Project managers have their work cut out for them. There are many factors to consider, resources to coordinate, and pitfalls to navigate. Project managers have to juggle a host of different things and have their bosses and stakeholders looking over their shoulders, expecting results. No pressure!
The more project management tools managers can master, the better. This fact brings us to this article, where we highlight the best project management software and the best project management tools. And yes, there’s a slight distinction between the two.
We will also touch upon free project management software, a great resource for organizations on a tight budget. Free project management tools can help small companies or businesses just starting to improve their odds of success, freeing up resources to bolster the enterprise and ensuring a long, successful run.
But before we get into the concrete listings of the best project management software and the best project management tools, let’s cover a few relevant topics.
What is Project Management Software?
Project management software is defined as software employed by a wide range of businesses and industries for planning projects, allocating resources, and scheduling. The software also functions as a platform for improving project stakeholders’ collaboration.
Although the terms “project management software” and “project management tools” are often used interchangeably, and rightly so, there’s a subtle difference. Some project management professionals refer to a collection of project management software as a project management tool. Or, to put it another way, a project management tool is a project management software bundle.
However, some software vendors classify project management tools as specific utilities or applications within a software package, things such as templates, tables, or charts.
What Are the Advantages of Using Project Management Software?
The best software for project management accomplishes the following:
1) Helps teams to keep many tasks in perspective and gives the team a better understanding of priorities
2) Improves communication and fosters teamwork across an organization
3) Provides leadership with a macro-level view of the project’s progress
4) Helps keep costs under control and manages budgets
5) Helps with resource allocation and prevents teams from burning out
6) Makes it easier for groups to collaborate remotely, especially if they follow a hybrid work model or are scattered across a wide area
7) Aids project leaders and teams in assessing and managing risks and dealing with uncertainties
What Are the Common Features in Project Management Software?
We’ve touched upon the functions that the best project management software or project management tools should include, but now let’s shift focus and explore the common characteristics that allow project management software to deliver those benefits.
Here are the six functionalities that all good project management software must offer:
Time is money, so time management is money management. The best tools offer Gantt charts, calendars, or milestone tools that help professionals understand a task’s place in a project and how much time has been allocated to finish it.
2) Task lists
Lists help project managers assign and update tasks statuses, so team members are on the same page.
3) File sharing
File sharing is the bedrock of collaboration, and the best project management software allows team members to share and organize essential project documents, thereby eliminating wasted time searching for files.
Budgeting and Resource Allocation
This function relates to scheduling. The best project management software tracks expenses and helps teams stay within budget. Additionally, good project management tools ensure that the correct people are working on the right tasks and help avoid pitfalls such as duplication of effort or burnout.
Communication is key to any successful relationship, which is a vital element in project management, as a smooth flow of communication leads to quick and easy problem-solving.
Finally, there needs to be a means of accountability. All team members need to provide regular updates on the project. Reporting is also an excellent benefit for project managers who want to ensure the project is moving smoothly and tasks are being performed promptly.
How Do You Choose the Best Project Management Software Tool for Your Team?
Every company is different, as is every project. There are large, established companies, aspiring startups, and small-to-medium businesses — and they inevitably have projects requiring management.
You can choose the best project management software by getting a good idea of what’s out there (which is why you’re here, so that’s a good start!) and taking note of what features each offering provides and which features the software prominently calls out. For instance, if time management is a chronic challenge for your team, then a project management tool that excels in scheduling would be best.
Or is your organization focusing more on costs than going for a project management tool that’s relatively inexpensive? Maybe you can find an excellent free project management tool to help get the project rolling!
Perhaps your team is hopelessly scattered throughout the country, and no one’s spending any time in the office. In that case, you want a project management application emphasizing remote collaboration and team communication.
Consider the following factors when choosing the right project management software:
1) How many people in your organization will be using this project management platform?
2) Can you try out the tool for free first? Or is there a free option available for smaller teams?
3) Does the project management software provide solutions to your issues and needs?
4) Can the project management software evolve alongside your project management needs?
5) Is the project management software easy to implement?
To sum it up, everyone’s needs are different. So identify yours and find the software that’s most compatible with those needs.
Best Project Management Software in 2022
Here’s our breakdown of the ten finest project management software and project management tools available today.
This simple project management tool helps teams organize their projects and tasks visually. Managers can use customizable functionalities to create the correct workflow without knowing how to code. Monday is a great tool for startups and small businesses.
1) There’s a free version
2) Many templates
3) Kanban and Gantt charts
4) Mobile app version
1) Limited reporting options
2) New features often have glitches
3) Lower pricing tiers have limited features
4) Advanced features have a steep learning curve
Cost: Free for up to two seats, $39 per month for the first five users
This is a fantastic project management tool for beginners. Teams can plan projects using interactive Gantt charts, break projects up into tasks, subtasks, and milestones, and set specific timelines with resources allocated. In addition, the software lets users measure team resources and availability and conduct project cost estimates. If your project team leader is inexperienced, GanntPro will help fill in the gaps.
1) Priced competitively
2) Easy for beginners to use
3) Saves histories
4) Features custom fields for tasks, critical path feature, Kanban board view, and Gantt chart interaction
1) No invoicing or billing
2) Very few integrations
3) Isn’t customizable
Cost: Costs begin at $15 per user per month
TeamGantt is another excellent tool for beginners, ideal for small businesses. Gantt charts are a big thing in today’s project management world, and this software provides the perfect introduction.
1) Has great Gantt interactive charts
2) Excellent tutorial
3) Easy to use and very intuitive
4) Corrects dependencies automatically
1) Contains no tools for budgeting or invoicing
2) Light on communication tools
3) Reporting functions are only average
4) File uploads could be better
Cost: Free option, or paid plans from $19.90/user/month
Hive is an intuitive, comprehensive, all-in-one project management software package. Hive’s fundamental design relies on action cards, which reside inside larger projects. Within these action cards, teams can upload files, tag each other, offer proofing and approvals feedback, and leave comments with @mentions.
1) 1,000 integrations with top work tools like Gmail, Slack, Dropbox, and Zoom
2) Native chat and e-mail
3) Offers workflow automation with Hive Automate
4) Offers six different flexible project layouts, such as Calendar, Gantt, Kanban, Portfolio and Table, and Label view
1) Limited mobile functionality
2) Challenging to navigate
3) Difficult to create dependent tasks
4) Notifications appear as pop-ups instead of going to an in-box
Cost: Hive offers a free 14-day trial. Hive Solo’s free for up to two users. Plans start at $12 per user per month.
Teamwork is ideal for client-facing professional service providers and agencies. It offers Kanban-style boards, Gantt chart views, project templates, and task lists.
1) Includes billing and invoicing
2) Simple and intuitive
3) Fantastic customization options
4) Generous storage provided in paid plans
1) No image markup or PDF tools
2) It’s a bit pricier than the competition
3) Lower tiers don’t have the best security
4) Few integrations offered
Cost: Free for up to five users, then $10 per user per month, billed annually, with a minimum of three users
MeisterTask is a popular, intuitive, online task management tool that offers various collaborative capabilities while providing teams with an excellent user experience and clean visual design. In addition, it’s a Kanban-based project management tool that provides more streamlined offerings and pre-made workflows.
1) It offers Kanban boards and Gantt chart-style views for all projects
2) It provides unlimited sections and stages for project workflows
3) Helps team members stay focused by incorporating task limits
4) Includes e-mail integration, timesheet tracking, and scheduling
1) The benefits for each price level are very different
2) Task loading is slow
3) Limited reports and analytics
Cost: This software offers a free Basic version that provides selected core functionalities. The Pro level ($8.25/per user/month) provides a more comprehensive feature set for individual users. Teams benefit most from the Business ($20.75/per user/per month) and Enterprise (upon request) pricing levels.
Basecamp is one of the longest-lived project management tools around. It’s perfect for small teams but presents challenges when running multiple projects. Basecamp is cloud-based and provides various features for project managers, individuals, and marketing teams. It also offers a function that lets the client view the project’s progress and a real-time group chat feature to facilitate collaboration.
1) Can be integrated with iOS, Android, Mac, and PC
2) Sends a daily e-mail summarizing the team’s projects, with updates and statuses
3) Communicate via e-mail or designated discussion areas
4) Easily integrated with other products for reporting, analysis, and time tracking
1) Lack of customizable options
2) There are no milestones
3) Doesn’t allow team members to add estimated durations or assign multiple users to a task
Cost: Free to teachers and students. Available to businesses for $99/month
Airtable is ideal for teams that use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel but want to crank up their capabilities to the next level. This software is a spreadsheet tool on steroids, allowing the integration and management of traditional and rich data points, like photos, videos, etc. In addition, Airtable provides ready-made scripts and extensions that offer better project visualization.
1) Easy to use
2) Easy-to-use templates for various project types
3) Lots of integrations available
4) Very customizable
1) The free plan offers minimal functionality
2) Limited internal communication features
3) Automation is clunky
4) The plans become expensive
Cost: Free for up to five users. Pricing is $10 per seat per month, billed annually
Confluence is a great project management tool for dispersed teams, making virtual project management simple. It also emphasizes groups that want to foster collaboration while promoting inclusion and a positive corporate culture.
1) Features are conducive to building a positive company culture
2) Offers seamless external and internal document sharing
3) Large knowledge base encourages retaining great ideas
4) Large best practices template library
1) The plans get expensive
2) Storage is limited in comparison to similar offerings elsewhere
3) Glitchy search function
4) Needs integrations and apps to maximize many of its features
Cost: Free for up to 10 users, price plans begin at $5.50 per user per month
If your teams rely on Scrum, you want ClickUp, which accommodates the Agile software development process. ClickUp offers a robust set of features such as reporting dashboards, collaboration tools (e.g., real-time editing, mentions, calendar sync, and role creation and permissions), preset and custom automation recipes, project tracking tools (e.g., checklists, timelines, Gantt charts, Kanban boards and dependencies) and more than 1,000 integrations.
1) Agile friendly
2) Free forever plan for single users
3) Pre-built templates
4) Advanced task management
1) The program’s complexity can be daunting for rookies
2) The mobile app isn’t intuitive
3) It suffers from time-tracking glitches
4) The top pricing tiers can get expensive for smaller companies
Cost: Free for one user. Prices start at $5 per member per month, billed annually
Do You Want to Improve Your Project Management Skills?
If you want to sharpen your project management skills, consider the UMass Amherst Post Graduate Program in Project Management. Featuring live online interactive classes and masterclasses from UMass Amherst, this program will turbocharge your project management skills. All of the courses are aligned with PMI-PMP® and IASSC-Lean Six Sigma.
You will master valuable skills and gain knowledge in areas such as Agile management, project management, project risk management, and digital transformation.
A well-run project can make all the difference in a company’s performance in the marketplace, and a skilled leader ensures the project will go smoothly. Indeed.com shows that project managers in the United States can earn a yearly average of $81,313, and more.
Don’t delay. Check out this bootcamp today and put your project management skills far ahead of the competition!