How to Choose the Project Management Software for You
The best project management software for you depends on your projects’ complexity, the size of your team, and the features you need.
Every option on my list is a fantastic product, but only one is going to be the best fit for you.
So before we dive into my top recommendations, let’s talk about what to look for as you go through the process of finding the right software.
Number of Users
Most project management software is charged on a per user per month basis. So, it’s crucial to understand how many seats you need and your budget.
If you have a large team with hundreds of users, you’re better off choosing an enterprise plan with custom pricing to get the most bang for your buck.
However, if you have less than 15 people, Asana is an excellent choice (free for up to 15 users).
And if you have fewer than three users, you can use Zoho Projects for free as well.
Collaborating through email or phone is handy, but it can be hard to keep track of conversations and responsibilities.
The best project management software comes with built-in tools that allow users to collaborate directly within a task, project, or team. This can include flagging tasks with statuses, discussion boards, comment threads, and @mentioning other users to draw someone’s attention.
Another aid to collaboration is project management software that integrates with the tools your teams are already using. G Suite or Microsoft integration is going to make simple tasks like sharing and editing content that much easier.
For simple and straightforward projects, you can probably get by using a free forever plan with Trello, Asana, or Zoho Projects.
These products are incredibly user-friendly and versatile enough to accommodate many types of basic projects. Paid versions of these tools can do even more.
Trello, seen above, helps teams visualize all of their tasks in a clear way. You can click on each card to find a project description, comment log, and other relevant information.
Once projects start to become more complicated, however, the lighter tools don’t function quite as well.
If you are tracking project costs, for example, Trello doesn’t have much for built-in reporting features. To create a Gantt or burndown chart to track progress, you have to use an add-on or third-party solution.
On the other hand, tools like Wrike and Smartsheet have a lot more depth. They come with a higher price tag and aren’t as easy for everyone to use on day one, but you can handle any type of project.
Wrike, seen above, makes tracking dependencies on an Gantt chart as easy as clicking a button. Get as detailed as you like with multi-phase projects—Wrike can handle it.
Task management is one of the most important features to pay attention to.
While most project management software includes basic task management, it’s important to consider the advanced capabilities you need.
Do you need to create task dependencies? Maybe you need to create recurring tasks on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. Or perhaps you want to assign multiple people to the same task.
This also includes things like:
Checklists and due dates
So, carefully consider how you plan to manage projects and the task management features you need before making any decisions.
Every project and team is different.
So it’s important that your project management software can adapt to meet your needs. Whether that’s a fully branded dashboard, the flexibility to scale, or improved functionality with the right integrations.
Furthermore, think about how you want to view and share project progress. Different software offers different project views, reporting, and analytics.
Start by creating a complete list of required features and integrations.
Lastly, consider everything you need your software to do and speak to a sales team to make sure their tool can handle your top priorities within your budget.
The Different Types of Project Management Software
There are various different types of project management software. Some are much better than others while some are reserved specifically for developers or enterprises with a large budget.
Let’s walk through them together.
All of my top recommendations are cloud-based software. This means that the software lives on a cloud server and you can access it from any web browser on any device.
This is the preferred type for most users because it’s easy to use, doesn’t require any infrastructure on your part, and you can access everything regardless of where you are.
You typically pay for this type of software on a per user per month basis.
Different types of projects may require industry-specific solutions.
These make your life easier with pre-made templates, automated workflows, and more features specific to the types of projects you’re managing.
Most of the software on this list offer solutions for industries like:
With that said, these companies also offer standard subscriptions at reasonable prices that don’t include industry-specific tools.
So you don’t have to use these higher-priced solutions unless you want to.
Most of these solutions come with custom pricing based on your specific needs. So they may be outside your budget, especially if you’re a small company or a brand new business.
On-premise project management software lives on your servers, rather than on the cloud. And while it’s more secure, you can only access the software from devices on your network.
You also may need to install new infrastructure or hire an in-house maintenance team to update and maintain the software for you.
This is why none of the recommendations on this list are on-premise solutions.
Over 20,000+ businesses, including Google, Airbnb, and Dell, use Wrike to manage marketing and sales projects worldwide.
With Wrike, your project management software adapts to meet your needs, rather than the other way around. And features like custom workflows and dashboards, automation, and real-time communication make this an excellent choice for dynamic marketing teams of all sizes.
You also get end-to-end visualization so you can hone in on problem areas while maintaining constant forward movement with each project as a whole.
Furthermore, Wrike includes powerful marketing-specific templates including
And you can combine those with standard project management features like task management, proofing and approvals, communication tools, and real-time progress visibility.
Project views include board, spreadsheet, Gantt, calendar, and custom views.
Wrike also includes seamless integrations with 400+ business tools, like Salesforce, G Mail, and Google Drive. So, you don’t have to worry about software incompatibility issues or anything like that.
You can start on their free forever plan for up to five users, but you may find it limiting. Paid plans include:
Professional — $9.80/user per month (5 – 15 users)
Business — $24.80/user per month (5 – 200 users)
Enterprise — Custom (5 – unlimited users)
They also offer tailored plans for marketing teams, but you have to contact them for a custom quote. However, it includes specialty templates, Wrike Proof, and more.
If you’re managing a remote team (or a soon-to-be remote team), Teamwork is an excellent choice. Their remote work module is specifically for distributed teams who need a flexible way to keep work moving forward.
20,000+ teams plus big names, including Disney, Netflix, and Spotify, rely on Teamwork for their remote project management needs — and for a good reason.
The software makes collaboration, task management, and project visibility a breeze regardless of where your team lives (and works). And as Teamwork says, “Just because you’re not in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t be on the same page.”
This remote project management software includes excellent features like:
Internal chat software
Custom project templates
Furthermore, you can pick and choose which software you need. Or, you can save 49% by bundling all of Teamwork’s software together.
At $35/mo per user (minimum of five users), it’s more suitable for businesses with a decent budget. But, their project management module alone is much more affordable, starting at $10/mo per user.
Alternatively, you can start with a free forever plan for up to five users and two projects. This is an excellent choice for small teams or fast-growth companies.
Smartsheet is a dynamic project management software built for enterprises and large teams. However, the solution is flexible enough to suit businesses and projects of all sizes.
They specialize in rapid-movement projects with a ton of moving parts. So, you can trust Smartsheet for even the most complicated projects.
With Smartsheet, you can gain end-to-end project visibility with grid, card, Gantt, and calendar views. Furthermore, you can gather data from forms, automated workflows, and recurring tasks to see what you need to see, and when.
However, the software goes beyond essential project management. It’s an award-winning work execution platform that’s easy to implement, manage, and maintain.
Plus, 75% of fortune 500 companies use Smartsheet to get things done.
So, you’re in good company.
All plans also include on-demand customer support, continuous education materials, training + certification programs, and consulting services to help you make the most of your new project management software.
And you also get collaboration tools, all four project views, and extensive mobile apps/integrations with every plan.
While Smartsheet is overkill for most small businesses, it’s an excellent choice for large companies and enterprises looking to streamline their business processes.
Their paid plans include:
Individual — $14 per month
Business — $25 per user per month (minimum of three users)
Enterprise — custom (enterprise-grade features and tools)
Premier — custom (enterprise + premium features and tools)