There are so many different Microsoft Project alternatives so making a shortlist of the best can be tricky. You want to to plan, manage, and control your projects using an alternative to Microsoft Project software - and need the right tool for your projects and team. I've got you covered! In this post I share from my personal experience managing hundreds of projects, using many different project management platforms, and share my picks of the best Microsoft Project alternatives.
What Are Microsoft Project Alternatives?
Microsoft Project alternatives are software tools that provide project management functionalities similar to or different from Microsoft Project. These alternatives come in various forms, offering a range of features for planning, organizing, and tracking projects. They cater to users who seek different options in project management software, either due to cost, ease of use, specific feature requirements, or compatibility needs.
The benefits of using Microsoft Project alternatives include flexibility in choosing a tool that matches specific project needs and budgets. They are often more user-friendly, cost-effective, and provide diverse features suitable for different industries and project sizes. These alternatives enhance collaboration, offer customization options, and are typically equipped with integration capabilities, allowing for a seamless workflow with other tools and platforms. They can introduce innovative features that may not be present in Microsoft Project, catering to evolving project management needs.
monday.com is one of the few tools that prides itself in ‘not being a project management tool’! This work management platform focuses on simple structures that help clarify the sequence of work that needs to be done.
Why monday.com is a good alternative: This tool is a great Microsoft Project alternative in that it functions a lot like a spreadsheet—but one that’s more intuitive to use and modify without having to mess around with formulas. Likewise, it offers more than a basic spreadsheet by giving you various views of your projects—view as spreadsheets or as lists, on a map, on a Kanban board, and other views. Users can upload and attach files to cards, make comments, mention teammates, and more.
It offers the ability to create summary charts as well as export and share project plans. However, one downside is that it doesn’t allow you to make Gantt charts in the traditional sense (they have a feature that serves the same purpose and works just as well, called “timelines”), nor can you import or export MPP files. That said, monday.com is designed as a true alternative to MS Project, not something to be used in tandem with it.
monday.com Standout Features & Integrations
Features include resource and project management, time tracking, collaboration, file management, collaborative docs and reporting dashboards.
Integrations include project management apps like Slack, Excel, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform, and many more, accessible via Zapier.
Its free plan is available for a maximum of 2 users.
Smartsheet is a spreadsheet based software that looks and feels like the most natural transition from MS Project to other cloud-based project management software.
Why Smartsheet is a good alternative: Smartsheet's online project management tool takes some of the most useful features of Microsoft Project, combines them with the simple use of an online spreadsheet, and then incorporates team collaboration and automation functions to save money. It offers the basics: functions such as making a schedule with tasks, subtasks, activities, assigned resources, and sections on tasks.
Smartsheet helps you organize projects, grids, calendars, dashboards, portals, forms, and more all from a unified control center. They have pre-built Gantt chart templates with customizable fonts and colors, “% Complete” and “Assigned To” columns, and more. It has useful features such as workflow automation and visualization of tasks in Gantt, calendar, and card views. Team members get notified of critical changes in real-time, and the tool provides shared views, detail history, activity logs, automated alerts, reminders, and status reports to keep everyone aligned and informed.
The Critical Path feature highlights all the tasks which directly impact your project completion date so you can keep an eye on important milestones. Reporting is a strong feature of this tool, with editable summary reports that you can easily export to Excel.
Smartsheet Standout Features & Integrations
Features include dashboards, reports that consolidate multiple sheets, workflow automation, resource management, multiple views, forms to collect information, and digital asset management using Brandfolder.
Integrations include Microsoft and Google apps, as well as development essentials like Jira, and useful business apps like Salesforce, ServiceNow, Slack, Box, and Tableau. The platform is extensible through a REST API and webhooks.
Wrike is the most powerful work management software, trusted by 20,000+ organizations worldwide. Regularly named a leader by IDC and Forrester Wave, Wrike consistently receives the highest scores because it offers much more than single-project management.
Why Wrike is a good alternative: Wrike has an MS Project integration that lets you import data from it. It is a great alternative as the software feels like an upgrade from Microsoft's solution. It has a plethora of features that are not present in its counterpart, such as proofing and approval workflows.
It is a full-scale platform that balances an entire set of project management features with usability, scalability, and custom configuration. Teams can customize workflows, dashboards, reports, request forms, and more to support multiple ways of working. Additionally, Wrike lets you toggle between colorful Kanban boards, one-click Gantt charts, connected calendars, or detailed dashboards — all adaptable to highlight key priorities.
Keep work organized, secure, and visible via distinct Spaces, folders, projects, and tasks. Wrike’s collaboration tools make it easy to connect cross-functionally. Communicate live, share workflows, and tag each other in tasks. Divide complex projects into lists, tasks, and sub-tasks, or use a ready-built template to get started fast.
Wrike Standout Features & Integrations
Features include pre-built templates, custom request forms, interactive Gantt charts, visual proofing, workflow automations, time tracking, project portfolio management, and dashboards.
Integrations in Wrike include 400+ pre-built native integrations, like the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.
Customer support is available 24/7, with a dedicated help center and a thriving expert community.
ClickUp is a project management platform with a focus on becoming the only tool you need to use at work.
Why ClickUp is a good alternative: This is definitely a tool that you can get as an alternative to Microsoft Project. It has features like task management, time management, collaboration documents, whiteboards, and reporting tools that make it a viable option if you want a strong performance and low cost solution.
Unlike MS Project, ClickUp has beautiful visuals, an intuitive interface, support for sprints, goals, and workload view of your resources. Every detail in this tool has been properly designed, created, and deployed to give you a 5-star user experience on mobile, desktop and browser.
Although you can’t import your .mpp files, it does have importing capabilities for .csv files, .xlsx, and other project tools like Trello, Asana, Jira, and more.
ClickUp Standout Features & Integrations
Features include real-time reporting, whiteboards and shared documents for collaboration, task management with different views, goal tracking, and templates.
Integrations include Slack, G Suite, Hubspot, Toggl Track, One Drive, Dropbox, and many more tools. Additional integrations with over 1,000+ apps can be connected through Zapier. If you want to build custom integrations, you can use its public API to do so.
ClickUp's free plan gives you access to all features so you can properly test the software.
You’re probably aware of how painful it is to find an MS Project alternative that is nice looking and has powerful Gantt charts. In GanttPRO, you will find both. This reliable project management software helps plan work, track tasks, set deadlines, and collaborate with stakeholders. If you already started your plan in MS Project but need to change it, import it directly to GanttPRO, in seconds. Exporting projects is also available.
Why GanttPRO is a good alternative: The tool looks really nice with its intuitive UX/UI design and a short learning curve. It offers a wide range of robust project management, project portfolio management, team collaboration, resource and cost management features. In this MS Project alternative, you can create tasks with lots of settings like statuses, priorities, dates, deadlines, progress, time log, etc. Thanks to the auto-scheduling feature, any change in your tasks, dates, or dependencies will be automatically reflected.
GanttPRO Standout Features & Integrations
Features include performance analysis against previous tasks, comments and notifications functions to keep your team on track, a learning centre and tutorials to help you make the most of your tool, professional templates to get you started more easily, resource management, and project tracking.
Integrations include Slack, Google Drive, and Jira Cloud. More integrations are available through their API.
Nifty is a project management and team collaboration tool that offers robust and powerful features while remaining easy to use.
Why Nifty is a good alternative: This tool's friendly user interface and intuitive navigation make it a great alternative to MS Project, which can usually be difficult to navigate. Nifty's Gantt chart is scalable and readable for managers and non-managers alike, and allows users to create milestones that reflect project status. These milestones can be used to unlock phase-based dependencies and can be shared as a public link for presentations. Outside collaborators can join projects to collaborate in a limited capacity as guests, without being added to your subscription.
Managers can oversee portfolio and organizational deadlines and tasks in overview, calendar, and workload views, while team members can utilize the My Tasks view to quickly identify what needs their attention in the short term.
The Nifty team can import your data from Microsoft Project so you can continue working without delay.
Nifty Standout Features & Integrations
Features include dependencies, reports, and portfolio management, as well as a full suite of communication tools including project discussions, chat, and docs.
Integrations include Harvest, Slack, Webex, Miro, Zoom, Typeform, and thousands of additional apps through Zapier.
Discounts are available to students and educational institutions.
Hub Planner is a project and resource management software that's particularly well-suited to the needs of agencies and professional service companies.
Why Hub Planner is a good alternative: What makes this platform stand apart from Microsoft Project is its resource planning and management tools. You can set employee schedules and run capacity planning as you outline new projects. Meanwhile, team members can use the time tracking feature to log both billable and non-billable hours.
The budgeting tool is handy for planning your projects. You can manage internal and external billing rates, and easy track your project spend to be sure you don't exceed your budget. Projects can be connected between each other with dependencies, helping you monitor your resource utilization across projects.
Hub Planner Standout Features & Integrations
Features include skills matching, capacity planning, drag-and-drop scheduler, task dependencies, resource allocation, time tracking, billable and non-billable hours, internal and external billing rates, and reporting tools.
Integrations include DIY options via the Hub Planner API and webhooks. Additionally, you can access thousands of apps using a Zapier account.
Forecast is a powerful combination of resource management and project management built on the foundation that successful projects require a combination of short and long term planning.
Why Forecast is a good alternative: You can build advanced interactive Gantt charts with Forecast’s full suite of project management features. Powered by AI, it is designed for companies that want to monitor the progress of their projects, programs, and portfolios in real-time. Forecast learns from hundreds of thousands of projects and turns a simple list of tasks into a project plan with assigned team members, estimated task duration, and precise delivery dates - allowing you to be more efficient and build project timelines in seconds.
Team members can collaborate and comment on tasks, and Forecast gives you profitability insights as well, so management can monitor revenue by project.
Forecast Standout Features & Integrations
Features include project management, project accounting, fully customizable dashboards, advanced warnings to mitigate risk, timesheets, smart invoices, and project financials.
Integrations include Slack, Microsoft Teams, iCloud Calendar, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Outlook, Harvest, Trello, Asana, GitLab, Github, and dozens more using a paid plan through Zapier. Higher-tier subscriptions include native integrations with Timelog, Xero, QuickBooks Online, JIRA, Azure DevOps, Salesforce, Okta, OneLogin, and Azure Active Directory.
Forecast is currently used in 40+ countries worldwide, by agencies, consulting companies, and enterprises.
ProjectManager combines Gantt chart functionality with many other project views—kanban boards, spreadsheets, task lists, and more—to support the needs of hybrid teams. While the project manager may prefer the Gantt view to create a detailed work breakdown structure, others team members can work on the same project through a simple task list.
Why ProjectManager is a good alternative: It is simple enough for anyone to use, yet powerful enough for managers to make data-driven decisions and for businesses to manage projects of all levels of complexity.
Gantt charts allow users to drag and drop to adjust deadlines, add and visualize dependencies, and set specific milestones. Users can import Gantt charts to and from other tools (including .mpp files from MS Project) to get projects up and running quickly. The tool also allows users to create reports in one click, view progress bars for quick project health checks, and create PDF versions and shareable links.
ProjectManager Standout Features & Integrations
Features include project portfolios, Kanban boards, reporting, workflow automation, customizable dashboards with real-time information, and collaboration tools.
Integrations include Office 365, Jira, Slack, and Google Drive, with even more connections available through Zapier.
Although this tool does not offer a free version, you can cancel or change plans at any time while on a monthly account.
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.
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Best alternative for integrating with other tools
14-day free trial + free plan available
|From $8/user/month (billed annually, min 3 seats)||Website|
Best alternative with a built-in critical path feature
Freemium version available
Best Microsoft Project alternative for team collaboration
Free plan available
Best alternative for having more features, nice visuals, and colorful boards with loads of information.
Freemium plan available
Best Microsoft Project alternative for creating powerful Gantt charts
14-day free trial
|From $9.99/ per user / per month||Website|
Best alternative for its user experience
14-day free trial
|From $9 /user/month||Website|
Best MS Project alternative with resource management and time tracking
30-day free trial
|From $7/user/month (billed annually)||Website|
Best Microsoft Project alternative for resource management
Free demo available
|Pricing upon request||Website|
Best MS Project alternative for progress tracking and reporting
30-day free trial
MS Project alternative for iOS with customization
30 days free trial
|From $16.99 / month||Website|
Best Microsoft Project alternative for project scoring features
- Project Plan 365
Best MS Project MPP compatibility
Best alternative for risk management and monitoring
Best for project template capabilities
Best for viewing multiple projects on one Gantt chart
- Tom's Planner
Collaborative Gantt chart software for teams who use MS Excel
Best for automating timesheets for project financials
- Zoho Projects
Best alternative for complex project visualization
Best Microsoft Project alternative for scalability
Best alternative for its comprehensive project and portfolio management features
Microsoft Project's Criticism
Microsoft Project is the OG of project management tools but has failed to quickly adapt to new market demands. Here are 6 things that people criticize MS Project for:
- Price: It can be too expensive for smaller teams. Even with its cloud-based solution, MS Project sits above the average cost for a tool of its capacity.
- User interface: The user interface is not as user-friendly as other tools and has cluttered views with tons of buttons.
- Collaboration: Remote teams struggle to collaborate in real time because there are not enough features for it (like whiteboards).
- Flexibility: There is a lack of flexibility when customizing the software for your specific use case. This includes white-labelled user portals and advanced features like custom fields.
- Platform dependency: This tool was designed for Windows, which limits cross-platform use to imperfect imports/exports and prevents you from having the tool in another operating system.
- Complexity: When you use this software, it feels difficult. The navigation is not intuitive and that results in a steep learning curve for new hires.
Why Do I Need A Microsoft Project Alternative?
You might be looking for an alternative if you:
- Are looking for a friendlier UI with loads of colors and nice buttons
- Don't like your PM software to remind you of Excel
- Want a tool that facilitates teamwork and collaboration in real time
- Need a solution that can connect to other tools in your tech stack
- Need to track project progress from your mobile phone
Whatever your reason might be, the following tools offer things that Microsoft's product can't and align with at least one of these points. Read the descriptions below to find out what makes them special.
How I Picked The Best Microsoft Project Alternatives
The following are the criteria I used to evaluate the alternatives after carefully selecting them from the wide range of options available in the market. I researched the top tools in the space and analyzed what would make them a good alternative to Microsoft Project.
User Interface (UI)
I look at the tool from a designer's perspective. Therefore, every element on the screen is part of the analysis of its visual appeal. Although you might think it’s secondary to functionality, a pretty tool affects our mood and performance if we see it every day.
Is it intuitive and user-friendly? Similar to the criterion above, the elements on the screen and their distribution must make sense to the user. A pretty tool without a good user experience is equal to having a Ferrari without an engine. Something that boosts this category is the availability of tutorials, detailed documentation, and training.
Integrations & Compatibility
Is it easy to connect with other tools? I look into the available pre-built connections with other tools that extend its functionality. Further, I fetch details on available APIs in case your team wants to jump in and build their own integrations.
Here, I go into their pricing structure, analyze plans, starting costs, free trials or even a free version that you can use.
What's the difference between Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project?
What has replaced Microsoft Project?
How do Microsoft Project alternatives handle scalability?
How easy is it to import existing project data into these alternative tools?
Is there a free MS Project alternative?
What are the common challenges faced when switching from Microsoft Project to an alternative?
What key features should I look for when selecting MS Project alternatives?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing the right MS project alternative for your particular needs.
How do you use your project plans and schedules?
The software on this list is meant to keep your project plans front and center. They promote visibility and communication around the plan. Consider if this is the use you currently give your plans and schedules or if it’s what you would like to have.
Here are some common uses:
- Gantt charts exist at the beginning of the project and are never updated again.
- Timelines serve as a tool for baseline analysis.
- Schedules communicate progress to the project and executive team.
Who will use it?
Think of who needs to see the project information. Is it a team member, client, third party, or only the project manager? The more people need to be involved and collaborate, the bigger the need for a tool that has integrated chat features, the ability to export dashboard information and create external users for the tool.
What other tools are you using?
Make a list of all the tools that you currently use. Then, define which ones are, should, and you would like to be connected. Finally, go into the integrations section of your tool of choice and see if it can mimic what’s on your list.
Sometimes these integrations are already built. Other times, they have to be connected through an external party like Zapier, or programmed by your IT team using the tool’s API.
Are you always online?
Cloud-based project 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 do not have a reliable internet connection or are constantly on the go, look for apps that have offline capabilities. This can be from a desktop version of the software to a mobile app.
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 if you buy the on-premise license. However, you can always find previous versions of the software online or go with the online version, which you can pay per user per month.
So, if you want to know what's the cost, make sure you start counting. You should factor in the number of users, number of admins (for those tools that make a distinction), and include a few user growth projections. If you are part of a growing company, you will quickly find out that paying per user can become very expensive if you don't plan for it. Here are a couple considerations and how to weigh them.
Consider Projects vs Users
Most of the Microsoft Project alternatives are priced on a cost-per-user basis. So in working out which solution is the most affordable, consider what makes the most sense for you; is it a tool that many people in the organization will need to use, or will it be used principally by the project manager?
Consider The Lifetime Cost Of Ownership
While web-based apps might seem affordable in the short run, 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:
- Omniplan (Mac only)
- Merlin Project (Mac only)
If you want to look into Microsoft Project Online, you can subscribe for as low as $10/user/month.
What Do You Think?
What project management tools 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.
Related alternative lists:
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