overall Score: 10
Visit Website
  • 30-day free trial.
  • $99/year.

User Interface (UI)

80%

Usability

80%

Integrations

60%

Value for $

100%

Features & Function

80%

Overall Score

80%

8. Merlin ProjectMicrosoft Project alternative for Mac, iPad, and iPhone with granular controls for customization.

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.

merlin project 5 screenshot - microsoft project alternatives for creating gantt chart

Screenshot of Merlin Project’s highly customizable Gantt chart.

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.

Overall Score: 8
Visit Website
  • free trial.
  • $379

User Interface (UI)

100%

Usability

100%

Integrations

100%

Value for $

100%

Features & Function

100%

Overall Score

100%

9. MindViewdynamic Gantt chart software that includes a project timeline, project reports and work breakdown structure modules.

MindView is a powerful Microsoft Project Alternative that boasts mind mapping features for planning projects. With MindView, users have the ability to create a work breakdown structure and project timelines/road maps. This can all be done without having to re-create data.

smartsheet screenshot - microsoft project alternative for creating gantt chart

MindView screenshot showing the Gantt chart and project plan task breakdown.

Gantt charts can be made in 4 simple steps. Users can start by brainstorming project plans in the mind map view adding schedule information and then switch to the built-in Gantt view to refine the plan. Users can then fine-tune their Gantt chart by building schedules, allocating resources, and managing scope changes. MindView enables users to export Gantt charts to Microsoft Project for further development. Finally, MindView allows users to communicate the Gantt chart as a timeline, simplifying the project plan for people unfamiliar with Gantt charts.

MindView also has simple features like constraints, dependencies and baselines to the more advanced resource management features like effort drive tasks, project calendars and rates/resources. MindView has robust project reports and can be collaborative for portfolio management.
MindView adopts the latest Microsoft Office interface and has built-in tutorial videos to guide users. The use of the ribbon system makes the software familiar and intuitive to use and learn. Users can also use the latest MS Office keyboard shortcuts.

MindView imports and exports to the entire MS Office suite (Excel, PP, Word, Outlook) including MS Project. MindView also exports to .pdf, HTML, project reports, XML, RTF and picture.

MindView starts at $379 for a single user license. They also offer a fully functional free trial and free webinars to get you set up.

Overall Score: 10
Visit Website
  • 30-day free trial.
  • from $30/user/month.

User Interface (UI)

100%

Usability

100%

Integrations

100%

Value for $

100%

Features & Function

100%

Overall Score

100%

10. Microsoft Project Pro Robust project planning tool from Microsoft Office.

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.

microsoft-project-online-gantt-chart

Screenshot of Microsoft Project 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.

Overall Score: 10
Visit Website

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 Read GanttPRO features & functionality 14 days free trial. from $5.90/user/month. 10 Check out GanttPRO
CeloxisCeloxis logo Read Celoxis features & functionality 30 days free trial. from $25/user/month. 9.2 Check out Celoxis
monday.commonday logo - microsoft project alternatives Read monday.com features & functionality 7 days free trial. from $17/month for 2 users. 9.6 Check out monday.com
ProjectManager.comProjectManager.com logo - Microsoft Project Alternatives Read ProjectManager.com features & functionality 30 days free trial. $15/user/month. 9 Check out ProjectManager.com
Zoho ProjectsZoho Projects logo - Microsoft Project Alternatives Read Zoho Projects features & functionality free 10-day trial.

from $3/user/month.

9.4 Check out Zoho Projects
ClarizenClarizen-logo Read Clarizen features & functionality 30 days free trial. from $30/user/month. 9.4 Check out Clarizen
Hivehive logo - microsoft project alternatives Read Hive features & functionality 14 days free trial. from $12/ user/month. 10 Check out Hive
Merlin Projectmicrosoft-project-alternatives-merlin-logo Read Merlin Project features & functionality 30 days free trial. $99/year. 8 Check out Merlin Project
MindViewmindview logo Read MindView features & functionality Free trial available $379 10 Check out MindView
Microsoft Project Onlinemicrosoft project online Read Microsoft Project Online features & functionality 30-day free trial. from $30/user/month. 10 Check out Microsoft Project

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. Team Gantt – MS Project alternative with great UI and a free plan (3 people, 1 project) in addition to paid plans
  5. Teamweek – 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:

  1. Wrike
  2. Tom’s Planner
  3. Instagantt
  4. Mind Genius – https://www.mindgenius.com
  5. Edraw Project
  6. ProjExec
  7. Rational Plan
  8. SmartDraw
  9. Creately
  10. ProjectManager.com
  11. WorkZone
  12. TaskRay
  13. Teamweek
  14. Hyper Plan
  15. Office Timeline
  16. Tiemchart

Want Help Narrowing Down the Options?

This tool is pretty useful. We’ve partnered with Crozdesk to give you access to their “Software Finder”.

If you input some of the details about your project and the features you’re looking for in a project management tool, it will generate a list of tools that match your preferences. You provide your email, and they send over a nice PDF guide with a summary of your best matches.

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, time sheets 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 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 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?

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.

44 Comments

  • 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 https://www.workzone.com.

    • 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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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”).

    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

  • 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.

  • 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) (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!

  • 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.

  • 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! https://machow2.com/best-alternatives-microsoft-project-mac/

  • Maria Ryke says:

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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:

    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,

  • Damo says:

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

    https://ruumapp.com/

  • 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!

  • ziv says:

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

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