Best ToolsToolsTools Planning

List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020



All your project management needs + G Suite = profitable projects.

Our friend and supporter

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.

List Of The Best Microsoft Project Alternatives 2020

Here’s my list of the best MS Project Alternatives for 2020:

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

Jump to Microsoft Project alternative overviews

MS Project Common Questions

What is Microsoft Project?

What is Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project is a project management tool used by different types of users, with varying levels of access. The software provides tables, views, filters, fields, calendars, and a database for doing things like:

  • Developing project plans
  • Assigning resources
  • Tracking time & progress
  • Creating Gantt charts
  • Creating & managing budgets
  • Balancing workloads
  • Scheduling tasks & resources
  • Creating graphical reports
  • Storing project data in a shared database

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

Is Microsoft Project useful?

Is Microsoft Project useful?

For a lot of agencies, yes. In many cases, the default project management tool for creating project plans is still Microsoft Project, and it provides a lot of useful tools.

For starters, Microsoft Project is not just a fuzzy old tool that Microsoft doesn’t really care about—they’re introducing some really smart integrations with Power BI, Internet of Things, bots and machine learning that are awesome. In fact, your best choice might be to buy MS Project.

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

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

Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best Microsoft Project Alternatives

DPM Microsoft Project Alternatives Logo Soup

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

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

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

Criteria For Microsoft Project Alternative Software

There are 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 are the criteria I used to evaluate Microsoft Project alternative project scheduling tools:

  • User Interface (UI): How well-designed is it? How clear are the displays and navigation?
  • Usability: Is it intuitive? Are there tutorials and training? Does the tool offer quick and responsive customer support when your team members have questions? Does it have an Android and iOS app so you can access it from any device?
  • 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 these functionalities:
    • Create a Gantt chart: demonstrate in detail the work breakdown structure (WBS) with tasks, sub-tasks, and to-do lists. This should show duration, start and end dates, task dependencies, and assigned resources to facilitate task management.
    • 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 MS Project files, seamlessly import someone else’s project plan, make edits, and send it back to them without giving anyone a headache. All project files should be able to be stored within the project management solution, rather than in Dropbox or Google drive.
    • Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: be able to share something that looks presentable. Bonus points if you can switch views to easily see your plans as task lists, kanban boards, calendars, etc.
    • Collaboration tools: be able to use built-in functionalities to encourage team collaboration and receive real-time notifications for updates.
    • Issue tracking: be able to note and keep track of ongoing issues and problems with certain projects or project types.
  • 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 cases? 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 functionalities, but be honest—you don’t use them very much!

Best Microsoft Project Alternatives For Project Scheduling Software

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

The Digital Project Manager is reader-supported. When you click through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more. logo - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $17/2 users/month

1. – Award-winning, visually intuitive tool for planning, tracking, and collaborating on projects. screenshot - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020 offers multiple views of a project—this Team Projects view shows a simple breakdown of tasks by team role. is one of the few tools that prides itself in ‘not being a project management tool’! They’ve done away with a lot of the trimmings of typical tools and focused on simple structures that help clarify the sequence of work that needs to be done.

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

It offers the ability to create summary charts as well as export and share project plans. However, one downside is that it doesn’t allow you to make Gantt charts in the traditional sense (they have a feature that serves the same purpose and works just as well, called “timelines”), nor can you import or export MPP files. That said, is designed as a true alternative to MS Project, not something to be used in tandem with it.’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. costs from $17/month for two users.

Hive logo - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $12/user/month

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

Hive screenshot - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020

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

Hive is a project management tool and collaboration platform that powers companies like Starbucks, Uber, WeWork, and IBM. With AI-based analytics, thousands of integrations, flexible project views, and more, Hive streamlines your work in one centralized platform and offers much more than just Gantt charts. Used by teams of varying sizes, from 10 people to 1,000, Hive is a great option as a Microsoft Project alternative for a diverse range of companies and work styles.

Hive’s time-tracking, analytics, and flexible view capabilities allow for a transparent understanding of other team member’s work and upcoming projects. Hive also has one of the first full email integrations in any project management tool, which allows you to send and receive Gmail and Outlook messages from the app. Choose Hive if you’re in the market for a well-laid-out, comprehensive Microsoft Project alternative tool that can be scaled up or down based on team needs.

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

Project Manager logo - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020
  • 30 days free trial
  • From $15/user/month

3. Project Manager – Fully-featured, award-winning PM software with Gantt chart features to plan, schedule and update in real-time.

Project Manager screenshot - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020

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

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 the in-app communication features to comment on tasks and assign them 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. 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 with other tools.

Pricing for 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).

TeamGantt logo - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020
  • freemium version
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $24.95/month

4. TeamGantt – A web-based tool with a simple interface for making great-looking Gantt charts.

TeamGantt screenshot - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020

TeamGantt's visually simple and easy-to-learn Gantt chart interface.

TeamGantt is a swanky looking and reasonably robust Project alternative. It’s a paid, web-based (and mobile-friendly) project management tool that delivers the basics of creating pretty Gantt charts, with the ability to create tasks, subtasks, milestones, assign resources, and dependencies to tasks.

It places considerable emphasis on individuals, giving them the ability to see what they’re scheduled to work on that week as well as an overview of all the projects they’re working on. This enables an interesting feature to support in-project conversations and file uploads for team collaboration (although I’m not really sure it does it as well as a tool like Slack or Asana). The real selling point is that it’s pretty and does the basics well. The downside is that the functionality is a bit too limited without support for import and export of .mpp files.

TeamGantt costs from $29/10 x projects/month.

Wrike logo - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $9.80/user/month and has a freemium version for up to 5 users

5. Wrike – Cloud-based, all-in-one platform that’s easy to scale, with a full suite of PM and scheduling tools.

Wrike screenshot - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020

Wrike screenshot showing the project timeline.

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.

It’s a project management tool more akin 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 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.

Microsoft Project Pro logo - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020
  • 30 days free trial
  • From $30/user/month

6. Microsoft Project Pro – Robust project planning tool from Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Project Pro screenshot - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020

Screenshot of Microsoft Project Gantt chart.

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

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

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

Merlin Project logo - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020
  • 30 day free trial.
  • From $99/year.

7. Merlin Project – Microsoft Project alternative for Mac, iPad, and iPhone with granular controls for customization.

Merlin Project screenshot - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020

Screenshot of Merlin Project’s highly customizable Gantt chart.

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

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

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

Tom's Planner logo - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020
  • freemium version
  • Free demo
  • From $7.50/user/month

8. Tom's Planner – Clutter-free Gantt chart software designed as a more collaborative alternative for teams who use MS Excel.

Tom's Planner screenshot - List of The Best Paid & Free Microsoft Project Alternatives Of 2020

Publish your Gantt charts like this one online and invite others to collaborate on projects.

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 a non-working time (e.g. bank holidays).

That 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 The Best Microsoft Project Alternatives For Creating Gantt Charts

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

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

Free Microsoft Project Alternatives

They come with limited functionality, but here is a list of a few free Microsoft Project free alternatives. These are great options for small teams and freelancers.

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. Tom’s Planner
  2. Instagantt
  3. Mind Genius
  4. Edraw Project
  5. ProjExec
  6. Rational Plan
  7. SmartDraw
  8. Creately
  10. WorkZone
  11. TaskRay
  12. Toggl Plan
  13. Hyper Plan
  14. Office Timeline
  15. Tiemchart

Want Help Finding The Right Solution?

This is pretty useful. We’ve partnered with the software comparison portal Crozdesk to give you access to free software advice – taking the hassle out of the research process.

Submit your requirements to get custom product shortlists from their team of software experts (via phone or email) with zero obligations. It’s quick and you’ll get a free comparison report at the end covering the top solutions that best fit your needs. Give it a try below.

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 wilderness of BC, I would miss having a desktop app to churn out my .mpp’s on the road.

So in short, my preference would be for Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365. It does everything I want it to do, in the format I need it. Yes, it’s kind of a cop-out but it works—and it’s actually no more expensive than any of the better, paid alternatives.

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

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

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

How do you use your project plans and schedules?

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

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 team members 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 mobile 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 without cell reception, for example on a plane, you’ll be hooped and want a desktop application instead.

What’s the cost?

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

Consider Projects vs Users

Most of the Microsoft Project alternatives are priced on a cost per user basis. So in working out which solution is the most affordable, consider what makes the most sense for you; is it a tool that many people in the organization will need to use, or will it be used principally by the project manager? Some project management tools offer unlimited users, while other project management software costs more depending on the number of users you need.

Consider the Learning Curve

How much training will your team members require? If the project management software has a particularly steep learning curve, it may take more time and resources than it is worth just to learn the software. Test out the software with demos in advance to make sure your team members can be onboarded quickly.

Consider your project methodology

If you are using a specific project methodology such as agile or scrum, consider whether the project management software fits with that methodology. You don’t want to be trying to run agile projects on a software that is intended for use with waterfall project methodologies.

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:


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

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

What Do You Think?

What do you think we’re missing? Any other great alternatives to Microsoft Project for project scheduling, making Gantt Chart, 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?


Our friend and supporter:


All your project management needs + G Suite = profitable projects.

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of 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.


  • gravatarMeoniasays:

    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.

  • gravatarStevesays:

    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

    • 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

  • gravatarAdamsays:

    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

  • gravatarAlan Metcalfesays:

    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.

  • gravatarJoannesays:

    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.

  • gravatarKarinasays:

    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))

  • gravatarDansays:

    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?


  • 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.

  • gravatarBillysays:

    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.

  • gravatarBrandon 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?

    • gravatarBen Astonsays:

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

      • gravatarBrandon 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!

  • 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.

  • gravatarAlicesays:

    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!

    • gravatarBen Astonsays:

      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!

  • gravatarNicksays:

    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!

  • gravatarMaria Rykesays:

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

  • 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

  • gravatarRobertsays:

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

  • 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.

  • gravatarJo Tsays:

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

    • gravatarBen Astonsays:

      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?

  • gravatarJohansays:

    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.

  • gravatarBresays:

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

  • gravatarLizsays:

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

  • Hi,
    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,

  • gravatarDamosays:

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

  • 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!

  • gravatarzivsays:

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

Leave a Reply