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 and project management solutions offer, I looked at a broader range of planning software, as project planning is often a functionality within project management platforms more broadly. 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 iOS and Android for planning on-the-go? How does it support remote teams or hybrid teams? Can you create accounts for your entire team and set up user permissions as needed?
- 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, such as task management software, CRMs, and invoicing software? Does the project software plug into common project-oriented software like Excel, Google Drive, Jira, Microsoft Project, Zapier, 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. Most tools charge depending on the number of users or according to which features you require.
Project Planning Software Key Features
- Planning and scheduling charts and templates
- Task dependencies
- Project timelines, calendar views, and roadmaps
- Team collaboration and communication features (chat, comments, etc)
- Task management and work management features, such as checklists and to-do lists
- Documentation for planned workflow processes
- Track progress through real-time reporting and analysis of KPIs
- Project budget planning and tracking
- Portfolio management and tracking overall portfolio health
Get a list of dedicated project management calendar tools here.
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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 project planning tool and is ideal for teams of five members to an unlimited number of members. Wrike offers tools for predicting and preventing delays, visualizing deadlines, and monitoring project progress. The tool is highly configurable, and allows users to customize workflows, dashboards, reports, and request forms.
Wrike’s interface is highly visual, and allows users to switch between Kanban boards, interactive drag-and-drop Gantt charts, and traditional workload views to understand priorities. Project planning capabilities include task lists, subtasks, schedules, file sharing, and real-time communication and collaboration.
Wrike includes a robust mobile application that allows users to update team members or upload files and photos. Users can switch between calendars, dashboards, and task lists, and keep an eye on notifications and messages. Wrike also has a dedicated help center with interactive training, videos, a ‘Getting Started’ guide, and a thriving community.
Wrike offers a host of pre-built templates, including a phased project template, which can help break a complex project into manageable chunks, as well as a simple project scheduling template. Real-time reporting helps project managers allocate resources and adjust workloads, and requests keep repetitive admin to a minimum.
Wrike includes over 400 pre-built native integrations, including integrations with the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox.
Wrike starts at $9.80/user/month and has a free version for up to five users. There is also a 14-day free trial for paid plans.
- Variety of project views met different user needs
- Holistic, comprehensive task modeling
- Ease of use and setup
- Drag and drop feature not flexible
- Commenting system needs to be more prominent
- Best features limited to Business plan
Celoxis has powerful planning and scheduling tools that help you build project plans that adapt to real-world conditions.
Celoxis has one of the most flexible and responsive interactive Gantt charts and can effortlessly handle large project plans involving multiple levels of sub-tasks, inter-project dependencies and even multiple resources per task.
Among the many features available, there is automatic scheduling that helps build a reliable project schedule and resource workload, utilization, capacity, and efficiency. These features, in turn, enable data-driven planning and decision-making across the project lifecycle. Ultimately helping you with better resource planning and management.
Celoxis integrates with over 400 business apps, including Google Drive, email and calendar platforms, Jira, Salesforce, Slack, and many more through Zapier. In addition, their API lets you build custom integrations with any other tools you use.
Celoxis is one of the few project management software programs available both in SaaS and on-premise flavors. SaaS costs $22.50/user/month (annually) and on-premise costs $450/user one-time. Both require a minimum 5-user sign-up and come with 30-day free trial.
Hub Planner is a project planning software that allows businesses to manage and track their projects in a centralized location. The software helps businesses stay organized and on track to deliver their projects on time and within budget.
The software can automatically populate projects and tasks with the relevant resources needed to complete them. This information is then displayed in an intuitive interface, making it easy to see who is available to work on what and when. This feature can also track billable hours and expenses, making it a valuable tool for project managers managing internal and external resources. The capacity management feature can help users plan projects more effectively. Users can see a team's capacity and allocate tasks accordingly, which helps prevent unproductive bottlenecks and ensure your team is always working at its full potential.
The reporting feature allows users to generate custom reports based on various criteria. This feature will enable users to track project progress, identify improvement areas, and make data-driven decisions about utilizing resources best. Reports can be generated for individual projects or an entire portfolio and customized to include only the information relevant to the user. In addition, reports can be exported in various formats, making it easy to share them with others or to keep them for future reference.
Pricing for Hub Planner starts at $7 per resource monthly when billed annually. A 60-day free trial is available for all plans.
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 $6/user/month and comes with a free 14-day trial. They offer a free plan for up to 2 users.
- Excellent collaborative features
- Simple organization by dragging and dropping tasks
- Very easy to invite others, share timelines, and assign tasks
- Best features locked to Standard or Pro versions
- Automations are not fully customizable
- No bottleneck identification or assistance
LiquidPlanner is a cloud-based project management software that enables users to plan, collaborate on, and deliver projects of all sizes. The software uses a unique 'liquid planning' approach that considers the complexities and uncertainties of real-world projects to create more accurate plans and predictions.
Its forecasting engine helps users predict how long a project will take. This engine considers all project tasks and their dependencies and uses statistical analysis to generate a range of possible completion dates. The forecast can be refined by adjusting the input parameters, such as the estimated effort for each task or the project's expected duration.
Liquid Planner offers integrated time-tracking, which can be used to generate reports, helping users optimize their workflow and productivity. The resource leveling feature automatically schedules and reschedules tasks based on each team member's availability and workload, and ensures that no team member is overburdened with work.
Finally, the data customization feature allows users to choose which data points to display and create custom fields to track additional information. A user can track the number of hours worked on a project or the amount of money spent on materials.
Liquid Planner makes their API documentation available for teams who want to build custom integrations with their current digital ecosystem.
Pricing starts at $15 per user monthly.
- Custom rate sheets track billable time
- Uses Monte Carlo simulations for forecasting
- Free plan available
- Unlimited tasks only available in its Ultimate plan
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.
- Easily transfer assignments to other people or placeholder
- Quickly create 1-day, 1-week, or recurring assignments
- Easy-to-understand cost, revenue, and profitability forecasts
- A bit of a learning curve to use holistic planning views
- Concierge onboarding limited to enterprise plans
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.
- Fits well into an Agile framework
- Easy to use project scheduling
- Good for costing and construction work monitoring
- Most reports require a manual clean-up
- No way to sort Agile Boards by project, only by task
- No way to track and update partially complete tasks
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 $7 per user per month.
- Task notifications help keep everyone on the same page
- Built-in stand-ups feature for progress tracking
- Different project views allow for more accurate project planning
- No mobile app
- No reporting
- Limited integrations
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.
- Easy, accessible automatic timer
- Designed with the creative industry in mind
- Unlimited number of clients and projects
- Minimal format options for downloading reports
- No Kanban board planning
- Has time tracking but no automated time capture
ClickUp is a flexible project planning tool that can accommodate small or large teams who need to-do lists, project management, docs and wikis, spreadsheets, email and chat, events, reminders, goal tracking, time tracking, screenshots and recording features, and resource management. Plus, if you are switching from another PM tool, ClickUp can easily import data from other productivity apps.
ClickUp costs from $6.64/user/month with a freemium plan for simple tasks.
- Impressive organization: create folders, sub-groups, and sub-tasks
- Huge number of customization options
- Easy to switch between unrelated project plans
- More third-party integrations welcomed
- Tricky to email with attachments, files sometimes unopenable
- Steep learning curve due to number of features
Need expert help selecting the right Project Management Software?
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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?
When deciding on project planning software, it’s important to consider the methodology or framework that you are using for managing projects. If your team is using Scrum or Agile project management, make sure your project management system has the capability to allow you to run your projects the way you want.
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 project management 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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Related List of Tools: 10 Best Web-Based Resource Scheduling Software