Ever-changing trends and business dynamics are starting to make project management a more complex task. For project managers, this can be exciting and frustrating at the same time. More complicated problems may open up doors for increased creativity and innovation and opportunities to stand out in the current market.
But the increasing complexity may add to the already complicated nature of project management. With project requirements swiftly changing, beginner and experienced project managers are finding success by relying on project management software.
Project management software can help managers stay on top of every decision, effectively manage their budgets, and consistently deliver.
Hundreds of different project management software products are out there, making choosing the right one a confusing task.
In this post, we’ll discuss what project management software is, things to consider when choosing one, and the six best software for project management to streamline productivity.
What is Project Management Software?
Project management software is a collection of tools and platforms that help companies plan, coordinate and manage projects effectively.
There are many types of software to help with managing projects. These vary from creating scannable to-do lists to professional-grade tools like creating Gantt charts and tracking KPIs.
The development of modern project management software has allowed project managers to effectively execute projects by helping them:
- Track project progress
- Maintain documentation
- Manage budget
- Control costs
- Minimize risk
- Effectively allocate resources
By providing ways to do the above, managers use project management software to deliver projects on time and ensure optimal quality.
Why You Should Use Project Management Software
Project management software gives managers the necessary tools for consistently executing projects. Project management software is essential due to increasingly complex market dynamics, such as increased remote work and rapidly changing customer trends.
Using software for project management can give a business many benefits, including:
- Effective budget control
- Improve productivity
- Easier task management
- Increase team collaboration and transparency
- Better resource allocation
- Improve team communication
- Centralized system for accessing and sharing files
What to Consider When Choosing a Project Management Software
Understanding the factors that may influence your decision to choose the right project management software is essential. There are over 300 choices for project management software, each of which serves a different purpose and is created for a specific type of business.
To know which would suit your line of work, you need to look into the following factors.
Having project management software that is intuitive and easy to use will help project teams quickly adapt and learn it. Choosing a tool with the lowest learning curve is always a good idea to make it easier for your team to learn and work on it.
A simple dashboard, visualization tools, and educational resources like training videos or FAQs are some factors to consider when assessing a software's user-friendliness.
Time & Budget Tracking
Tracking tools are a must-have for project managers, allowing them to maximize efficiency and productivity.
Tracking can be divided into two key areas: time tracking and budget tracking.
Time tracking refers to tracking the number of hours spent on projects. This may include time-boxing tasks like contract work, employee work hours, and time taken for individual tasks. The software you choose should provide filters and charts to visualize how much time a specific task took within a set category of work.
Budget tracking refers to tracking the expenses and invoices of a project to keep track of the allocated budget. Having software that utilizes budget tracking features is important to ensure the projects are completed within the allotted funds.
Both these features are essential for helping you and your team complete tasks on time and within budget - two key elements of successfully executing projects.
Scheduling & Planning Tools
As project managers, we need to be able to effectively plan and schedule processes to make sure everything gets done on time. Scheduling and planning tools need to be considered for any project management software as they’ll help you optimize your workflow, allocate resources to your team, and make you better at prioritizing tasks.
Reporting & Analytics
Reporting & analytics will help you monitor the data that flows through your project management. You’ll need a tool with excellent reporting and analytics software that can track key metrics and scale along with your business.
These reporting & analytics software also play an important role in setting targets for team members. Additionally, project managers can use this reporting data to identify weaknesses and optimize the process to ensure employees are performing to their full potential.
As businesses grow, they may adopt several newer solutions to help them expand operations. The project management software you choose should allow multiple solution integrations, app connections, and API calls to ensure you have an uninterrupted workflow that seamlessly works together.
Types of Project Management Software
This software is generally divided into three basic types based on its functionality and relationship with the user. The three main types of project management software are:
Individual Project Management Software
Project managers who want complete control over the project management process use individual project management software. This single platform will provide the project manager with a centralized hub with the tools, features, and functionality needed to plan and track projects effectively.
These types of software may take the form of a simple web app or a spreadsheet that one person can comfortably manage. This software will be installed and implemented throughout the organization, and team members will be able to access it. However, they will not be able to communicate with each other.
Collaborative Project Management Software
For larger teams, collaborative project management software provides a platform for team members to collaborate, plan, view, and access the project data and work on it together. Most modern software enables teams to have customizable dashboards to track project requirements while monitoring their progress.
The most common type of project management software used by SMEs is collaborative software. However, this type’s main limitation is that it can only work on one project at a time. Although this may work for a medium-sized business, a large-scale enterprise may look for an alternative solution.
Integrated Project Management Software
The best project management software type for a large enterprise taking on multiple projects at a time is integrated software. Integrated project management software allows creative teams to work on and access information from a unified platform.
Each user has permission-granted access to a personalized dashboard that teams can use to track, monitor, and highlight individual tasks. They can also notify others, track and schedule tasks, and communicate between users through in-built messaging.
All three types of project management solutions serve a specific type of company. You’d need to sit down with your team to choose the one best for your business and evaluate your needs. Individual software might be enough if you’re a small company managing simple one-off projects. But, if you’re an enterprise looking to scale operations and manage multiple different teams, an integrated project management software would suit your needs better.
Top 6 Best Software for Project Management
Monday.com - Best for Creating Custom Workflows
Monday.com is a popular work OS used for project management with brands like Coca-Cola, Adobe, and L’Oreal Paris for their projects. Its main highlight is the amount of customizability it offers to project managers.
This software is great for medium to large businesses as it enables you to create custom workflows to incorporate any project management methodology. It also has many essential features to streamline your project management workflow, including preset templates, resource management, collaboration tools, and advanced tracking and reporting tools.
Why it made the list: Monday.com makes collaboration with team members easy. From seamless file sharing to ready-made templates, Monday.com empowers team members to communicate effectively through multiple dashboards that collect data. Project managers primarily benefit due to the advanced collection of data and suite of tracking and reporting tools while offering multiple integrations allowing it to scale with your business.
- Visually aesthetic interface
- Easy-to-use and intuitive dashboards
- Advanced automation tools
- Supports multiple integration solutions
- Difficult learning curve
- Many advanced features are reserved for higher-paid plans
- Not suitable for small teams
- Basic - $8 per month for each user
- Standard - $10 per month for each user
- Pro - $16 per month for each user
Monday.com also offers a free plan supporting up to 2 users while providing a free 14-day trial for their paid plans.
Clickup - Best for Collaboration
Clickup is an all-in-one project management software that provides project managers with a complete platform to manage all their projects and efficiently coordinate their teams. It’s flexible and simple to use, allowing team members to plan, track, and share tasks without sacrificing productivity.
Although there are reported latency issues that may cause a few bugs, these are usually uncommon. Clickup does a good job of keeping its interface updated and providing timely updates to keep the software running smoothly.
Why it made the list: Clickup has a visually pleasing interface with multiple views. Each user on the platform can choose their view to use the software in the most comfortable way. This flexibility makes it a popular software for collaborating teams to execute projects.
- Automates email tasks
- Paid plans offer unlimited file storage
- Great free offer allowing unlimited users
- Provides multiple views for increased customizability
- Occasional bugs may disrupt workflow
- Reporting features are mostly limited to paid plans
- The mobile interface could be better
- Unlimited - $5 per month for each user
- Business - $12 per month for each user
- Business Plus - $19 per month for each user
Clickup also offers a “free forever” plan that allows unlimited free plan members and tasks with 24/7 support.
Smartsheet is a versatile project management solution with a spreadsheet-like interface. On Smartsheet, you start a new project with a spreadsheet, which separates it from most project management apps that typically feature a board or list view.
If you’re comfortable working with spreadsheet apps like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, you’ll love Smartsheet. It provides you with the same functionality and versatility as excel but automates complicated formulas.
Why it made the list: Smartsheet makes it easy for project managers to start managing projects quickly. Each new sheet allows you to start with a premade template with multiple use cases. You also have many views and customizations to choose from, like Gantt charts, Kanban boards, project budget templates, and formatted lists. Even if you don’t choose a template, Smartsheet automatically formats your sheet, allowing you to start tracking projects quickly.
- Drag and drop automation builder
- Multiple use-case templates
- Advanced reporting and sharing features
- Ability to customize dashboards
- Unable to color code charts
- Most integrations are limited to premier plans
- Pro - $7 per month for each user
- Business - $25 per month for each user
Smartsheet’s free plan allows only one user with two editors and is recommended for people who want to try out Smartsheet’s core features before buying the premium plans.
Zoho Projects is a cloud-based platform that manages multiple projects of all sizes and complexities. It is available on IOS and Android and makes it easier for teams to work together to manage complex projects by breaking them down into prioritized, visual chunks.
With Zoho Projects, you can access many powerful tools, including Gantt charts, scheduling tools, real-time sharing for team collaboration, and advanced automation. Zoho’s interface makes planning, coordinating, tracking, and scheduling tasks easy, from visualizing milestones to better resource management and creating task lists.
Why it made the list: Besides offering an intuitive interface that easily breaks down tasks into actionable steps, Zoho Projects offers many integrations and add-ons. We loved Zoho’s third-party offerings with integrations to popular solutions like Microsoft Office 365, Google Drive, Zapier, Zendesk, and Microsoft Teams. If you’re already using some of Zoho’s other products, you’ll be excited to know that they seamlessly integrate with Zoho Projects.
- Enhanced communication features
- Allows an unlimited number of projects
- Multiple third-party integrations
- Advanced workflow automation
- Limited file export options
- Customer support needs improvement
- Steep learning curve
- Premium - $4 per month for each user with a max. Limit of up to 50 users
- Enterprise - $9 per month for each user
Zoho’s minimal free plan allows only two projects with low storage space and up to 3 users. Their paid plans offer a free 10-day trial.
Wrike is the best project management software for scaling business operations. It boasts a solid customer base of 200,000+ happy customers, including big brands like Siemens, Hootsuite, and Tiffany & Co.
Companies using Wrike are highly satisfied as it allows them to organize all their work in a simple-to-navigate interface. Besides the simple interface, Wrike also adapts to the various needs of different industries due to its versatility.
Why it made the list: Wrike allows unlimited users, each with a customizable dashboard, workflow, and reports. The software makes it easy to switch between different views quickly - from dynamic Gantt charts to Kanban boards - all in one click.
Finally, all users can enjoy advanced reporting insights, resource management and allocation, real-time collaboration, task and sub-task list creations, and shared workflows.
- Many customization opportunities for individual users
- Multiple viewing styles
- Intuitive interface with educational resources
- Advanced task modeling
- Lack of UI customizations
- Expensive premium plans compared to other software
- Primarily suitable for larger organizations
- Team - $9.80 per month for each user
- Business - $24.80 per month for each user
Wrike also offers an additional pricing plan called Pinnacle, which is quoted specifically to teams with complex requirements and a higher budget.
At first glance, Airtable looks like a spreadsheet manager like Smartsheet, but it offers many features, filters, and customization options, making it stand out from the crowd.
Airtable allows users to build custom tables with lists, records, and attachments. The tables also have multi-functional filters and sorting options to help easily navigate the table data.
It even enables project managers to get different views to see the data. This can be helpful to visualize data and identify optimization opportunities, as well as where work is getting stalled.
Why it made the list: Airtable is great for small businesses as its free plan offers enough features to start tracking simple projects. It also can link with 1000s of different apps, including Facebook, Github, Zapier, MailChimp, Slack, Asana, Evernote, and much more.
- Colorful UI and visualizations
- Allows multiple integrations
- Robust tables with advanced search functionality
- Lack of resources
- Difficult to pick up; learning curve
- Limited planning and scheduling features
- Plus - $10 per month for each user
- Pro - $20 per month for each user
Airtable’s free plan includes unlimited bases and up to 5 creators, which is great if you want to get a feel of Airtable before investing in it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Best Project Management Software?
The best project management software is Monday.com, as it gives you a complete all-in-one solution to manage your projects with advanced features, functionality, and collaboration tools.
Do I Need More Than One Project Management Tool?
How many tools you would need would depend on your workflow and project management methodology. Ideally, you shouldn’t need more than one tool to manage your projects. Usually, project managers opt for project management software that integrates with their existing tools and software so they can enjoy a centralized project management system to track their projects.
What Project Management Software Does Google Use?
Employees at Google are free to choose the project management software that best suits the project's needs and what the user is most comfortable with. That’s why you’ll see multiple project management tools in use at Google, including Google Sheets, Trello, Smartsheet, etc.
Is Excel a Project Management Tool?
Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program that can be used as a project management tool for small teams. It allows project managers to lay out and visualize the project requirements, helping them plan and monitor their progress effectively.
Is There Any Free Project Management Software?
Although we have not discussed any entirely free program in our project management software reviews, most modern project management tools offer a free plan. This free plan is usually for small teams with simple projects and minimum requirements, as they limit the number of users and provide only a few features to track your project.