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Best Project Management Software Tools

Track all your assignments and tasks with project management software tools

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Project management software can help businesses of all sizes run smoothly. Whether you're an individual or small business looking to keep track of a few projects, a massive corporation with a project portfolio to match, or anything in between, you can find cloud-based project management tools designed with you in mind.

Many have free plans with limited features to get you started, and nearly all are based on a monthly subscription model. After that, there are almost as many pricing options as there are different features, but most organizations will find a tool to fit their budget.

We've tracked down the best project management tools available on the market today, no matter the size of your team, project, or bank balance. Here are our top project management software choices.

The 6 Best Project Management Software Tools of 2023

Best Overall : Trello



Why We Chose It

Based around the kanban card-based management system, Trello's simple interface and generous free tier makes it the ideal place for individuals and small teams to get started with basic project management.

Rather than traditional tools designed for managing resources and tracking progress towards a specific end date, kanban-based apps like Trello are more free-form and flexible. Kanban is a lean project-management system that balances work demands with available capacity to improve system bottlenecks.

You can manage both individual projects and ongoing workflows equally well, and the board and card metaphors are easy to understand. There's plenty of power under the hood, with cards able to include images and attached files, hyperlinks, custom dropdowns, due dates, and plenty more.

Once you're finished with a particular card or an entire board, it can be archived to hide it from daily view while still being accessible if needed in the future.

The basic free tier includes unlimited users and cards, up to 10 boards, and just one Power-Up (Trello's clever phrase for its integration with other services) per board. Its unlimited storage is restricted to 10 megabytes per file. Paid plans start at $10 per month, with few or no limitations.

There's very limited reporting built into Trello, and although third-party extensions add more options, you'll likely still need to look elsewhere if detailed reports are a major requirement. For everyone else, however, Trello is a great place to start with project management. It's available on the web, mobile, and desktop.

Pros & Cons
  • Kanban-based project management system

  • Manage individual projects and full workflows

  • Paid plans start at just $10/month

  • Not reliable for detailed reporting

  • Customer reviews mention problems reaching support

Runner-Up : Wrike



Why We Chose It

If Trello's approach seems a bit limited, but you don't have hours to devote to learning and setting up a complex project management tool, it's time to check out Wrike. It made our list as runner-up because it offers useful dashboards and a comprehensive reporting suite, something to consider since Trello has limited reporting options.

Standard project management features like Gantt charts, dashboards, and a comprehensive reporting built in, and getting up and running on a small- to medium-sized project can be done quickly without learning all the ins and outs of a new, complicated system.

A built-in time-tracking tool is available to both the individual working on a task and the project manager. It's not a replacement for a dedicated time-tracking system but easily handles most basic requirements.

The interface is functional, and while it could do with a bit of a visual refresh, it is fine for the job. The free plan offers task management, interactive boards and spreadsheets, an account-wide work schedule tool, cloud integrations (Google Drive, OneBox, Box, OneDrive), and 2 gigabytes of total storage space for unlimited users.

Paid plans are a bit more expensive than some of the competition but open up all of the software's options, starting with shareable dashboards, interactive Gantt charts, and productivity integrations like MS Projects at the Professional tier, which comes in at $9.80 per month per user. Adding custom workflows, real-time reports, time tracking, salesforce integration, and 5 gigabytes of storage per user at the Business tier will cost you $24.80 per month per user. Wrike is available on the web, desktop, and iOS and Android app versions.

Pros & Cons
  • Useful dashboards

  • Comprehensive reporting tools

  • Built-in time-tracking tool

  • Pricier than some competitors

  • Interface is a bit outdated

Best for Collaboration : Basecamp



Why We Chose It

Basecamp is one of the older project management software tools on our list, having been launched in 2004. Since then, it's grown to more than 3.5 million users. It made our list as the best for collaboration because you can collaborate with clients and other people outside of your organization.

Basecamp might not completely replace other paid monthly services like Dropbox and Slack, but it does offer many of the same features and tools as those services and rolls them into one system. Scheduling and calendars, real-time chat, private messaging, file storage, and more are included.

It features an uncluttered interface and powerful search tools making it easy to find the task, image, or message you're after. It also offers a strong reporting suite to let you go as wide or deep as required.

Working with clients is handled well, with email integration and the ability to share individual tasks and messages with people outside the organization. Notifications can be customized to your requirements, and you can even pause notifications after office hours.

Basecamp's fixed $99 per month pricing makes it an appealing option for larger organizations, but small teams may find better value elsewhere. There's no free plan, but the length of the 30-day trial is more generous than most. Web, desktop, and mobile versions are available.

Pros & Cons
  • Features include scheduling, calendars, real-time chat, and more

  • Robust reporting capabilities

  • Easy collaboration with those outside the organization

  • No free plan

  • $99/month pricing may be a sticking point for small teams

Best Value : Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects

Why We Chose It

Part of a wide suite of productivity tools from the same company, Zoho Projects has nearly all the standard features you'd expect from a project management app, at a particularly affordable price.

Tasks are viewable in either kanban or more traditional styles, and you can set dependencies between each task. Tools like issue and workflow management, Gantt charts, and customized reporting mean this tool can handle even relatively complex project requirements. There's also strong integration with other services, both Zoho's own suite of apps and those from major players like Google and Microsoft.

Basic time-tracking is built in, and although it doesn't replace a dedicated tracking tool, there are enough features included to make it useful. You can also contact other project team members through the built-in chat app, which saves jumping out to external tools like email or Slack.

The free tier is limited to three users, just 10 megabytes of storage, and two projects. It's sufficient for small projects or getting a feel for the software. All of the paid plans are available for a 10-day free trial, a somewhat meager trial period considering the 30-day trial competitors offer. Other plans which allow for more users, more projects, and more storage start range from $5 per user to $10 per user per month, and you can save 20% if billed annually. Both web and mobile versions of Zoho Projects are available.

Pros & Cons
  • Tasks viewable in either kanban or more traditional styles

  • Integration available with other Zoho tools, as well as Google and Microsoft apps

  • Connect with other project team members via built-in chat

  • Free tier is limited to three users

  • Paid plans only offer 10-day free trial

Best Features : LiquidPlanner



Why We Chose It

LiquidPlanner is one of those pieces of software that tries to be many things to many people, and unlike most others with such grand ambitions, it generally succeeds.

In addition to being a powerful way of running traditional projects, with all the features you'd expect, LiquidPlanner performs equally well as a help desk-style issue tracker and general resource management tool.

Strong reporting is built in, along with integration with major cloud storage providers. There's also Zapier support, so you can build your own automated connections with other business tools as needed.

One-off pieces of work can be assigned to any user or group, and the impact of that extra work on the people performing it is automatically taken into account when estimating project deliverables.

With extra features comes extra complexity, and while LiquidPlanner does a good job of explaining some of its trickier aspects and getting out of the way, it still requires a greater time investment to set up, learn, and master than many of its competitors. For that reason—not to mention the cost—it's better suited to larger teams and organizations than small, ad-hoc groups.

LiquidPlanner doesn't offer a free tier, although you can try various plans for two weeks at no cost. Plans start at $15 per month per user billed annually for a maximum of 50 projects and go up from there.

Pros & Cons
  • Built-in reporting capabilities

  • Build in your own automations with Zapier

  • Help desk-style issue tracker

  • No free tier available

  • Difficult to set up and learn

Best for Big Projects : Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project

 Microsoft Project

Why We Chose It

The oldest project management tool on our list is Microsoft Project, which has been around since 1984 in one form or another. It's still the preferred tool of many experienced project managers. With its higher pricing and steep learning curve, it's aimed at those responsible for very large, complex projects who have the expertise, time, and budget to get the most out of this comprehensive tool.

MS Project looks and feels like other Microsoft Office apps, but with few tutorials or hints, it can be daunting for newcomers to the project management space. Trained professionals, however, will appreciate the extremely granular detail available for each task and resource, whether that resource is a specific person, role, physical material, or something else.

Reporting is similarly powerful, with both pre-built and customizable reports that can be quickly exported to Microsoft PowerPoint for those inevitable management summaries. Integration with non-Microsoft tools is limited, however.

MS Project can be tacked onto an existing Office 365 subscription, at a couple of different price points, or purchased as a one-off piece of software to be installed on a single computer.

In 2021, Microsoft dropped the tiered naming convention of Essentials, Professional, and Premium and replaced it with Project Plan 1, Project Plan 3, and Project Plan 5, leaving the majority plan features unchanged. Features differ between tiers, but subscription prices for Plan 3 (formerly Professional) start at $30 per month per user.

Pros & Cons
  • Provides granular details for each task

  • Can be integrated into existing Office 365 subscription

  • Difficult for newcomers to navigate

  • Pricey compared to competitors

Final Verdict

No matter your team's size, project management software can help with collaboration, project bottlenecks, workflows, and more.

Trello is our top pick for project management software because it's inexpensive, easy to use, and powerful enough for most businesses, regardless of size. But every business is different, and your company may have special needs. One of the project management tools on our list is sure to fulfill your company's project management requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Project Management Software Tools?

Project management software tools enable teams, small businesses, and individuals to keep track of projects in all their stages. These software tools can be used to work collaboratively and remotely on a project, add notes and deadlines, track progress, and make updates. Some software tools include search functions and email integration as well as organizational tips.

Who Uses Project Management Software Tools?

Project management software tools are used by:

  • Work teams
  • Small business owners
  • Individuals managing multiple projects
  • Remote workers 
  • Sales teams
  • Contractors and construction workers

How Much Do Project Management Software Tools Cost?

Project management software tools vary from basic versions to more complex versions with built-in integration and search functions. There are free versions and paid versions, and some software tools offer monthly paid subscriptions. Expect to pay from $10 to $99 per month, depending on how many users you have and what specific features you need.

Are Project Management Software Tools Worth the Cost?

Project management tools can be especially helpful in a team or remote work setting. They let multiple people work together in one space and collaborate, make notes, and meet deadlines. If you’re just getting started and want to try out the software, it’s a good idea to try a free version. However, if you’re a large company or have multiple team members, it’s typically worth the cost to pay for project management software and get the job done.

How We Chose the Best Project Management Software Tools

We reviewed 18 of the top project management software tools based on a number of factors, including features, capabilities, cost, ease of use, customer reviews, and more. We narrowed our list down to the software programs that provide the best value, features, and customer experience to these 6 providers.

Best Project Management Software

Maskot / Getty Images

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