In this article, I provide a trustworthy list of the best project planning software options. I have also outlined what each tool does best so that you can select one based on what you need from it.
Project planning is essential to ensure you and your team members meet the objectives of any assignment and deliver something that makes stakeholders happy. A project plan may pull together many components of the project lifecycle in order to tell a succinct story of what complex projects ought to look like from start to finish.
Rather than focusing specifically on the resource management functionality that a lot of planning tools offer, I looked at a broader range of planning software. I rounded up a list of the best tools for generally planning the flow from A to B on your project, and then assigning and tracking the resources required along the way.
Microsoft Project is arguably the original project planning software, designed for allocating tasks and resources, but there are many competitors nowadays. Below, find the best project planning tools and why they are awesome.
Project Planning Software Comparison Criteria
Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Project management software needs to organize all data quickly, efficiently, and cleanly. It’s easier to get teams and clients on board when your tools make it visually clear what needs to happen when.
- Usability: Does the project planning software offer tutorials, training, whitepapers, forums, and customer service to help users? Does it work with iPhone and Android for planning on-the-go?
- Integrations: You’ll find with project planning software that you might need two or more tools to do everything you need to do. Does each planning tool connect to everything else in your tool kit? Does the project software plug into common project-oriented software like Excel, Google Drive, Jira, Microsoft Project, messaging apps (like Slack), Dropbox, and so forth?
- Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible? I place priority on tools that have simple scalability options to add additional features, users, or storage space.
Project Planning Software Key Features
- Planning and scheduling charts and templates
- Task dependencies
- Project timelines and roadmaps
- Team collaboration and communication features (chat, comments, etc)
- Task management features
- Documentation for planned workflow processes
- Real-time reporting and analysis of KPIs
- Project budget planning and tracking
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Overviews Of The 10 Best Project Planning Software
Here’s a brief description of the project planning software on my list showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.
Wrike is a cloud-based work management platform with robust project planning capabilities. I know a few agencies who use this tool and are happy with it. In Wrike, you can drill down to individual tasks or zoom out for a holistic view of everything in your portfolio. There’s also custom dashboards, custom workflows, and automations for those workflows to help automate the flow of tasks from one user to another.
Wrike costs from $9.80/user/month and offers a freemium plan for up to 5 users.
- Ease of use and setup
- Holistic, comprehensive task modeling
- Variety of project views met different user needs
- Best features limited to Business plan
- Commenting system needs to be more prominent
- Drag and drop feature not flexible
Hubstaff Tasks is a project management tool built to simplify project planning and team collaboration. With its Kanban interface, you can create multiple project stages, add tasks to them, and move tasks to different stages by dragging and dropping.
Aside from Kanban, the app has a Sprints feature that lets users organize their assigned tasks by the sprint in which they need to be done. Tasks can be moved to current or future sprints — or to the backlog for non-urgent to-dos.
Hubstaff Tasks includes a Roadmaps feature that allows you to view projects in Gantt chart form. Users can see all projects on a calendar, giving an overview of the team’s timeline.
The app also has daily stand-ups that your team can use to report progress updates and what they will be working on next. Project managers will receive a notification if team members report any task roadblocks.
Pricing for Hubstaff Tasks starts at $5 per user per month.
- Different project views allow for more accurate project planning
- Built-in stand-ups feature for progress tracking
- Task notifications help keep everyone on the same page
- Limited integrations
- No reporting
- No mobile app
Runn is an affordable project planning tool with real-time scheduling, tracking, and forecasting features. It has an accessible and readable shared project view with charts and templates designed to highlight dependencies and due dates. It also has a full API available for building custom integrations.
Runn costs from $10/user/month and has a freemium plan for up to 5 users.
- Easy-to-understand cost, revenue, and profitability forecasts
- Quickly create 1-day, 1-week, or recurring assignments
- Easily transfer assignments to other people or placeholders
- Concierge onboarding limited to enterprise plans
- A bit of a learning curve to use holistic planning views
FunctionFox is a pretty great project planning tool, but it’s an especially good fit for creative teams. It provides easy, visually intuitive project management tools like a simple online timesheet feature that helps you figure out if your billable and nonbillable hours on a project are within your estimates. You can also schedule project milestones, meetings, and actions—everything you’d need to plan out and then carry out projects.
FunctionFox costs from $5/user/month and offers a free demo.
- Unlimited number of clients and projects
- Designed with the creative industry in mind
- Easy, accessible automatic timer
- Has time tracking but no automated time capture
- No Kanban board planning
- Minimal format options for downloading reports
Celoxis is an all-in-one project planning tool used by the likes of HBO, Rolex, KPMG, and Tesla. You can collate project requests from various sources and sort them based on your KPIs. Plus, teams have real-time visibility into metrics like budget spends, receivables, and profitability across projects and portfolios. It is also very easy to allocate resources to tasks based on availability and skills.
Celoxis costs from $22.50/user/month and offers a 30-day free trial and a free demo.
- Excellent dynamic dashboards
- Well-structured reports
- Easy to use client portal
- Heavy interface for small teams to navigate
- Steep learning curve
- Can’t add a custom field to a Discussion
Hive lets your team manage projects in the way they work best and lets you easily switch between views like Kanban and Gantt charts. You will be able to monitor and report on projects in real-time to spot risks and opportunities proactively. They also offer over 1,000 3rd party integrations to bring all your project information into one centralized dashboard.
Hive costs from $12/user/month and offers a 14-day free trial.
- Infinite sub-tasks available
- Task owners can turn sub-tasks into separate projects
- Add external users without paying for a seat
- Cannot attach multiple files to a project request.
- Can’t move urgent actions to the top.
- Mobile version is stripped down.
ProjectManager is a cloud based project planning software that runs on both Windows and Mac computers with no downloads or complex installation needed. Gantt chart tools help users and your team plan, schedule, and update your projects in real-time. You can plan simple workflows or full Agile sprints with powerful Kanban boards, Gantt charts, and task lists.
ProjectManagement costs from $15/user/month and offers a 30-day free trial.
- Good for costing and construction work monitoring
- Easy to use project scheduling
- Fits well into an Agile framework
- No way to track and update partially complete tasks
- No way to sort Agile Boards by project, only by task
- Most reports require a manual clean-up
Mavenlink is a modern collaborative planning platform with award-winning project and resource management features. Collaborate with clients on timelines, deliverables, proofs, approvals, and change orders using easy tagging, commenting, and approval systems. You can even invite clients and subcontractors into Mavenlink for free.
Mavenlink costs from $39/user/month and offers a 10-day free trial.
- Good for resource planning and project accounting
- Ability to search all client communication within a single space
- Easy to track time, develop timelines, and break projects down into tasks
- Can’t automatically repeat budgets or resource allocations
- Some data syncing lag
- Task and Gantt data columns aren’t fully customizable
Smartsheet is the best project management software for template galleries and template sets. These starter solutions are packed with pre-built sheets, reports, forms, and dashboards that your users can modify as needed—saving you a ton of time. They have planning for construction estimates, inventory management, Gantt timelines, and customer lifetime value. If you spend a lot of time building documents, Smartsheet’s a great choice.
Smartsheet costs from $18/month and offers a 30-day free trial.
- Customizable sheets and dashboards for different departments
- Reminders and update requests are great collaborative tools
- Quick Gantt charts with easy entry of tasks
- Power users may hit row and cell link limitations
- Changes do not autosave instantly when editing
- May be over-engineered for simple projects
monday.com is a colorful, user-friendly, jack-of-all-trades project planning tool for modern teams. You’ll be able to plan, track, and deliver projects using hundreds of visual and customizable templates that make data more digestible. View data as a map, calendar, timeline, or kanban. I also love the ability to automate repetitive administrative tasks, like creating new lead entries according to incoming emails.
monday.com costs from $14/user/month and has a freemium plan for up to 5 users.
- Very easy to invite others, share timelines, and assign tasks
- Simple organization by dragging and dropping tasks
- Excellent collaborative features
- No bottleneck identification or assistance
- Automations are not fully customizable
- Best features locked to Standard or Pro versions
Summary Of The Best Project Planning Software
Other Project Planning Software Options
Here are descriptions of a few other tools to try out:
- Team Gantt – Best free Gantt chart software
- Teamwork – Best for project templates
- Scoro – Best for building and construction management
- Forecast – Best for AI work automation
- Zoho Projects – Best cloud-based project management tool
- Clarizen – Best project planning for marketers
- Asana – Best simple to use project planning
- Basecamp – Best for software development planning
- Trello – Best for task collaboration
- Liquid Planner – Best automated scheduling and forecasting
- KeyedIn – Best for project portfolio planning
- Workzone – Best for personal to-do lists and automatic reminder emails
- ProWorkflow – Best planning tool mobile app for most touchscreen-based devices
- EasyProjects – Best for web design planning
- Sciforma – Best for Waterfall and Critical Chain methodologies
- OpenProject – Best open source project planning software
Free Project Planning Software
- Nutcache – Pretty generous free plan: free forever for max 20 users (includes unlimited projects, time tracking, some integrations, and more)
- Runn – Free for up to 5 users with unlimited projects
- TeamGantt – Free forever for up to 3 users and 1 project
- Wrike – Free for up to 5 users
- Monday.com – Free for up to 5 users
- ClickUp – Free for unlimited users with some storage and feature restrictions
- Asana – Free for up to 15 users
Which Project Planning Software Do You Recommend?
Which project planning tools do you use for your workspace? Does your project team use any other planning software apps that you would add to this list? Do you use the same app for collaboration tools as well as project tasks? Let us know in the comments below. For updates on our latest articles and podcasts from project management experts, sign up for the DPM newsletter.
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