On the hunt for a Microsoft Project alternative? You’ve come to the right place. In this review, I’ll go over some great new MS Project alternatives and how to choose a Microsoft Project alternative for your projects.
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.
Criteria For Microsoft Project Alternative Software
There are loads of project scheduling software out there that do 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 alternatives:
- User Interface (UI): How well-designed is it? How clear are the displays and navigation?
- Usability: Is it intuitive and user-friendly? 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?
- 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?
Microsoft Project Alternative Key Features
How many of the following key features and functions does it provide, and how powerful are they? Specifically, I looked for these functionalities:
- Create a Gantt chart: You should be able to create a work breakdown structure (WBS) with tasks, sub-tasks, and to-do lists. The WBS should include duration, start and end dates, task dependencies, and assigned resources. Gantt chart templates are also a plus.
- Create a project exec summary chart: The software should provide a high-level view of the project plan that acts as a project snapshot that anyone can understand.
- Import and export .mpp files: The tool should be able to open and import MS Project files, as well as allow you to edit and send it back. Project files should be stored within the software, rather than in Dropbox or Google drive.
- Export PDF’s or shareable project plans: You should be able to share project plans that look presentable.
- Collaboration tools: The tool should offer built-in functionalities to encourage team collaboration and receive real-time notifications for updates.
- Issue tracking: The tool should be able to note and keep track of ongoing issues and problems with certain projects or project types.
- Reporting features: You should be able to generate reports on project progress, budget usage, resource utilization, and roadmaps.
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!
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monday.com 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, 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 $6/user/month and comes with a free 14-day trial. They offer a free plan for up to 2 users.
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 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.
Smartsheet costs from $7/user/month, with a minimum of 3 users and a maximum of 25 users at the base tier. Larger teams require a different plan. They also offer a 30-day free trial.
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 flavors: as an online app or on-premise. When compared to MS Project, it’s lower cost yet fuller featured, and it comes with powerful interactive Gantt charts, handy portfolio dependencies, and all the keyboard shortcuts you could want.
Just as you would with Microsoft Project, Celoxis allows you to create tasks, subtasks, and milestones, as well as assign 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, timesheets, 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, as well as full-blown capabilities for collaboration with clients. Celoxis offers 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.
Wrike is an award-winning, easy-to-use project management software trusted by 20,000+ organizations worldwide. The tool is suitable for teams of anywhere from five to an unlimited number of team members. It’s highly configurable and allows users to customize workflows, dashboards, reports, request forms, and more.
Wrike’s simple interface enables users to switch between customizable Kanban boards, one-click Gantt charts, and traditional workload views, allowing them to choose how to visualize their priorities and providing a snapshot of work. Wrike also features task lists, subtasks, schedules, shared workflows, file sharing, and real-time communication and collaboration.
Wrike has an easy-to-use, intuitive interface and navigation with distinct spaces, folders, and tasks. Users can toggle between the home screen and timesheets, dashboards, calendars, reports, and an activity stream for notifications and messages. Wrike has a dedicated help center with interactive training, videos, a ‘Getting Started’ guide, and a thriving community.
Wrike offers 400+ pre-built native integrations, including integrations with the most popular file management software from Microsoft (including Teams), Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.
Wrike pricing starts at $9.80 per user per month. There are four different price points, including a free version and plans which offer the ability to invite free external collaborators to a paid 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. 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 is currently used in 40+ countries worldwide, by agencies, consulting companies, and enterprises. The tool offers Lite, Pro, and Enterprise options that cost from $29/user/month, as well as a 14-day free trial.
Clickup 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 offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp is free with limited storage for an unlimited number of users. Paid plans start at $5/user/month and offer a free-trial.
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 a 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 . Collaboration is possible with any of the project’s stakeholders with 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 $4/user/month (billed annually) and comes with a 10-day free trial. They have a freemium version for up to 3 users and 2 projects.
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.
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.
Besides the native Gantt chart timeline, there is also a board view and a tasks view, and you can switch between views to get more flexibility.
Basic plan for 1 user starts at $7.99/month if billed annually. Their free trial period lasts 14 days.
TeamGantt is an easy-to-use Microsoft Project alternative that does away with the rarely used features of MS Project. The tool focuses on the 90% of features that are most used, to deliver one of the best alternatives available.
TeamGantt includes features for tracking dependencies, workloads, team availability, and time, as well as built-in collaboration features like comments, tagging, and customizable alerts. Users can create Gantt charts and view projects as a Gantt chart, calendar, Kanban board, or a simple task list.
TeamGantt is a fully functional project planning and management tool, with a minimal learning curve. They also offer a mobile app.
TeamGantt costs from $24.95/month and has a freemium version for up to 3 users.
Microsoft Project’s advanced features are meant for formally trained project management professionals, while Workzone provides robust features designed to be used successfully by the entire team, even those with no background in project management.
Unlike MS Project, Workzone includes five-star customer service. In fact, Workzone has a battle-tested approach that includes comprehensive onboarding and unlimited support. For anyone who struggles to make MS Projects useful to their teams, I’d recommend Workzone if for nothing else than the level of training and ongoing coaching that they offer.
Workzone’s interactive Gantt Charts, 10,000 ft project portfolio view, and project calendar allow teams to always know what’s going on and avoid bottlenecks. In the Gantt charts, Workzone links dependent tasks and uses a specific task’s end date to calculate the following task’s start date for projects with tasks that follow a set sequence. Plus, it automatically notifies the next party downstream when the dependent task is completed. In addition to those features, it offers secure document management and file-sharing, file versioning, customizable reporting, resource and task management, user permissions, and time tracking to keep teams productive. The software is cloud-based and offers automated emailed reports with up to date project status information.
Already an MS Project user? Import your Microsoft Project files directly into Workzone. I’m not sure if you can export .mpp files, but I do know that the tool offers file sharing at various permission levels as well as workload reports, so it’s easy enough to share out your resource plans.
Workzone has integrations with over a dozen standard workplace tools for comms, accounting, CRM, etc. Notably, it also integrates with MS Teams, so that could be useful for anyone who can’t leave the MS ecosystem fully. You can also extend Workzone’s functionality through their extensive API and Zapier.
Workzone pricing starts at $40/user/month for up to 5 users. Price per user lessens with the number of users. For instance, for 15 users the price per person starts at $24/user/month.
Need expert help selecting the right Project Management Software?
We’ve joined up with the software comparison platform Crozdesk.com to assist you in finding the right software. Crozdesk’s Project Management Software advisors can create a personalized shortlist of software solutions with unbiased recommendations to help you identify the solutions that best suit your business’s needs. Through our partnership you get free access to their bespoke software selection advice, removing both time and hassle from the research process.
It only takes a minute to submit your requirements and they will give you a quick call at no cost or commitment. Based on your needs you’ll receive customized software shortlists listing the best-fitting solutions from their team of software advisors (via phone or email). They can even connect you with your selected vendor choices along with community negotiated discounts. To get started, please complete the form below:
14 days free trial
|From $6/user/month||Check out monday.com|
30 days free trial
|From $7/user/month||Check out Smartsheet|
30 days free trial
|From $25/user/month||Check out Celoxis|
14 days free trial
|From $9.80/user/month||Check out Wrike|
14 days free trial
|From $29/user/month||Check out Forecast.app|
ClickUp is free with limited storage for an unlimited number of users.
|Check out ClickUp|
10 days free trial
|From $4/user/month billed annually. They have a freemium version for up to 3 users and 2 projects||Check out Zoho Projects|
14 days free trial
|From $7.99/user/month||Check out GanttPRO|
Freemium version for up to 3 users
|From $24.95/month||Check out TeamGantt|
|From $24/user/month||Check out Workzone|
Free MS Project Alternatives
They come with limited functionality, but here are a few Microsoft Project free alternatives:
- Project Libre – open source project management software
- GanttProject – free project management and scheduling app to make Gantt charts on Windows, OSX, and Linux
- Ganttology – interactive Gantt chart software with basic free plan (1 chart, 50 tasks), in addition to paid plans
- Toggl Plan – simple, sleek project planning software with a free plan (5 people max) in addition to paid plan
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.
Questions To Ask When Choosing Among The Best Microsoft Project Alternatives
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, 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:
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, as it might if you are using an agile methodology.
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. The tool also 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, 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 if you do a quick search on Amazon, you can find 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?
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.
Just realized that you need a different type of tool? Check out these other reviews:
- Time tracking software to help track time and easily manage timesheets and invoices.
- Resource scheduling software to help you allocate equipment, rooms, staff, and other resources.
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 – why not share them using the comments below?