Project management software comes in all shapes and sizes, but the bottom line is that project management software is used to corroborate and delegate based on the needs of each team within your organization. No matter the team size, the goal remains the same: Assign projects to team members, monitor the progress, delegate as needed, and achieve results. Given the diverse nature of so many businesses, it’s not hard to believe that there is a veritable slew of PM software options, which can make the selection process feel overwhelming. There are software programs specifically for different sized businesses, from small to medium and enterprise, and others that are online via cloud services or local, and others with additional integrations into existing pieces of software. Making the wrong choice can bring frustration and, ultimately, loss of money to your team. On the other hand, making the best choice can propel your business to the next level. We’re going to review the best project management software options, what makes them great and worth considering, best practices, and how each one fits for different size and style business models.
Best practices when using project management software
Project management software is best used with a project manager or managers of different levels collaborating to streamline progress. The end goal of every Project Manager is to get things done as quickly and as dead-end-free as possible on or under budget— while keeping the team motivated and updated. Here’s where these platforms come in. Project management software is meant to organize and construct that timeline as accurately and efficiently as possible. Without a Project Manager and streamlined project process, tasks can become convoluted, and team members can become overwhelmed, resulting in less than satisfactory delivery times on completed tasks. So keep in mind, that while software is a valuable tool, there needs to be empowered leads and a defined process already in place within your organization for the project management software to work to its highest potential.
What makes a good project management platform?
A good project management platform allows a project manager to see and edit task lists and monitor schedules and projects. File Sharing is a must, as well as easy communication, whether that be by a social chat option within the platform itself, or an integrated communication platform such as Slack. Reporting is also mandatory. Without reporting, it’s challenging to monitor what’s working and what isn’t, what’s getting done and what needs a bit of support. And lastly, usability. You can have the “best” platform in the world, but if it’s difficult to use and/or lacks support or training options for your team, what good is it? Your organization needs to either be able to use it easily or be able to get the training they need quickly to understand how to best record their progress and collaborate.
Before we dive deeper, what is a Gantt chart?
The deeper you dive into project management, the more you see the word “Gantt.” So what is it? A Gantt, or a Gantt Chart, is one of the best and most common ways of showing the status of tasks and events within a given time frame via a horizontal bar chart. It looks a lot like a traditional schedule or a calendar, but instead of showing a full range of an event, it displays a more specified timeframe or deadline. The advantage here is that you get a nice view of what needs to be done and when it should be completed. Most Project Management platforms have a Gantt view or, at the very least, something akin to the style above. All of the ones we’ve selected have a Gantt view or something comparable that allows easy and quick assessment of project timelines.
Important Project Manager Software Features
These are the features to bear in mind when looking for the right project management software for you.
- Task Management: The ability to create, manage, edit, schedule, and track in real time, tasks from your team to your entire business.
- Collaboration: A great project management program allows collaboration between team members, which includes features such as an in-app messenger and document editing.
- Usability: In terms of usability, is it simple and intuitive? Or is it complex, and if so, how does the maker support your team in learning the ins and outs of this software? The last thing anyone needs is extended downtime due to difficult programs.
- Mobile Companion: As it stands, this is something that should seem as though every piece of software like this should have mobile companion, but that is not how it is. Having the ability to access your tasks on the go is, for all of us, extremely important.
- Support: Software is not perfect. Sometimes something can (and will) go wrong, so how do their creators support it? Do they have a great support and ticketing system? Live chat or a way to talk to a real person easily and quickly? Great products attract customers, great support turns them into loyal promoters.
- Integrations: What additions can the software support? App suites such as Google Docs, Microsoft Office, and Apple’s line (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) are paramount, not to mention CRM platforms like Dynamics and Salesforce and even Email integrations. The more you can integrate into your current setup, the more fluid completing tasks will be.
- Customizations: Can the software be customized for a specific company’s brand requirements or layouts? What other customizations are available, if any?
- Analytics and Reporting: A great little feature that shows task completion and response over time, giving you another perspective into the efficiency of your teams.
Top 10 Project Management Software & Tools
monday.com has a simple goal: to revolutionize how teams collaborate and complete objectives together. Through its easy-to-use interface, it allows teams to keep up with tasks, work together, and bring a holistic view of all ongoing projects.
The biggest advantage of monday.com is its ease of use. It has a simple, familiar interface that allows quick project assignment and coordination between team members. Users can also manage various projects through real-time progress updates and interactive timelines.
monday.com’s client list includes top brands like Uber, Shell, and Adobe.
When we’re looking at products that require minimal time to learn and integrate, monday.com is topping the charts. They’ve got a great video giving a simple play-by-play on using their software here: https://monday.com/product/
Their pricing isn’t too high, depending on the size of your business. Plans range from $39 for teams up to 5 with price breaks as your team size grows, up to $79 for max features. They also have a way to set up enterprise-level service, and this option can be arranged through the monday.com sales team. The one downside is that the base plan only offers 5GB of file storage on their cloud server. The next level up is 50GB, which can work for certain businesses, but could still present challenges for resource-heavy companies such as marketing firms. Unlimited storage, integrated features, and app customization are available with their top-tier plan. The enterprise option gives your team even more control, allowing for one-on-one training and a dedicated customer success manager.
For larger companies, the price of the enterprise level may not be a roadblock, but for small businesses, especially those starting out, price could become a barrier. Nevertheless, monday.com is an excellent project management app that has a well-earned reputation.
Monday.com Pros and Cons:
Pros: Easy to use and integrate.
Cons: Depending on the size of your business, pricing plans can be an issue that keep you from some of the more in-depth customization and features.
Wrike is another heavy hitter here with existing clients like Airbnb, Verizon, and Google — and for good reason. The interface is clean and utilizes drag and drop functions to assign tasks. It also offers user-friendly comment structures and integration. On top of all of this, their pricing plans are some of the best in the business. You can start with a basic, five-user version of Wrike for free! The next two levels are $9.80 a month and $24.80 a month, respectively, with an option for enterprise via their sales team. Each plan adds features, starting with additional collaboration options and followed by reporting and customization and then extra security with the enterprise level. But no matter the level of your business, Wrike offers a solution. Beyond that, you can set up workflows and additional integration to function within your existing infrastructure. And if that wasn’t enough, they have additional plans designed for marketers and professional services, too.
All in all, Wrike is hard to beat here with their flexibility, ease of use, and incredible pricing plans. However, training seems very much on the user side. Their website has training resources if you have an account that can walk you through using the software, but there isn’t a current pricing plan that shows any one-on-one training. Even though it’s easy to use at its basic level, some of the more advanced features may require a bit of assistance to maximize their vast resources.
Wrike pros and cons
Pros: Extremely versatile and affordable.
Cons: Advanced help only available with higher tiers of the product.
Asana is one of the most straightforward and accessible project management platforms on the market today. It has a simple drag-and-drop interface that allows for easy assignment of tasks. It also features plenty of integrations, including Microsoft Office, Slack, Salesforce, Zapier, Google Drive, and Adobe. Their mobile app is clean and seamless, and the pricing plans are budget-friendly, starting with a free Basic plan, a Premium plan for $10.99 a month, and a Business plan for $24.99 a month. Asana also offers an Enterprise plan, which adds features appropriate for each business tier’s requirements.
Though it doesn’t have the complexity or financial focus of some Project Management platforms, Asana gets the core function of getting things done, which is what Project Management is all about. And if that’s not enough, their customers include Spotify, The New York Times, Paypal, and Nasa. Asana may not be as robust as other platforms, but it gets things done, and it does it well.
Pros and cons of Asana
Pros: Easy to use, affordable for any business size.
Cons: Not as robust as other platforms.
Smartsheet achieves a new level of project management. Real-time updates within a spreadsheet-style interface capable of different views to allow for the ultimate view of all tasks going on in your organization. Smartsheet also integrates with a wide range of applications, from Slack to Google apps. This versatility provides seamless compatibility with existing setups you may already have. Their biggest advantage here is customization. Smartsheet will allow you to go as far as you want with workflows and grids to provide a complete overview of your business. The pricing is straightforward as well, with an individual plan at $14 and a Business plan at $25 (per month). They also offer Enterprise and a Premier plans, with the Premier plan granting premium support and apps, as well as additional integrations like Jira, Salesforce, and Dynamics.
Pros and Cons of Smartsheet
Pros: Incredible versatility for managing tasks and teams.
Cons: Integrations into CRM software are available for the Premium Plan, as well as best support and additional apps. Support levels can vary, with paid support and training options available for higher tiers.
Interface may require longer than usual for adequate training.
5. Clarizen Project Management Software
Clarizen is an enterprise-level project management platform designed to give users control over a vast array of projects. With a full view of all resources, schedules, and tasks, Clarizen gives amazing insights into everything going on in your business, allowing for real-time collaboration and re-assignment to allow for ideal workflows across multiple teams. Clarizen also boasts project graphs and charts to identify how quickly and effectively projects are completed, allowing for an unprecedented view of progress.
The downside with such a tool is that it’s primarily designed for enterprise-level businesses. Even though Clarizen integrates with many of the top tier team apps like Slack and Box, the only real CRM they integrate fully with is Salesforce. Though Salesforce is a fantastic CRM, there are others out there that many enterprises are currently using.
Pros and Cons of Clarizen
Pros: Incredible depth for enterprise-level business allowing for maximum control and real-time observation for tasks across your company, including charts and graphs as well as integrations.
Cons: Clarizen offers a lot of great features, but is specific to enterprise-level businesses, meaning that small-medium sized companies will want to look for a different solution.
CRM integrations are limited, with Salesforce being the primary option. Though Salesforce is an amazing platform, many businesses use other options (such as Microsoft Dynamics), limiting the reach of this enterprise-level platform to business with other CRM platforms already in place.
Mavenlink comes in with a unique yet incredibly important aspect of project management: financials. This focus drives its platform, and makes it ideal for medium to enterprise-level organizations. The dashboard shows cost rates of all managed projects on macro and micro views, business to individual, allowing for insight into projected profit and loss statements. Mavenlink even has invoice capability for time and expenses and built-in workflows to email team members with specific reminders for things such as deadlines.
Mavenlink plans range from $19 to $39 a month. Customized enterprise and premier plans are available through the company’s sales team. The only real downside is that it’s not meant for small businesses, and their interface, though great for financial-based management, is complex and can take some time to learn to use to its fullest potential. All in all, if your project management needs are rooted in looking at costs and profit, Mavenlink is the way to go.
Pros and cons of Mavenlink
Pros: Financial based project management allows for in-depth views into cost/profit across timelines and individuals.
Cons: Learning curve can be a little steep. Intended for medium to enterprise-level business.
7.LiquidPlanner Project Management Software
LiquidPlanner takes the approach of complex portfolios. Built with scheduling tools that allow for managed schedules that update in real-time with best and worst-case estimates, LiquidPlanner is the pinnacle of time management, allowing views that show who is spending how much time where and the option to reassign as needed. Add in full-fledged social options like chat and tagging, and you’ve got a platform that can allow for seamless transitions between projects and deadlines.
Liquidplanner is made for businesses of 50+ employees. This excludes small businesses. One flaw is that the software doesn’t have a full dashboard yet. The current option is still in beta, meaning that they are testing it out and receiving feedback from users, though it should be available in the near future. Compared to other options, Liquidplanner’s pricing is limited. After a 14-day free trial, users can sign up for the Professional level for $45 a month or arrange enterprise options through the company’s sales team.
Pros and Cons of Liquidplanner
Pros: Allows for advanced scheduling and internal social chat.
Cons: Limited to medium to enterprise business models. Dashboard is still in beta. Only two pricing options.
Trello brings interactive drag-and-drop boards to the game. These function as real-time feeds that allow for perspective and collaboration, as well as quick reassigning. Trello’s primary feature is called “Boards,” which are drag-and-drop panels for people and projects that can sync between devices. In the end, this means an easy to use interface that just about anyone can pick up. Trello does integrate with apps like Slack, DropBox, and Google Drive, but lacks some of the more advanced integrations like Adobe and CRM platforms. If you’re looking for something simple and straightforward, however, Trello has you covered. Their pricing is budget-friendly, with a free plan, Business Class for $9.99 per month, and an Enterprise plan starting at $20.83 per month for 20 users and decreasing to $5.92 as the number of users increases. There are more options based on the plans, of course, but for a small business, Trello hits the sweet spot. But if you’re a big business, don’t overlook Trello. Companies like National Geographic and Fender use it, and that’s enough proof to justify bringing it into your model.
Pros and Cons of Trello
Pros: Simple to use. Budget-friendly pricing that fits most business models.
Cons: Lacks the depth of other platforms. Integrations are good, but not as thorough as other competitors.
Hive’s productivity platform has a simple purpose: giving clarity to project management. Hive has done an excellent job marrying Project Management and Integrations. With over 1,000 different integration options, from iCal, Outlook, GoogleCal, Gmail, Github, Microsoft Teams, Jira, Marketo, Hubspot, Salesforce, Quickbooks, Slack, and more, Hive is easily one of the most existing system friendly Project Management tools on the market. The interface is familiar and easy to use with resource management, customizable summary views, analytics, and an in-app messenger, allowing for streamlined assignments across your teams’ workspaces.
Hive’s pricing model is also unique in the realm of project management. They start with an annual package for annual pricing of $12 a month, and also offer a monthly option for $16 a month. The additional parts, such as custom analytics and other features, come at additional costs, the highest of which is an additional $8 a month, the lowest at $3, depending on what you need, giving Hive an incredibly flexible plan based on your business needs. Speaking of which, since those needs can vary, Hive has options from Marketing to Education, making sure to reach just about everyone, making it one of the easiest and budget-friendly ways to get into Project Management.
Pros and Cons of Hive
Pros: Budget-friendly. Greatest range of integrations. Simple to use.
Cons: Lacks a specific focus outside of integrations.
10. Project Manager
Project Manager is another easy way to get things moving across your business. They utilize visual drag and drop boards to manage work, complete with task lists and dashboards that can suit small- to enterprise-level businesses, as well as more than 400 integration options. But what sets Project Manager apart from the competition is their support. By far, Project Manager has the best training and support options readily available and easy to access from their site, including 24/7 support options. Having great software is one thing, but knowing that you can get help quickly at all times is just as important.
Project Manager has a simple pricing setup as well, starting at $15 a month, moving up to $25 a month for 15 users, it makes itself very easy for Small to Medium Business to get started. Business comes with every feature they provide, including one-on-one training. Lastly, you can contact their sales team for any enterprise option.
Pros and Cons of Project Manager
Pros: Simple to use, yet allows for great time management. Phenomenal support and training options. Budget-friendly.
Cons: Fewer options than competitors. Lacks financial tools.
Project Management Software Comparison
To make things a little easier, we’ve got a chart that will help put things in a more objective frame. Most options are clear cut, but integrations are a little different. We’ve sorted the integrations by size here. Basic means it covers the most common uses like Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Outlook. Varied covers more uses, including multiple CRM platforms — otherwise, they show numeric values based on the product. Support Level is also varied here. Basic rating means that most support is site-based, though some exceptions are made for plan tiers, while Advanced will indicate that support with a person is far easier to access, no matter your plan tier. Pricing is gauged from low to high, where low is a plan starting from free, mid is a plan starting anywhere from $12 up, and high coincides with business sizes medium to enterprise-level.
|Business Size||Integration||Ease of Use||Support Level||Price|
|Monday.com||Any||Basic||Easy||Basic – Plan Level||Mid Level|
|Wrike||Any||Varied||Easy||Basic – Plan Level||Mid Level|
|Asana||Any||Varied||Easy||Basic – Plan Level||Low|
|Smartsheet||Any||Basic||Advanced||Basic – Paid Support||Mid to High Level|
|Clarizen||Enterprise||Basic||Advanced||Basic – Paid Support||Mid to High Level|
|Mavenlink||Medium – Enterprise||Basic||Advanced||Advanced||Mid to High Level|
|LiquidPlanner||Medium – Enterprise||Basic||Advanced||Advanced||Mid to High Level|
Project Management Platforms come in all shapes and sizes. Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of where to start among the best of the best. The other great part about all of these options is that with their views, you can easily display the dashboards, Gantts, and analytics to your teams in meetings mirrored on any display. Clear Touch can also help with that, giving you an easy way to collaborate with your team in meetings to address, assign, and reassign with one another during meetings so everyone can see, giving you that extra versatility and ease in your Project Management. You want to get things done, and we want to help.