Project management software come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, Trello helps you to keep track of what you do, Slack allows you to communicate with team members, while Zoho works best when you want to manage multiple projects or sub-projects.
That said, finding the best project management tool for your needs is not easy. Not all users are looking for all features, and different types of businesses have different needs, we will try and focus on some of the best and free project management tools that handle projects differently. Let’s begin.
Best Project Management Tools
1. Gantt Project
Let’s begin the list with the Gantt Project. It is a free and open source project management tool that helps you manage your Gantt charts (a type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule).
With Gantt Project, you can manage multiple projects, create and assign tasks to these projects and set deadlines. Gantt will let you set priorities to these tasks. More than one user? Gantt can handle profiles with roles and set work days.
As the name suggests, you can create and export reports in Gantt format along with PDF, HTML, CSV, iCal, Microsoft Project format, and Pert which can be then imported into other software.
- Free and open source
- Assign roles
- Multiple projects and tasks across them
- Export reports to other software
- No cloud storage integration (file sharing)
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
Download Gantt Project (Free)
Trello uses the famous Kanban productivity layout (i.e. dividing the tasks into “today”, “tomorrow” and “later”). We, at TechWiser use it daily to come up with useful post ideas that we think will help our users make decisions and solve problems. Trello is even used by the likes of Google
You begin with creating a project which is known as a board. Inside each board, there are columns such as Ideas, Doing, Done, Revision, Troubleshooting, etc. You then create cards inside each column for individual tasks. So, in our case, each card is a post idea. I place it in the Idea column. It is then moved from there to Doing when I am writing an article and Done when it is published. Assign labels, discuss with the team, and get things done. Here is another example by BufferApp.
Inside each card, you can add description, links, images, attach files, create tasks, and chat with other team members. Trello comes with a powerful API that works with other cloud service providers like Google, IFTTT for automation, Slack for communication, Gmail, Salesforce and more. This makes Trello a powerhouse.
Trello is free but the Premium plan ($9.99) will bump file size from 10MB to 250MB, allow unlimited integrations (powerups), priority support, and access team management tools.
- Integrates via API
- Visually appealing
- Lacks intuitive ways of archiving/deleting cards, not ideal for managing very large projects.
Platform: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Browser-based
Download Trello (Freemium)
3. Orchard Collaboration
Do you work in an environment where a lot of tickets are raised? For example, you have a business based on customer support? Orchard Collaboration will help you manage different projects in a free and open source environment where you can raise tickets.
Communicating with team members and customers is easy. The app will integrate with GIT to let you commit to tickets. Each project can have sub-projects and milestones to help track progress over time. You can create wikis (Wikipedia-style pages, example FAQs page), invite team or even customers, and assign permissions to them.
Ticket Management is where Orchard shines. Receive emails for raised and answered tickets, customize replies, create levels, customize formats, automate different aspects, use built-in templates, and more.
Orchard Collaboration is free to use but can be a little difficult to install. You will have to install it on an SQL server or similar other database management server. Once done, it comes with an easy and functional CMS. Not sure how to do it. Outsource it on Fiverr or Freelancer.
- Free and open source
- A robust ticket management system
- No limit on tickets, projects, or members
- SQL server, browser-based
Platform: SQL or other database servers
Wrike is a project management software for business that takes a different approach. It will allow you to create blocks for each work. Taking a cue from Google Drive apps, Wrike will let you create and edit documents in real time. Taking a cue from Gantt Project, it will also create Gantt charts.
You can create projects, create and assign tasks, and create milestones to track goals. If you have a large team, Wrike’s admin controls are really powerful and secure. It will give you a Kanban view of the project where you can create tasks and move them across columns. There is support for cloud storage providers and free 2GB Wrike storage for free users. Other features include time tracking, goal tracking, approval process, and more.
Free plan gets you tasks, boards, ability to share files, and 2GB storage. You will have to shell out $9.99 to manage teams and clients, increase storage limits, add up to 15 users and generate advanced reports. The next plan is $24.99 which unlocks more user accounts, API integration for services like Salesforce, 50GB space, calendar, and time tracking. For most users, free plan is good.
- Gantt Charts
- Kanban view support
- Collaborate on files
- Visual representation
Platform: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Download Wrike (Freemium)
Quire is a free project management tool that takes a cue from the Trello boards in a new and refreshing way. it is entirely free and has no pricing plan, at the moment.
A kanban style board where you can create projects, tasks, assign people and deadlines for these tasks, and then finally collaborate on these tasks to achieve common goals. You can drag-n-drop not only cards but also individual tasks which gives you more flexibility when compared to Trello where tasks are confined to cards. Finally, you can assign labels to help you find them faster.
So how does it differ? Quire differs from Trello in that it offers a tree-like structure making it easy to drill down projects and tasks/sub-tasks. Another neat feature is a real-time chat where you can send instant messages.
- Work chat
- Integrates with cloud storage
- Tree-structure with Kanban layout
- No API
Platforms: Web browser, Android, iOS
Download Quire (Free)
6. Zoho Sprints
Zoho has a number of products and services on offer and one of them in Zoho Sprints which is a flexible and scalable project management software for both small and medium-sized businesses. Working in a fast-paced environment?
Zoho Sprints comes with features like the ability to manage backlogs, log billable hours if you are a freelancer or are trading dollars for hours, and analytics. The free plan is good for up to 3 users and 2 projects. If you feel like your team and customers are growing, you can upgrade to $10 plan with 50 projects and 10 users.
It differs from the rest in that it comes with a dedicated planning tab, a Kanban style board, and Timesheet to track time. Zoho Sprints is more ideal for small-scale business projects with limited budgets.
- Kanban board
- Time tracking
- Backlogs tracking
- Free plan in limited
Zoho Sprints (Free)
If you are in the software development area then you should give VivifyScrum a look. A single page app that will help you manage projects and tasks, track billable hours, generate invoices, and monitor backlogs. All this in a functional UI that takes inspiration from not only Kanban but also Scrum style board. You can select either.
The free plan comes with unlimited boards, tasks, users, and items with a 20MB limit per board. If you want more storage or additional features like an invoice, time tracking, and team management, you will have to upgrade that will cost $8.
- Time management
- Invoice management
- Kanban and Scrum board
- Free plan limited
- No apps for any OS
Download VivifyScrum (Freemium)
8. Open Project
Open Project is a community-backed open source project management software that you can download and host yourself. This means you can use your own servers or even your local machine. Open Project will let you create boards and wikis, tasks, track time, create Gantt reports, create agile or scrum boards, create and manage budgets, create user groups and assign roles.
As you can see, this is probably the most feature-rich project management software for businesses. The only problem is that you can’t install it on Windows or Mac and there are no mobile apps. You will need a Linux based SQL server which can be bought and outsourced easily but limits functionality.
- Time tracking
- Agile or Scrum board
- Not cross-platform
- Need SQL knowledge
Download Open Project (Free)
Jira is quite similar to Trello i.e. both are based on the concept of Kanban technique. However, Jira is better suited for software developers, while Trello has a much wider audience.
Jira is a project management tool which mainly focuses on issue tracking but not limited to that. With this tool, you can perform basic project management tasks like the update, monitoring, tracking, etc. It is proprietary software and free to use for nonprofit organizations and students.
You can create new projects and choose scrum, Kanban, agile, and other methodologies for your projects. This helps you assigning different methods to different projects as per the requirement. Jira has three variants: Jira core, its the basic project management tool, Jira software, it has all the basic features plus also the agile development features, Jira Service Desk is used by big enterprises.
- Dashboard with customizable charts and open reporting
- Lacks public key cryptography and two-factor authentication.
Platform: It is available on the cloud or you can host it yourself if you want you can use it on mobile with Jira mobile.
Download Jira ($10 per month for up to 10 users.)
10. Microsoft Team
Microsoft team is identical to slack i.e. it helps your team to communicate through chats and calls, collaborate and share files. If you and your team are heavily invested in the Microsoft ecosystem and are using Office 365, then Microsoft Team is no brainer.
The best thing about Microsoft Team is its deep integration with other office products like word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote etc. You can start a video or voice conversation using Skype as well.
- Create conversation threads within a chatroom
- Integration with Office 365
- No way to manage a Team without actually being a member of said team.
Platforms: Microsoft Team is available for Windows, Mac and Android and iOS
Download Microsoft Team (free with Office 365 business plan.)
Which is the Best Project Management Tools?
For most businesses and professionals out there, I would recommend Trello. It is a tried and tested product with a lot of power and features in the free plan and can be accessed on any platform.
If you are a nerd and need something more secure, think self-hosted solutions, then Open Project is both a good bet.
Quire is really powerful and completely free but that may change later as per their pricing page. So you can check it out.
If you run a customer support business with a constant flow of support tickets, I recommend Orchard Collaboration which is again, self-hosted.
Microsoft Team is recommended if you are invested deep in Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem.
Zoho Sprints is cool but you may have to upgrade later as your team grows.