Spreadsheets and Google Docs are great for small-scale collaboration, but what do you do when your business grows? Teams expand, there are more projects to manage, and uh-oh, you forgot to invoice your clients on time. 

At this stage, simple project management software becomes invaluable. It helps you track each project’s progress, assign and manage responsibilities, and organize team collaboration. So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 best project management (PM) software. 

Our rundown includes the simplest tools, more feature-rich options, and the most advanced PM tools. But before we get to those, let’s cover the essential features that any good PM software should have.

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What features are essential for project management software?

Here are six features to prioritize when you’re considering project management software. 

1. Ease of us

Your team members will regularly use the project management system, so it should be easy for them to navigate and intuitive to use. Also, remember why you’re investing in PM software – to streamline and improve project management. The tool you choose shouldn’t add another layer of complexity unless such addition brings more value. 

2. Team collaboration

Collaboration features help team members coordinate their activities and work together effectively. PM tools have different collaboration features, which may include the ability to leave notes, add comments to tasks, and initiate 1:1 chats with team members. Don’t forget to look ahead, will the tool work well when your team is growing?

3. Task management

Who is responsible for a given task? How many tasks are complete for a given project, and how many are running late? Project management software helps you answer these questions and track the progress of different tasks. You may also think about workload management when assigning tasks if you manage a bigger team.

4. Privacy management

Your data – and your clients’ data – is important and must be kept secure. So before you invest in project management software, check:

  • What personal data they collect
  • How they secure your data
  • Their policy for requesting data to be deleted

It’s important to pick a PM software provider that respects your privacy and is committed to keeping your data secure. 

5. Automation

Does your PM tool let you automate mundane tasks, allowing your team members to focus on more meaningful work? PM tools range from ones that offer no automation, those that offer simple automations – such as ones to progress tasks or projects along – to more robust workflow automations. 

6. Reporting

How do you know if your business goals are being met, if your teams are hitting their targets, if the projects are on budget, and if your clients’ expectations are being met? Reporting features are crucial to monitoring your projects’ progress, identifying any bottlenecks, and making sure your team isn’t overshooting budgets. 

The 15 best simple, balanced, and advanced project management software

We’ve put together a list of the five best simple, balanced, and advanced PM tools respectively. All 15 tools are great; you just need to evaluate which is right for your business needs. 

The 5 best simple software

1. Trello

Pricing: $5-$17.50/4,67-16,33€/per user, per month, for annual billing
Free plan/trial period: Yes. Trello offers a generous free plan with built-in automation, templates, unlimited cards, and more. 

Trello is one of the most popular simple project management software, known for its ease of use and affordability. It’s a great choice for straightforward project management, e.g. managing content. The tool also has a rich repository of pre-built templates to help you get started. This includes whole project templates and specific ones for cards, boards, and lists.

Trello offers automation through their own tool Butler or via ‘power-ups’ – i.e., integrations – e.g. with platforms like Make and Zapier. It also lets you set up task dependencies, assign user roles, create groups, and more. Trello’s reporting features are exclusive to the Premium and Enterprise plans. 

2. Basecamp

Pricing: Basecamp $15/14€/user per month, Basecamp pro unlimited $299/279,1€/month, billed annually
Free plan/trial period: Yes. Basecamp offers a limited free Personal plan, and their Business plan comes with a 30-day free trial.

Founded in 1999, Basecamp is one of the pioneer project management tools. Like Trello, the software is simple and easy to use. Basecamp lets you create custom project templates and tasks, and implement basic automations (like assigning tasks). It was also designed with client interactions in mind, so the software has various roles with different permissions.

However, Basecamp’s versatility and ease of use invite a downside; it lacks some advanced features, like hierarchical to-do lists, task dependencies, subtasks or stronger automations or workflows. 

3. Taskade

Pricing: Starts at $8/7,47€/per user, per month.
Free plan/trial period: Yes, Taskade offers a free plan with all its essential features.

Taskade is the new kid on the block – it’s a simple project management software with an interactive documents style. Although it has a board view, it’s not the drag-and-drop card style that tools like Trello offer. Instead, the board features are more like an interactive, advanced version of Google Docs. 
Taskade is easy to use, and it comes with essential project management features, including templates, multiple views, calendar integration, task management and assignment, and more. The tool also has a rich repository of pre-built project templates.

4. Notion

Pricing: $8/7,47€/month for annual billing (Personal Pro plan). For teams, prices start at $15/14€/user/month for annual billing.
Free plan/trial period: Yes. Notion has a free personal plan with a 5MB file upload limit. 

Notion is a popular PM tool for startups (although it’s great for other businesses, too). Similar to Trello, Notion comes with many pre-built templates, but Notion’s templates cover more fronts – you can use the PM tool to manage budgets, timelines, and client invoices.

Moreover, unlike most PM tools, Notion doubles as a dynamic document-creating platform – you can use it for docs, wiki, and taking notes. Its paid tiers come with priority customer support, and enterprise users unlock more advanced support including a dedicated customer success manager, early access to new features, and custom contracts.

5. Toggl Plan

Pricing: Start at $9/8,4€/per user, per month.
Free plan/trial period: Yes, Toggl Plan offers a free 14-day trial. 

Toggl Plan is simple project management software that lets you plan schedules, help your team manage workloads, and gives you clear insights into each project’s performance. The tool comes with more advanced features like task multi-assignment, workflow customization, and task management via timelines. 

Although Toggl Plan has the essential collaboration features to help teams work together, they lack team chat features that tools like Basecamp offer. 

The 5 best balanced software

Looking for project management software with more robust features without compromising ease of use? Check out our top five picks. 

Get an overview and plan your projects in the all-in-one business management system Caflou

6. Caflou

Pricing: Paid plans start at $15,5/14,3€/month/user.
Free plan/trial period: Yes. Caflou’s Turtle plan is free.

Caflou is more than just project management software – it’s a complete digital business management system that lets you drive your company and team's performance and manage business and project economics. We built Caflou to fill the gaps left by existing tools – simple PM software can only manage tasks and timelines, invoicing tools lack PM features, CRM tools are weak on the project management front etc. 
So, we built Caflou to manage business processes that you’d otherwise need multiple tools for (CRM, PM, time management, invoicing etc.). Today, more than 3,000 companies use Caflou to:

  • Manage your sales pipeline, leads, and offers.
  • Manage projects, tasks, even financially, check progress against budgets, and collaborate with all stakeholders.
  • Plan team workload, track time, check utilization in real time, and manage vacations and absences.
  • Track and manage cash flow, find out what’s profitable and what’s not, and manage invoices.
  • Automate repetitive processes.

And more. We’re also known for our excellent customer support.
Get started for free to explore what Caflou can do for your business.

7. ClickUp

Pricing: Paid plans start at $7/6,53€/per team member, per month. 
Free plan/trial period: Yes. ClickUp has a “Free Forever” plan for personal use.

ClickUp’s tagline is “one app to replace them all, which is reflected in the tool’s robust feature set.  It includes your basic PM features – like task assignment and task hierarchies – and then more advanced capabilities including an OKR tracker, internal knowledge base, and a chat app.

ClickUp also goes beyond the traditional board, list, and Gannt views, offering Mind Maps and a digital whiteboard. The app also supports 50+ integrations, embeds, and more. While ClickUp is a great, well-known tool, it comes with a steep learning curve and is less intuitive to use than some competing tools.

8. Asana

Pricing: Starts at $11,77/10.99€/month per user, for annual billing. 
Free plan/trial period: Yes, Asana offers a generous “Free Forever” plan, with unlimited: file storage (100MB per file), projects, messages, tasks, and activity log.

Asana is a household name in project management, but unlike Caflou or ClickUp, it focuses on core PM features and doesn’t try to replace your other apps. Asana is easy to set up and intuitive to use – navigation is clear, the menu is simple, and you can label or color code projects to stay organized. 

Asana doesn’t try to be more than a PM tool, which makes it so popular – it's simple and reliable. 

9. Smartsheet

Pricing: Plans start at $6,43/6€/user/month
Free plan/trial period: Yes – they offer a free 30-day trial for paid plans. They do not have a free plan.

Smartsheets is more of an evolution of spreadsheets, as opposed to PM tools that abandon spreadsheet management altogether. Smartsheets is ideal for tracking the progress of your projects, organizing data, managing project lifecycles, and visualizing important data. It also supports over 300 integrations and connections, including integration with Zapier. 

10. Workzone

Pricing: Plans start at $24/22,4€/user/month.
Free plan/trial period: None.

Workzone is a pricier project management and document collaboration app. It has essential PM features including approval workflows, status alerts, pre-built project templates, boards, reporting, and more. It also includes time tracking features to help you monitor the time spent on specific tasks, so you can keep track of costs or bill clients.

Workzone is known for the platform’s ease of use and the team’s excellent customer service.

The 5 best advanced software

Need a project management tool with a bit more of a kick? Here are our top picks for the best advanced PM software. 

11. Jira Software

Pricing: Paid plans start at $7.16/6,68€/user/month, with discounts for annual billing.
Free plan/trial period: Yes. Jira has a plan that’s free for up to 10 users. 

Jira Software is owned by Atlassian, an Australian software company that provides solutions for software and product teams. Thus, Jira Software is purpose-built for product teams – this is reflected in its features, interface, integrations, and general useability. For example, the platform supports integrations with GitHub and Miro – which are vital tools for software teams. 

Jira Software comes with essential PM features that product teams need, like Scrum and Kanban boards, agile reporting, customizable workflows, roadmaps, and simple automation. 

12. Zoho Projects

Pricing: Paid plans start at $4,29/4€/user/month billed annually. 
Free plan/trial period: Yes. Zoho Projects offers a free plan for up to 3 users, with limited projects and two workspaces.

Zoho Projects is one of the most affordable project management tools for larger teams, with Enterprise plans costing just $9,64/9€/user/month billed annually. Mind you, the storage Zoho offers – 120 GB for Enterprise – is limited compared to what some competitors offer (for reference, Microsoft Project gives 1TB). 

Zoho Projects offers time tracking, task management and automation, issue tracking, timesheets, Gantt charts, reporting, and other helpful PM features. It also offers some advanced features like budget tracking, video conferencing, adding tasks via email, group chats, and forums.

13. Microsoft Project

Pricing: Starts at $10,1/9.40€/user/month. 
Free plan/trial period: Yes – Microsoft offers a free one-month trial.

Microsoft Project is a powerful project management solution for medium-to-large teams. Like many MS products, though, it’s not for novices. The software comes with a learning curve and is designed for experienced project managers and teams.  

MS Project supports multiple project management methodologies, including Kanban, Scrum, and custom workflows. Teams can use MS Project for anything from agile project management to hybrid frameworks. The tool supports custom high-level reports, time tracking (via the timesheet submission feature), and advanced resource management. 

14. WorkOtter

Pricing:Starts at $10/9,33€/month
Free plan/trial period: None. 

WorkOtter is an enterprise-grade solution for managing projects, portfolios, and resources. Its drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create tasks, organize them, and make dependencies. The project management tool supports different planning methodologies, including Scrum, waterfall, agile, and MSP (Managing Successful Programmes). 

WorkOtter’s finance tools let you track expenses, project budgets, and time. Its reporting features include forecasting, estimates vs. actuals, budgeting, and more. 

15. Celoxis 

Pricing: Starts at $15/14€/month/ billed annually.
Free plan/trial period: Yes. Celoxis offers a free 30-day trial.

Celoxis is another project management software that’s ideal for medium to large enterprises. The tool has essential PM features that let you manage and track project and tasks’ progress, budgets, and employee availability. The software is intuitive and doesn’t take long to get used to. 

Celoxis’ reporting features in particular make it appealing to large organizations – its reports give high-level overviews of your projects. For example, burn down charts show how much work is left on a project vs. the remaining time left to complete it. Celoxis also supports workflow automation and even lets businesses create their own apps, such as for bug tracking.

However, Celoxis lacks invoicing and billing features.

Get started with Caflou – the all-in-one PM suite

Even the most sophisticated project management tools aren’t designed to handle all your business processes — with the exception of Caflou. Some PM tools have robust task management features but lack time tracking or invoicing, others may have timesheets but don’t come with project finance management, cashflow management features or CRM module.

But Caflou is an all-in-one project management solution for managing projects and tasks, keeping track of business economics, managing offers, contracts and invoices, automating repetitive processes, and tracking your projects’ status. 

Start growing your business with Caflou today. Getting started is free

* the prices of the systems are valid as of the date of 18/06/2024

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