Are you struggling to manage a team of people working on a project? Or even just a complicated project you’re working on alone? Then you could benefit from using a simple project management tool.

Project management tools aren’t just for professional project managers; they’re for anyone wanting to effectively organise their work and manage projects and tasks. They’re mainly used in business, but they’re also suitable for planning any kind of group activity, including social activities, charity work and so on. 

Most of these have a free plan that’s not time-limited, so unless you reach a high level of complexity, you won’t have to spend any more to benefit. (That applies to all the software on our list, except for one, monday.com, which offers a free trial instead.)

However, bear in mind that not all features will be available at the free level, and you’ll be limited in terms of the number of team members and projects, cloud storage and so on. 

How to select the Best Project Management Software?

So how do you go about choosing a project management software? Here are some questions to consider first…

  • Which features do you need? These may include planning and scheduling tools; collaboration and communication tools; document editing and file management tools; and evaluation and reporting tools. 
  • How do you want to visualise all your activities? Kanban board, Gantt chart or timeline view, calendar view, or another type of view?
  • Who’s going to use it? Is it just you, or other team members and/or stakeholders?

Best Free Project Management Software

Check out our list of 12 best & free project management software + 5 noteworthy ones below, and choose the one that is best suited to your requirements.

1. Trello

The best project management tool for Kanban boards

Trello is a popular and highly visual task management app based around Kanban boards. Its interface is highly visual and well-ordered, making it easy to learn and use.

Trello Board
Trello Board

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Most suitable for: For personal use and small teams

Supported methodologies: Kanban

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Easy drag-and-drop editing: Trello allows team members to edit task lists using a drag-and-drop mechanism that’s simple to use and very intuitive.
  • Power-Ups: Trello Power-Ups help you put your Trello board on steroids. As the name says it, power up your boards with additional features of automation, data-sync, design and much more. Automate.io‘s Trello Power-Up helps you automate tasks & get more done.
Automate.io Trello Powerup
Automate.io Trello Powerup
  • Submit multiple cards and checklist items: You can add multiple cards or checklist items all at once. Copy and paste from a spreadsheet column or list to create a new card or checklist for each line in the list.
Trello: Submit multiple cards and checklist items
Trello: Submit multiple cards and checklist items
  • Custom fields: Trello’s Custom fields feature provides additional input boxes so you can add more structure and context on a Trello card, such as contact information, status updates, and additional due dates. You can format them as drop-down options, text fields, checkboxes, or calendar dates.

Other defining features: 

  • Kanban boards
  • Group meetings and one-to-one chat
  • Progress meter checklist

If you have a list of card titles, for example in an Excel spreadsheet, you can simply copy the title from one column and each cell from the sheet will become a card in a Trello list.

2. Asana

Best project management software for group communication

Asana is a task management tool with strong communication and customisation features.

Asana Dashboard
Asana Dashboard

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

Most suitable for: Someone who manages multiple teams

Supported methodologies: Agile, Scrum, Kanban

Asana List View
Asana List View: With list view, it’s clear what work needs to get done and to what deadlines.

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Focus Mode: Focus Mode allows you to see one task at a time, without feeling tempted or overwhelmed by all the other tasks in your window.
  • Smart Inbox: Asana’s Inbox provides a unified place for everyone involved in a project to communicate and share files. Filters help you focus on the notifications that matter the most to you.
Asana Timeline VIew
Asana Timeline View: The timeline view is one of many ways to view your activities across a month or week or quarter.
  • Advanced Search: The Advanced Search feature lets you search your project archive based on criteria such as completion date, assignee, custom fields and task creator.

Other defining features: 

  • Customisable Dashboards 
  • Email integration
  • Project permissions to allow your freelancers, clients and any external party to view project progress. 

3. MeisterTask

The best project management tool for customising Kanban boards

MeisterTask is a task management app based around Kanban boards and aimed at Agile project teams. 

MeisterTask Kanban View
MeisterTask Kanban View

MeisterTask is based on Kanban boards in a similar way to Trello.

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

Most suitable for: Small businesses with agile projects

Supported methodologies: Kanban

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Time-tracking: A time-tracking widget allows you to record the time spent on a particular task. It enables you to track the amount of time spent on tasks, generate reports and view statistics on your team’s productivity.
MeisterTask - Time Tracking
MeisterTask – Time Tracking
  • Customisation: MeisterTask offers lots of customisation options that let you adjust the appearance of your dashboard and project boards.
  • Relationships feature: Using the task relationships feature, you can add relations to your tasks to indicate dependencies or blockages.
MeisterTask Task Relationship Feature
MeisterTask Task Relationship Feature
  • Automations: The Automations feature allows you to automate recurring steps in your task management workflow. Once you’ve configured specific automation for a section in your project, it will automatically be applied to all tasks moved to or created in this section.

Other defining features: 

  • Kanban boards

4. Wrike

Best project management app for complex projects

Wrike is a project management software geared towards business use due to its powerful reporting feature. Gantt Chart is one of the main views of your projects offered by Wrike.

Wrike's Gantt Chart View
Wrike’s Gantt Chart View

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Most suitable for: Medium-size businesses

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM, Kanban (Gantt Chart is one of the views of your projects offered by Wrike

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Variety of views: Every business is different, so Wrike allows a high degree of customisation over how your projects are presented. Available views include List, Board, Stream, Timelog, Gantt Chart, Table and Workload.
Wrike's Board View
Wrike’s Board View
  • Three-pane interface: Similar to the interface of many popular email clients, Wrike’s three-pane setup makes it easy to navigate between the live overview of project updates, details of a particular task and the project structure.
  • Wrike Reports: Wrike Reports are customisable reports which you can build to quickly gather specific data. Each time you open or refresh your report, it automatically updates to include the most up-to-date data which meets your report’s criteria.
Write Reports
Write Reports are customisable which you can build to quickly gather the data you need from your tasks and projects.

Other defining features:

  • Workload management
  • Document collaboration
  • Time tracking

5. Podio

Highly-customizable Project Management Software

Podio is a task management app which is highly customisable via Podio Apps, and with special features for sales and marketing professionals.

Podio Dashboard
Podio Dashboard

In Podio, everything is organised around Workspaces, within which you can create and assign tasks and deadlines.

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

Most suitable for: Large and diverse teams

Supported methodologies: Agile

Unique and distinctive features:

  • IM and chat: Podio has advanced collaboration tools, including instant messaging and audio or video calling with anyone you’re connected to on Podio. This makes it a great tool for diverse, large and/or geographically spread teams.
  • Podio Apps: Team members choose how to organise and track their work by creating their own “Podio apps” – which are basically project templates –  using a simple drag and drop interface.
  • Formula calculations: Calculation fields can be used to easily manipulate the data added to your apps. This lets you perform mathematical calculations on the numbers in your app, and concatenate the values in certain fields together.Values are added to a calculation field using variables. Use the “@” symbol to search for variables in your app
Podio - Calculations Feature
Podio – Calculations Feature

Other defining features: 

  • Meeting scheduling 
  • Customer relationship management
  • Data visualisation

6. monday.com (free trial only)

Best project management app for large remote teams

monday.com is a popular communication and collaboration app for teams. Please note that there is no free plan for this app, but a free trial is available.

monday.com Kanban view
monday.com Kanban view

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Most suitable for: Large businesses

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM, Kanban

Unique and distinctive features: 

  • Gather ideas via Forms: This feature helps streamline the process of gathering ideas, suggestions or requests onto a single board. Once a new idea has been added via the form, it will automatically be added to the
  • Add extra columns: To each task or group of tasks, you can add multiple columns, containing details such as who the task is assigned to, it’s status and due dates, as well as more glandular information such as phone numbers, email addresses, a map or a world clock.
  • Add or remove weekends: You can now configure your timeline to either display weekends or not. If you only work weekdays, the latter makes it easier to track the actual dates and duration of your work.
monday.com's hide weekend feature
monday.com’s feature to hide or show weekends is a super-useful feature

Defining features: 

  • Virtual whiteboards
  • Customisable templates
  • Table, Kanban, Chart & Map views
monday.com's Map view
monday.com’s Map view

7. Basecamp 3

The best project management app for web design projects

Basecamp is project management for distributed and global teams that are popular within the web design community. 

Basecamp - Schedule Dashboard
Basecamp – Schedule Dashboard

In Basecamp 3, your schedule is designed to keep all the milestones, deadlines, and stuff with dates neatly organized and tidy.

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Most suitable for: Web design and development teams

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Hills Charts: Hills Charts are an original way to view project progress that has been originated by Basecamp. They’re based on the idea that every project reaches a point where there aren’t any more unsolved problems (the ‘top of the hill’).
  • Automatic check-in questions: Automatic check-in questions such as “what are you working on this week?” and “what did you work on today?” give managers a quick, easy way how everyone is progressing.
Basecamp Automatic Check-In Feature
Basecamp’s Automatic Check-In feature to keep everyone on track
  • Decide what clients see: Everything is private to your team by default and clearly labelled as such until you choose to share it with a client.

Other defining features: 

  • Project templates
  • Document management
  • Real-time chat
Basecamp real-time chat
Real-time chat is at the heart of Basecamp’s approach to project management

8. KanbanFlow

The best project management app for lean teams

KanbanFlow is, as the name suggests, a task management app based on Kanban cards.  It is a purposely lean and minimal project management app.

KanbanFlow
KanbanFlow is a purposely lean and minimal project management app.

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone

Most suitable for: Startups

Supported methodologies: Kanban

Unique and distinctive features: 

  • Work-in-progress limits: To avoid project bottlenecks, you can limit how many tasks you are allowed to have in a specific column. Like in the below image, you can only choose to view the tasks marked in blue.
KanbanFlow Task View
Filter Tasks in KanbanFlow
  • Swimlanes: Swimlanes means you can split your board horizontally into teams, products, business areas or something else that will help you manage your tasks.
KanbanFlow: Split your board
Split your board into teams, products, business areas or something else that will help you manage your tasks.
  • See the completed tasks by date: When you move tasks to Done, they are grouped by the date that they were completed. This makes it easy to, for example, keep track of how much work you finished last week.

Other defining features: 

  • Kanban boards
  • Easy filtering of information
  • Real-time collaboration

9. ClickUp

Best project management app for marketing projects

ClickUp is an intuitive project management app with a strong appeal to marketing professionals.

ClickUp Board View
ClickUp Board View

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Chrome, Amazon Fire, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Notepad, Gmail, Outlook

Most suitable for: Marketing professionals

Supported methodologies: Agile

Unique and distinctive features:

  • ClickApps: ClickApps are programmable widgets that enable you to completely customise your team’s interface within each Workspace.
  • Time estimates: Time Estimates is a ClickApp that uses machine learning to generate realistic estimates and timeframes for your activities.
ClickUp Time Estimates feature
Apply Time Estimates feature to your tasks to provide better predictability for Lists and Folders
  • Me Mode: Me Mode allows you to drown out the noise and focus only on the tasks assigned to you, in one click.

Other defining features: 

  • Multiple views (List, Calendar, Board, Gantt, Wiki & Doc View, Conversation, Embed)
ClickUp in Box View
ClickUp in Box View
  • Image mockups
  • Collaboration Detection

10. Teamwork Projects

Project Management Software with Billing & Time-Tracking

Teamwork Projects is a work and project management app that’s packed with features. 

Teamwork Board View
Teamwork Board View

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, Chrome

Most suitable for: Complex projects

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM, Kanban

Unique and distinctive features: 

  • Customisable Kanban Boards: If you prefer the Kanban approach, you’re able to create Kanban boards in a way that’s much more customisable than most project management apps.
  • Built-in time logging: There are many time tracking features, including an in-app timer which you can launch which doing particular tasks. Any time logged on a project can be viewed in the project’s Time tab.
Teamwork - Time Logging
Teamwork – Time Logging
  • Billing tools: Built-in expenses and invoicing tools help you keep track of the financial side of projects, and generate client invoices automatically.

Other defining features:

  • Simple structure
  • Bird’s eye view of all projects
  • Interactive Gantt Chart

11. JIRA

Project Management Software for IT & Scrum

JIRA is a bug tracking and project management app geared towards technical staff.

JIRA Board View
JIRA Board View

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

Most suitable for: IT departments, software developers, web developers, open-source projects  

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM, Kanban

Unique and distinctive features: 

  •  Scrum Boards: Scrum Boards enable software teams to manage complex projects by creating a culture of collaboration. (Kanban Boards are available as an alternative). Jira’s Scrum boards unite teams around a single goal and promote iterative, incremental delivery.
JIRA Scrum Board
JIRA Scrum Board
  • Issue tracking: Bug and issue tracking features help software teams find, record and track bugs in their software.
  • Integrates with Github: Linking your GitHub account to Jira gives your team the ability to see their branches, commit messages, and pull requests right in the context of the Jira tickets they’re working on.

Other defining features:

  • Service desk
  • Code integration
  • Agile, Scrum or Kanban

12. Toggl Plan

Best Project Management App for Toggl Users

Toggl Plan (formerly Teamweek) is an easy to use, highly visual project management app.

Toggl Plan - Timeline View
Toggl Plan – Timeline View

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

Most suitable for: IT, design, marketing and financial departments/companies 

Supported methodologies: Agile, Kanban

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Quick setup: Compared to other project management apps, Toggl Plan offers a lightweight and minimal feature set that’s easy to set up and use. Instead of being forgotten, you can also add the tasks to the “Icebox” tab, so they can be completed in the future
Toggl Plan - Icebox for future tasks
Toggl Plan – Icebox for future tasks
  • Highly visual interface: The interface offers a quick visual overview of who’s doing what and when based on clear and customisable colour-coding. Toggl Plan makes great use of colour to help aid comprehension.
Toggl Plan - Visual Interface
Toggl Plan – Visual Interface
  • Shortcuts: Toggl Plan has a wide range of shortcuts to make it faster to use. For example, you can switch to the weekly view by typing W, monthly view with M, and annual view with A.

Other defining features: 

  • Drag & drop interface
  • Kanban boards or Timeline view.
  • Job scheduling

Interesting & Noteworthy Project Management Tools

13. Notion

Notion is a collaborative note-taking app that is based around a wide variety of project management based templates.

14. nTask

nTask is a cloud-based free task management app that’s geared towards small businesses and individuals.

15. Freedcamp

Freedcamp is a user-friendly and low-cost project management software with good collaboration features.

16. ZenTao

ZenTao is an open-source project management software for users of both the Scrum and Agile methodologies.

17. Outlook Spaces

Coming Soon, Outlook Spaces, is a new workspace tool from Microsoft Outlook, aimed at helping teams to collaborate over meetings, documents, and notes.

Final thoughts on choosing a Project Management Software

That’s a wrap on the free project management software & tools available to cater to a wide range of teams. Understand what your team goals and style of working is, what kind of projects you typically work on and who all will be utilizing the project management app. We’ve listed down the best options for individual, agile, lean & large teams. From this list, you can select your team’s next favourite project management software based on the criteria your team falls into. 

best project management apps 2020

Author

Tom May is a freelance journalist with 25 years' experience in writing about design and technology. He's also the bestselling author of Great TED talks: Creativity.

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