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Best Online Project Management Software of 2021

By
Simone R. Johnson
,
Business News Daily Staff
| Updated
Dec 17, 2020

Online project management software helps organize your team's work into one central location. Here are our best picks.
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Modern, user-friendly interface
Advanced project management tools
Free 14-day trial, no commitment
Best for Remote Workers and Freelancers
Generates alignment scorecards
Supports unlimited proofs
Automated approvals
Best Free Software
Supports unlimited projects and users
No per-user fees
Option for personal projects
Best Overall
Free training
Integration with Zoho Invoice/Books
10-day free trial
Best for Customization
Hosts files up to 250MB
Supports unlimited buttons & rules
Custom backgrounds & stickers
Online project management software helps organize your team's work into one central location. Here are our best picks.

Online project management systems help small businesses more easily and effectively manage their current workload. Check out our picks for the best online project management programs for your small business.

  • Online project management software offers businesses a way to track the progress of key assignments and projects.
  • This type of online software gives employees a dedicated space where they can collaborate on current projects.
  • Online project management software typically costs $10 to $100 per month.
  • This guide is for small business owners who are looking for recommendations on the best online project management software.

Managing a team can be taxing, but the right online project management software can make all the difference. To help you choose the right project management software solution for you, we researched and analyzed dozens of options. We based our decisions on several factors, including cost, ease of use, and the included features and tools. 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.

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Our Reviews

monday.com: Featured Sponsor

monday.com is a powerful project management solution that helps teams plan and execute projects that deliver results on time, whether they are in the office, home, or on the go.

Its ease of use and flexibility means fast onboarding for your team and the ability to customize workflows your way. With powerful productivity features such as time tracking, automated notifications, dependencies, timeline views, and integrations, your team can achieve better and faster results for every project milestone.

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Workfront: Best Online Project Management Software for Remote Workers and Freelancers

Workfront uses AI technology to create tasks for specific team members based on their analyzed workflow.
Workfront has threaded conversations, status updates and spaces for feedback, which can make remote employees feel more connected.
Workfront has a complicated pricing structure.
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Workfront is a powerhouse for storing large batches of information and projects. Despite its many functions, its interface and management system are simple and easy to use, which is especially important for businesses with a large remote workforce. Workfront's collaboration options allow users to work together and communicate on projects in real time. All of this is why it's our choice as the best online project management software for remote workers.

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.

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Basecamp: Best Free Online Project Management Software

Team members using Basecamp can post comments, questions, and files, which encourages collaboration among employees.
Team leaders can automate reminders for employees.
You can only reach customer support by submitting a request online.
Basecamp's free version is a desirable option for small businesses, as it provides access for up to 20 users. The free version comes complete with access to templates and projects. Basecamp offers a paid plan that supports unlimited users and projects, and includes more than a dozen features that automate various aspects of your company's workflow process while ensuring teams stay updated on the status of current projects.
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Zoho Projects: Best Overall Online Project Management Software

Zoho's interface is similar to a social media feed, which makes it easy to understand.
Zoho offers a range of pricing plans that can fit in just about any business's budget.
Some features can be difficult to find.
Zoho Projects is our choice as the best overall online project management software. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy to navigate the software with confidence, and seamlessly schedule tasks and assignments for your team. Several tracking and portfolio management tools further streamline your digital workflow. Zoho Projects caters to small businesses specifically and has a customizable system that businesses can mold according to their needs.
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Trello: Best Online Project Management Software for Customization

Trello offers unlimited cards and lists.
Trello has more than 100 integrations.
Trello does not have a direct phone number users can call for help.
Trello is an extremely flexible online project management software solution that allows you to tailor the software to suit how your team works. You can create custom project cards, board buttons and stickers. Trello has a free plan in addition to two paid plans that cost $9.99 or $17.50 per user, per month, respectively. The software includes several helpful features, including options for team members to comment on activity, options to add labels for prioritizing tasks, and the ability to integrate the software with other programs you use.
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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
53
Considered
20
Researched
4
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Zoho Projects Basecamp Trello Workfront
Tracking charts Global Gantt chart

Hill chart tracking

Public board management, organization visible boards and Gantt charts

Gantt charts
Free trial 10-day free trial Free version/30-day free trial Free version/14-day free trial Users can request a free trial
Invoicing feature Zoho Invoice/Books integration

Billing and invoices section

Invoices and receipts for Trello Business Class and Trello Gold Project finances/billing, budget and performance
Storage limit File storage up to 120 GB 1GB storage space, but users can upgrade space 250MB per file attachment Users can use a dedicated storage area;  document storage integrations are available

Online Project Management Pricing

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 more than $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 up to 20 users to operate the system for no cost. Although the 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 monthly or annually, while other companies charge a flat one-time licensing fee that gives you the software forever. This is called perpetual licensing, but it 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, when evaluating solutions with this type of payment option, ask the company to outline all costs, including installation, maintenance, and customer support fees.

Key takeaway: Most online project management software is available in a monthly or yearly subscription. You can expect to pay anywhere between $10 and $100 for the software. Some providers offer free versions or free trials.

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

A good project management solution has strong scheduling and task management tools that form the foundation of a sound system. Juggling several projects simultaneously can be confusing during the best of times, but easy-to-use project management software can make all the difference. It's an efficient way for employees to understand the parameters of a project and ensure information is communicated properly. 

It's important to have a tool for team collaboration. Whether that function is provided within the software or through integrations, remote workers, in particular, depend on a reliable space they can use to work with their peers and stay up to date on work projects.

Integration options are another important factor to consider. Having a million integration tools does not mean that a system is the most efficient option; rather, your company's needs and tasks ultimately determine whether a certain solution has the right integrations for you.

Your team needs a reliable way to communicate with each other and to report to you. Look out for real-time reporting options that help employees (and you) stay updated on projects. This will help you manage projects through shared files and track the performance of your team. 

An invoicing feature can also be very useful. This feature can help you establish a budget for a project, calculate extra costs, send quotes to clients, calculate billable hours and bill clients – all from the software. 

Other important project management 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 when a project is complete.

Key takeaway: Online project management software includes many valuable tools to keep projects moving forward. Among the important features to look for are space for team collaboration and communication, real-time reporting and integrations with many popular programs.

Online Project Management System FAQs

What is project management software?

Project management software is a digital tool that helps 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 benefits from using project management software? 

Whether you work in media or construction, when you manage a team, you can always use additional help. Project management software is especially beneficial for companies that employ remote workers. Many companies rely on shared calendars or spreadsheets of to-dos and information, which can fall prey to technical issues. With project management software, there's no need to send email updates about an assignment. Updates and reminders are sent directly via the software.

Since the entire team has access to the program, they can check-in and understand their role in a project – and the current status of that project – no matter where they are. Any company that wants to streamline all of its project planning in one central place can benefit from this tool. If your organization or communication skills are lacking in some areas, a project management tool can beef up your team's 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 pinpoint areas where your business can improve and where you can work harder. It also puts everything in one space, which helps you reduce the number of emails sent and downsize other applications your company is using. It promotes collaboration and helps hold staff accountable for their assignments and deadlines. In a nutshell, project management software streamlines your workflow, which is a bonus for any company.

What online project management software is the easiest to use? 

When it comes to scheduling assignments and tracking your company's progress, the last thing you need is for the management software you paid dearly for to be confusing. Use our best pick recommendations to guide you. We've researched 20 software programs to isolate the best overall application, the best software for customization, the best free solution, and the best software for freelancers and remote employees. Within each of our reviews, we rate each program on its ease of use and the pros and cons of each platform.

Every business is different and requires certain things, but there are some features and tools that make your user experience painless. For example, a Gantt chart illustrates all of the tasks in a project and displays them in a timeline. Also, a user-friendly and uncluttered interface factors significantly into ease of use. The software shouldn't look like an Excel sheet brimming with technical data. Flexible customization features 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 venture into a digital system, you should organize your team so that the information you'll input into the system is clear to everyone. Some features may not make sense immediately, so take advantage of the free trials our best picks offer to familiarize yourself with the system before you upload your information and answer your team's questions as well. 

Additionally, ask the software vendor what support services they offer so you can ask technical questions before and after your team has moved over to 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 factors like the number of users, the amount of storage needed, and features. Also, if you customize your features, you may have to pay more than the cost of the preset packages. 

What should you look for when searching for an online project management service?

Look for a system that has integration tools your company will 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 with online project management software that will improve your team?

Check whether the software has data analytics that monitor your company's progress. Although it's important to monitor deadlines and schedule assignments, some systems advise you on areas where your company could pick up the pace or can afford to slow down. A good program should improve your team's efficiency.

Community Expert Insights

We spoke with small business owners about which online project management solutions they use and what they like about them.

Dmytro Okunyev, founder of communication and collaboration software Chanty, said project management software should save you time and help you complete assignments and clear communication hurdles with ease.

"We look for something that makes us move quickly and doesn't bog down our workflow with unnecessary elements and add-ons," Okunyev told Business News Daily. "We chose Jira because it's easy for our development team to track bugs and have shorter sprints."

Although he has tried other programs like Basecamp, Asana, Monday.com and Trello, Okunyev said he favors Jira because its many features give his company more control over the system's management and organization.

"We switched from Trello to Jira because, although Trello was great, it was far too simple and limiting compared to Jira," Okunyev said.

For Bryce Walker, CEO of Crush Empire, integrations were critical – he needed the integrations to be a seamless component of the system that also kept employees informed.

"The ability to make instant edits to documents and spreadsheets via Drive and mark our progress via Trello has enabled my company to stay efficient and coordinated despite many of us living in different time zones," said Walker.

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, here are our previous best picks: 

LiquidPlanner: Best Software for Analyzing Overall Company Data
Jira: Best Agile Project Management Software
Wrike: Best Software for Digital Workflows
TeamGantt: Best for Teams With Freelancers
Teamwork Projects: Best for Small Teams

Methodology

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 53 reputable online project and document management vendors. These companies comprised software vendors that are recognized as leading solutions and companies that have requested consideration from Business News Daily.

Choosing the Best Services

Next, we evaluated the solutions to see if they had key project management tools and features, like multiple collaboration and tracking options and integrations, that we look for. We took advantage of free trials to assess the collaboration features and how well each software solution actively and efficiently kept track of the progress of our hypothetical work projects.

Researching Each Service

We then narrowed down the list further, grouping solutions into our use cases (best overall, best for customization, best free software, best for remote workers and freelancers) and then evaluated the solutions based on criteria we used to evaluate each of our use cases. For example, when researching which software was the best for customization, we analyzed different programs' flexibility and how much control it allows users within the software. We judged the best free project management solution not on the number of features the free version has but the specific tools each program provides that help teams work better together. For our determination of the best solution for teams with remote workers, we scrutinized the number of collaboration options and how well the software looped in out-of-office staff. As a final step, 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.
Simone R. Johnson
Simone R. Johnson
Business News Daily Staff
Simone R. Johnson was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from the University of Rochester in 2017 with a dual degree in English language media and communications and film media production. She has been a reporter for several New York publications prior to joining Business News Daily and business.com as a full-time staff writer. When she isn't writing, she enjoys community enrichment projects that serve disadvantaged groups and rereading her favorite novels.
Image Credit: Ralwel / Getty Images
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