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I’ve managed countless projects, hundreds of teams, and used many different types of management software over the years.
And you want to know a secret? It doesn’t matter which project management tool you use as long as you pick something people like using.
It sounds simple, but project management software is what you make it. Show me a nifty notification feature and I’ll show you an employee who can ignore it.
Getting the team or organization to buy in and trust the software is critical. The best way to make that happen is by choosing a product that actually makes their lives easier.
Here are my top six recommendations for project management software. These are popular solutions that have proven their worth over and over again.
This post includes an in-depth review of each product that’s followed by a short guide to help you evaluate your options. Continue reading to find a solution that will start making a difference today.
#1 – Zoho Projects Review — The Best for Versatility
For most users, Zoho Projects is my top recommendation.
Zoho has been selling software as a service for a long time. Over the years, they have perfected a simple, clean style for all of their tools. First-time users can figure everything out very quickly, even if they aren’t the most technically confident people.
There’s not going to be too much trouble getting everyone on-board with Zoho Projects. And, for as easy-to-use as it is, there is a ton of versatility in the platform.
This is a product that can work as well for basic task management as it can for a team navigating a year-long project in multiple countries.
If you are looking for something that’s going to accommodate multiple departments, this is a good choice. The software is flexible enough to serve a variety of use-cases.
They offer a free forever plan, and paid plans start at just $3 per user per month. So, it’s incredibly affordable for small businesses and can scale as your business grows.
Whether you’re managing simple or complex projects, Zoho has everything you need, including powerful features like:
- Hosted file storage
- Task dependencies
- Recurring tasks
- Visual workflow builder
- Time tracking
- Task assignments and prioritization
- Chats, forums, and feeds
- Reporting and analytics
The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create workflows and track project progress quickly. Plus, you can view projects using Kanban, Gantt, or calendar views.
Furthermore, their internal communication tools (chat, forum, and feed) streamline team collaboration where it matters most.
You can also take advantage of more than 100+ built-in integrations with business tools you’re already using to run and manage your business.
These integrations include Slack, Zapier, DropBox, and more.
Zoho’s plans include:
- Free — up to 3 users, two projects, and 10 MB of storage
- Standard — $3/user per month and up to 10 projects (between 6 and 10 users)
- Express — $4/user per month + unlimited projects (between 12 and 50 users)
- Premium — $5/user per month + unlimited projects (between 15 and 100 users)
- Enterprise — $6/user per month + unlimited projects (for 20+ users)
Start your 10-day free trial to take Zoho for a test drive today.
#2 – Wrike Review — The Best for Marketing Teams
Over 20,000+ businesses, including Google, Airbnb, and Dell, use Wrike to manage marketing and sales projects worldwide.
With Wrike, your project management software adapts to meet your needs, rather than the other way around. And features like custom workflows and dashboards, automation, and real-time communication make this an excellent choice for dynamic marketing teams of all sizes.
You also get end-to-end visualization so you can hone in on problem areas while maintaining constant forward movement with each project as a whole.
Furthermore, Wrike includes powerful marketing-specific templates including
- Campaign management
- Product launching
- Marketing operations
- Content creation
- Event management
And you can combine those with standard project management features like task management, proofing and approvals, communication tools, and real-time progress visibility.
Project views include board, spreadsheet, Gantt, calendar, and custom views.
Wrike also includes seamless integrations with 400+ business tools, like Salesforce, G Mail, and Google Drive. So, you don’t have to worry about software incompatibility issues or anything like that.
You can start on their free forever plan for up to five users, but you may find it limiting. Paid plans include:
- Professional — $9.80/user per month (5 – 15 users)
- Business — $24.80/user per month (5 – 200 users)
- Enterprise — Custom (5 – unlimited users)
They also offer tailored plans for marketing teams, but you have to contact them for a custom quote. However, it includes specialty templates, Wrike Proof, and more.
Start your 14-day free trial or sign up for a free forever plan to get started today.
#3 – Teamwork Review — The Best for Remote Teams
If you’re managing a remote team (or a soon-to-be remote team), Teamwork is an excellent choice. Their remote work module is specifically for distributed teams who need a flexible way to keep work moving forward.
20,000+ teams plus big names, including Disney, Netflix, and Spotify, rely on Teamwork for their remote project management needs — and for a good reason.
The software makes collaboration, task management, and project visibility a breeze regardless of where your team lives (and works). And as Teamwork says, “Just because you’re not in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t be on the same page.”
This remote project management software includes excellent features like:
- Internal chat software
- Centralized workspaces
- Board views
- Custom project templates
- Workload balancing
- Time tracking
- Gantt charts
Furthermore, you can pick and choose which software you need. Or, you can save 49% by bundling all of Teamwork’s software together.
At $35/mo per user (minimum of five users), it’s more suitable for businesses with a decent budget. But, their project management module alone is much more affordable, starting at $10/mo per user.
Alternatively, you can start with a free forever plan for up to five users and two projects. This is an excellent choice for small teams or fast-growth companies.
Sign up for a 30-day free trial to try Teamwork’s remote project management solution today.
#4 – Asana Review — The Best for Small Teams
Asana is an excellent choice for teams of up to 15 people.
And with millions of users spanning 190+ countries worldwide, you can rest assured you’re in good hands.
Their free forever plan includes 15 seats, unlimited tasks and projects, assignees, due dates, and everything you need (aside from a few advanced features) to manage projects of all sizes efficiently.
With Asana, you can map out even the smallest steps of every project to ensure forward movement and track your team’s progress along the way.
Furthermore, you can enjoy features like:
- Drag-and-drop board views
- Timeline views
- Automated workflows
- Work requests and forms
- Calendar view
- Portfolio overviews
- Workload balance
- Custom fields
- Reusable templates
Not only that, but the entire interface is beautiful and easy to navigate.
You can choose between pre-made industry templates or create your own to get your team on track in no time.
And with 100+ integrations including Adobe, Slack, Gmail, Chrome, Drive, and more, you can rest easy knowing Asana plays well with the tools you’re already using.
Plus, you can share files, communicate, and share feedback all in one place.
With a free price tag (for up to 15 users), Asana’s hard to beat. However, if you outgrow the free plan, you can upgrade to one of their paid plans, including:
- Premium — $10.99 per user per month
- Business — $24.99 per user per month
- Enterprise — custom pricing only
Sign up for a free forever plan to get started with Asana today!
#5 – Smartsheet Review — The Best for Large Teams
Smartsheet is a dynamic project management software built for enterprises and large teams. However, the solution is flexible enough to suit businesses and projects of all sizes.
They specialize in rapid-movement projects with a ton of moving parts. So, you can trust Smartsheet for even the most complicated projects.
With Smartsheet, you can gain end-to-end project visibility with grid, card, Gantt, and calendar views. Furthermore, you can gather data from forms, automated workflows, and recurring tasks to see what you need to see, and when.
However, the software goes beyond essential project management. It’s an award-winning work execution platform that’s easy to implement, manage, and maintain.
Plus, 75% of fortune 500 companies use Smartsheet to get things done.
So, you’re in good company.
All plans also include on-demand customer support, continuous education materials, training + certification programs, and consulting services to help you make the most of your new project management software.
And you also get collaboration tools, all four project views, and extensive mobile apps/integrations with every plan.
While Smartsheet is overkill for most small businesses, it’s an excellent choice for large companies and enterprises looking to streamline their business processes.
Their paid plans include:
- Individual — $14 per month
- Business — $25 per user per month (minimum of three users)
- Enterprise — custom (enterprise-grade features and tools)
- Premier — custom (enterprise + premium features and tools)
Sign up for a 30-day free trial to try Smartsheets risk-free with no credit card required.
#6 – Trello Review — The Best Free Project Management Software
If you’re on a tight budget, Trello is an excellent free project management software.
Plus, millions of users, including Pinterest, Peloton, Fender, and Costco, rely on it to map out and manage projects of all shapes and sizes.
It’s an excellent tool for basic visual project management for any type of project, from home improvement and side hustles to marketing campaigns and full-blown business operations as well.
Trello uses boards, cards, and lists to organize projects, making it a familiar and comfortable platform. You can drag and drop cards, move cards to new boards, and cross tasks off as you go along.
Furthermore, you can create automatic workflows with rule-based triggers, calendar commands, and more.
Plus, the free forever plan includes intuitive features like:
- Unlimited personal boards
- Unlimited cards and lists
- 10 MB file attachments
- Up to 10 team boards
- Basic automation
- And two-factor authentication
It’s an excellent solution for teams of all sizes since everyone can join for free. However, you need to upgrade to a paid plan if you need more than ten team boards.
And if you outgrow the free plan, you can upgrade to an affordable paid plan for more advanced features. Trello’s paid plans include:
- Business Class — $9.99/user per month
- Enterprise — $17.50/user per month
Sign up for a free demo to get started with Trello today.
What I Looked at to Find the Project Management Software
The best project management software for you depends on your projects’ complexity, the size of your team, and the features you need.
Every option on my list is a fantastic product, but only one is going to be the best fit for you.
Let’s walk through the major criteria you can use as you go through the process of finding the right software.
Number of Users
Most project management software is charged on a per user per month basis. So, it’s crucial to understand how many seats you need and your budget.
If you have a large team with hundreds of users, you’re better off choosing an enterprise plan with custom pricing to get the most bang for your buck.
However, if you have less than 15 people, Asana is an excellent choice (free for up to 15 users).
And if you have fewer than three users, you can use Zoho Projects for free as well.
Collaborating through email or phone is handy, but it can be hard to keep track of conversations and responsibilities.
The best project management software comes with built-in tools that allow users to collaborate directly within a task, project, or team. This can include flagging tasks with statuses, discussion boards, comment threads, and @mentioning other users to draw someone’s attention.
Another aid to collaboration is project management software that integrates with the tools your teams are already using. G Suite or Microsoft integration is going to make simple tasks like sharing and editing content that much easier.
For simple and straightforward projects, you can probably get by using a free forever plan with Trello, Asana, or Zoho Projects.
These products are incredibly user-friendly and versatile enough to accommodate many types of basic projects. Paid versions of these tools can do even more.
Trello, seen above, helps teams visualize all of their tasks in a clear way. You can click on each card to find a project description, comment log, and other relevant information.
Once projects start to become more complicated, however, the lighter tools don’t function quite as well.
If you are tracking project costs, for example, Trello doesn’t have much for built-in reporting features. To create a Gantt or burndown chart to track progress, you have to use an add-on or third-party solution.
Wrike, seen above, makes tracking dependencies on an Gantt chart as easy as clicking a button. Get as detailed as you like with multi-phase projects—Wrike can handle it.
In addition to handling your the big-picture organization of your projects, you want an solution that helps you manage the individual tasks that contribute to those longer-term goals.
Some of the common task management features you will see include:
- Checklists and due dates
- File attachments
- Task archiving/deleting
- Task prioritization
- Recurring tasks
The ability to create recurring tasks is a huge time-saver for teams that have daily, weekly, and monthly responsibilities. Once they find a system that works, they can duplicate it as needed.
Which of those basic task management features are important to you? For some teams, checklists and subtasks are going to be crucial for keeping everyone on the same page. For others, they might not be so important.
And what about the more advanced features?
With premium Asana plans, you can create task dependencies, which help you keep track of what needs to happen when. Maybe someone needs to approve a proposal before it gets kicked to the finance team for review.
In the Asana timeline below, the task relationships are set clearly shown in the timeline. You can actually just draw lines connecting tasks to show the dependencies in Asana, which is pretty slick:
In this case, the team can’t collect a dessert proposal until they have reached out to the pastry chefs. Maybe the content of that example doesn’t speak to your daily work, but the basic idea is important.
There are going to be a lot of different task management features to choose from. You want to strike a balance that helps your team stay organized without overwhelming them with bells and whistles.
Every project and team is different.
So it’s important that your project management software can adapt to meet your needs. Whether that’s a fully branded dashboard, the flexibility to scale, or improved functionality with the right integrations.
Furthermore, think about how you want to view and share project progress. Different software offers different project views, reporting, and analytics.
Start by creating a complete list of required features and integrations.
Lastly, consider everything you need your software to do and speak to a sales team to make sure their tool can handle your top priorities within your budget.
Zoho Projects is my #1 recommendation for most users, starting at just $3 per user per month with an extensive free forever plan as well.
However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all project management solution. One of the other options on my list might work a whole lot better. To recap:
- Zoho Projects – Best for versatility
- Wrike – Best for marketing teams
- Teamwork – Best for remote teams
- Asana – Best for small teams
- Smartsheet – Best for large teams
- Trello – Best free project management software
So, make sure you understand your needs and requirements before making any decisions. And don’t forget to use the criteria we talked about as you go through the process.
What’s your go-to project management software?
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