14 Best Project Management Tools — Pros and Cons
Everyone has different ways of getting work done, and every manager needs a way to hit their deadlines, track the time their employees spent working on tasks, and collaborate with their team. And luckily, there are literally hundreds of online programs that do just that.
Which one is right for you?
Well there’s no right answer; some like to keep it simple, with just a standard task and workflow system, while others add features like chatting, calendar syncing, and workflow management.
But what really is right depends more on a matter of work type and personal preference, and you need to do a bit of research and find out what will be the best fit. Luckily for you we’ve already done the research, and we took into account our own experience of managing two IT companies, thousands of Capterra reviews, as well as helpful case studies highlighting the most useful project management features.
Let’s take a closer look at what we found:
Editor’s Note: Originally published in April 2017, this post has been rewritten to focus on the best project management tools today, with fresh descriptions and updated details.
|*Rating is taken from Capterra|
Well Known Project Management Tools
|Name (link)||Focus||For Whom||Price||Rating|
|Asana||Focus on quick task tracking & communication||For the CEO and the product manager||Free for up to 15 members; $9.99 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
|Trello||Kanban boards and visual planning||Individual team members, best for collaborative brainstorming||Free or $12.50 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
|Basecamp||Focus on handling small projects and remote teams||Businesses with small, repeatable projects, everyday users||$99 /month, flat;||4 / 5|
|TeamWork||Focus on communication and collaboration on tasks||Project and task management for more experienced users||Free for up to 5 members; $11.25 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
|Podio||More of a platform to create and manage structured records||For large teams of experienced users||Free for up to 5 members; $9 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
|Wrike||Focusing on getting you out of all your other apps||Small to medium-size teams with task-based objectives||Free for up to 5 members; $9.80 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
Less Famous, But Worth Checking
|Clubhouse||Trello on steroids for software projects, great pace of development||Sits close to Trello, but more for agile development teams||$10.00 / month||4.5 / 5|
|Flow||Prettier, more intuitive version of Asana and imminently more usable||Project management for visual managers||$7.50 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
|Redbooth||Focused on quick task tracking and collaboration tools||Managing workloads and task management||$12.00 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
|ActiveCollab||Simple tasks that require collaboration||Task and project management for small teams||$7.00 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
|Taiga||Open source program for programmers to track dev tasks||Project management for experienced software developers||Free for up to 3 members; $5.00 /month user;||4 / 5|
Specifically For Software Development
|JIRA||Great for software task management||Software developers, managers||$7.00 /month user avg. price;||4.5 / 5|
|Pivotal Tracker||Purely focused on the Scrum agile methodology||Middle ground between JIRA and Trello, very opinionated in workflow||Free for up to 3 members; $12.50 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
|Targetprocess||Strong focus on information visualisation||Software developers, recruiters, educators||$20.00 /month user;||4.5 / 5|
Asana is a web-based software tool used to help with team collaboration. It’s main benefit is that it allows users to manage tasks or projects online without having to use email.
Each team is given a workspace, and within that workspace are specific tasks. Under each task, users and team members can follow the projects they need to so that if anything changes, followers of that particular project with get updates or changes sent to them automatically.
Tasks tracking is implemented marvelously there. The ability to enter/modify tasks at the speed of thought helps get thoughts down before focus is lost.
Asana also allows companies to use the product at enterprise scale.
Key Features of Asana 👍
- Extremely Customizable: Between workspaces, projects, sections, tasks, and subtasks organization is a breeze.
- Set Recurring Tasks: Easily set recurring tasks for things that need to be completed more than once.
- Limit Emails: Cuts down on the amount of emails and messages needed to discuss project or task details.
- Calendar Sync: An easy-to-access calendar synced with all of your tasks so you never lose track of what needs to be done.
Cons of Asana 🤔
- No Multi-Person Tasks: Unfortunately you cannot assign multiple people to the same task with Asana.
- UI Delays: With so many tasks and documents in the same place sometimes the UI can get a bit slow
- Heavily Text-Based: Since the program is heavily text based, it’s easy to accidentally break structure, remove a task, or change its naming.
- No Time Tracking & Estimate Functionality: There is no way to track time with Asana unfortunately. However this can be remedied with the Everhour add-on, which integrates seamlessly, giving you the ability to track hours and estimate the duration of tasks (see in action below).
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Trello is another popular software tool for office collaboration, and it’s an efficient one too as it makes use of the Kanban paradigm, first popularized by Toyota back in the 1980s for supply chain management.
All projects within Trello are represented by “boards,” which contain lists and cards that allow you to drag and drop and progress from one task to the next, mirroring the flow of a feature from idea to execution.
Users can then be assigned cards that contain their tasks or projects, and these cards can be moved, updated, and even be used for communication about a specific task. Cards hold comments, attachments, checklists, and even due dates that sync automatically with the calendar.
It’s pretty simple methodology, but it sure has gotten a lot of companies to switch over to Trello.
Key Features of Trello 👍
- Visual Progress: The easy-to-navigate boards make it feel like you always have everything you need sitting right in front of you.
- Simple Access: Invite outside members, create closed boards, or add public boards.
- Horizontal: This “horizontal” tool is multi-purposed, meaning you can handle everything with it;
- Task Calendar: All of your tasks can be set with a due date, and once set all tasks sync with your calendar for each board.
- Seamless Integration: Paying users can integrate with Slack, GitHub and Salesforce.
Cons of Trello 🤔
- Crowded: While items can be organized into specific tasks and cards, once a board collects a large number of cards the board can easily get crowded and cluttered.
- No Time Tracking & Estimate Functionality: Unfortunately Trello does not have time tracking capabilities either. Check Everhour as the most native integration.
- No Overview: There’s no way to add a project overview or any sub-task functionality.
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Basecamp is a great project management tool for handling small projects very well, and its simplicity makes organizing and finishing projects a breeze.
Within Basecamp are several different tools, including a message board, chat room, schedule & calendar, docs & files library, and even one for check-ins.
With Basecamp it’s all about efficiency and communication, as its combination of tools gives businesses and their employees everything they need to collaborate and get the job done, which also makes it a great tool for remote employees.
It is more about team communication in Basecamp, rather than just task tracking as Asana or Trello.
Key Features of Basecamp 👍
- Simple Interface: Basecamp built it’s reputation on its simplicity, and the user interface is exactly that — simple.
- Quick Setup: The setup to get everything going on Basecamp is as simple as can be and the support is excellent if there is any trouble along the way.
- Communication: With Basecamp it’s easy to maintain communication with employees, clients, or any other contact.
- Automatic Check-ins: Automatic check-ins help you keep track of who is working on what and when.
Cons of Basecamp 🤔
- No Time Tracking or Reporting: There is no way track time or any reporting features, but Basecamp does integrate easily with Everhour, so time can be tracked, any reports you need can be compiled, and even professional invoices can be created.
- Cluttered: The organization of the documents and attachments can become a bit cluttered and sometimes finding what you’re looking for can be difficult.
- No Tags: Unfortunately Basecamp also does not have the capability to use tags.
- Too Much Simplicity: Now of course in most situations simplicity is great, but not when it leaves out other basic features that the majority of other project management tools have.
Track Time Directly inside Your Basecamp Interface
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TeamWork projects is a very user-friendly project management tool that’s easy to use and has a nice eye-catching design. It is similar to Basecamp but with more features.
In addition to the built-in analytic tools, TeamWork gives users collaboration tools that you won’t find anywhere else, including sending messages and shareable notes, the ability to give tasks priorities, assign tags, create milestones and invoices.
TeamWork also integrates with your email, and not just normal integration, you can actually create and assign tasks via email.
With TeamWork, it’s more about managing everything, not just tasks like with Asana or Trello.
Key Features of TeamWork 👍
- Tons of Features: Time tracking, Gantt charts, sub tasks, reports, etc.
- Easy Integration: Communicate and even send tasks via email. Also integrates with Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, and iCal.
- Robust Document Management: Document management systems link with NTFS, FTP, SVN, SV3, Dropbox, Google Drive.
- Mobility: A mobile application is available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones, giving users access from anywhere with internet access.
Shortcomings of TeamWork 🤔
- Tedious: Sure there are a lot of features, but some are not the best quality when it comes to functionality and it can be tedious to get to where you need to be.
- A bit Overwhelming: may require a learning curve;
- Inability to Import Tasks: While this isn’t a dealbreaker for a lot of users, the inability to import a large number of tasks and that fact they all have to be entered manually can be very time consuming.
Podio is a web-based project management tool which is completely customizable to suit your project needs.
Organizations can have different workspaces for different departments, or one workspace for the entire organization depending on preference. Within the workspace, different tools and apps provide direction and user flow, and within these apps are multiple items that provide details on each individual contact or project.
These items can then be broken down into a checklist, or different tasks, and can then be assigned to selected employees to complete.
What makes Podio different is that Podio is used to build custom business Apps. For example, you can create a Projects App and a Tasks App and connect them to each other. Or create your own CRM workspace.
Key Features of Podio 👍
- Communication Tools: Instant messaging and video chat give users the outlets they need to quickly and efficiently communicate about projects and tasks.
- Smart Tracking: Automated progress reporting and calculations provide an insight to your operational efficiency.
- Complete Compatibility: Android, iPhone and iPad Apps are available so you can access it no matter where you are.
Shortcomings of Podio 🤔
- Can be Confusing: The program is very robust, but with increased functionality comes hard usability, and Podio can be a little tough to get the hang of.
- No Time Tracking Functionality: Just like most other project management tools out there, Podio doesn’t have a time tracking feature.
Wrike is one of the few project management tools that’s embracing email as others are trying to limit the amount of emails sent, and the software centralizes around individual tasks.
Both collaboration and file sharing take place at the task level, and each task can essentially be looked at as a mini project.
Wrike also keeps all users in the loop at all times with customized desktop notifications, so if anything is updated, changed, or added to a task, all users within that task get a notification. It also integrates with your email and makes it incredibly easy to tag or email other users about a task or project.
And chances are that if it works for the Hootsuite marketing team, it’ll probably work for you too.
Key Features of Wrike 👍
- Easy Collaboration: Through the use of tasks, collaboration amongst teammates is effortless as everyone is notified of every project detail.
- Seamless Integration: It can integrate with your email and allows you to quickly tag other team members and send updates on tasks or projects.
- Multi Projects Assignment: It is possible to relate one task to multiple projects — without duplication. Which is very useful when a task is relevant to concurrent goals or when due dates are applicable to multiple projects.
- Gantt Charts: Wrike provides built-in Gantt charts. For example in Asana, you have to integrate with Instagantt.
Cons of Wrike 🤔
- Tasks are Difficult to Break Up: With everything broken into tasks, there can be a lot of files, comments, etc that builds up within a task and there is no good option to break them up.
- Cluttered: This is a very in-depth program and can become very cluttered and somewhat difficult to navigate if you aren’t familiar with it.
Clubhouse is another easy-to-use project management tool, and is especially useful for software development teams. Instead of being crammed with a bunch of fancy features you’ll never use, Clubhouse has everything you need with a simplistic user interface.
Clubhouse also allows for easy progress tracking and predictive analytics, perfect for software developers. Here is why Geckoboard team moved from Trello to Clubhouse.
Key Features of Clubhouse 👍
- Сoncept of Epics: Cards can be linked
- Flexibility Without Complexity: It’s quick and simple to set up the workflow for your company to make tasks move as fast as possible.
- Customizable Dashboard: See all work across multiple projects and epics, or drill down quickly using wide range of filters.
Shortcomings of Clubhouse 🤔
- No Cutting-edge Features: While not being bogged down with useless features is nice, some innovative features never hurt anyone either.
- No Time Tracking: While it does have progress tracking and predictive analytics, unfortunately Clubhouse does not offer any time tracking functionality.
Flow is one of the more visual project management tools, and its main goal is to give everyone on the team high-level transparency into everything the team and/or company is working on.
Flow covers everything from day-to-day personal tasks to projects with your team at work. With Flow, you can organize your entire life in one place instead of having to jump around between different apps for personal, work, side projects, etc.
Flow is gorgeous. The guys at MetaLab have really paid attention to the details, and it shows.
Key Features of Flow 👍
- A Mac app;
- Delegating: When you delegate something, you’ll be notified when they’ve completed the task, and everyone who is part of the project can keep track of who is working on what in a concise manner.
- Catch-up Feature: The Catch-up feature allows you to take a quick glance at everything you need to catch up on all of your projects.
Shortcomings of Flow 🤔
- Integration: While the program itself is excellent, the integration options offered and the email integration leave something to be desired.
- Organization: Being able to find all links or all recent links in one pace would make things a little more convenient.
Redbooth is great project management software for those looking for something simple to organize tasks and files while improving efficiency and communication.
Redbooth is easy to use and navigate, and allows users to easily check and update current projects and individual tasks. The program also offers an interactive dashboard for easy operation showing all tasks, and with a simple click, all details can be viewed and added including the due date, comments from team members, and attachments or files.
Redbooth also features a workload chart, allowing managers to quickly view all tasks assigned to each employee and their due dates so their workload can be managed accordingly.
Key Features of Redbooth 👍
- Workload Chart: This allows managers to get a quick view of who is doing what and when tasks are due.
- Quick Access to Files: A centralized file location makes it easy to find anything you need.
- Integrations: Redbooth integrates with Slack, Box, Google Drive, Dropbox, Zendesk and Zapier
Cons of Redbooth 🤔
- No Advanced Task-management Capabilities: Currently there isn’t a way to make one task contingent upon the completion of another task, and the program also doesn’t allow for recurring tasks.
- Unable to customize workspaces: Customization isn’t a huge issue, but some like to be able to tailor their workspace or dashboard to fit their preferences which Redbooth does not offer.
ActiveCollab is a great project management tool for keeping organized, and its powerful, yet simple interface always gives you a nice overview of any and every project your team is working on.
What’s different about ActiveCollab is not surprisingly the collaboration features, as it actually allows you to bring clients on the board to collaborate with you on projects.
With ActiveCollab, you can easily assign tasks to a team, get detailed overviews of each project, estimate and track the time spent on each task, and even issue invoices to clients.
Key Features of ActiveCollab 👍
- Time & Expense Tracking: You can easily track or estimate the time it takes to complete tasks.
- Ease of Use: The intuitive user interface makes it easy to use and learn even for those not familiar with the program.
- Self-Hosted Plan: If security is something you’re concerned about, the self‑hosted version gives you full control over your data.
Shortcomings of ActiveCollab 🤔
- No Check-in or Check-out Features: Unfortunately there is now way to check in or check out.
- Not Being Able to Change Tags from the Projects Page: Instead of being able to change tags from the projects page, you instead have to go into each individual project to edit the tags.
Taiga is a little different than the others when it comes to project management tools.
Taiga is designed specifically with startups and agile developers in mind, and is a powerful, free, open source management platform that’s great for agile implementation.
Key Features of Taiga 👍
- Bug Tracking: Being able to track bugs is essential to software development and the way it’s done is simple and easy to monitor.
- Collaboration: The collaboration features within Taiga allow the project management teams and development teams to stay the same page.
- Milestone Tracking: Being able to track milestones and mark them as done always keeps you up to date.
Shortcomings of Taiga 🤔
- User Interface: The program is great for developers and is very clean but it’s also a bit plain and the user interface is not overly friendly.
- Difficulty: As a program that’s made pretty strictly for software developers, if you aren’t very familiar with coding and the development side of things this program can be very challenging to use.
12. Atlassian JIRA
Jira is pretty standard these days at any software development company. This is the most powerful and flexible project management tool but there’s a learning curve in terms of setting the workflows up.
It has an extensive feature set and customizations are endless. Everything integrated into it – from Confluence, Bitbucket & Project management. That said it requires significant administration effort to use.
Key Features of JIRA 👍
- Integrations: Because so many people use Jira, lots of vendors make sure that their products interface with Jira as well. Integrate Jira with Everhour to time track all issues and view beautiful and super helpful reports. Create accurate invoices from the logged work just in a few clicks.
- Customizable workflows: Create custom workflows of any size that match the exact way your teams build, test, and release software.
- Flexible Dashboards: Create a personalized view of JIRA. Share dashboards to track project status, create custom reports, and monitor team wallboards.
Shortcomings of JIRA 🤔
- Cluttered: When there are a lot of individual subtasks that are linked to the master task, the workflow can become difficult to follow.
- Difficult to understand: JIRA is a fairly complex program that comes with a bit of a learning curve for most.
13. Pivotal Tracker
Pivotal Tracker is another project management tool made for software development, and it’s a great, lightweight tool.
Pivotal is very simple to use for agile development and works well if you like the Kanban/iteration concepts. Developers tend to like it a lot. But it is not a great issue tracking system. If you start adding bugs to it, the project backlog and icebox quickly become very large.
Key Features of Pivotal Tracker 👍
- Very In-depth: The program was clearly made for and by software developers, and the program’s workflow process is excellent.
- Top-Notch Collaboration: Communication is made easy with comments and tags so everyone on the team is one the same page.
Shortcomings of Pivotal Tracker 🤔
- Opinionated: If you like to work the way Pivotal Tracker expects you to work, being okay using their vocabulary and flow, then it’s a great tool.
- User Interface: The interface is a bit slow and isn’t the best and easiest to operate, but it gets the job done.
- Difficult: Estimating tickets and other tasks can be difficult to learn as a non developer working on this platform.
- No Time Tracking & Estimate Functionality: Unfortunately Pivotal does not have time tracking capabilities, although with a simple add-on like Everhour, users can easily track the time employees spend on tasks and more.
Targetprocess is a project management tool most commonly used for software development, but it can also be used for marketing, education, and recruiting.
The software gives you the transparency you need across teams to manage agile projects, and its flexibility adapts to your business workflow and management approach. Through enhanced visualization functionality, you can visualize and manage any agile project.
Key Features 👍
- Mobility: Both iOS and Android apps are available so it can be used on the go.
- Time & Expense Tracking: Easily track the time spent on each project to help maximize efficiency.
- Modern Interface: This slick and modern interface has a nice look and feel to it.
Shortcomings of Targetprocess 🤔
- Difficulty: As a very in-depth program, there is a fairly slow learning curve and a slightly intimidating interface.
- Setup Time: The program starts you off with a blank canvas. Setup isn’t overly difficult, but it is very time consuming to get everything working and flowing the way you need it to.
As you can see there are a lot of different tools out there, each with a little something different to offer.
It may just come down to what you’re most comfortable with and what makes the most sense for your budget. But now hopefully you have a better understanding of how some of these tools work, and how simple add-ons can make some of them that much better!