Best Free Project Management Software for 2021
Choosing the right productivity tools directly affects a team’s performance. However, the price of a project management software subscription can be a blocker for smaller or newer teams. Alternatively, a team may wish to test a new tool for a few months before committing to a paid version. Whatever the circumstances, teams can start boosting productivity at no cost with free project management software.
Table of Contents
- Is Free Project Management Software Useful?
- Top 10 Free Project Management Software
- Types of Free Project Management Software
- Free Project Management Software Features
- Features for Small Business
- Features for Midsize Business
- Features for Enterprise Business
- Choosing the Right Free Project Management Software
Is Free Project Management Software Useful?
Project management software is a broad category of tools and applications. They help an individual, team, or entire organization be more efficient in processes, and more productive in tasks. 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, these free project management software can provide premium functionality to a smaller team, or allow a flexible number of users access. But as with all free software, you should be aware of the limitations.
Top 10 Free Project Management Software
The best free project management software allow teams to manage one or more projects, delegate tasks, and collaborate easily without breaking the bank. New teams, startups, and businesses adopting digital transformation can benefit from using a free project management tool without contract or obligation. The following is a list of free software for managing tasks and projects, in no particular order.
Wrike offers a free plan for teams who need work management and team collaboration tools. It includes unlimited users who can access Wrike project management software on the web or through desktop and mobile apps. Teams can use it to manage tasks and subtasks, get project updates via the activity stream, track work using board and spreadsheet views, and manage work schedules. For the free plan, active task limitations apply, as well as a 2GB storage limit per user account.
Read more: Wrike Software Review for 2021
Airtable is a flexible platform that allows teams to create and customize business solutions for project management, work tracking, and collaboration. It offers ready-to-use project management templates, including project trackers, program management, and project planning with Gantt charts. Airtable has a free plan for individuals and teams that includes unlimited databases, a variety of work views, and a 2GB attachment limit per user. The free plan also comes with access to desktop and mobile apps, as well as real-time collaboration and commenting.
Read more: Pros and Cons of Using Airtable Software
Trello is a visual project management software made up of boards, lists, and cards. It is customizable for a wide range of use cases, from managing personal to-do lists to enterprise workflows. The online tool is free for individuals and teams looking to be more productive and organized. The free plan includes unlimited members, unlimited cards, unlimited storage (with a 10MB per file limit), and an unlimited activity log. Features also include multiple boards per workspace, 1 free Power-Up integration, assignee and due dates, automations, mobile apps, and two-factor authentication.
Read more: Trello Software Review for 2021
MeisterTask is a task management software that provides teams an overview of work in progress and enables them to track tasks from idea conception to delivery. It has a simple but solid foundation of functionality that includes a dashboard, projects, and tasks. MeisterTask is intuitive and customizable for all types of teams. A free plan enables an unlimited number of users to manage up to 3 projects with customizable project boards and access to mobile apps. The plan also includes limited integration, file attachments with a 20MB limit per file, and email support.
Quire is a free project management software for teams with big ideas. It lets users break down projects into task lists, focus on work with a sublist view, and streamline workflow with a Kanban-style board. Quire provides tools that allow teams to arrange, prioritize, and visualize tasks and resources. It also has a versatile Gantt chart view, mobile apps, and a variety of report charts. The software is completely free to use for up to 35 teams, with 30 users per team, and up to 80 projects.
Read more: Quire Software Review
Asana project management software can help engineering teams to track bugs, marketing teams to plan campaigns, sales teams to manage customer accounts, or HR teams to onboard new employees. It is a versatile tool with a free plan for up to 15 users. The free plan includes unlimited tasks, projects, messages, an activity log, and storage with a limit of 100MB per file attachment. Users can choose from different work views, add assignees and due dates, create project overviews and project briefs, and integrate with time tracking apps. Users can also download Asana’s iOS and Android apps for free.
Read more: Asana Software Review for 2021
Jira Software is a project management tool for software development and agile teams. More than an issue tracking tool, Jira features include Scrum boards, Kanban boards, and roadmaps. It also has ready-to-use reporting tools, a code repository viewer, version control, and automation. Jira is free for up to 10 users. The free plan limits users to a single site, automation for a single project, and basic roadmapping and dependency management features.
Zoho Projects is a cloud-based project management software for planning projects, tracking work, and collaborating within teams. The Zoho Projects free plan is good for up to 3 users, but is limited to a maximum of 2 projects. Features include simple task tracking, a Gantt chart viewer, and access to mobile apps. Users can upload file attachments at up to 10MB per file. The free plan is more of a preview of the capabilities of the software, but users can upgrade to an affordable plan with unlimited projects and additional features starting at $5 per user per month.
Read more: Pros and Cons of using Zoho Projects
monday.com is a flexible and customizable work management platform for workflows of all kinds. It is a capable project management tool that includes an intuitive interface, interactive workspace, and highly visual components. Teams can custom build their apps for their exact needs, including tracking tasks and other project details to their specifications. It has automation, multiple work views, and 24/7 customer support. Because monday.com’s free plan limits members to 2 users, it’s ideal for smaller teams. It also includes unlimited boards, over 200 templates, more than 20 column types, and free mobile apps.
Smartsheet is a project management software that enables team collaboration with clear accountability. Users have visibility of their team’s assignments, schedule, and workflow. The software has real-time dashboards for up-to-date status visibility. Smartsheet is also scalable, and can continue to grow with small businesses. Although Smartsheet doesn’t have a truly free tier, interested parties can try the software for free for up to 30 days.
Types of Free Project Management Software
Individuals and startups with great ideas can benefit greatly from free project management software. Small businesses or small teams within large enterprises can ensure a greater degree of project success with PM tools that are accessible, accurate, and collaborative. Luckily, the project management software market provides several choices and configurations.
Free Online Project Management Software
A majority of project management software providers offer a freemium model for their online tools. They offer a forever free version with no obligation to users with the aim of eventually converting those users to premium tiers. As the business grows and projects multiply, providers hope users will pay to scale up.
Free On-Premises Project Management Software
Aside from cloud-based software, free on-premises project management software are 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 Project Management Software
Enterprise-grade project management software provide comprehensive and advanced features that can help growing businesses. These vendors offer fully functional online PM tools to users for a limited time in the hope that their features, support, and other value-added services convince users to subscribe at the end of the trial period.
Industry-Specific Free Project Management Software
Industry-specific software for project management are seldom free. For example, construction project management software like Buildertrend and Procore are specialized tools for home, commercial, and public construction projects. Users who belong in specific industries have fewer choices, so instead of free plans, PM tool providers typically offer a demonstration of their software, low initial monthly plans, and money-back guarantees.
Free Project Management Software Features
Project management software, whether free forever or for a time, aims to 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 the various stages of the project. Moreover, the best free project management software provide teams 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 software 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 a innovative 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 to 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 software now include automation, analytics, and AI to provide not just information, but insights. 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.
Features for Small Businesses
Small businesses typically get the most value from free project management software. A single PM tool provides a centralized digital platform for hosting and storing all requirement documents, project plans, work breakdowns, and other project resources.
- Task Management: Task management features allow users to organize their tasks, assign responsibility, and track them to completion.
- Visualizations: A free project management software that provides highly visual dashboards, lists, boards, and reports improves efficiency.
- Email Integration: Fewer seats means that free plans limit the number of users directly using the PM tool. Email integration is critical for communication and collaboration.
Features for Midsize Businesses
Growing businesses need PM tools that scale with them. As such, some features are more important for midsize businesses establishing their position in the market.
- Workflow management: As businesses take on more projects, their teams need PM software with customizable boards, views, and automatic notifications.
- Collaboration: With more team members, midsize businesses should look for collaboration features that help users ask for input, share files, and submit approvals.
- Reporting: Reporting features in free PM tools should allow decision makers to get on top of project data, from quick overviews to detailed tables.
Features for Enterprise Businesses
Enterprises have the resources to purchase or subscribe to a premium project management software. But free trial periods allow them to choose the software that bring the most value to the organization.
- Complex project management: Enterprises need more than simple task tracking. For complex projects, software should include portfolio and resource management features.
- Reporting: PM tools that can provide flexible, on-the-fly reports will reduce the need for team status meetings that can disrupt momentum.
- Integrations: It’s important for any project management software under evaluation to integrate easily with the existing tools and apps within an enterprise.
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 otherwise, can provide significant benefits. With the right features, businesses can save on costs, adopt useful technology, and establish a culture of productivity.