Best Online Project Management Software
Updated: February 14, 2020
Managing a team can be taxing, but the right online project management software can make all the difference. Glorified Excel sheets and shared calendars sometimes fall short when you're managing an entire team. Project management software brings you and your staff to one space where you can schedule tasks and keep up with assignments. With management tools and features, you can track all your team's work and meet deadlines consistently and efficiently.
Although true success depends on your company's work ethic, the right project management system can help guide your business toward greatness. Each system has its own selection of features that add to its strengths and support the uniqueness of each company. To help you figure out which one is right for you, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. Our best picks are below, as well as a comprehensive list of online project management software in case our choices don't fit your needs.
Our Best Picks
Best Overall System
Best for Analyzing Overall Company Data
Best for Digital Workflow
Best Free Option
Wrike's integrations are so diverse that they allow just about any kind of company to use them, from tech and finance to creative or art-based companies. Wrike may not have the most integrations, but it proves that quality wins over quantity when it comes to a seamless digital workflow. In addition to its organizational structure – which includes folders, task management tools and automatic assignments – Wrike saves you time by creating a capable space users won't have to exit to supplement their needs or find features.
In addition to being a strong online management tool, the app encourages conversation and dialogue between team members through threaded conversations, status updates and spaces for feedback. Although it has integration options to bridge gaps in communication, the Workfront software itself specializes in that, which can help build rapport between colleagues around the world.
What Is Project Management Software?
Project management software is a digital tool to help you plan projects, schedule tasks, and track your time and assignments. It's an online space where you and your team can collaborate and share data.
Who can benefit from using project management software?
Whether you work in media or construction, if you manage a team, you can always use a little help. It is especially beneficial for companies that use remote workers. We often find ourselves relying on shared calendars or spreadsheets of to-dos and information. With project management software, there's no need to send email updates about an assignment; assignments as well as reminders are sent through the program. The entire team has access to the program so they can check in and understand their role in a project no matter where they are. Therefore, any company that has freelance workers or wants to put all its project planning in one place could benefit from this tool. If you find that your organization or communication skills are lacking in some areas, a project management tool can beef up your team coordination.
Why should you use project management software?
Project management software can improve your company and your work ethic as a team. It not only helps with organization – some companies, like LiquidPlanner, also analyze your team's work and progress. This data can help you figure out where your business can improve and where you can work harder. It also puts everything in one space, which helps you cut down on emails and other application use. It promotes collaboration and helps hold staff accountable for their assignments and deadlines. In a nutshell, project management software neatens your workflow, which is a bonus for any company.
Key Features of Online Project Management Software
The elements of a resource management system are the roots of a quality program. When it comes to organizing a business, to-do lists just won't cut it. It's easy to confuse an innovative communication platform for an online project management tool, especially when it provides a space for shared work and collaboration. However, a good project management tool has important features that set it apart from simple communication systems.
Strong scheduling and task management tools are the base of a sound system. Juggling a bunch of projects can be confusing at the best of times, but an easy-to-use project plan system can make all the difference. It's an efficient way to let your employees understand what you want and ensure information is communicated properly.
It's also important to have a space for team collaboration. Whether the service is within the software or provided through integrations, remote workers in particular depend on a reliable space where you can work directly with your team.
The available integrations are important to consider. Having a million integration tools does not mean that a system is the most efficient option; your company's needs and tasks will determine whether a certain management platform has the right integrations for you. Even the most comprehensive system should still give the option of integrations with other software to make collaboration and communication easier.
It's just as important to have a reliable way to communicate with your team and a way for them to report to you. Look out for real-time reporting options that help your employees keep you up to date on ongoing projects. This will help you manage projects through shared files and track the performance of your team.
An invoicing feature can also come in handy. This will provide the tools you need to create a clear budget for a project, calculate extra costs, send quotes to clients, calculate billable hours and bill clients.
Other important features include a mobile app and a time-tracking feature so you know how much time your team has spent on projects. Tracking software also comes with milestone features to mark progress and notify you of the completion of an entire project. These tools on hand can make collaboration and task management much easier.
Whether you have five or 50 people on your team, many online project management tools can cater to your company's needs without being expensive. Typically, you can expect to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee for access to the cloud-hosted software.
The exact price is based on several factors, including the features you want and how many people will be using the software. You can expect to pay anywhere from around $10 to a little over $100 a month. You can often save money by signing up for an annual subscription instead of paying month to month.
In addition to the paid plans, some providers offer free project management software. Take Basecamp, for example. The free version allows 20 users to operate the system. Although cost and features of project management apps and companies vary, it's important to consider what a free version offers before deciding to purchase a paid subscription. If the software offers a demo or free trial, take advantage of it so you don't end up paying for something you don't need or find difficult to navigate.
Some services charge through monthly or annual subscriptions, while other companies charge a flat one-time fee that gives you the software forever. This is called perpetual licensing, which can still entail a recurring payment to the vendor – not for the software, but for support or product upgrades. If you're concerned about the security of your data, this may be a good option. However, be mindful of hidden costs, like installation or maintenance fees, when choosing this type of payment option.
We're dedicated to helping you find the best project management platform for your small business, and it's important to understand how we came to our conclusions. Here's how we analyzed vendors and arrived at our best picks.
Locating the Best Services
First, we gathered the names of more than 70 reputable online project and document management vendors. These were software companies that other sites recommended and favored as well. We also looked at other lists of the best software from last year to see if they were still quality competitors.
Choosing the Best Services
Next, we cut down our list by checking if the software had key features of project management services, like multiple collaboration and tracking options and the relevant integrations. We made sure the vendors we kept on our list not only offer collaboration features, but actively and efficiently track progress and provide clear information on their websites for interested users.
Researching Each Service
We then narrowed down the list and came to our best picks based on what each group displayed best. For instance, one category was best for digital workflow, for which we analyzed different programs' integration options and how they were incorporated into the software. We judged the best free options not by how many features they offer but by the specific tools they provide. We determined the best for teams with remote workers by the system's number of collaboration options and digital clarity to loop in out-of-office staff. For the best for analyzing company data, we considered software that takes the extra step of analyzing your company itself in addition to the work you produce, which can help you understand your company's strengths and weaknesses in work ethic or efficiency. The options for best overall were vendors we felt could fit all of these use cases and didn't have many limitations. We further examined all finalist services to see if they have a free trial or version available, a chatbot or direct online customer support option on their website, a mobile app (preferably for both iOS and Android), integrations (and how many), ways to track progress, collaboration, security, and contract options. Finally, we contacted each company directly, posing as a small business owner interested in the software to see what their customer support was like before making our final decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What online project management software is easiest to use?
When it comes to scheduling assignments and tracking your company's progress, the last thing you want is for the management software you paid for to be confusing. There isn't one specific product that is the easiest to use, because every business is different and requires certain things, but there are features and tools you can consider to make your user experience painless.
For example, a Gantt chart in your system helps uncomplicate data because it illustrates the project schedule. Its visual representation is simple to fill in. Also, a user-friendly and uncluttered interface is a sign of straightforward design. Your program shouldn't look like an Excel sheet. Flexible customization features will also make it simpler to operate your project management system and put things on your level.
How do you manage a project management system effectively?
Project managing systems won't magically make you organized. Before you can venture into a digital system, you must organize your team so that the information you'll put into the system is clear to everyone. Make sure you and your team understand all the project objectives. Some features or tabs of the software may not make sense right off the bat, so get familiar with the system before you upload your information so you can answer your team's questions as well.
Just to be safe, see if your software vendor offers support services so you can ask technical questions before and after your team has moved into the system. This will help your company avoid lulls in productivity due to misunderstandings.
What makes online project management services expensive?
The prices of project management services and task management software are diverse and depend on many factors, like the number of users, storage amount and features. Also, if you customize your features, you may have to pay way more than the set packages cost.
What should you look for when searching for an online project management service?
Look for a system that has integration tools your company will actually use. It's also important for the software to have a tracking system that you're comfortable with and multiple collaboration options and templates. That way, you and your team can choose which setting makes the most sense to you.
What is one feature you should look for in online project management software that will improve your team?
A feature you shouldn't let slip through the cracks is a data analytics system that monitors your company's progress. Although it's important to keep an eye on deadlines and schedule assignments, some systems also help you see where your company could pick up the pace or can afford to slow down. A good program should improve your team's work ethic, so you should strongly consider a system with this level of analysis.
Our Previous Best Picks
At Business News Daily, we are dedicated to finding the best products and services for small businesses. We know that your time is limited, and we invest hours of research and testing so you feel confident about our recommendations.
We update our best picks each year, investigating new changes and companies in the industry, and scrutinizing both new and existing products and services. Our process also involves revisiting companies we previously selected as best picks to evaluate whether they still are the best in their category.
In addition to our online project management recommendations this year, we have reviews of companies that were previously our best picks: