Project management software works brilliantly for businesses as well as for planning kind of group activity, including social activities, charity work and so on. Research shows that poor project management can incur a loss of as much as $99 million against every $1 billion invested. That’s a lot

Project management is not just for professional project managers; these tools are designed for anyone looking to effectively organize their work and manage projects and tasks.

Benefits of Using Project Management Software

Project management is all about organizing multiple projects and collaborating with your teams. There are ample reasons why you must use project management tools. Here are a few to get started: 

  • Tracking and assigning: Most project management software come with the feature to assign tasks and projects, and track the progress of the same. This helps in being more productive and completing tasks on time. 
  • Allocating and managing resources: Resource management is easier with project management tools because you have a central location for everything you and your team need to access. 
  • Breaking down large projects: All project management apps let you break down your large projects into sub-projects and sub-tasks so that it easy to pinpoint the progress status of each section of the project. 
  • Collaboration and sharing: Add your entire team to your project management app and collaborate with them seamlessly. From sharing documents to planning a workflow, assigning individual tasks, and working towards a common goal together – Project management software makes teamwork easy and productive. 

Now, let’s take a look at the best project management tools to use in 2021 (Free and paid).

Best Free Project Management Tools

Check out our list of 12 best and free project management software along with 5 more 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

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 to 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.

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Most suitable for: For personal use and small teams

Supported methodologies: Kanban

2. Asana

Best project management software for group communication

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

Asana Dashboard
Asana Dashboard

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.
  • 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: 

  • Customizable Dashboards 
  • Has multiple view options like timeline view, calendar view, and list view
  • Email integration
  • Project permissions allow your freelancers, clients, and any external party to view project progress. 

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

Most suitable for: Someone who manages multiple teams

Supported methodologies: Agile, Scrum, Kanban

3. MeisterTask

The best project management tool for customizing Kanban boards

MeisterTask is a task management app based around Kanban boards and aimed at Agile project teams. MeisterTask is based on Kanban boards in a similar way to Trello.

MeisterTask Kanban View
MeisterTask Kanban View

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
  • Customization: MeisterTask offers lots of customization 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

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

Most suitable for: Small businesses with agile projects

Supported methodologies: Kanban

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

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Variety of views: Every business is different, so Wrike allows a high degree of customization 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 customizable 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
Customizable Reports

Other defining features:

  • Workload management
  • Document collaboration
  • Time tracking

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

5. Podio

Highly-customizable Project Management Software

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

Podio Dashboard
Podio Dashboard

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

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 organize 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 visualization

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

Most suitable for: Large and diverse teams

Supported methodologies: Agile

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

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, its 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
Hide/Show Weekends

Defining features: 

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

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Most suitable for: Large businesses

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM, Kanban

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.

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 labeled 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

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Most suitable for: Web design and development teams

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM

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.

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
Board Split option
  • 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

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone

Most suitable for: Startups

Supported methodologies: Kanban

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

Unique and distinctive features:

  • ClickApps: ClickApps are programmable widgets that enable you to completely customize 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

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

Most suitable for: Marketing professionals

Supported methodologies: Agile

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

Unique and distinctive features: 

  • Customizable Kanban Boards: If you prefer the Kanban approach, you’re able to create Kanban boards in a way that’s much more customizable than most project management apps.
  • Built-in time logging: There are many time tracking features, including an in-app timer that 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

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, Chrome

Most suitable for: Complex projects

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM, Kanban

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

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

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

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

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM, 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

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Quick setup: Compared to other project management tools, 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 customizable color-coding. Toggl Plan makes great use of color 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

Platform: Web, Android, iOS

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

Supported methodologies: Agile, Kanban

Other Noteworthy Project Management Tools

13. Notion

The Best Project Management Tool For keeping teams And individuals organized

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

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Powerful note-taking: List, Text, Video, or code snippets, Notion’s note-taking feature is a must-try. It supports all types of content and a great way to turn your notes into a resource for project management. 
  • Multiple database views: Notion task management supports multiple views, including bulleted lists, spreadsheets, and Kanban boards. Each of these views can be customized to fits your team’s process. 
  • Wiki: With Notion, you can create a dedicated space for knowledge sharing. Product information, project agenda, office policies, or company goals, you can turn any important information into Notion Wiki and invite teams to engage on it with just a click.

Other defining features: 

  • Real-time collaboration 
  • Pre-made templates
  • Strong support for integration

Notion integrates seamlessly with popular email and website tools such as Typeform, the Google Calendar app, and Google Drive. 

Platform: Web, Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows

Most suitable for: Enterprise and personal productivity

Supported methodologies: Agile, Kanban

14. nTask

A Project Management Tool that lets you do more, And it’s Free.

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

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Intuitive task manager: nTask is designed to help you organize and manage your day-to-day workflow smartly. It offers you an overview of your as well as your team’s to-do list on a task board. Now, you can collaborate, manage status, attach files, track progress, and perform other actions on a particular task straight from the task board. 
  • Timesheets: nTasks built-in time tracking module allows you to create and manage team/individual specific timesheets. You can manually update and track hours linked to a suitable task/project. You can also add task effort for each day of the week. 
  • Risk management: With nTask, you can identify, assign, and track potential project risks with ease. You can even put a Risk Mitigation Plan in place and collaborate with the team as and when required, ensuring minimal damage and timely product completion.

Other defining features: 

  • Document management
  • Third-party integrations
  • Meeting management 

Unlike many project management tools, nTask lets teams collaborate over projects and tasks using its meeting management software. Teams can set a meeting agenda, add meeting links to tasks, send personalized invites, and sync meetings to the calendar from nTask itself.

Platform: iOS and Android

Most suitable for: Anyone involved in planning, procurement, execution, or monitoring of a project.

Supported methodologies: Agile, Kanban

15. Freedcamp

The Best Project Management Tool For Effortless Collaboration

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

Unique and distinctive features:

  • On-the-go discussions:  Freedcamp facilitates teams to meet, share workspaces, and collaborate on tasks and files, even when they are not under the same roof. The tool comes packed with powerful internal and external communication features, including Instant Messaging, Public/Private Discussions, Announcements, and Polls/Surveys.
  • Taskboard: With Freedcamp, you have all your events, milestones, and tasks from all your projects organized in one place. This feature helps you get clarity on what you have to done and what you are looking forward to. Additionally, you can mark some of your tasks private, if needed. 
  • CRM: In addition to better project management and collaboration, Freedcamp also facilitates stronger, healthier customer relationships. It lets you manage your Contacts, Campaigns, and Calls in one place, thereby speeding up the process of lead generation and facilitate better customer support.

Other defining features: 

  • Project templates
  • Real-time file editing
  • Widget board
  • White label

Do you want your project management tool to reflect your brand’s identity? Freedcamp White Label feature will allow you to. Use it to add a custom URL like projects.yourcompany.com or personalize your Freedcamp account with your brand logo.

Platform: iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows

Most suitable for: Small to Medium-sized businesses

Supported methodologies: Agile, Kanban

16. ZenTao

Your Go-To Project Management Tool For Improving Work Efficiency

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

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Workflow customization: ZenTao provides 12 built-in workflows (Product, Plan, Release, Story, Project, Build, Task, Bug, Case, Request, Suite, and Feedback). Each workflow has a set of Fields and Actions that can be edited as per your workflow requirements. 
  • Office automation: ZenTao premium versions include advanced features that are not limited to just project management functions. There are features like Attendance Management, Overtime Management, Leave Management, and Leave Management that automates redundant workplace activities and let everyone focus on what matters most i.e. getting work done.
  • Developer and non-developer interface: There are two types of interfaces under ZenTao Biz, namely developer and Feedback users(non-developer users). The difference between the two is about what you can read and write in the Feedback module. These interfaces are useful for after-sales service and technical support purposes. Here’s how it works: A customer service agent can use the Feedback User setting to submit a question or query on behalf of a customer and those with the Developer User setting can reply to it or convert it to a Story/Bug.

Other defining features: 

  • Document management

ZenTao provides a built-in module for document management. All uploaded documents for a particular project can be grouped in a customized document library. Furthermore, you can preview or edit each document online. 

Platform:  Web, Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows

Most suitable for: Businesses of all sizes

Supported methodologies: Agile, SCRUM, Kanban

17. Outlook Spaces

A New Project Management Tool, A New Way To Work

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

Unique and distinctive features:

  • Seamless collaboration among Microsoft products: It should come as no surprise that Project Moca can integrate easily with other Microsoft services (OneDrive, Microsoft Outlook, OneNote, and more). For example, Its integration with Microsoft Exchange Online enables you to add and manage your Microsoft To-Do tasks directly in Project Moca Canvas. 
  • Customized content visibility: Project Moca lets you store everything in one clean space. Projects, tasks, notes, files, contacts, or emails, any information you think you may need to do your work can be put together in this one dynamic space. Moreover, each space has a canvas (similar to Microsoft Whiteboards) where you can organize information and customize your view with simple drag and drop. 

Other defining features: 

  • Drag and drop interface
  • Templates

The preview of Project Moca has five templates (Weekly, Project, School, Meal, and Personal Wellness). These templates provide the initial layout for your Project Moca canvas. You can simply select one and get started by organizing your information within the template – or you can create your canvas from scratch.

Platform: Web

Most suitable for: Small to Medium-sized businesses

Supported methodologies: Kanban

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 tools 2021

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.