June 14, 2019
Managing budgets, documents, and administration tasks can be a hassle. That’s why you need the best project management software available for your business. Choose the right one, and you’ll breathe new life into your organization – and your bottom line. Choose poorly, and you’ll be trapped with a clumsy, confusing interface.
For our money, the best project management software you can choose is Jira – it’s simple to navigate, inexpensive, and can be personalized with thousands of third-party integrations. Still, it’s a competitive field, with plenty of brands to choose from.
Here, we cover the top 12 project management software providers, offering the prices, features, and support information you need to make an informed decision. Read on to learn everything about the best project management software.
In This Guide:
Before we dive into all the biggest brands, however, we’ve rounded up the top three options for a quick look at the cream of the crop. Here’s a table to help you easily compare the best of the best in the project management software business, complete with pricing and summaries of key features.
|Price from:||$10/10 users/month + $7/user/month additional||$19/5 users/month, + $4/user/month additional||$10/user/month|
|Best for:||Overall value due to ease of use, lots of integrations, and a scalable pricing structure (that per-user price starts dropping after you pass 10 users).||A basic solution for service-based businesses, thanks to a task-centric interface and useful charts available at cheap plan tiers.||A great workflow for businesses that need to track long-term goals alongside daily tasks. The flexible cross-platform interface is a stand-out feature.|
We’ve logged the hours needed to test, research, and review each of the project management software providers listed below. We looked at the interface, infrastructure, standout features, pricing, and plan tiers, in order to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each.
While some of these brands stand out from others, all of them are valuable for their own reasons. We’ve ranked them according to the overall benefits we found they had to offer, but your business might find the perfect fit for its exact needs a little farther down the list.
Click each of the names here to jump directly to our mini-review, which lists that vendor’s pros, cons, and core features. Otherwise, simply continue scrolling to read about them all.
- Jira – best for overall value
- Mavenlink – best for service-based businesses
- Asana – best for a comprehensive workflow
- Trello – best for a stripped-down service
- Wrike – best for a fast learning curve
- Smartsheet – best for individuals
- Monday – best for customization
- Workfront – best for large companies
- Microsoft Project – best for Microsoft fans
- Basecamp – best for mid-sized businesses
- Teamwork Projects – best for complex functionality
- Clickup – best for an okay-enough free tier
Here’s a table offering a quick comparison between these 12 project management software providers:
|Provider||Summary||Price From||Full Review|
|Jira||The all-around best software, thanks to ease of use and a scalable pricing scheme.||$10/10 users/month||Read our full Jira review|
|Mavenlink||Best for client-facing businesses, since it offers great service features.||$19/5 users/month||Read our full Mavenlink review|
|Asana||A simple service with a strong feature set and a free tier.||$10/user/month||Read our full Asana Review|
|Trello||A fairly-priced, stripped-down option best for small teams.||$9.99/user/month||Read our full Trello review|
|Wrike||A feature-rich service with an unoriginal interface that's easy to learn.||$9.80/user/month||Read our full Wrike review|
|Smartsheet||A great service for web-natives, but with a high price tag.||$14/month for a single-user plan||Read our full Smartsheet review|
|Monday||A highly customizable tool with 24/7 support.||$8/user/month||Read our full Monday review|
|Workfront||An enterprise solution aimed at large companies.||Not available||Read our full Workfront review|
|Microsoft Project||A pricey service best for companies invested in Microsoft.||$30/user/month||Read our full Microsoft Project review|
|Basecamp||A feature-rich software with a pricing scheme best for mid-sized teams.||$99/unlimited users/month||Read our full Basecamp review|
|Teamwork Projects||A management tool with a complex functionality.||$9/user/month||Read our full Teamwork Projects review|
|Clickup||A service with an above-average free tier.||$9/user/month||Read our full Clickup review|
Best for overall value
Price from: $10/10 users/month
Initially developed by Atlassian as a tool for software development, Jira has become a popular general project management software service. If your IT department already uses it to report bugs, upgrading the rest of your team to its project management services will be a piece of cake.
The Jira name refers to a suite of services (Jira Core, Jira Software, Confluence, and Jira ServiceDesk), most of which can be mixed and matched to suit a business’ unique project management needs. The core interface uses a category-based system: Users can easily drag and drop tasks into categories including “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.” Jira also supports almost 2,000 third-party integrations, which help it address all the needs that its basic service can’t.
The pricing for Jira’s cloud subscription starts at $10/month for up to 10 users, and costs another $7/month for each user after that for the first 100 users. The next 150 users cost $5/user/month, and the users after that (up until the limit of 5,000 users) will cost just $1.10/user/month. This scalable approach makes Jira a particularly attractive option for businesses that plan to expand rapidly.
- Great fit for software development
- Easy to use interface
- Unbeatable scalable pricing
- Not purpose-built for general project management
Best for service-based businesses
Price from: $19/5 users/month
Mavenlink is a great option for client-facing operations, helping businesses streamline their responses to provide necessary support in a timely manner. It’s Gantt charts are a key feature, offering a simple, high-level look at the tasks facing a business. Mavenlink’s functionality also lets users easily send and track project-specific documentation via email.
The only notable downside to this sleek, useful service is that it replaces the third-party app store (common to project management software) with its own application programming interface, M-Bridge, which requires a little software development know-how to use. The pricing scheme is terrific for any small business or startup operating with five or fewer employees – it’ll only cost a flat $19/month, and includes access to the great features listed above. Exceed five users, and you’ll start paying $4/user/month for each additional user, but even this doesn’t work out to an onerous ongoing fee until you start hitting triple digits.
- Post project-specific messages and documents via email
- Great pricing for teams with 5 or fewer users
- Used by heavy-hitters like Salesforce and Buzzfeed
- Not as great a deal for teams larger than 5 users
- Adding integrations requires some coding skill
Best for a comprehensive workflow
Pricing from: $10/user/month
One of the most well-known names in project management, Asana delivers an easily-navigable interface and plenty of essential features. These include customizable task fields, task dependencies, third-party integrations, and a timeline view for a broad look at projects’ histories and projected performance.
The pricing structure isn’t scalable like Jira’s, however, and the lack of discounts at lower pricing tiers might drive away operations with larger teams. The main tier, Premium, charges $10/user/month – billed annually – although there is a free tier, if you’re willing to forego a few of the more useful features (including the timeline, task dependencies, and an ability to customize.)
- Simple interface
- Strong feature set
- Free tier
- Pricing isn’t scalable, making it less attractive to larger teams
- Free tier lacks essential features
Best for a stripped-down, simple functionality
Pricing from: $9.99/user/month
Trello offers a “category and task” approach, similar to the one Jira operates on – in fact, it was acquired by Jira’s parent company Atlassian in 2017 – but has been designed from the ground up for project management. Each of the movable “cards” Trello uses to track tasks can be used to hold information, including the team members involved, subtasks, due dates, documentation, labels, and comments. Users must rely on a catalog of extensions called Power-Ups, which activate common project management functions like timelines and calendars.
It’s a flexible interface that’s almost too simple, particularly if you’re using the free tier, which is limited to a single Power-Up per project category. Upgrade to the $9.99/user/month Business Class tier, and you’ll get the unlimited Power-Ups and unlimited “boards” you’ll need to pin your cards on. Scalable pricing is offered for the third tier, Enterprise, so Trello’s pricing remains appealing for businesses of all sizes – even if the simple infrastructure it offers will always work best for small teams with simple needs.
- Best for individuals or small/mid-size teams
- Simple, smart interface
- Fair pricing structure
- Free plan lacks common project management features
- Interface might be too simple for some
Best for a fast learning curve
Pricing from: $9.80/user/month
Wrike offers a fairly robust suite of features, all wrapped up in an unoriginal, but perfectly functional single- and double-panel layout interface. The simple hierarchy starts with teams and progresses through folders, projects, project phases and task lists, before finally reaching the most basic unit – tasks. It’s a simple structure that makes the whole process of adopting new software relatively painless.
Features include task dependencies, Gantt charts, customizable calendars, a Document Editor that tracks edit histories, and at higher paying tiers, a time-tracking feature. Some features are missing, such as an internal live chat ability, but these can be patched assuming a third-party integration is available (Slack or Google Hangout integrations can help with the live chat issue, for example).
Wrike also offers a free tier, though it doesn’t include subtasks, and is capped at just five users and 2GB of storage. The basic tier comes at an industry-average cost of $9.80/user/month, and includes all the above features (save that time-tracking function).
- Fast learning curve
- Great for development teams on GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab
- Limited third-party integrations
- Built-in time tracking for higher paying tiers only
Best for individuals
Pricing from: $14/month for a single-user plan; $25/user/month for multiple users
Smartsheet relies on a spreadsheet-like interface, paired with a Gantt chart. Users can create tasks, sub-tasks, and task dependencies, attach files where needed, and use a calendar or Kanban board view. The interface shares a few abilities with other services well known to web natives: For example, users can be tagged in the comments with the same “@mentions” feature used by Twitter and Slack, and can highlight essential bits of text just like in a Word or Google doc. There’s no timeline feature, although a third-party integration can compensate for this oversight.
Smartsheet’s pricing is sadly a little higher than the project management software standard of $10/user/month. If you want just an individual plan, you’ll pay $14 per month, but if you want an entire team on the service, you’ll need to pay $25/user/month, with a minimum of three users. That’s pretty pricey, and a ding on what’s otherwise an intuitive, feature-rich software service that offers plenty of integrations which are particularly attractive to a web-native company.
- Functions are easy for a web native to pick up
- Well-priced for an individual
- Intuitive interface
- Above average prices for teams of any size
- No timeline feature
Best for advanced customization
Pricing from: $8/user/month
Monday is a flexible project management tool with plenty of customizable features, thanks to a drag-and-drop functionality, editable columns, and an infrastructure with multi-use rows. However, third-party integrations are a little limited, and you won’t find sub-tasks and task dependencies, which may confuse employees who are used to other project management services. That said, it does all come with 24/7 phone and email support across all tiers.
Monday’s price plans come in four tiers (Basic, Standard, Pro, and Enterprise), all of which are available for nine different monthly prices, determined by the number of users (up to 2, 5, 10, 15, 25, 50, 100, and 200 team members, with an additional 200+ tier available at a custom price). The per-month price is billed annually, and is determined by which tier and user number category you pick. For example, the up-to-10-users option costs $49 per month for Basic, $79 per month for Standard, $119 per month for Pro, and $238 for Enterprise. We’d recommend the Standard tier regardless of your team size, since it includes all the features we’ve listed above and removes a 5GB cap on storage and a one-week cap on activity logs that the Basic tiers imposes.
- 24/7 support
- Highly customizable
- Plenty of pricing options
- Lacks features that are common on other platforms, such as task dependencies
- Limited third-party integrations
Best for large companies
Pricing not available
Workfront’s project management software is designed to centralize an operation’s work. However, it doesn’t list its pricing information, instead requesting that each business contact its salesperson for a custom quote. This – along with a few Workfront features that are only common at enterprise levels, such as a single sign-on ability – suggests that Workfront is designed for large companies, and that small businesses or startups should look elsewhere.
The software service centralizes data supplied by a range of online tools into a single, easily searchable location. Further adding to Workfront’s ease of use is one unique aspect of its infrastructure: Fusion, a tool that allows users to add third-party integrations with a simple drag-and-drop action, rather than a coding process. It also includes a time budgeting feature, a bar that appears in the calendar view and fills up to represent how much free time a user has on their schedule.
- Strong resource management capabilities
- Simple third-party integration process
- No public pricing
- Not for small operations
Best for businesses using Microsoft-suite
Pricing from: $30/user/month
Microsoft Project is the software giant’s take on a project management tool. If your business has long relied on Office 365, then adapting this tool should be a no-brainer. Unlike most project management software services, Microsoft Project is available as an entirely desktop-bound app as well as a web app, making it even easier for long-time Microsoft fans to migrate over to.
The service is easy to use, with interfaces covering all options – from timelines and calendar views to the familiar Gantt charts.
Sadly, the pricing is pretty far outside the norm for the industry, starting at a whopping $30/user/month in its cheapest tier. Large companies can still foot that bill, and since they’re the ones likely to be the most heavily invested in Office 365 in the first place, Microsoft Project should be a perfectly fine fit. For everyone else, that price tag is likely to be a deal-breaker.
- Integrates well with other Microsoft tools
- Best for larger businesses
- Available on desktop as well as web
- More expensive than the industry average
- Narrow pricing options
Best for mid-size businesses
Pricing from: $99/unlimited users/month
Why is Basecamp best for mid-size teams? It charges a flat $99 monthly fee, rather than the more common per-user pricing scheme. This allows larger businesses to save money, but makes it less cost-effective for smaller operations.
Basecamp is easy to use and offers a broad range of features, but enterprise companies will likely find that it lacks the custom features it needs. In other words, this is the Goldilocks of project management software: If your business is mid-sized, it’ll fit just right.
Basecamp is powered by a tile-based interface. Standout features include an “Automated Check-in,” which sends users questions to answer in order to ensure their team members are updated on their work, and a built-in live chat feature. Third-party integrations can compensate for a few missing features: Gantt charts aren’t included, for instance, but a Ganttify add-on can replicate them for an extra cost. For many companies, Basecamp is a valuable service to consider.
- Larger teams will like the flat pricing structure
- Simple tile-based interface
- Built-in chat
- Small teams won’t like the flat pricing structure
- Limited third-party integrations
Best for complex functionality
Pricing from: $9/user/month
Teamwork Projects offers a good service, though the interface may be a tad complex and counter-intuitive for some. Task views include Gantt charts, calendars, and Kanban boards, while personal dashboards allow users to track work without bringing in the entire team. Milestones, sub-tasks, and notes can all be recorded when needed, allowing users to build a deep bench of resources (such as links and comments) that they can refer back to at the right time. Third-party integrations are available, but not in as large a quantity as other leading project management tools, and some require a higher price tier to access.
A free tier is available, though it caps teams at five users, 100MB of file storage, and two active projects at a time. The $9/user/month tier is more workable, and includes third-party integrations with (deep breath) Google Drive, Box.com, OneDrive Personal, Dropbox, Slack, and Microsoft Office. A $15/user/month tier is also available, promising two-factor authentication, custom domain usage with SSL, and even more integrations. A fourth tier for enterprises requires a custom quote, and offers single sign-on and a dedicated customer service rep.
- Limited integrations
- Limited free tier for up to five users
- Complex interface
- Free tier has limited functionality
An okay-enough free tier
Pricing from: $9/user/month
Created in 2016, Clickup is a relative newcomer to the world of project management software. The interface’s hierarchy starts with teams, and includes spaces, projects, lists, and finally, tasks. This structure functions to keep different projects siloed from each other, reducing confusion while staying flexible enough to work in a range of different contexts.
The free tier is better than most, offering unlimited users, unlimited projects and spaces, and most essential features, though storage is capped at 100MB in total. The next tier up costs $9/user/month, or $60/user/year when billed annually. This unlocks unlimited storage, integrations, and features, along with advanced reporting. Additional tiers cost $19/user/month and $29/user/month, and include two-factor authentication and custom perks. While Clickup’s free version isn’t perfect, it’s among the best free project management tools out there – and the fact that its users aren’t capped is great news for large teams who may not need a lot of functionality.
- Free tier includes unlimited users
- Competitive pricing
- Minimal third-party integrations
- Free tier doesn’t offer full functionality
Once you’ve reviewed all the best project management software services, it’s time to take a look at your business needs. Which features do you need? How does the size of your team affect the price you might pay for each service? Will any future expansion bump you into a higher price plan?
We’ve whittled the top project management tools down to this list of twelve options. It’s up to you to figure out which one is the unbeatable choice for your team.
Some of the links on our page will take you directly to a provider or retail website, where you may find deals and discounts. If you make a purchase at this stage, we may receive a payment. This has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.
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