Collaborative project management software improves team performance and increases successful delivery rates. However, the price of a PM software subscription can be a blocker for smaller organizations. Also, your team may wish to test first a new tool before deciding to make an investment. These are some of the important reasons for using free project management software.
Benefits of Free Project Management Software
Project management software is a broad category of tools and applications. These solutions help an individual, team, or entire organization become more efficient at scheduling projects, identifying needed processes, and tracking progress/productivity as you move toward your projects’ goals.
Many free online project management tools either offer the same features or the same number of users as their premium counterparts — but usually not both.
As such, many free project management software can provide premium functionality to a smaller team or basic features to a flexible number of users. Free software solutions are invaluable in helping businesses start off in the right direction. And they certainly beat sticky notes on a whiteboard.
But as is the case with all free software, users should be aware of the limitations before adopting a new tool for use in the production environment.
Top Project Management Software with Free Versions
Free project management software is absolutely the place to start if you’re new to the game. As your projects become more complex, it may be time to consider a paid solution. If you’re ready to learn about more top-rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:
Types of Free Project Management Software
The project management software market offers several choices and configurations of free PM software.
Online PM Software
Many online PM software providers use a freemium model for their product offerings. They have a basic or limited forever free version which limits some aspects of the tool with the aim of converting regular users to scale up to premium tiers as the volume of their projects increase and as business grows.
On-Premise PM Software
Free on-premises project management software is also available to users who prefer self-managed implementations. This might include desktop app versions of web software, or downloadable open source tools such as ProjectLibre. Users have greater responsibility in keeping their PM software updated, but also have control over the schedule of those updates.
Free-to-Try PM Software
Enterprise-grade project management software provides comprehensive and advanced features that can help growing businesses. These vendors offer fully functional online PM tools for a limited time in the hope that outstanding software features, support, and other value-added services can convince users to subscribe at the end of the trial period.
Essential Features of Project Management Software
Project management software, whether free forever or subscription based, help teams and companies go through the different stages and processes of the project lifecycle with ease and precision. But because free PM tools have limits, it is up to users to determine the right combination of features, access, and usage that can satisfy their needs.
- Task Management: Task management enables users to create, add, break down, assign, and monitor tasks through their various stages within the project. Moreover, the best free project management software provides teams with several ways to view, sort, and prioritize tasks with the ability to capture details and allow changes as needed.
- Team Collaboration: Team collaboration is an important feature of project management software, so users should choose a PM tool that works for at least two team members. The tool should enable a group of users to work together on common projects with tools such as comments, group chat, file sharing, proofing, and/or shared calendars.
- Email Integration: Some free project management software limit the number of users who can access it directly. Email integration is basic way to stay on the same page with the team members who do have access to the software.
- Document Management: Free project management software typically has limitations on the total storage or size of file attachments. It is an issue that users have to deal with and weigh accordingly when choosing a free PM software.
- Mobile App: Mobility while managing projects is no longer a nice-to-have feature. Luckily, providers recognize this and generally include mobile access to their free project management software via native integration, HTML5 technology, or mobile apps.
- Third-party Integration: Users expect their project management tools, whether free or paid, to have integration with other software. Some free PM tools offer limited integration, reserving more integration capabilities for paid plans.
- Support Documentation: Some project management software providers reserve customer support features for paid plans. Free users may need to work a little harder to access documentation and support through blogs, community forums, or non-vendor websites.
- Customization: Customization allows project teams to adapt the tool to their existing processes and not the other way around. Customizable features to look out for include configurable dashboards, workflows, forms, and templates.
- Reporting: A lot of free project management tools now offer automations, analytics, and AI to provide not just information, but insights into a project’s health and performance. However, free plans can have certain limits to the frequency or depth of reporting.
- Scheduling: Scheduling is another vital PM software feature. More tools are giving users a variety of views and interaction to look at their plans and timelines, which include table views, Gantt views, board views, and calendar views.
- Time Management: Time management is a core feature of many free project management tools, but not all. If included, users will have access to timesheets, automatic task timers, and time reporting capabilities. If this is critical to your workflow, look for a tool that prioritizes time management.
Choosing the Right Free Project Management Software
Businesses and teams of all sizes can take advantage of free project management software to improve company efficiency and team productivity. The right project management software, free or paid, can provide significant benefits. With the right PM solution, businesses can save on costs, adopt useful technology, and establish a culture of productivity.