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It's any manager's worst nightmare.
This ONE project that never seems to end. Nothing goes as planned and missed appointments lurk around every corner. You can't remember the last time you laughed. Your boss is insane and your employees are stumbling around trying to figure out what to do next.
You drive home wondering what went wrong and why the universe is working against you. If only there was a better way.
It doesn't have to be like that.
If you choose the right project management software, projects won't get you into that panic-inducing nightmare.
I've managed countless projects, hundreds of teams, and switched to every project management software imaginable.
From Wrike to Trello. Trello to Asana. From Asana back to Wrike.
Rinse and repeat with every possible combination of tools on the market.
And you want to know a secret? It doesn't matter which project management tool you use, as long as you pick the right one and stick with it.
To make your decision easier, I've reviewed six of my favorite options and made a list to consider when choosing the right software.
The top 6 options for project management software
- Zoho Projects – Best for Versatility
- Wrike – Best for marketing teams
- Teamwork – Best for remote teams
- Asana – Best for small teams
- Smartsheet – Best for large teams
- Trello – Best Free Project Management Software
How to choose the project management software for you
The best project management software for you depends on the complexity of your projects, the size of your team, and the features you need.
And choosing the right one can feel impossible since there are thousands of different tools out there.
So before we dive into my top recommendations, let's talk about what to look for as you go through the process of finding the right software.
Number of users
Most project management programs are billed per user per month. It is therefore important to understand how many seats you will need and what your budget is.
When you have a large team with hundreds of users, it's better to choose a business plan with custom pricing to get the most bang for your buck.
However, if you have fewer than 15 people, Asana is an excellent choice (free for up to 15 users).
And if you have fewer than three users, you can also use Zoho Projects for free.
For simple and straightforward projects, all you need is basic project management software.
And you can probably use a free plan forever with Trello, Asana, or Zoho projects.
However, as your projects get more complex, you need more robust functionality. As a result, you may need to upgrade to a paid plan if you are using basic project management software.
On the other hand, tools like Wrike and Smartsheet offer advanced and industry-specific features. But they come at a higher price.
Task management is one of the most important features to look out for.
While most project management programs include basic task management, it is important to consider the advanced features that you will need.
Do you need to create task dependencies? You may need to create repeating tasks on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. Or you want to assign several people to the same task.
This also includes things like:
- Checklists and due dates
- File attachments
- Archive / delete tasks
- Task prioritization
So think carefully about how you want to manage projects and what task management features you need before making any decisions.
The best project management software includes internal discussion functions such as comments, forums or instant messaging.
This is an important feature that will help you streamline discussions with the various tasks or phases of your project and keep them intact. Instead of searching through thousands of emails, you can open the task and see everything related to it right away.
All of my top recommendations include this in some way. However, make sure that the software you choose also includes robust discussion features.
Every project and team is different.
It is therefore important that your project management software can adapt to your requirements. Whether it's a fully branded dashboard, the flexibility to scale, or improved functionality with the right integrations.
Also, think about how you want to view and share project progress. Different software offers different project views, reports and analyzes.
First, make a full list of the features and integrations required.
Finally, consider everything your software needs to do and speak to a sales team to make sure the tool meets your top priorities within your budget.
The different types of project management software
There are different types of project management software. Some are way better than others while others are specifically reserved for developers or companies on a large budget.
Let's go through them together.
All of my top recommendations are cloud-based software. This means that the software is on a cloud server and you can access it from any web browser on any device.
This is the preferred type for most users because it's easy to use, doesn't require any infrastructure on your part, and you can access everything regardless of where you are.
Typically, you pay per user per month for this type of software.
Different types of projects may require industry-specific solutions.
These make your life easier with ready-made templates, automated workflows, and other functions that are specific to the project types you manage.
Most of the software products on this list provide solutions for industries such as:
- Digital marketing
- Real estate
- Software development
- Remote teams
With this in mind, these companies also offer reasonably priced standard subscriptions that don't include industry-specific tools.
So, you don't have to use these more expensive solutions unless you want to.
Most of these solutions come with custom pricing tailored to your specific needs. As such, they might be out of budget, especially if you are a small business or a brand new business.
On-premise project management software resides on your servers, not in the cloud. And while it's more secure, the software can only be accessed from devices on your network.
You may also need to install new infrastructure or hire an in-house maintenance team to update and maintain the software for you.
For this reason, none of the recommendations in this list are on-premise solutions.
Open API software is ideal for developers or if you want to hire a developer to create a custom project management solution for your company.
This type of software is highly customizable, but difficult to manage unless you are a developer.
Most users do not need this level of customization. As a result, I did not include any open API software on this list.
# 1 – Zoho Projects Review – The Best for Versatility
For most users, Zoho Projects is my top recommendation.
They offer a free forever plan, and paid plans start at just $ 3 per user per month. Therefore, it is incredibly affordable for small businesses and can scale as your business grows.
Whether you're managing simple or complex projects, Zoho has everything you need, including powerful features such as:
- Hosted file storage
- Task dependencies
- Recurring tasks
- Visual Workflow Builder
- Time tracking
- Task assignments and prioritization
- Chats, forums and feeds
- Reporting and analysis
The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create workflows and quickly track project progress. You can also display projects with Kanban, Gantt or calendar views.
In addition, their internal communication tools (chat, forum and feed) optimize team collaboration where it matters most.
You can also take advantage of 100+ built-in integrations with business tools that you already use to run and manage your business.
These integrations include Slack, Zapier, DropBox, and more.
Zoho's plans include:
- Free – up to 3 users, two projects, and 10MB of storage
- Standard – $ 3 / user per month and up to 10 projects (between 6 and 10 users)
- Express – $ 4 / user per month + unlimited projects (between 12 and 50 users)
- Premium – $ 5 / user per month + unlimited projects (between 15 and 100 users)
- Enterprise – $ 6 / user per month + unlimited projects (for 20+ users)
Start your 10-day free trial today to take Zoho for a test drive.
# 2 – Wrike Review – Best for Marketing Teams
Over 20,000 companies, including Google, Airbnb and Dell, use Wrike to manage marketing and sales projects worldwide.
With Wrike, your project management software adapts to your needs, not the other way around. Features like custom workflows and dashboards, automation, and real-time communications make this a great choice for dynamic marketing teams of all sizes.
You also get end-to-end visualization so you can focus on problem areas while maintaining constant forward movement on each project as a whole.
Additionally, Wrike includes powerful marketing-specific templates, including
- Campaign management
- Product launch
- Marketing operations
- Content creation
- Event management
And you can combine these with standard project management functions such as task management, proofing and approvals, communication tools and real-time progress indicators.
Project views include board, spreadsheet, Gantt, calendar, and custom views.
Wrike also includes seamless integrations with 400+ business tools like Salesforce, G Mail, and Google Drive. So you don't have to worry about software incompatibility issues or anything like that.
You can start their free plan forever for up to five users, but this may be limiting. Paid plans include:
- Professional – $ 9.80 / user per month (5-15 users)
- Business – $ 24.80 / user per month (5-200 users)
- Enterprise – Custom (5 – unlimited users)
They also offer bespoke plans for marketing teams, but you need to contact them for a custom quote. However, it includes custom templates, Wrike Proof, and more.
Start your 14-day free trial or sign up for a forever free plan to get started today.
# 3 – Teamwork Review – Best for remote teams
If you are managing a remote team (or a future remote team), teamwork is an excellent choice. The remote work module is specifically aimed at distributed teams who need a flexible way to move work forward.
Over 20,000 teams and big names including Disney, Netflix and Spotify rely on teamwork for their remote project management needs – and for good reason.
The software makes collaboration, task management, and project visibility a breeze no matter where your team lives (and works). And as teamwork says, "Just because you're not in the same room doesn't mean you can't be on the same page."
This remote project management software includes great features like:
- Internal chat software
- Centralized workspaces
- Board views
- Custom project templates
- Workload balancing
- Time tracking
- Gantt charts
In addition, you can choose which software you need. You can also save 49% by bundling all of your teamwork software.
At $ 35 / month per user (five users or more), it's better for businesses on a reasonable budget. However, the project management module alone is much cheaper, starting at $ 10 / month per user.
Alternatively, you can start with a free forever plan for up to five users and two projects. This is an excellent choice for small teams or fast growing companies.
Sign up for a 30-day free trial to try Teamwork's remote project management solution today.
# 4 – Asana Review – Best for Small Teams
Asana is an excellent choice for teams of up to 15 people.
And with millions of users in more than 190 countries around the world, you can be sure that you are in good hands.
The Forever Free Plan includes 15 seats, unlimited tasks and projects, assignees, due dates, and everything you need (aside from some advanced features) to efficiently manage projects of all sizes.
With Asana, you can map even the smallest steps of any project to ensure movement forward and track your team's progress along the way.
In addition, you can use functions such as:
- Drag and drop board views
- Timeline views
- Automated workflows
- Work requests and forms
- Calendar view
- Portfolio overviews
- Workload balance
- Custom fields
- Reusable templates
In addition, the entire user interface is nice and easy to navigate.
You can choose from pre-made industry templates or create your own to get your team on the right track in no time.
With 100+ integrations including Adobe, Slack, Gmail, Chrome, Drive, and more, you can be confident that Asana will work well with the tools you already use.
You can also share files, communicate, and share feedback in one place.
With a free price tag (for up to 15 users), Asana is hard to beat. However, if you grow beyond the free plan, you can upgrade to one of the paid plans including:
- Premium – $ 10.99 per user per month
- Business – $ 24.99 per user per month
- Enterprise – custom pricing only
Sign up for a free forever plan to get started with Asana today!
# 5 – Smartsheet Review – Best for Large Teams
Smartsheet is dynamic project management software for companies and large teams. However, the solution is flexible enough to accommodate businesses and projects of any size.
They specialize in projects with fast movements and a lot of moving parts. So you can trust Smartsheet for even the most complicated projects.
Smartsheet enables you to improve end-to-end project visibility with grid, card, Gantt, and calendar views. Plus, you can collect data from forms, automated workflows, and recurring tasks to see what to see and when.
However, the software goes beyond essential project management. It is an award-winning work execution platform that is easy to implement, manage, and maintain.
Plus, 75% of Fortune 500 companies use Smartsheet to get things done.
So you are in good company.
All plans also include on-demand customer support, ongoing training materials, training and certification programs, and consulting services to help you get the most out of your new project management software.
You also get collaboration tools, all four project views, and extensive mobile apps / integrations for each plan.
While Smartsheet is an overkill for most small businesses, it's an excellent choice for large companies and companies looking to streamline their business processes.
Their paid plans include:
- Individual – $ 14 per month
- Business – $ 25 per user per month (three users minimum)
- Enterprise – Custom (features and tools for business)
- Premier – Custom (Enterprise + Premium Features and Tools)
Sign up for a 30-day free trial to try Smartsheets without a credit card, risk-free.
# 6 – Trello Review – The Best Free Project Management Software
If you are on a tight budget, Trello is excellent free project management software.
In addition, millions of users including Pinterest, Peloton, Fender and Costco rely on them to design and manage projects of all shapes and sizes.
It's a great tool for basic visual project management for any type of project, from home improvement and sideline jobs to marketing campaigns to full business operations.
Trello uses boards, cards, and lists to organize projects, making it a familiar and convenient platform. You can drag and drop cards, move cards to new boards, and cancel tasks as you proceed.
You can also create automated workflows with rule-based triggers, calendar commands, and more.
In addition, the free plan includes intuitive features such as:
- Unlimited personal boards
- Unlimited cards and lists
- 10 MB file attachments
- Up to 10 team boards
- Basic automation
- And two-factor authentication
It's a great solution for teams of all sizes as anyone can join for free. However, you'll need to upgrade to a paid plan if you need more than ten team boards.
And as you grow beyond the free plan, you can upgrade to an affordable paid plan for more advanced features. Trello's paid plans include:
- Business Class – $ 9.99 / user per month
- Enterprise – $ 17.50 / user per month
Sign up for a free forever plan to get started with Trello today.
Zoho Projects is my first recommendation for most users, starting at just $ 3 per user per month with an extensive free forever plan.
However, there is no single project management solution.
So make sure you understand your needs and requirements before making any decisions. Don't forget to use the criteria we talked about as you go through the process.
What is your project management software?