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How to Choose the Best Project Management Software
January 31, 2022
There are so many project management tools out there, and choosing the right one for your business can be hair raising. The problem is that it’s not just you who has to try out the software. You really won’t know if you made the best choice until your entire team uses it for a few weeks and voices their opinions.
The solution is to crowdsource your selection. That’s what we’ve done for you below, digging into user reviews and professional ratings to rank the best project management software options on the market.
What is project management software?
Project management software is a software tool that makes teamwork easier. It lets teams of employees or freelancers collaborate on a project or a group of projects for a company or several clients. All files, ownerships, tasks, messaging, contacts, and other details are located in one easy-to-access place.
The best project management software is quick to learn, intuitive, and glitch-free. Look for a tool that fits your budget and special requirements. For instance, Trello is a great, low-cost, and stripped-down project management tool that scales up fairly well.
How we found the best project management software
We tested the products below and dug through thousands of online ratings by top professional reviewers and users to find the best project management tools on the web. We compared each project planning software tool by price, features, glitches, and customer service.
In some cases, we’ve even worked extensively for months with the project management tools below. We adjusted the rankings slightly to account for higher or lower numbers of ratings between the different apps in the list.
Asana is the best project management software tool on the market. It launched with a good design way back in 2008 and now boasts a user base of over a million professionals. Users love its flexible, intuitive interface and easy collaboration and organization. You can use it to plan, set milestones, track and streamline work requests, and see an overall big-picture view of your work.
Pricing: $0 for individuals and $11 to $31 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.4 stars from more than 44,000 online reviews
The hugely popular Jira project tracking software tool from Atlassian is full-featured with Agile reporting, customizable workflows, Scrum and Kanban boards, and automation to keep you focused on the bigger picture. Users like its simple platform and integrations with external apps like Slack, though the interface can be a touch busy and overwhelming.
Pricing: Free forever for up to 10 users, to $7 to $15 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.4 stars from more than 39,000 reviews
If you love Gantt charts, you’ll adore GanttPro. This project management app delivers cost, resource, task, and portfolio management to align your teams into more efficient workflows. The tool’s best feature is its ability to show your WIP (work in progress) in an eyeblink with custom views and templates. It may lack key integrations, but it’s among the best project management software tools. It also has a smaller learning curve compared to other options.
Pricing: $9 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.8 stars from more than 10,000 reviews
ClickUp may be the new kid on the block, but this project software boasts excellent features for task management, collaboration, progress tracking, and reporting. It’s very easy to learn and use, and it has top-notch customer service. The customizable project templates make it easy to adapt to any process, but things can feel a little hectic at first.
Pricing: Free for individuals or $5 to $19 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.7 stars from more than 11,000 reviews
If you need a full-featured, intuitive resource management tool with continual innovations, Monday is a solid choice. It’s an easy way to manage an Agile team, with excellent templates to keep you from reinventing the wheel. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but the user interface is clear and simple. It integrates with tools like Slack, Gmail, Zendesk, and Dropbox, and its customer support is fast and friendly.
Pricing: $0 for individuals and $8 to $48 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.5 stars from more than 14,000 reviews
What if you’re just dipping your toes into project management apps and you want an easy one your team can work with that has almost zero learning curve? That’s when Trello shines. It’s not as comprehensive as the best project management software here, but anyone can learn to use Trello in a heartbeat. Its columns-driven, drag-and-drop workflows make real-time collaboration a snap.
Pricing: $0 for individuals and teams to $18 per user per month for unlimited features
Reviews: 4.3 stars from more than 34,000 reviews
When you’re not sure exactly what you’ll use a project management tool for – or how much you’ll use it – you’ll be happy with Smartsheet. It takes the functionality you love in Excel or Google Sheets and pins it down to dates, deadlines, and teamwork. Handy automations let you put repeated tasks on autopilot to save time and supersize your productivity.
Pricing: $7 to $25 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.4 stars from more than 10,000 reviews
Among the best complex project tools for software development, Basecamp’s one-size-fits-all pricing is refreshing in the PM software world. The platform is solid for the price, too, with easy collaboration, file sharing, messaging, and scheduling. You can also create different spaces for different projects, making it easy to share only the relevant projects with your teams.
Pricing: $99 per month flat
Reviews: 4.2 stars from more than 32,000 reviews
While it’s not the best project management software tool here, Confluence is a budget-friendly option with plenty of useful features. It’s another Atlassian offering, and it delivers a robust system of templates, versioning, analytics, and reports. Ideal for building an internal knowledge base, Confluence is a great research-sharing tool.
Pricing: Free forever for up to 10 users, to $6 to $11 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.2 stars from more than 11,000 reviews
It’s not as popular as the other work management tools here, but Airtable has a dedicated following of 170,000 organizations. It launched in 2012 and offers similar calendars, Kanbans, forms, and collaboration to the tools above, with a full-featured free version you’ll fall in love with. However, it can feel a bit stripped down compared to its competitors.
Pricing: Free forever for small teams, to $10 to $20 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.5 stars from more than 5,300 reviews
Used by more than 20,000 teams worldwide, Teamwork’s client tracking and client services features dovetail with speedy invoicing and automation. You can create smooth workflows and easy resource allocation with this tool as you manage projects for multiple clients.
Pricing: Free forever for small teams, to $10 to $18 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.5 stars from more than 2,700 reviews
Founded in 2016, Hive gets high marks from its small core following for its simple interface and squashed learning curve. It’s a breeze to customize and switch between Gantt chart or table views, and you can create fast templates for recurring project types. Its filters and search function are handy, too.
Pricing: Free forever for small teams, to $12 per user per month and up
Reviews: 4.5 stars from more than 700 reviews
Project management software best practices
Whether you’re using Asana or Basecamp, the best project management software can fail if you don’t apply best practices. To boost your chances of success, follow the project and task tips below.
Give your team a say in selecting a collaboration tool
Nobody wants to use a tool they didn’t have a say in choosing. The best way to select a tool to manage tasks is to narrow your search down to your three best options, then solicit input from employees before you choose.
Select one tool to track projects for your entire team
Nothing is more frustrating than working with several team members who all use their own tools. Settle on one option, then make sure everyone sticks with it.
Pay your team to train on your software of choice
Even the best tools have learning curves. Thankfully, most of the options on our list come with dedicated training modules. Pay team members to spend the time to get up to speed and they’ll be more likely to buy in.
Stick with your selection
It can be very frustrating for team members when they have to switch tools midstream. Once you choose a tool, stick with it and push past the learning curve and growing pains to keep morale high.
Help struggling team members with added training
Not everyone learns at the same pace. Keep discussion and feedback channels open. When an employee is struggling with your chosen productivity app, devote resources to bring them up to speed.
Choosing the right project management software is an important decision for any organization. Our favorite is Asana for its ease-of-use, robust functionality, and high marks from tens of thousands of satisfied users.
With the best project management software in place, your team will do more, faster, with a higher quality of workflow.
About the Author: Tom Gerencer is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Tom is an ASJA journalist, career expert at Zety.com, and a regular contributor to Boys' Life and Scouting magazines. His work is featured in Costco Connection, FastCompany, and many more.
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