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Last modified date

Jan 24, 2024

13 Best Project Management Software & Tools for 2024

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Andrei Țiț

Blog average read time

42 min

Last modified date

January 24, 2024


You have come to the right place if you’re looking for project management software. You’ll save hours of research by reading this guide, as I’ve already tested and compared all of these online project management software and tools. Project management software will help you plan projects, assign tasks, track your work time, monitor progress, and ensure the project is done on time and within budget.

Project management software has come a long way in the last few years. I thought it was about time for a detailed review of the modern software and tools designed to support how you plan, track, and monitor your projects.

I scoured the market to come up with the top tools used in project management. These products scale with you, let your team manage their projects how they want to, and have a user experience that isn’t horrible, especially if you’re working remotely.

Most of the tools that made this list are suited for small and medium businesses, and there are trade-offs here and there.

Before you read on, put together a list of your top needs. Then, go through all the options to pick your top 3 to run for a trial based on your requirements (most offer a free trial), budget, team type, and pain points you want to solve.

Here you will find a compact spreadsheet to help you choose a solution more easily. Make a copy, add your notes and insights, and return to it whenever needed.

Remember that I only focused my research on tools with complete project management features, especially those offering solid planning and tracking tools. I left aside software used solely for time tracking, task management, human resources, file management, or accounting. Sometimes, these market themselves as project management software but are insufficient compared to established PM tools.

Top project management software and tools

After conducting an in-depth review of the most used project management software, here’s my pick of the top 13 best project management software. These are the first options you should consider due to their winning combo of features, usability, and reliability, along with overwhelmingly positive reviews from their users as posted on review sites like G2, Capterra, GetApp, Trustradius, SoftwareAdvice, or Crozdesk.

  1. Paymo – the best project management software with time tracking and invoicing features
  2. Asana – a good project management software for non-technical teams
  3. Monday – the go-to project management software boasting a highly visual collaborative experience
  4. Teamwork – one of the most exhaustive project management software on the market
  5. ProjectManager – a complex PM software geared towards business excellence
  6. Wrike – a heavy project management tool for creative teams with proofing features
  7. Airtable – project management software for those who like to work with tables and custom fields
  8. Basecamp – a tool that removes the need for intermediary communication software
  9. Smartsheet – a PM software for those who like Excel-style project management
  10. Zoho Projects – project management software for huge companies and enterprises
  11. Freedcamp – the cheapest project management software, suitable for freelancers
  12. ActiveCollab – project management software that does a little bit of everything
  13. Podio – a PM software with CRM features, better suited for teams with multiple clients

1. Paymo

the best project management software with time tracking and invoicing

Pricing: Average

89

of 100

Pros
pros-image

task management

pros-image

native time tracking features, both automatic and manual

pros-image

comprehensive set of project management features, e.g., Gantt charts, resource scheduling

pros-image

project profitability

pros-image

invoicing and expense management

Cons
cons-image

some PM features may lack some personalization

cons-image

the dashboard looks outdated

cons-image

some users want the ability to import data from other systems

2. Asana

a good project management software for non-technical teams

Pricing: Average

88

of 100

Pros
pros-image

a collaboration-focused tool

pros-image

robust task management tools

pros-image

strong on visualization, e.g., Timelines, Portfolios, and unicorns for completed tasks

pros-image

integrations with most PM-related apps

Cons
cons-image

some users find the interface crowded

cons-image

lack of reporting

cons-image

no invoicing, billing, or financial widgets

cons-image

assignee limitation at a task level

3. Monday.com

the go-to PM tool boasting a highly visual collaborative experience

Pricing: High

85

of 100

Pros
pros-image

visual and colorful interface that users find intuitive and fun

pros-image

advanced project management features

pros-image

flat task structure that is easy to navigate

pros-image

customizable building blocks for transparent workflows

Cons
cons-image

difficult to track time and expenses

cons-image

limited task dependencies

cons-image

costly and inflexible pricing system

cons-image

lackluster and glitchy time tracking feature

4. Teamwork

one of the most exhaustive project management software on the market

Pricing: Average

82

of 100

Pros
pros-image

strong project management features, e.g., time tracking, budgeting, and resource allocation

pros-image

neat and unified file and task organization

pros-image

file versioning, multi-user assignment for tasks, bulk edit

pros-image

helpful notifications and customization

Cons
cons-image

little room for personalization

cons-image

frequent glitches, login problems, and downtime

cons-image

steep learning curve

5. ProjectManager

a complex PM software geared towards business excellence

Pricing: High

81

of 100

Pros
pros-image

multiple project views (Gantt charts, Kanban, List, Sheet, Calendar)

pros-image

powerful Gantt chart with task dependencies, filter for critical path, and baseline setting

pros-image

time and cost tracking with real-time dashboards, customizable reports, and secure timesheets

pros-image

cloud-based for better team collaboration and notifications

pros-image

workflow automation and task approval settings for quality control

Cons
cons-image

limited customization

cons-image

more features with higher tier subscription

cons-image

tags could be more customizable by color

6. Wrike

a heavy PM tool for creative teams with proofing features

Pricing: High

80

of 100

Pros
pros-image

advanced project management features like Gantt charts

pros-image

custom dashboards

pros-image

time tracking

pros-image

robust proofing feature

Cons
cons-image

complex and unintuitive interface for first-time users

cons-image

it lacks financial indicators, invoicing, budgeting, or billing features

cons-image

notifications can be repetitive and overwhelming

cons-image

very expensive compared to competitors

7. Airtable

project management software for those who like tables & custom fields

Pricing: High

79

of 100

Pros
pros-image

a wide array of templates for project management use cases

pros-image

advanced databases for users to connect tables and collaborate on items

pros-image

import feature to bring external data into Airtable

pros-image

visually appealing interface

Cons
cons-image

steep learning curve since it’s different from standard spreadsheets

cons-image

weak reporting features

cons-image

limited automation capabilities

cons-image

can be glitchy and confusing for new users

8. Basecamp

a tool that removes the need for intermediary communication software

Pricing: High

78

of 100

Pros
pros-image

basic task management

pros-image

improved communication features, e.g., Campfire chat room, Pings, Discussion boards, etc.

pros-image

notifications can be muted with ‘Focus Mode’

Cons
cons-image

lacks advanced project management features

cons-image

no invoicing, budgeting, or financial indicators

cons-image

little to no workflow customization

9. Smartsheet

a PM software for those who like Excel-style project management

Pricing: High

76

of 100

Pros
pros-image

aimed at enterprises and large organizations

pros-image

automated workflows

pros-image

great for Excel fans as it comes with its own formulas

pros-image

backup feature

Cons
cons-image

one of the most challenging tools for non-Excel users

cons-image

unfriendly user interface causing it to be overwhelming for new users

cons-image

steep learning curve

cons-image

it has frequent glitches, login problems, and downtime

cons-image

limited reporting features

10. Zoho Projects

project management software for huge companies and enterprises

Pricing: Low

75

of 100

Pros
pros-image

seamless integration with its sibling tools, e.g., Zoho CRM and Zoho People

pros-image

robust task management features

pros-image

handy chat feature

Cons
cons-image

a not-so-friendly user interface

cons-image

it lacks specialized features, e.g., file versioning, issue tracker, proofing

cons-image

a steep learning curve

cons-image

unresponsive and slow load times

cons-image

it has hidden fees

11. Freedcamp

the cheapest project management software, suitable for freelancers

Pricing: Low

75

of 100

Pros
pros-image

low-cost project management tools

pros-image

unlimited tasks, projects, and storage for all plans

Cons
cons-image

it lacks robust project management features

cons-image

no onboarding materials

cons-image

clunky and slow to load

cons-image

it lacks integrations with popular communication tools like Slack

12. ActiveCollab

a project management software that does a little bit of everything

Pricing: Low

74

of 100

Pros
pros-image

strong task management features, e.g., Kanban boards and Gantt charts

pros-image

user-friendly interface

pros-image

easy import from Basecamp and MS Project

Cons
cons-image

lacks specialized PM features, e.g., file versioning, proofing, issue tracker

cons-image

no dashboard for project overviews

cons-image

its overall design is lacking, both from a UX and architecture point of view

cons-image

has hidden fees

13. Podio

a PM software with CRM features suited for teams with multiple clients

Pricing: Average

71

of 100

Pros
pros-image

a CRM tool with project management features

pros-image

best for teams juggling multiple clients and databases

pros-image

customizable workflows

Cons
cons-image

unfriendly user experience and unappealing interface

cons-image

slow loading times

cons-image

steep learning curve for newcomers

cons-image

lacks good customer support

How to choose the best project management software

If you own a small project-based business, you know by now that it’s almost impossible to manage projects with only pen & paper or spreadsheets – if you can, feel free to share your methodology with us.

It could work for a bare, simple project or in some isolated cases.

Still, as soon as the project gets complicated and several people are involved, you’ll need software or a combination of several apps—keep reading to see why.

An important caveat – no matter how hard you try, you won’t find the “perfect” solution. You have to get used to making compromises, waiting for missing features to be implemented, or negotiating a better price for your subscription. You must balance what you need with what’s offered and decide wisely.

Also, choosing the right PM software takes work. That’s why many companies or individuals use apps they don’t find helpful and have to replace them after a few months or weeks. In this article, though, I’ll show how you can greatly simplify this process.

1. Assess your workflows and processes

If you’re looking for a (new) project management software, it means that perhaps you’re not satisfied with your workflows and processes. Chances are, your company might be transitioning from one project management methodology to another, like Waterfall to Agile.

If so, there will be changes in how teams and tasks are structured and tracked and how project success is measured. You’ll have to assess the following:

  • How efficient is the communication? What communication channels are employed for collaborative work, urgent notifications, etc.?
  • How are project tasks broken down and assigned to team members?
  • How are metrics and KPIs tracked and measured?
  • How is time/work measured? Is it through a traditional clock-in-and-out or task-based time tracking?
  • How do you manage budgets, expenses, and invoices?

Think about the quality and nature of your projects. What projects are you dealing with? Are they short-term simple projects or more complex long-term ones? How many people, on average, take part? Where are the most common bottlenecks? What is the average timeline?

The complexity of your projects is essential because, most of the time, it’s correlated with the complexity of the software you will use. And trust me, it’s very frustrating to use complex software for simple projects or vice versa.

If your company is already making organizational changes, you might as well propose the implementation of a project management software that reflects more streamlined processes.

2. Create a list of problems and needs

You’ll probe the ground for starters by answering the questions mentioned above.

Next, start a brainstorming session with your team and jot down all your tool-related problems and needs. Group them and have your team vote on the severity of the issues:

  • Lack of communication leading to misunderstandings and delays. Disparate communication channels. Too many or untimely notifications.
  • Cost overruns due to poor cost management.
  • Multitasking too many tasks and too much information leading to confusion and decreased productivity.
  • Poor file management leading to lost or misplaced project files and documents.
  • Lack of accountability, with no clear roles or responsibilities, makes team members wary of taking ownership of their tasks or unaware of project objectives and deadlines.
  • Scope creep due to frequent changes in project scope—either due to goal misalignment or lack of clear direction.

After you list everything you can think of, sort them by importance and pain points (do not miss this step!).

Pro Tip: Try the Fishbone technique or the Five Whys method for more granularity in arriving at the root cause of a problem.

3. “Translate” problems and needs into features

The next logical step is considering the features that will solve the problems and meet your needs. You can’t solve all the problems with software (e.g., a stubborn employee), so make sure you drop those off first (and think about other solutions).

You now have the list of features. Depending on the problems they solve, they fall into these categories: mandatory, good to have, and nice-to-have/bonuses (that might be useful at some point). Your team might need a robust time-tracking module, timesheets, and invoicing first and foremost, and team scheduling would be a nice-to-have feature. Make sure the software you want is accessible on various platforms. Many users like to review Mac and Windows project management and invoicing software and ensure no product differences.

Speaking of which, you don’t need experience in accounting to create your invoice. Opt for an invoice builder if you’re a freelancer and need a simple invoice generator.

So, after the brainstorming session and the voting time, list them on a whiteboard or a spreadsheet and tally the votes. This is what a list could look like:

This simple problem-feature table helps you map out some of your problems, but knowledge is power. You need to know that there is a feature-driven solution to your issue. For example, we mapped out user pain points around task management:

4. Create a list of a dozen popular project management software

The feature list is ready, so you must now look for project management apps. The good news is that there are hundreds of apps out there. The bad news is that you must sort them out and develop a list.

There are directories where you can find lists of PM software, such as Capterra, G2, Software for PM, etc.

Take them individually (sort them by popularity/number of reviews), check the features pages, and see which one could fit. Stay away from obscure apps and the ones that have many negative reviews.

Or, better yet, use the list of tools and software we reviewed in the first part of this article.

When you find a tool you like, book a demo or send them an e-mail with the features you expressly need.

Hello,
My name is [X], and I’m looking for a project management app for my company [Y]. In my search, I came across your product, [Z]. I’ve attached a document that lists our needed features and their importance. Please let me know if your product accommodates our needs, and if so, we would like to demo your product.
Regards,
X

5. Narrow down and start testing

After you get responses from at least 20 companies, compare the results and pick 4-5 “winners.”

If direct communication with the sales or marketing team is too much hassle, simply pick 4-5 tools from review lists. The best tools are ranked in the top 10 in various publications.

Anyway, these are the apps that could be your best fit.

The “availability” of a feature comes in 3 shapes: native, integration, and workaround. Native is best, and the “workaround” should be the last resort (usually, it implies additional steps to get the job done).

And now, the fun part begins! Most of these apps offer a free trial, so it’s time to get your hands dirty and see their capabilities.

*If an app on your list doesn’t offer a free trial, it’s up to you to decide whether to replace it with the next one on your list or pay for it during the testing period.

While the trial period differs from app to app (from 10 to 30 days or even more), I advise limiting the testing to the shortest trial period offered. This is good because it helps you stay focused and get a result faster without asking for trial extensions.

The best practice is to test all the apps with the same project simultaneously. It can’t be an actual project because you don’t have the time to complete it, but you can emulate one and put it on fast-forward. Even if it’s not easy, it has many benefits. First, you and those involved in the project can compare the apps in parallel, test the speed with less or more data, check usability, the level of support you receive, etc.

Create a spreadsheet, share it with everyone using the app, and encourage them to leave feedback. Picking the “winner” together with your team is much better than choosing it yourself.

What about the pricing?

There has to be a balance between the app of your liking and pricing. Bear in mind your budget, set on the idea that you’ll have to pay yearly subscriptions to get discounted prices. Also, you need to be aware of the hidden costs of extra seats. Hopefully, that won’t be the case with the product of your choice.

But what if you’re out of time?

If this is the case, stop. Postpone the research. You shouldn’t choose an app only to get rid of it in 3-4 months and go back to base #1. However, if this is an urgent task that can no longer be postponed, check out a comparison chart like this one from Unito. This allows you to filter top project management apps by feature and pricing, depending on your team size, workflow, and most essential features.

Note: If you plan on honing your project management skills and qualifications, check out a roadmap and examples of how to be a project manager.

Key takeaways

Here are seven things you need to consider when choosing any project management tool:

  • Features. Top of the list for your decision-making should be the features. Start from the list with your team’s needs and match all these to what the tool offers. Think about what they need to do their work, what would be nice to have, and what is extra. In other words, if you’re saying yes to a feature, you are saying no to other possibilities.
  • Cost. What are you paying for? Many products charge more for additional users, so you’ll need to consider how many people will be logging into the app once you’ve rolled it out to the whole team. Look for transparency around the pricing, especially if you have to sign up for a minimum number of users. Also, consider any initial setup costs and your internal costs — would you need to invest in onboarding new team members, transferring your existing project documentation and schedules, or training the team?
  • Support. However good your team is at picking up new tools, you must tap into the support network at some point. How can you access support for the product? How do customers rate the support? If hands-on support is essential to you, consider the vendor’s opening hours, the language in which support is available, and whether you can have a dedicated customer success or account manager. This level of support might only be available with the more expensive plans, so weigh what’s on offer with what you think your project team will need and what you are prepared to commit to financially.
  • Speed. No one likes waiting around for laggy software. Whatever product you’re going for, test out the speed with as much data as possible to simulate real-life projects as closely as possible. You should be able to do this during the trial period, as most tools offer at least 14 days of a free trial.
  • Reviews. Read what other people say about these tools. Look for recent reviews on independent platforms like Capterra, G2, SoftwareforPM, and Software Advice. Pay special attention to people who have reviewed the product and work in the same industry or have similar workflows and business models to your organization.
  • Awards. The best products win awards! Look through the project management software’s website and see what accolades they have picked up over the years.
  • Customization. Inevitably, not all tools will fully suit your needs in terms of functionality or even design. But some offer you the possibility of adding integrations, hiding or reordering feature options according to how often they’re used, and even creating personalized branding for workspaces. As a heads-up, many people prefer a PM tool that listens to their users’ feature suggestions, so be on the lookout for this when you’re reading the reviews.

The benefits of using online project management software

You might have a general idea of how these solutions work, but if you’re not using project management software yet, it’s time to consider how it could help your business. Here are the top advantages of project management software:

  • Organize your project activities. Practical work on multiple projects without structured task lists just can’t be done correctly. To save the day, most project management software provide advanced task management features to let you sort, prioritize, and monitor every task so none are ignored or misplaced in the project development process.
  • Track your progress. Most of these online tools help you automatically create reports for all tasks to monitor the team’s progress, find potential issues and challenges, and send updates to any of your stakeholders.
  • Get a visual look at your project workflow. While to-do lists are more challenging to monitor, specific project management systems offer access to Kanban boards or more complex views (Table, Calendar, Timeline/Gantt, etc.) The Kanban is a method for you to arrange and see all tasks at a glance through your workflow stages of choice.
  • Collaborate effectively. The most significant benefit that is undoubtedly needed for all features to work together is strong collaboration through several projects and duties, from sharing files to leaving feedback on someone’s work so the project can run smoothly and without delays.
  • Maintain balanced team schedules. In this guide, we’ve put a lot of emphasis on having a resource scheduler because it’s that one feature you must have to get better visibility of your employees’ schedules. The scheduler gives you a quick look at all schedules so you will know who is overbooked or underbooked and keep workloads in proportion. Please read this article to understand employee time-tracking software and its benefits better.
  • Know where your time is going. Even a simple web timer can help you become more accountable. Do you want to know how to increase productivity with less hustling? Pair this with timesheets and time reports to grasp your efforts and give accurate time estimates. Plenty of timesheet software you can choose from—we’ve narrowed the list to the top 6 for 2023.

What to do next

And… that’s it, congratulations! You made it through my in-depth tour of the top 13 modern project management software and tools.

Ultimately, choosing a project management software is a uniquely personal experience. The right tool will best meet your business requirements, deliver what you need to complete your work, and be accessible to everyone on your team.

Maybe you work in a niche industry, so your project management solution catering to the needs of architects, for example, is more important than getting the hottest PM tool on the market that’s generic. Personalization is good for your business. For example, project management software and tools designed with engineers in mind should offer documentation and budget management on top of task management. Also, invoicing, cost estimation, and time management features are useful for knowledge workers and are used by consultants and similar industries.

Plus, it’s essential to know what project management methodologies you adhere to and the projects you take on.

I recommend using this deep dive list to create your shortlist of products that serve your purposes and sign up for a few free trials to test them out. You’ll find two or three that make you feel like you’ve found the proper workspace you want to investigate further.

Choosing a project planning tool is a big decision for a team. I hope this article will help you choose wisely, and if you find it useful, share it with your friends and teammates.

Andrei Țiț

Author

Andrei Țiț is a product marketer at Ahrefs. He has been involved in product marketing at various SaaS companies for over six years, specializing in content marketing and short-form video. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and traveling.

Laurențiu Bancu

Editor

Laurențiu started his marketing journey over 18 years ago and now leads a marketing team. He has extensive experience in work and project management, and content strategy. When not working, he’s probably playing board games or binge-watching mini-series.

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