Whether you’re a small team manager, a time-pressed professional, or a student trying to get more organized, the right project management software can do wonders for your productivity. The problem, unfortunately, is that project management software can get expensive. Not everyone can afford it.
Luckily, there are free project management tools out there. Problem solved, right? You just pick one and get to work. Well, no, it still has to be, you know…good.
Unfortunately, many products on the market offer sub-par features on their free plans. It can also be hard to choose between them when they all look so similar – at least on paper. That’s why I tested dozens of project management tools myself and found the 6 best free options.
Though each of these options offers enough functionality to satisfy the needs of at least one type of user or project, all free plans have their limitations. If you’re looking to get serious about project management, it might be worth investing in a premium plan.
Read on to discover which project management software is the best choice for you.
Short on Time? These Are the Best Free Project Management Software in 2022
- monday.com – Comprehensive organization tools for individual users or pairs.
- Smartsheet – Advanced project management features with a long trial period.
- Asana – The best free tool for managing multitasking teams.
What We Look For in the Best Free Project Management Software
Each entry on this list is optimized for a different type of user, so they don’t all share the same features. Still, they needed to have certain essential features to make the cut.
- A useful free plan. It’s not enough that you can use the software for free. You need to actually be able to manage a project from start to finish without reaching for your wallet.
- Ease of use. Ideally, you should be able to get your project up and running as soon as you sign up. While every project management tool comes with a learning curve, it definitely helps if it’s as user-friendly as possible.
- Project visualizations. Seeing your project through a different lens can help you think about it in new ways. The software on this list all offer multiple ways to visualize your projects.
- Dashboards and reporting. Every now and then, you’re going to need a big picture view of your project. The tools on this list offer various dashboard and reporting options for displaying your project’s data clearly.
- Project templates. I’ll say it again – you should be able to get your project started as soon as possible. Project templates can be great for taking extra work off your shoulders.
Project management software usually comes with a tradeoff: either it’s easy to use but not all that versatile, or it’s powerful but excessively complicated to actually use. I say “usually” because monday.com bucks this trend by combining versatility and ease of use better than any of the alternatives.
Its pretty interface, wide selection of “getting started” guides, and intuitive design make it practically effortless to learn and use. Meanwhile, the different column types, reporting features, and simple automations it offers make it surprisingly flexible.
The free plan does come with some limitations, however. For starters, it restricts you to a maximum of two users. It also lacks some of the best features on its paid plans, like a timeline or Gantt view. For larger undertakings, the Standard Plan offers unlimited seats, automatic workflows, and timeline views.
Even so, I’d still say monday.com is the best free option for individuals. You won’t be managing a business on the free plan, but if you’re just looking to manage your own workload better, monday.com is your best bet.
- 20+ column types. On the table view, you can add columns ranging from basic text and number columns to things like progress trackers and dropdown menus.
- Android and iOS apps. The mobile app allows you to update, create, or delete any task on the go. This helps you keep your workload updated wherever you are.
- Custom document creation. Besides the classic file uploads, you can create simple text documents on monday.com. It might not be the most advanced word processor out there, but it’s still pretty great if you need to attach a lot of information to a task quickly.
- Template variety. Monday.com comes with over 200 specialized templates for you to use right away. Categories range from marketing and design to software development and education. Each template is carefully crafted to include every feature you’re likely to need from the get-go.
Take a look at our monday.com expert review for more details.
|Ease of use||Easy to use|
|Project views on free plan||
|Free project templates||200+|
|Cheapest paid plan||$8.00|
Wait, wait. Put your pitchforks down… I know Smartsheet doesn’t technically have a free plan. What it does have, however, is a 30-day free trial with full access to every premium feature. Thanks to Smartsheet’s flexibility, that’s more than enough time to manage a short-term project.
Smartsheet’s strong suit is its spreadsheets, which it calls “grids.” These offer lots of flexibility for organizing and viewing your projects. Depending on the types of columns you have on a grid, you can quickly turn it into a kanban board, a Gantt chart, or a calendar view.
If you’re working on a large-scale project involving huge amounts of data, Smartsheet has every tool you’re likely to need. That goes double if you’re part of a team. Smartsheet allows you to post comments and tag team members to any element, from specific grids to entire documents. There are also advanced proofing tools for teams working on video projects.
Smartsheet does have a bit of a learning curve, so you might struggle to get everything done within the 30-day trial window. If you’re looking to manage larger-scale, long-term projects, I’d recommend the Pro Plan (which is also surprisingly cheap). It might not be truly free, but Smartsheet’s incredible versatility definitely makes it worth trying out.
- Powerful reports. Reports in Smartsheet are special grids that let you show and change specific data from other documents. These allow you to input data from any grid or even from another report. Any changes made to the report will then reflect automatically on the source, and vice versa.
- Custom dashboards. Dashboards are visual representations of your project’s data. You can create as many dashboards as you want and customize every aspect of them, from the information you want to show to where and how you want to show it.
- Advanced proofing tools. Team members can add comments and custom notes to any file in Smartsheet. For video files, these notes can even be time-stamped.
- Automatic workflows. Workflows can do everything from updating information on a grid to sending you custom reminders to changing a project’s timeline. Best of all, you can make and edit workflows with an intuitive visual editor – no need to deal with burdensome formulas.
Check out our expert Smartsheet review for more details.
|Ease of use||Accessible to all, but it has a learning curve|
|Project views on free plan||
|Free project templates||Up to 350+ templates &
130+ template sets (depending on region)
|Cheapest paid plan||$7.00|
Sometimes, project management is as simple as making a to-do list and keeping track of various tasks. That’s easy enough for one person, but as your team grows, even this becomes increasingly difficult. That’s where Asana comes in.
Asana is easily one of the most intuitive pieces of project management software out there, with a friendly interface, a highly customizable design, and a wide selection of “get started” materials. Even on the free plan, you can create unlimited teams of up to 15 people. This means that, with a little ingenuity, you could have an entire enterprise operating on the free plan.
That said, the free plan denies you access to some of Asana’s coolest features. These include its custom forms, timeline view, and the ability to automate tasks with the workflow builder. Asana’s Premium plan unlocks these and various other features that can greatly improve your team’s efficiency.
- Detailed tasks with subtasks. Part of what makes Asana so great for in-team communication is the level of depth that you can go to when setting up tasks. Besides the classic description and assignee, Asana allows you to add unlimited subtasks, add files for revision, and even send “appreciations” to team members to signify a job well done.
- Briefs and overviews. The detailed information doesn’t stop with tasks. You can create an elaborate brief for every project you create in Asana, to which you can attach any of a large variety of file types. You can then add milestones, goals, and status reports to help keep everyone motivated.
- Team-wide communication. You get an impressive suite of communication features with Asana, such as @ tagging and direct messaging. You can even send team-wide messages that include multimedia, specific mentions, and direct links to different projects.
- Hundreds of integrations. Even on the free plan, Asana offers over 100 apps and integrations to help you improve your workflow. These integrations cover everything from simple time-tracking tools to advanced workflow analytics.
Read our expert Asana review for more details.
|Ease of use||Easy|
|Project views on free plan||
|Free project templates||70+|
|Cheapest paid plan||$11.00|
If you’re a beginner, project management software can seem daunting. The highly-specialized features, unfamiliar terminology, and often overly-technical user interfaces can leave would-be project managers scratching their heads. Teamwork tosses all of this out of the window for an intuitive, easy-to-navigate design.
This doesn’t mean that it’s light on features, though. Teamwork provides everything you need to start your first project. Besides task management, you can create basic invoices, track time, and share up to 100MB worth of files. You can also change your interface’s color and themes.
If you’re looking to upgrade, you don’t need to go straight for the most expensive plan. Even on its cheapest Deliver plan, you can add unlimited users and collaborators. This means that if you don’t need all the bells-and-whistles, you could manage a medium-sized team for only $10.00 a month.
- Built-in time-tracking. Easily track the time you and your teammates spend doing different tasks.
- Basic invoice creation. Teamwork is one of the few options that lets you create basic invoices and bills on its free plan.
- Subtasks and dependencies. Sometimes you need to get more specific than just assigning tasks. By adding subtasks and dependencies, you can maintain a greater degree of control over what gets done and how.
- Basic dashboards. Teamwork doesn’t offer the most advanced dashboards, but they still allow you to digest most relevant information at a glance.
Read our expert Teamwork review for more details.
|Ease of use||Super easy|
|Project views on free plan||
|Free project templates||No|
|Cheapest paid plan||$10.00|
If your team already uses Zoho’s services, then Projects is the next logical step. But that’s not the only reason to use it. Projects handles in-team communication incredibly well.
If you’re doing anything that requires detail-oriented work, Zoho Projects ensures that you and your team are always on the same page thanks to its issue tracker, built-in messaging, and live feed.
The task management itself is also pretty impressive. You can add comments and upload files to any task, set priorities, and specify completion percentages. And if you need a more complete view of how your project is coming along, the project dashboard gives you a quick view of all the relevant information, like overdue tasks, issue status, and a progress chart.
As you might have guessed by now, there are some limits to the free plan. You can only add up to 3 users and work on 2 projects at a time, for instance. There’s also a 10MB storage limit, which is quite restrictive. If you’re handling a larger team, it’d be worth your while to invest in Zoho Project’s Premium plan.
- Advanced task dependencies. Zoho Projects lets you choose from 4 different task dependencies. Whenever you set a dependency, it automatically moves the task on the timeline to avoid conflicts.
- In-task issue tracker. Projects’ issue tracker lets you link issues to any specific task. You can set an issue’s severity level, assign users to it, and upload custom resolutions. If you attach an issue to an affected milestone, you’ll only be able to complete the milestone once the issue is fixed.
- Custom project feed. The feed feature lets you start and contribute to conversations, just like a social media feed. Thanks to this simple feature, you can keep communication within a project open and free-flowing.
- Basic task reports. Projects gives you a selection of basic reports. These display simple pie charts summarizing the status, milestone progress, priority, completion, owner, and tags across all of your tasks.
Read our expert Zoho Projects review for more details.
|Ease of use||Fairly easy|
|Project views on free plan||
|Free project templates||No|
|Cheapest paid plan||$4.00|
TeamGantt is the easiest tool around for creating and working with Gantt charts. Its user-friendly interface, extensive tutorial selection, and intuitive drag-and-drop features all make TeamGantt ideal if you’re just getting started with Gantt charts and project management.
To start a project using TeamGantt, all you have to do is create an account, choose a template, and start adding tasks to the timeline. You can change the length, dependencies, and associated milestones of a task with a couple of clicks. And if you only want to see certain information, TeamGantt also offers some of the most robust filtering tools out there.
Unfortunately, the restrictions on the free plan might make it unsuitable for more complex projects. If you need to work on multiple projects simultaneously or your team is bigger than three people, the Standard Plan has the functionality you need. But if you’re a beginner, or you’re working on a single project, you’ll be surprised just how much mileage you can get out of the free plan.
- RACI matrix. The RACI matrix lets you assign members of your team to responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed roles. Each of these roles has a predetermined set of permissions and responsibilities.
- Baseline creation. Before you start a project, you can set a timeline as a baseline. At any point down the line, you can compare your project’s current status to this baseline with a single click. That way, you’ll know if you’re over or under schedule, and you can figure out the best way to course correct if needed.
- Useful “my tasks” view. Sometimes you don’t need to look at a project’s whole timeline to decide what to do next. If you just want to see what you have to do and when, the “my tasks” view gives you this information quickly.
- Project history. The project history tab lets you track every change that has been made to your project over time, giving you an impressive degree of oversight.
Read our expert TeamGantt review for more details.
|Ease of use||The easiest tool for beginners|
|Project views on free plan||
|Free project templates||30+|
|Cheapest paid plan||$24.95|
Conclusion: Quality Doesn’t Have To Come at a Premium
Quality project management software can help you take your productivity to the next level. And now you know you don’t have to spend a lot – or even anything – to get it. There are plenty of great free project management solutions you can start using today to improve your organization.
If you aren’t trying to manage a team, monday.com will help you manage your schedule like nothing else can.
If you need a more collaborative tool, Asana offers excellent team management features.
Finally, if you’re looking to manage a big, complex project to a tight deadline, Smartsheet offers the most powerful features on this list – even if it does come with a bit of a learning curve.
|Free Plan||Best Feature||Best For||Starting Price|
|monday.com||✔||Great balance of ease of use and flexibility||Individuals who need a powerful organizational tool||$8.00|
|Smartsheet||✘||Incredibly detailed and powerful spreadsheets||Teams working on a complex project||$7.00|
|Asana||✔||Unlimited teams of up to 15 users||Teams that tackle recurring work||$11.00|
|Teamwork||✔||Almost no learning curve||Beginners looking for a well-rounded solution||$10.00|
|Zoho Projects||✔||Integrations with Zoho’s ecosystem||Zoho users and small remote teams||$4.00|
|TeamGantt||✔||Intuitive drag-and-drop Gantt charts||Anyone looking to create useful Gantt charts||$24.95|
What is project management software?In the simplest possible terms, project management software helps teams manage the timelines, workloads, and other aspects of a project. Most project management software will allow you to assign tasks, set deadlines, and communicate with team members. Depending on the tool you’re using, you might also be able to set up invoices, create dependencies between tasks, and automate data entry.What’s the best free project management software?There’s no single right answer to this question. There’s a lot of great free project management software out there (and plenty not-so-great), and the answer will vary depending on your needs. If you just want something to help you better manage your personal projects, I recommend monday.com. Its free plan has by far the most complete feature set, and its interface is very user friendly. If you need to manage larger teams, Asana’s free plan offers easy project management and unlimited teams.Do I need project management software?I’d say it can go either way for individuals and small teams. For some, project management software can massively improve their productivity, time management, and communication. For others, it might just complicate their workflow. For larger and/or remote teams – and especially those working on the most complex projects – project management software is pretty much essential. If nothing else, it will help prevent important details from being overlooked and significant communication failures from occurring.How do I choose the right project management software?When you’re choosing project management software, you really need to consider the particular needs of you or your team. Working remotely? You’ll need strong communication options. On a budget? There are great free project management tools that also offer productivity-boosting and affordable premium features that might be worth the cost. For an in-depth look at your options, check out our list of the best project management software in 2022.