The Best Project Management Software of 2020

With so many project management tools and solutions to choose from, we've compiled this free comparison guide to help you compare and identify truly the best project management software for your specific needs.

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Interactive Gantt Charts to Get Insight Into Project Scope
  • Advanced reporting to monitor progress in real time
  • Drag-and-drop interface to balance workloads and reprioritize
  • Create templates to standardize processes across the organization
Plan, Organize And Track In One Visual And Transparent Space
  • Switch between your computer and phone quickly using the app
  • Choose a template and then customize it to fit your exact workflow
  • Assign tasks, add due dates and track progress easily
Cloud-Based Platform To Plan, Automate, And Report On Work
  • No-code platform allows for complete customization
  • Deep integrations with enterprise tools and apps
  • Enhanced reporting with rich, real-time metrics
Project Management Software That is Flexible and Collaborative
  • Centralized projects to increase transparency
  • Manage digital content in a single location
  • Intelligent planning and real time reporting
Plan Your Project, Assign Work, Manage Resources And Collaborate
  • Log billable and non-billable hours with the Projects timesheet module
  • Use Gantt charts to immediately see deviations from planned progress
  • Use drag-and-drop interface to automate repetitive tasks
Centralize Notifications And Tasks To Keep On Top Of Work
  • Every project has its own schedules, chat, file storage and more
  • All inclusive price with no per user fees
  • Use dedicated tools to discuss, update, share files and more
Stay Organized From Planning, to Communication to Reporting
  • Organize information, tasks and more with lists, boards and cards
  • Prioritize Trello cards and build visual roadmaps for your team
  • Add labels to cards in order to filter for specific information
Organize All Your Team Projects And Tasks In One Place
  • Track and manage everything from day one to the deadline
  • Use templates and automation to save time and reduce errors
  • Create easy-to-fill forms to centralize work in one place
Work Together With Context, Transparency and Accountability
  • Switch between high level overviews and detailed updates
  • Measure your KPIs and learn from every project with custom reports
  • Use boards to automate your workflow and visualize tasks
Centralized, Highly Customizable Project Management System
  • Assign tasks with due dates and easily track them
  • Use visual workflows to keep the big picture in mind
  • Use @mentions to let members know something needs their attention
Enterprise Collaborative, Scalable Project Management Solution
  • Create a line of sight across the enterprise
  • Support different workstyles and hybrid methodologies
  • Purposefully collaborate with real-time information
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Wrike
4.2
Overall Score
  • Advanced reporting to monitor progress in real time
  • Drag-and-drop interface to balance workloads and reprioritize
Monday
No reviews
  • Switch between your computer and phone quickly using the app
  • Choose a template and then customize it to fit your exact workflow
Smartsheet
No reviews
  • No-code platform allows for complete customization
  • Deep integrations with enterprise tools and apps
Workfront
No reviews
  • Centralized projects to increase transparency
  • Manage digital content in a single location
Zoho Projects
No reviews
  • Log billable and non-billable hours with the Projects timesheet module
  • Use Gantt charts to immediately see deviations from planned progress
Basecamp
No reviews
  • Every project has its own schedules, chat, file storage and more
  • All inclusive price with no per user fees
Trello
No reviews
  • Organize information, tasks and more with lists, boards and cards
  • Prioritize Trello cards and build visual roadmaps for your team
Asana
4.8
Overall Score
  • Track and manage everything from day one to the deadline
  • Use templates and automation to save time and reduce errors
Teamwork
No reviews
  • Switch between high level overviews and detailed updates
  • Measure your KPIs and learn from every project with custom reports
JIRA Service Desk
5.0
Overall Score
  • Assign tasks with due dates and easily track them
  • Use visual workflows to keep the big picture in mind
Clarizen
No reviews
  • Create a line of sight across the enterprise
  • Support different workstyles and hybrid methodologies

What is Project Management Software?

Project management software is a category of tools used to track time and tasks using dashboards,

calendars, and roadmaps. It offers project managers and staffers the ability to see outstanding tasks, due dates, and which projects they belong to using tags.

Distinguish between project management software and productivity software since the two, while similar, serve different purposes. Productivity software helps individuals stay on top of their daily habits while project management software is used to track work-related tasks \in the context of a team. Some people will opt to use both together so that they can segregate their personal and professional tasks.

Project management sends reminders for each task and shows you where they fall in the grander scheme of a complex project.

Collaboration software is another category that often gets confused with project management software, but there are key differences that set them apart. Google Docs or Dropbox can be classified as collaboration software since it helps online teams edit a single document simultaneously.

However, it can’t be categorized as project management software since it doesn’t have features like task assignment or time tracking. Most of the confusion stems from the fact that the latest project management solutions have such a wide scope that encompasses multiple areas.

These software tools can be stand-alone or browser-based, freemium or subscription services with unlimited users.

Project Management Covers Every Iteration of a Project

Project management platforms aim to cover the three stages that projects go through.

Planning:

Project management software generally comes with roadmap and calendar features that will cover the timeline. The majority of platforms current out there let you assign certain people to projects so that everyone knows who is involved ahead of time.

Execution

Execution is a make-or-break period. Project management software tackles this area through the use

of smart notifications that remind collaborators of upcoming deadlines — ensuring they don’t fall behind.

Project management software also reduces execution risk and human latency by notifying certain members when one of their collaborators completes a task. This might be an editor who needs to proofread a submission or a software developer who needs to review the latest code.

Review

The final stage of a project is the review of deliverables immediately following completion. Taking

note of what was done right and what can be improved on is essential to constant growth.

Project management software can show you which tasks went over the deadline, any unforeseen setbacks that could’ve been proactively prevented, and whether or not collaborators stuck to the timeline.

How Does Project Management Software Work

When leaders micromanage their staff members they struggle to meet deadlines. On the other hand,

leaving everyone to their own devices could end with chaotic consequences.

Project management software makes it possible for managers to keep all staff members on track without dedicating a large amount of time to each individual. It helps managers strike this balance by organizing the entire team at once.

SaaS solutions ensure that time management is optimized on teamwork projects.

The software allows managers to lay out a series of tasks with their respective deadlines so that the staff members will know what to work on first. Once they complete their first task, the software moves them to the next task on the agenda.

Project Management Allows Leaders To Manage Efficiently

Online task management allows project managers from having to constantly check in on staff

members. This improves morale since desktop notifications are less pressuring to staff members in comparison to in-person follow-ups.

project management software helps mitigate the arguments that can occur between managers and staff members. These conflicts happen more often if people in a project team frequently interact in person.

Managers who can follow up on staff members and assign tasks digitally avoid conflict. This is partly due to the neutral presentation of text-based communication.

Emotions are the root cause of most quarrels, so software-centric collaboration simply takes the emotion out of work.

Collaboration, Simplified

Project management software provides collaboration features that allow small teams get everything

done without being overwhelmed. There are some employees who may be involved in multiple projects simultaneously and PM tools allow for agile project planning to keep everyone focused.

By separating tasks based on their urgency or respective client, employees will find their workload more digestible which in turn leads to higher productivity and lowers the risk of burnout.

Project Management Tools Keep Everyone on Schedule

Many project management platforms let you toggle between products on your dashboard so that only

a few tasks are visible at any one time. They can even use the calendar or timeline views to focus on tasks that are due the soonest.

It also reduces the odds of a task slipping their minds since every outstanding assignment is clearly displayed on their dashboard. It may seem simple, but having a visual representation of the remaining tasks can make staying ahead of deadlines much easier.

Most user interfaces on project management software even utilize psychological cues to ensure employees stay on schedule — such as highlighting tasks in red when they’re near the deadline or using bold text to emphasize the urgency.

Why Use Project Management Software

Project management has benefits you'll see utilized in marketing.  Plenty of marketing teams are

comprised of remote workers as this allows companies to hire the best talent available. Project management solutions make it easier for managers to handle their remote employees in an effective way through these virtual features.

Marketing requires precise coordination during every campaign to meet client expectations. Project management software will ensure that geographic obstacles don’t impede collaboration.

Communication can be a big challenge for marketing teams with members in different time zones, but features such as adding notes and requesting revisions make it possible for editors to suggest actions, go to bed, then have their writers execute the order overnight.

This applies to many marketing situations beyond writing. It could also help with website development, PPC campaigns, and a myriad of other contexts. Commenting and notes allow both managers and staff to be in sync with real-time revisions.

Organize Construction Projects

Task management software is useful for managing major construction projects. There are builders

working on different areas of the project, parts being shipped in on a regular basis, and overseers who need to keep track of what’s been completed thus far.

A project management system makes this easy since builders can simply use their phones to mark tasks as complete throughout the project. Supervisors will thus save time since they won’t have to manually check with builders to get a daily status update.

The main benefit that it brings is the ability to divide large projects into small chunks, ensuring proper planning and execution.

Manage a Tech Team

By breaking different features of an app or game down into chunks, tech companies can ensure that

developers don’t choke on a project that’s too big to grasp. Development teams will also benefit from the diverse selection of view modes.

Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and Scrum boards all have their place in the tech world depending on what type of product or feature is being developed at that particular moment. The flexible viewing options also let different developers adjust the platform to their preference.

Prioritize Customer Support

Companies can offer a customer support or help desk solution with many of the project management

solutions on the market. By offering ticket tracking and the ability to notate each entry in a project, you can serve a diverse client base in a personalized way.

Kowing which team members are working on which item ensures that every staff member knows their requirements and the dependencies of each solution. This can be done behind the scenes without customers ever knowing.

Streamline Revisions and Versioning

Project management software also makes it easy to keep tabs on progress as an app makes its way

through the development process. The ticketing system on most platforms will show completed features, scripts that are currently a work-in-progress, and how close deadlines are.

Beyond the tech industry, PM software also has applications in other areas such as eCommerce. Smaller merchants who handle the entire process themselves will find project management features like Kanban boards and timelines useful.

It can show them which orders are pending, whether or not the payment has cleared if the item has shipped out, and when’s the shipping deadline. Project management is often talked about in the context of software development or marketing, but it’s essential for products too.

Features of the Best Project Management Software

Team Collaboration

Team collaboration tools such as simultaneous editing and revision noting are cornerstones of any

project management software. Project management with team collaboration aspects also makes employees more engaged with their work.

Corporate studies have shown that an increase in teamwork results in higher engagement rates amongst employees. This is because people tend to be more active with certain projects if it’s a joint effort between them and co-workers.

The software remedies the geographic and logistical obstacles of collaboration. Project management software makes it easier for employees to collaborate thus making them more productive due to the guilt they would feel if they don’t pull their own weight.

Invoicing

Payroll can be a nightmare at times, but the invoicing capabilities of most modern project

management software can mitigate the hassle. It often ties in with time tracking features to tally billable hours.

Project management solutions that incorporate invoicing software into their feature list even have the ability to display which completed tasks remain unpaid, ensuring that agencies don’t forget to pay contractors for finished work.

Individuals also benefit from project management software with invoicing as it allows them to track the assignments on their queue and bill clients using the same platform. This leads to improved productivity and faster payment times.

Integrations

Whether it’s saving files to Google Drive or importing a Lucidchart diagram, integrations can be

extremely useful. Integrations also reduce operating costs since they allow teams to accomplish more tasks through a single platform as opposed to paying for multiple subscriptions.

Project management software that supports integrations can even reduce the manpower needed to run a team since you can have a single person manning the platform rather than multiple people each overseeing a different tool.

Software with a vast array of integrations makes it easier for business owners to gauge company performances and spot areas that need improvement since all data is centralized on a unified platform.

Task Assignment

Task assignment allows collaborators to keep track of who’s doing what. Trackers employees can see

tasks that they’re yet to complete while supervisors can monitor the productivity of those working under them.

The deadlines displayed on each task remind employees that they’re on a tight schedule to complete their assignments and thus leads to faster pacing due to the sense of urgency that the software instills.

Subtasks, checklists, and similar features let employees break their tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. It also makes it easier for teams to split the task up across multiple employees, further boosting teamwork.

Notifications

Project management software can ensure that employees don’t forget about certain tasks by notifying

them. It also reduces late submissions by removing the go-to excuse of the task “slipping their mind.”

Find a project management platform that can send these notifications through multiple platforms. Desktop notifications are handy in their own right, but mobile notifications take things to the next level by reminding employees about tasks even when they’re not in the office.

If your project management platform lets you configure when notifications are sent, set it to remind employees about their tasks in the afternoon — right after their lunch break. This will ensure that they work on the most pressing tasks as soon as they get back.

Roadmaps

A project is more likely to run smoothly when there are roadmaps highlighting every phase from

beginning to end. Project management software with roadmap features can display all tasks that need to be completed before moving onto the next stage of development.

Using project management software to generate roadmaps is much faster than doing it manually and makes it easier to revise certain aspects of the map down the line. Building the roadmap on your project management software also allows you to schedule tasks through it.

It also makes it easier to share the roadmap without having to worry about classified information leaking since you can configure viewing permissions in such a way that certain parts of the map are only visible to C-level members of the company.

Timelines

Also known as Gantt charts, timelines show both past and future tasks in chronological order, allowing

you to review what’s already been completed and anticipate the upcoming actions that need to be performed. Project portfolio management is important for any business that needs to

The length of the line used to represent the task will vary based on the corresponding duration. Gannt charts use a very visual medium to communicate the different aspects of a project to all collaborators.

This makes collaborating more convenient and explains why Gannt charts have been in use since 1910. Timelines also help teams identify which tasks are dependent on the completion of a previous task, allowing them to execute their work in an efficient order.

Workflow Automation

A lot of time is spent on menial actions like scheduling repeating tasks. It may not seem like a lot of

time, but the amount of time wasted gradually compiles — minutes make hours. Workflow automation can cut down on this wasted time while also preventing human error.

Team satisfaction also improves as more aspects of the workflow are automated since it frees employees from tedious tasks and lets them focus on creative assignments instead. This keeps morale high and ensures that the company gets the most out of every employee’s skill set.

Marketing agencies will greatly benefit from project management software that features workflow automation since they’ll be able to pay their high-end contractors less by eliminating repetitive and trivial tasks.

File Sharing

Whether it’s a writing team, marketing agency, or software studio, file sharing is paramount to seamless

collaboration. This is especially true for companies with remote workers that pass files back on forth countless times each day.

Look for project management software that offers free storage as well. All files stored on the platform should be automatically updated in real-time to avoid any miscommunications caused by collaborators looking at different versions of the same document.

Ensure that the project management software you choose has strong encryption to ensure that files being shared aren’t phished by hackers, competitors, or anyone else with malicious intent. Vulnerability is the tradeoff that comes with convenience.

Mobile Applications

Find project management software that has mobile apps for Android and iOS (that sync to the desktop

version) so that collaborators can complete their tasks while on the go. Since employees can work even when not physically in the office, you’ll see faster turnaround times.

Mobile applications also let team members schedule tasks while they’re out. This ensures that crucial information can be saved on the platform without it slipping their mind before they get back into the office.

It even makes it easier to update the agenda on the project management software during meetings since every collaborator can schedule new tasks, edit existing ones, and take notes with just a few taps.

Time Tracking

Many online employees are paid by the hour which is why most project management software has

time tracking capabilities. This makes it easy to pay for the amount of time worked. It also lets you see how much you owe contractors which can help you keep things within the budget.

Managers failing to keep track of how much money is currently owed to freelancers is a leading cause behind projects going over their allocated budget. Time tracking software also ensures that contractors don’t exaggerate the amount of time they spent on a project.

This is in contrast to spreadsheets where they are given full liberty to declare their billable hours or punch card systems that are vulnerable to “buddy punching.” In fact, only 10% of businesses surveyed still use punch cards.

Resource Allocation

Whether it’s people, time, materials, equipment, or funding, knowing where all your resources are

going is the key to keeping a project on track. Some platforms even let you predict future needs and generate projections, making it easier to plan for upcoming projects.

Project management software with resource allocation features also let you identify any potential constraints so that you can find a workaround ahead of time. If the software shows you that you don’t have enough writers for the upcoming campaign then you can outsource.

The difference is that, by knowing there’s a need to outsource some of the workload weeks or months in advance, you’ll have the necessary time to find the right contractors and get a fair price for the tasks that need to be done. With the ability to create detailed task lists, time sheets, and automate notifications, work management has never been easier.

Document Management

Version control is an essential part of document management. Reverting to a previous version can be a

life-saver if clients aren’t happy with the latest changes. Marketing agencies and other businesses with a heavy reliance on digital collaboration tend to amass documents.

It can be hard to sort all these files without a project management software that incorporates document management. The ability to separate files into neat folders and tag them based on the project that they’re tied to will make it easier to sift through the archives when necessary.

Storing and managing documents through your project management software is also more secure than keeping all files saved on a local server as it reduces the odds of corporate espionage by having the data offsite.

Important Considerations When Buying Project Management Software

There are quite a few things to consider before you select a project management software for your business including scale, efficiency, and features.

Scale

If you’re trying to find a solution for a national company that has hundreds of employees then you’ll

need to get an enterprise plan to accommodate the scale.

There are also certain project management solutions that offer tiered pricing meaning the per-user cost drops as you add more members to your team.

Conversely, small businesses that only need a few people to collaborate using the project management software can get away with using free plans since they’ll likely fall well under the user limit. It all comes down to how big your expectations and budget are.

Efficiency

The main goal of integrating project management software is to manage time more efficiently and

boost the productivity of employees. You should ensure that the platform you choose features a user-friendly design.

If the design is unintuitive new users will have to gradually get the hang of things, possibly even needing to go through formal training just to use the program effectively.

Steep learning curves can sometimes make a project management software more trouble than it’s worth so definitely do your research before shelling out cash on a particular program. Project management software becomes useless the moment it wastes more time than it saves.

The features it contains should also be diverse enough to ensure that projects of all nature can be covered on the platform. If the software you’re currently using is focused solely on a single niche then you’ll have to switch between platforms from one project to the next.

Features

If you run a content marketing agency then features such as collaborative editing, revisions, and task

calendars will be paramount to getting the most bang for your buck with the software. In the same way, development companies will greatly benefit from roadmaps for their upcoming apps.

Any company that has a large number of hourly contractors should ensure that their project management software has time tracking capabilities so that they can keep track of how much they owe their team without having to use additional applications.

Beyond the base features that a project management software offers, you should also take note of what integrations the platform supports as that could come into play later down the line when your company needs to use a particular application.

Lastly, you should ponder whether you want on-premise deployment or a cloud-based solution — with the former being installed onto local servers while the latter is accessed through a web browser and hosted by the company providing the software. Online project management software allows teams to access data for an entire project without having to download software tools.

While on-premise deployment may seem cheaper than cloud-based solutions at first glance, it’s important to note that the various costs for management and maintenance may lead to you spending more than anticipated. Browser-based tools often offer a free version to allow teams to manage a simple project before committing to a final project management application.

Emerging Trends in Project Management Software

AI and Chatbots

Chatbots have revolutionized the project management landscape and turned everything we knew

about this type of software on its head.

Chatbots are the futuristic equivalent of a virtual assistant since they can help you schedule tasks and perform various actions across your project management software just by typing a few lines of text.

Resource management, in particular, could greatly benefit from the implementation of AI since it will not only be able to predict future needs but also make suggestions on how to get around any obstacles.

It can also identify negative trends such as certain departments that are using a disproportionate amount of resources. These trends may be too subtle for humans to initially pick up on, but AI will be able to spot it much sooner.

Social Collaboration Tools

Social collaboration tools have become an increasingly important part of project management

software in recent years due to the value they provide. Everything from instant messaging to scheduling and even building teams can be accomplished with social collaboration tools.

Various unique features such as wikis, forums, user profiles, and personal timelines make it easier for everyone to stay on the same page while collaborating. Think of it as an intranet that keeps employees connected with one another.

These social features also make it easier for employees to share ideas and give input on each other’s suggestions. This leads to constant brainstorming and refining of processes that will make the team as a whole more efficient.

By giving a boost to the free flow of ideas and communication in general, social collaboration tools will improve the execution of any tasks that are scheduled on your project management platform of choice.

Remote Teams

Due to the increasing number of people who now work remotely, project management software has

needed to implement features that will make online collaboration feel as intuitive, natural, and stress-free as in-person cooperation.

Features like group editing, cross-platform compatibility, and multilingual dashboards are a clear reflection of the influence that the rise of remote teams has had on project management software.

While these features were brought upon by the trend of remote workers, they also help in-office teams collaborate by offering a higher level of versatile function that accommodates a more diverse range of needs.

Data-Centric Focus

Project management has always been heavily reliant on data, but recent advancements in technology

have made it easier than ever to get a bird’s eye view of information.

Whether it’s customizable reports or extremely detailed analytics, software developers are competing to release project management solutions that provide the most useful information to its users.

Expanding Scopes

With every passing year bar none, project management software has covered more areas of business.

What started as a tool to assign tasks online grew in functionality — providing invoicing, file storage, and resource allocation.

This trend of inclusiveness makes it harder for developers since more solutions are in direct competition with each other, but it’s great for companies since they can use one platform for all their needs rather than having to rely on a long list of separate project management apps.

and which projects they belong to using tags.

Distinguish between project management software and productivity software since the two, while similar, serve different purposes. Productivity software helps individuals stay on top of their daily habits while project management software is used to track work-related tasks \in the context of a team. Some people will opt to use both together so that they can segregate their personal and professional tasks.

Project management sends reminders for each task and shows you where they fall in the grander scheme of the project.

Collaboration software is another category that often gets confused with project management software, but there are key differences that set them apart. Google Docs can be classified as collaboration software since it helps online teams edit a single document simultaneously.

However, it can’t be categorized as project management software since it doesn’t have features like task assignment or time tracking. Most of the confusion stems from the fact that the latest project management solutions have such a wide scope that encompasses multiple areas.

Top 5 Solutions

Smartsheet

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