Comparing the best project management software of 2021

With multiple teams, clients and tasks, project management is challenging. There’s a lot of software out there, and it’s difficult to know which one is the best. We’ve tried to make it easier with this list of 10 pm software options that should be on your radar.

What does the best free project management software offer?

Project managers use project management software across various industries. Top software programs provide helpful tools to enable you to track progress, create budgets and spreadsheets, and plan and communicate efficiently. Which is the best project management software for your team will depend on your team’s specific needs and your current tech stack. This post will compare our top project management software options of 2021 for small or large teams based on value for the price, UI, and features and functionality.

What features to consider for engineering project management software

The best project management softwares offer simple project organization, work with you, and aren’t another thing for you to manage and worry about. You can expect multiple task views, templates, custom workflows, and due dates from most PM software. Great PM software will enable fast and simple communication. However, the most high-level pm software apps also include project planning and scheduling, team collaboration, time tracking, reporting, budgeting, and billing. Other elements to keep in mind: flexibility, intuitive UI, tech support, and pricing.

The factors that go into selecting the optimal PM software for your team will depend on the nature of projects, the current apps and systems in place and the current needs of your team members. These are all-around great PM software options that should work for most teams.

Pros and cons: project management software comparison

1. Asana

Asana is a cloud-based project management software that is one of the most popular PM programs out there. In addition to the standard PM features such as task management and workflow management, Asana offers a way to visualize lists, gantt charts, kanban boards and calendars in various views. Technology Advice highlights that each user receives a list of “new tasks” upon assignment in addition to notifications under the “My Tasks” tab. Additional sections titled “today,” “upcoming '' and “later” sort tasks give users an efficient system of prioritizing their workflow and seeing the overall scope of their workload. Their Premium plan costs $10.99/month/user and supports timelines, reporting, custom fields, automation rules, and more. Their Business plan offers more robust features like approvals, portfolios, rule builders, workload, and advanced integrations–that are unavailable in the other plans. When paid annually it is $24.99/user/month.

PROS:

  • Workflows automate recurring tasks
  • Intuitive UI with different task displays
  • Supports custom fields and forms
  • Invite unlimited guest users
  • Options to build custom rules and approval workflows

CONS:

  • Many project management features require integrations that may not be suitable for all users
  • Doesn’t include time tracking

Free for up to 15 users

2. Liquid Planner

Liquid Planner is a complex project management software that offers great value for the price. It’s one of the more expensive options on the market, but it’s also one of the most impressive. Liquid Planner is easily one of the best project management software on the market now. It’s a great option for larger companies with the means to pay $540 per person per year and allows for more storage, up to 100 clients, 10 different dashboards, and up to 2,000 tasks. It goes beyond traditional project management and actually tracks resources and team availability.

The robust features in this program take time to learn. However, the results will transform the way your team manages tasks with added transparency and role task clarity. There are also many amazing and affordable options out there for smaller teams.

PROS

  • Predictive algorithms automatically update gantt charts
  • Offers a unique way to view the project path through quick highlighting
  • Automatically adjusts project deadlines as users change the projected completion date, offering clarity on the overall project progress
  • Systematic filtering allows project managers to see not only what resources are available, but also which team members are available to take on new work.

CONS

  • The Interface takes time to learn and is not immediately intuitive

$45/month per user

3. Teamwork

PC Mag gives this project management software the Editors Choice distinction for managing projects. They highlight the intuitive design and available customizations.

PROS

  • Time Tracking and timesheets
  • Gantt Charts
  • Tasks with sub-tasks
  • Milestone projection and management
  • Different user permissions

CONS

  • Based on reviews, the mobile version does not operate as effectively
  • Not enough viewing options within calendar and charts

Free version, $10/month per user version, $18/month per user version, and a premium enterprise plan that does not disclose pricing

4. ZoHo Projects

TechRadar notes that one of Zoho Projects’ strongest features is integration with the Zoho ecosystem, which features apps for email, CRM, and IT project management . Their team chat features streamline communication with instant messaging that allows you to attach documents and create new forums for different projects. It is a great resource for small teams to utilize their free plan for up to 5 users.

PROS

  • Free plan available for up to five users
  • A growing list of integrations, including Dropbox, Box, Evernote, GitHub, Microsoft OneDrive, Bitbucket, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Harvest, GitHub, GoToMeeting, Zendesk, Zapier, and others.
  • Time tracking

CONS

  • Few automations, invoicing or billing, but you can add these features via third-party integration

Free for up to 5 users, $25/month for up to 10 users

5. GanttPro

Gantt charts are useful for assigning tasks in complex projects because they show how each task within a project contributes to the final result. PCMag features GanttPro as a great simple project management software for small teams that are really only looking for a project management tool and not extra built-in features.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Focus on Gantt charts
  • Customization capabilities that include what details your chart shows
  • A mini dashboard gives a high-level overview of projects
  • Workload management tool ensures people aren’t overbooked

CONS

  • No reporting, billing, or invoicing
  • Limited integrations

$4.50/month per user

6. Monday

Monday is a project management platform that is great at providing efficiency in executing multiple projects with various team members and contractors through visual role task clarity and assignment features that can be grouped and organized together based on various aspects of the project. When considering the amount of communication and approval process that goes into engineering and construction, Monday provides an easy and approachable way to integrate clients, contractors and team members into one central hub through organized columns for notes, status updates, due dates and categories. DPM notes that Monday is best for workflow automation for both transparency and overall streamlined process of assigning tasks and project management. It is easy to add participants, attach necessary documents, tag specific users as well as mark the status of each item, which will update team members who enable notifications

PROS

  • Visually appealing interface
  • Multiple views like map view or calendar view

CONS

  • Recurring tasks not built-in
  • The mobile app can be clunky to navigate

Paid plans start at $39/month for up to five users

IT project management softwares you need to know

Overseeing planning, executing, and delegating responsibilities for IT is a very demanding process. Functionality and integration are key for the best IT project management software. Trello and Basecamp standout because they both offer advanced innovative solutions such as drag-and-drop functionality and an efficient visual layout that support the needs of IT team members.

7. Trello

Trello’s task management interface looks as good as it functions. Users can easily invite clients and team members for seamless collaborative functionality in simplified kanban-esque workflows. PC Mag reports Trello recently added timeline features. They’re perfect for assigning tasks because you can visually plan project tasks and their respective due dates. If your team needs a simple and straightforward collaboration tool, this is the project management tool for you.

PROS

  • Outstanding visuals, clean modern UI
  • Drag-and-drop task moving
  • Free version
  • Only $9/user for business plans
  • Unlimited tasks
  • Commentary and collaboration features
  • Organize tasks by priority
  • File and image sharing

CONS

  • Many features, such as billing and time tracking, require add-ons

$12.50/month per user

8. Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management software that focuses on optimizing working remotely. Built-in collaboration communication tools are perfect for solving IT issues. Use it for 1:1 conversation chats or message boards for specific inquiries/projects that only include the necessary team members/clients. The integrated calendar is also a standout feature that brings transparency to the entire team for due dates and statuses. The calendar also syncs with Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook.

PROS

  • Layout similar to social media
  • Free for teachers and students
  • Application-based collaboration
  • Desktop notifications
  • Project performance
  • Message boards
  • In-app collaboration functions
  • Separate presentation for clients

CONS

  • Geared towards startups and younger users that don’t require advanced support features for complex projects.
  • Basecamp’s communication tools, to-do lists, and calendar functionality are best for smaller teams with straightforward projects.

$99/month for unlimited users

Project management software tailored to marketing teams

9. Wrike

Wrike is free for up to 5 users with a few other versions, but crazyegg recommends the business plan at $24.80/month per user. It is definitely more expensive than competing softwares. However, it’s packed with features and integrations to streamline collaboration and project planning. It’s also one of the more comprehensive project management softwares that’s geared towards marketing agencies.

It offers analytics that update every 15 minutes (not a common feature). Additionally, there are custom packages for marketers, which allow users to gather data for 50+ platforms. Data and software integrations include Salesforce and Adobe Creative Cloud.

PROS:

  • User-friendly dashboard
  • Ability to create automated workflows for repeating tasks and processes

CONS:

  • Limited mobile functionality
  • Expensive

Business plan starts at $24.80/month per user

10. Smartsheet

This project management software uses the standard spreadsheet style interface to track projects. Smartsheet’s features include document and resource management, project reporting, task management, file sharing, and timeline tracking.

It’s great for marketing teams because, depending on the project, this software enables you to toggle through multiple views when looking at data. Software Advice commends the software’s ability to sort data using card, grid, Gantt chart, and calendar view. Dashboards also allow team members to easily track progress and allocate resources to assign tasks and improve workflow.

PROS:

  • Very customizable
  • Supports automation
  • Multiple views

CONS:

  • Not equipped for autosave and doesn’t provide real-time updates
  • Must continually refresh the page to see updated changes from colleagues
  • Features such as time-tracking, budgeting, resource management are not built-in and require add-ons

$32/month per user

Bottom line

Talk to your team, evaluate your workflow needs, and do your research before selecting a project management software.

The number of project management software options can seem overwhelming. Most programs will be suitable for any industry and integrate fine for any size team. However, there are so many factors that go into refining a workflow that works for your team members, your projects and your clients.

Research and reflect on what support your team needs, seek out the features that will help you and your team do your best work.

The following list is a guide for what kind of teams can benefit from each software:

  1. Asana: Great for small to mid-sized remote teams
  2. Liquid Planner: Best project management software for large teams
  3. Teamwork: Easiest software to use that allows clients to view workspaces
  4. ZoHo Projects: Great for smaller teams on a budget
  5. GanttPro: Affordable PM software tailored to small businesses
  6. Monday: Perfect for teams that need more versatile automation and customizable workflow and task management
  7. Trello: Best PM software for small teams that don’t have complex project organizational demands and enjoy the kanban layout
  8. Basecamp: Great for any sized team looking for a flat rate and basic PM software
  9. Wrike: A comprehensive project management tool that’s perfect for marketing agencies and other teams that require robust features
  10. Smartsheet: Ideal for teams that need a good bit of advanced customization

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