What are the best project management tools?
Whether it’s building a pyramid in the deserts of Egypt, launching a rocket into space, or getting your new business to profitability, great endeavors require planning and forethought to be successful.
Is it possible to create great works without using project management? Yes, sure. It’s possible to do a lot of things — that doesn’t mean it won’t be painful, stressful, and have you in tears, curled up beneath your desk.
Project management tools are here to help.
With so many tools available, pouring through them can take up a lot of time and energy. In this post, we’re going to focus only on the best of the best — the top project management tools on the market today.
If you want a complete list of project management tools, check out our article, 288 Project management tools: the complete list.
What makes a great project management tool?
When picking the right tool for the job, it’s important to understand your business requirements and align those with the tool you are considering. Here are 7 important features to consider when reviewing project management tools:
- Project planning – Whether it’s through a Gantt chart, a Kanban board, or a simple spreadsheet, planning, and scheduling need to be at the heart of any project management tool.
- Customization – No two businesses work the same way, so why should a work management tool dictate what you do? Find a project management tool that can be customized and tweaked to support whatever system, process, or collaborative interaction works for your specific company.
- Team collaboration – Teams need to maintain contact, both internally and with clients. Collaboration tools need to include the ability to store and share files while also providing a way to communicate in real-time.
- Automation – It’s time to stop doing the grunt work. Manually moving tasks between people (e.g. sending your design team an email when your content team has completed a draft) is completely unnecessary in 2021. Find a tool that saves you time through cutting-edge automation.
- Resource management – Who does what and when is a key component of any project. It’s also often the hardest element to track. Quite often, individuals or teams assigned to a project have other jobs on their plate. Ensuring they get the work done on time is critical, so a practical project management tool will allow you to accurately manage scheduling, time tracking, and more.
- Reporting and budgeting – A good project management tool should offer robust reports to help you understand projects currently stands at any point. These reports should identify blockages as well as time and money spent, allowing for resources to be reallocated appropriately.
- Simplicity and ease of use – If a tool is too complex and difficult to use, people will quickly stop using it, regardless of functionality. Companies cannot afford to spend time or money on laborious training, and should opt for a tool that is intuitive from the get-go.
Which project management software is best for your business?
Choosing the right tool can be difficult, which is why we’ve built this guide. We’ll walk through several different project management tools so that you can understand which one best suits your needs.
Let’s start strong (if we do say so ourselves)…
When considering simplicity you can’t go wrong with monday.com. We pride ourselves on being the best project management tool out there. Not to mention how easy our platform is to set up and start using.
With an intuitive and highly customizable interface, users can hit the ground running in minutes.
Let’s touch on a few key selling points monday.com offers:
From a collaboration point of view, monday.com is top-notch. The collaborative capabilities within monday.com help keep teams on track and provide a single place to communicate and store information, removing the need to search through emails or intranets. Everything is instantly and easily accessible to everyone, saving time and increasing transparency along the way.
Scheduling and planning:
Project planning and scheduling are easy through monday.com, thanks to the inclusion of multiple view options that help you visualize project progress in a variety of ways.
monday.com offers over 120 different templates to help your team kickstart projects, meaning, whatever industry you’re in, there’s an out-of-the-box solution ready for you.
And, with all of the different views available, each team member can visualize project data in a way that suits their needs as well as how they work.
monday.com offers four different pricing plans, (Basic, Standard, Pro, and Enterprise), and we charge per user.
We offer a free 14-day trial with discounts available on yearly plans. Check out our pricing page for more.
Microsoft Project is possibly one of the most well-known project management tools out there. Available either as a standalone solution or as an add-on to Microsoft Office, it is perhaps most known for the Gantt chart view it provides.
Microsoft Project is a capable tool with solid planning, reporting and resource management capabilities. However, to use Project to its fullest, significant training is needed.
Microsoft Project, while capable of agile project management, is better suited to waterfall projects with defined milestones and deliverables.
Microsoft Project is available in three different plans. Project Plan 1 starts at $10/user, though reporting is only available at Project Plan 3, which is $30/user per month. Project Plan 5 extends the capabilities even further. This option provides resource and demand management capabilities but costs $55/user per month.
Another popular project management solution is Jira. Best known for its integration of agile methodologies, Jira is a tool popular with software teams. With powerful reporting capabilities and dashboards, Jira can provide a detailed snapshot of project progress.
Jira offers some very useful automation capabilities that help make project workflows and task management more efficient, and it can be integrated with other popular office applications.
Collaboration wise, Jira provides a unified location to store information and files, and with its case management capabilities. It also lets teams communicate quickly and easily.
Jira focuses pretty seriously on development projects (which may be frustrating for marketing or growth teams). Workflows are restricted to Kanban views out of the box, although Gantt charts are available through third-party applications.
Jira offers a free plan with limited capabilities for teams getting started with project management. Its standard plan starts at $7/month per user and the premium plan is available for $14/month per user.
Trello has a very simple and easy to use interface that makes managing Kanban boards intuitive and fun. With Trello, each board is a project and different tasks are organized as cards. Trello does not offer Gantt charts itself, but this functionality can be added through using paid power-ups.
Based on the complexity of the project, you could have very simple boards (“To Do”, “Doing” and “Done” for example), or significantly more complex lists with different levels of validation required. As tasks are created, members can be assigned, providing a quick and visual representation of who is responsible for what, and also where a task status stands.
Trello out of the box is quite capable but, without more than a couple automations or integrations, (exclusive to the paid plans), you may be frustrated by the tool’s limitations.
Trello offers a free plan for those just getting started, but to really use it properly as a project management system, you need to get a business plan. That is available for $9.99/month per user. For larger teams, the Enterprise plan is available at $17.50/month per user.
For fans of Gantt charts, an alternative to Microsoft Project is Smartsheet. Smartsheet improves spreadsheets and gives users a single project management tool for all of their project related information.
This tool provides some powerful dashboards and reports that help ensure multiple projects stay on schedule. With Kanban board integration, teams can visualize information in multiple ways to better understand priorities.
Smartsheet is perhaps not as strong as some of the other project management tools on this list in regard to collaboration. It does not provide a means of storing files or directly communicating updates within the tool.
This gap is somewhat alleviated by the integrations available to other popular office applications.
Smartsheet offers two different tiers of service. The Standard Individual is a paid plan available for $14/user per month, while the Standard Business plan available for $25/user per month.
Regardless of the size of the project, having a great project management tool is essential if you want to be successful in whatever you do. Apart from being quick to set up and easy to rise, it is vital that the tool you select is capable of meeting your needs and business requirements.
Here are our final top three tips to help you assess which project management tool is right for you:
- Determine what integrations are needed to ensure that the tool will work in the way you want.
- Make sure that you explore the tool’s mobile/offline capabilities, as “on-the-go” project management is essential to a modern, remote-oriented business.
- Consider how flexible the tool is– is it customizable to your needs, and will it scale with you as you grow?
Ultimately, the right tool will make sure that everyone knows what is going on — improving collaboration and helping keep your project on track and on budget.
We have to say, monday.com really is the best.monday.com’s project management software is customizable and dynamic– while being both powerful enough and simple enough for any project.
We’re more visual, more data-driven, more intuitive, and all-around better in every way (okay, so we’re a little obsessed).
To see what we’re talking about, check out our project management templates today.