The Best Free Project Management Software Tools For 2020

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Businesses have to juggle numerous projects and resources on a daily basis. Delegating tasks, collaborating across teams and managing multiple projects simultaneously can get difficult day in and day out. Any bottlenecks or communication silos within teams can hamper productivity and waste valuable resources. Thankfully, free project management software can help streamline your processes without breaking the bank.

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Best Project Management Software Tools

Project management software refers to groups of solutions ranging from basic work management tools to heavy-duty portfolio management solutions. A PMI report revealed that organizations save 28 times more money with project management initiatives thanks to more reliable outcomes. It is essential to understand these differences and find an effective tool that delivers on your professional goals efficiently.

Selecting the perfect system for your business is challenging, especially if you are looking to keep costs to a minimum. We are here to help you declutter the maze of available free project management tools so that you can find the right fit for your company. First, let’s look at why free project management software works.

Is Free Software Worth It?

Project management software encompasses suites of tools that boost an organization’s productivity. Managing projects has become increasingly complex over the years regardless of if you own a startup or large enterprise. Luckily, free project management tools can streamline collaboration and project tracking tasks to streamline complex tasks.

The purpose of free project management software is to simplify and organize projects from conception to completion. They centralize all relevant information, saving you the hassle of shuttling back and forth through a labyrinth of folders to retrieve information for a project. Their numerous capabilities include project tracking, workflow creation, resource management, file sharing within teams and budgeting.

Apart from these, this software assists businesses with risk mitigation using project tracker tools that predict the completion dates of different project phases. Project trackers let managers prepare contingency plans for worst-case scenarios so that they can always meet deadlines.

Statistics suggest that companies using any kind of project management solution are able to meet their budget estimates, stay on schedule and meet the scope and standards of their projects. According to Hive, 77% of high performing projects use project management software.

The following is a list of objectives you can do with free project management software:

  • Collaborate Easily: Project management software can handle numerous issues during a project’s life cycle. It supports effective communication between teams and individuals in case of a problem. It also enables the smooth transfer of documents, files, status updates and more.
  • Boost Productivity: Deploying project management software helps organize tasks and deadlines without confusion. These tools come pre-built with scheduling compliance that helps administrators keep projects on track while allocating and specifying tasks with a single click.
  • Manage Resources Effectively: By eliminating confusion related to various tasks, it helps employees utilize their time effectively. It streamlines multiple stages of a project cycle and helps manage a workforce effectively. Proper workforce management also helps cut down on unnecessary expenses to avoid budgeting issues.
  • Avoid Cumbersome Paperwork: Many companies are still dependent on pen and paper methods to list their projects and resources. These practices not only risk numerous manual entry errors but also require tedious amounts of paperwork. A project management suite automates data entry to avoid human error and save the user time.

For the above reasons, businesses have begun relying on free project management tools to organize themselves, prevent over budgeting and gain maximum return on investment.

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Key Features

Opting for free project management software is attractive, particularly when your organization is stretched thin. Without these key features, an inexpensive project management solution might prove to be more of a headache than a help. Our SelectHub analyst team dug through the free offerings in the project management market and discovered these top features to be sure and look for:

Pre-Built Project Templates

Efficient project management software should provide several pre-built project templates with multi-level work breakdown structures and Gantt charts. These templates let users create projects quickly. Pre-built templates remove the hassle of creating new models from scratch and can be customized according to user requirements. Most project management tools also provide templates for industries like IT and engineering, marketing, professional services, events, HR, construction and services.

Task Creation and Kanban View of Tasks

One of the essential building blocks for a successful project management solution is the ability to create tasks and subtasks for completion within a defined timeframe to meet project deadlines. Users can copy, move, reorder, set recurrence and priority of tasks and subtasks. Most project management apps allow tasks to align with Kanban views for simplified access. Tasks can be listed on individual cards, and users can move these cards to different columns as they progress through different phases of project completion.

Creation of User Groups

Project management tools should facilitate the creation of user groups based on multiple criteria like requirements, clients, users and other project needs. This functionality lets administrators segregate multiple projects and user groups while simplifying information sharing to a project team. Users can also add, edit, reorder or delete a group based on its relevance.

Customized Workflows

An efficient project management system should support custom workflows to streamline processes, enable information access and minimize risks. Individual workflows for different projects can also help delineate responsibilities to suitable individuals, automate processes and set up an audit trail for a project lifecycle.

Report Builder

Customized reporting is quintessential to any growing business. A free tool should support report building and customization to fit your needs. Custom reports offer a deeper understanding of one’s business performance and staff capabilities. Depending on whether a business requires a basic or advanced data report, users can accurately capture information based on specific parameters. Customization should be a simple process where users can choose the information they want to capture without any technical assistance.

Dashboards

Project management software should come bundled with pre-built dashboards that display a summary of projects in the pipeline, resources allocated to them and activities carried out to complete them. Dashboards provide managers with a condensed version of all information about various projects, with easy access.

Charts and Visualizations

Any project management suite worth its merit should support visualizations like Gantt charts, pie charts, control charts, flow diagrams or line charts for the graphical representation of project highlights. Visualizations of task dates help prepare a summary of various tasks and events associated with a project.

Budget and Forecasting

For any business, setting realistic budgets is of the utmost importance. A robust project management solution helps prepare budgets based on resource plans while calculating appropriate billing rates for a scheduled number of hours. According to the Harvard Business Review, IT projects exceed their estimated cost by 27% on average, and one in six projects result in a cost overrun of as much as 200%. A project management tool helps businesses slash their unnecessary expenditures and overall cost overruns. PM tools provide accurate data that helps businesses make informed financial decisions, and forecasting features offer detailed business insights that enable intelligent decision making.

Risk Management

Businesses always need to assess risks associated with projects and minimize them effectively. A successful project management tool helps businesses prepare a comprehensive risk management plan and organize risks that could hamper a project lifecycle. Managers can identify risks related to a project’s pace, execution and resources and minimize them before problems arise.

The market is flooded with free options with a broad palette of features and attractive bells and whistles. However, the above list of features will come in handy to steer your business toward the right solution.

Top Five Free Project Management Software Tools

Our SelectHub analyst team gathered up the top-performing solutions in the free project management software space and came up with this list of the top five contenders and their standout benefits, features and limitations:
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ClickUp

ClickUp is a cloud-hosted collaboration and project management solution that is suitable for businesses of all sizes. It streamlines day-to-day functions, including task management, process management, time management, team collaboration, customization and reporting. It lets users break up project tasks and assign them to groups or individuals. Administrators can also organize ongoing projects in the dashboard for quick access.

ClickUp

ClickUp offers its users the flexibility of configuring notifications for essential items. It notifies team members who are mentioned in a discussion and lets them edit their comments after posting.

Standout Benefits & Features

ClickUp offers several useful tools and capabilities. Here are some of its key offerings:

  • Free Forever Version: Unlike limited use free software versions, ClickUp provides a free forever version of its software suite. The free version supports any number of users to accomplish unlimited tasks and comes with a storage capacity of 100 MB. It also allows full access to guest users.
  • Portfolio: ClickUp’s portfolio is a central place to organize team objectives and track initiative progress. It helps its users organize sprints, monitor campaigns, link their business initiatives and gain an overview of initiative progress.
  • Automation: It lets administrators set up combinations of triggers and actions to automate repetitive actions. Users can modify pre-built templates or create their own set of customized automation rules.
  • Hierarchy: Its hierarchy feature is structured into four levels — workspace, space, folder, and lists. The top level allows for the creation of multiple workspaces and switching between them without information transfer. Spaces supports all of ClickUp’s customizations, and users can create different workflows within them. Folders, which are ranked at the third level, are groups of lists that contain tasks and help organize tasks. At the bottom of the hierarchy are tasks. Users can assign tasks with comments and a list of actionable items required to resolve them.
  • Workload Chart: Its drag-and-drop interface gives administrators a clear view of workload charts for time estimates, tasks and agile/scrum points. This data helps users determine which resources are overstressed and require additional aid.
  • Customizable Templates: This solution offers customizable templates for everyday tasks, including landing pages, blog posts, bug reports, contacts and more. It also allows users to set predefined tags, fields and locations within task templates.
  • Dashboards: ClickUp’s dashboards make use of customizable widgets to offer insights into projects, sprints, tasks, resources and more. Documents and conversations are embeddable for quick retrieval. As a default setting, all dashboards are private, visible to the user who created them and can be shared with team members. The free version limits dashboard users to 100.
  • Reporting: The platform provides access to seven different types of reports to gain insights into team performance, including completed tasks, progress, team productivity points, identifying roadblocks, time tracked for each task, time estimations and more. The free plan is limited to only reporting on completed tasks.
  • Gantt Charts: ClickUp offers a dynamic project timeline that prioritizes projects, schedules tasks and manages dependencies. Gantt charts provide an overview of all projects, lists, spaces and tasks. Users can create cascading views to update projects and sort and create tasks while linking them to dependencies for critical path tracking.

Limitations

No system is without a few faults, here are some pitfalls to be aware of:

  • Doesn’t provide alerts for security breaches
  • Doesn’t offer two-way audio and video features
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Compare Pricing & Costs with our Project Management Software Pricing Guide

Jira

Jira is a cloud-based project management solution that is centralized and customizable. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes across industries like retail, financial services, automotive, technology, government, life sciences and more. It has capabilities that cater to specialized teams such as HR, finance, marketing, legal operations and IT.

Jira

Users can log all their projects into a central database where they undergo several processes. Jira helps administrators prepare project roadmaps to track the progress of all projects, and drag-and-drop features let teams monitor every project in detail. It enables the creation of user stories and issues, plans sprints and divides tasks across teams. It also offers a mobile application for iOS and Android devices to manage projects on-the-go.

Standout Benefits & Features

Jira provides an attractive suite of tools without having to spend a penny. Here are some of its major features:

  • Scrum Boards: Scrum boards are a customizable tool for agile teams to work towards a single goal. It promotes incremental and iterative delivery and visually displays the progress of a project during its development cycle.
  • Kanban Boards: Column-shaped interface that tracks the status of various tasks. It helps visualize the scope of work, set limits on in-progress work and maximize efficiency. Each column stands for a specific activity, which collectively comprises a workflow. The cards keep moving throughout the workflow until their completion.
  • Roadmaps: Roadmaps let users prepare a timeline of their plans, update task priorities and communicate work status to other stakeholders through shareable links. They also let businesses create and visualize roadmap items, also known as epics. Epics can be broken down into smaller tasks with drag-and-drop functionality and timelines can be adjusted as the scope of work changes.
  • Project Templates: Divides projects into two categories: classic projects and next-gen software projects. This lets administrators create projects from any template and lets them prepare scrum, Kanban or bug tracking projects. It also provides additional next-gen project templates for agile teams.
  • Issues Customization: The solution lets administrators control issues related to a project by modifying configurations and behaviors to suit a team’s needs. Issue types can be customized to show various fields. Apart from this, administrators can also change how a field behaves, add values to that field or set default values.
  • Open API: The platform offers RESTand Java APIs for developers to build applications and script or customize interactions with Jira. It also offers API specific applications.
  • Native Mobile Apps: Its mobile application Jira cloud, a native app for android and iOS users, lets managers track team progress in real time. Users can create projects, customize workflow, invite team members, manage backlogs and boards, create and edit issues, chat, collaborate and share attachments on-the-go.

Limitations

Here are some pitfalls to consider:

  • Progress bar only provides details on issues currently visible in the plan.
  • Jira’s portfolio considers the entire team’s capacity to complete work while auto-scheduling a plan. It doesn’t consider individual capacity settings.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Compare Pricing & Costs with our Project Management Software Pricing Guide

Asana

Asana is a cloud-based project management solution that allows users to handle multiple projects with ease. It manages tasks for businesses of all sizes. Asana helps users track tasks for every stage of a project, set priorities, define deadlines, assign tasks and share details. Its intuitive platform includes reporting tools, calendars, file attachments and more.

Asana

Users can customize rules to automate recurring tasks. It also lets users automatically assign tasks created in Slack, Outlook and Gmail. In case of any issues, it notifies rule creators who can follow audit trails to get to the root of the problem.

Standout Benefits & Features

Asana contains a suite of powerful tools – here are some of the standout features and benefits:

  • Board View: Asana’s board view comes with a drag-and-drop interface to track various stages of the project completion cycle. Tasks can be rearranged when required, and team members get notified when tasks switch columns. Project members can also filter to view the number of subtasks within a task.
  • Calendar View: Calendar view helps users keep track of their project deadlines and milestones. It also provides easy access to tall subtasks within a task. Users can create tasks, assign tasks or add descriptions, customize fields, color code items, change due dates and mark tasks as completed.
  • Tasks: This system lets users create new tasks, duplicate an ongoing or existing task, merge two different tasks, print and delete tasks. Administrators can also set permissions for safety purposes.
  • Assignee and Due Dates: Asana helps administrators assign tasks to team members and specify their due dates.
  • Rest API: The system offers REST API to update and access data programmatically. This function can be used to automate and seamlessly integrate with other reporting tools.

Limitations

Here are a few shortcomings associated with this system:

  • Users cannot set preferred date and time formats on Asana.
  • Multiple team members cannot be assigned a single task.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Compare Pricing & Costs with our Project Management Software Pricing Guide

Wrike

Wrike is a project management solution designed for businesses of all sizes. This cloud-based platform caters to specialized teams, including marketing, project management, creative and more. It comes packed with an array of features, including Gantt charts, customized dashboards, workload views for managing resources, calendars and real-time updates. It lets users structure their work using folders, projects, tasks and auto-assigning tasks based on their status.

Wrike

It also offers add-on features like Wrike Resource, Wrike Lock, Wrike Integrate, Wrike Proof and enables two-way sync with tools like Jira and GitHub.

Standout Benefits & Features

Wrike offers a robust suite of tools. Here are some of its major features:

  • Board View: Wrike’s board view helps organize tasks in columns according to their status. Businesses can implement a customized board view for their staff based on custom workflows applied to the project, folder or space. Board view displays tasks as cards and helps users track the status of tasks, create tasks or change task status.
  • Task Management: Wrike’s task management tools allow users to create tasks, attach files, set schedules, attach files, discuss details and track progress. These tools track all deadlines automatically, send automatic reminders and notify users about tasks in progress. Task collaboration tools facilitate collaborative editing with team members holding live discussions with their staff while editing tasks. The team’s schedule for the current week can be viewed in the workload view. Administrators can use the drag-and-drop interface to reschedule work, reassign tasks or give selective access to individuals.
  • Real-Time Activity Stream: Wrike features three types of activity streams; the stream tab displays updates on tasks and subtasks and updates on modifications directly to folders or projects. The activity stream view for a folder or a project shows updates related to tasks and subtasks in a specific project or folder. Task, folder and project activity streams display updates related to a specific task or changes made to the description field of a project or folder.
  • Spreadsheet and Table View: The system lets users view tasks, projects, folders or spaces in a spreadsheet format. Users can add custom fields to tasks, projects, folders and spaces in table view. This feature lets users edit project attributes directly in table view.
  • Custom Statuses and Workflows: Wrike’s workflows comprise a set of statuses, and each workflow is composed of four different groups: active, completed, deferred, and canceled. The default workflow is available to all users, including those using the free version.
  • Third-Party Integrations: Wrike’s free version supports basic pre-built integrations with popular applications like Google Drive, Dropbox, MSFT Office 365, OneDrive and Box.
  • Open API: Wrike offers an open API to all its users, regardless of their plans. After registration, users can get client credentials by creating their account in Wrike apps and integrations portals.
  • Native Mobile Apps: Users can track and monitor the progress of tasks on-the-go through Wrike’s native iOS and Android applications. Users can also view cached data, create tasks and subtasks, change workflow statuses and drag-and-drop tasks.

Limitations

  • Doesn’t send inbox and email notifications when bulk tasks are created.
  • Doesn’t support Google Docs.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Compare Pricing & Costs with our Project Management Software Pricing Guide

Airtable

Airtable is a cloud-hosted project and database management solution suitable for small and mid-sized businesses and select departments of large enterprises. It provides solutions for various teams like PR, communications, marketing, real estate and more.

Airtable

Its suite of features includes project management, database management, contact management, collaboration, customer relationship management, content marketing, digital asset management, task management and workflow management.

Standout Benefits & Features

Airtable brings numerous free features to clients, including:

  • Grid View: Grid view is Airtable’s default view, which presents record columns in a grid. Grid view has additional features like grouped records and a summary bar. With grouped records, users can collate based on shared values in one or more fields. The summary bar can be utilized to provide a breakdown of all values in a particular field.
  • Gallery View: Gallery view displays records as large cards in a grid to highlight attachments in the form of files or images. Cards can be arranged by field.
  • Forms: Forms let users gather information and save it to an Airtable base. Forms are generated automatically from existing tables and let users remove or rearrange different fields. The free version doesn’t allow for the customization of forms with a header image.
  • Bases: Airtable’s base is a database with multiple tables, and each table has multiple views. Airtable’s free plan offers unlimited bases that can be created using a pre-built template, from scratch, duplicating an existing base or by importing an existing spreadsheet or CSV.
  • Records: Airtable lets users create, rearrange, delete and leave comments on a record. The trial version supports 1200 records per base.
  • Real-Time Collaboration: Airtable has different permission levels that allow users to share their workspace with their team members – either as a base or workspace collaborator. A base collaborator can access a specific base within a workspace while the workspace collaborator can access all bases. It also permits external clients through forms or read-only versions.
  • Standard API: Airtable’s bases provide its own API to read, create, update and destroy records. It has a basic REST API that can be accessed by any programming language in different ways.
  • Relationship Linking: The solution provides a special field type known as the ‘linked record field,’ which represents relationships between records in different tables. The free plan supports 1200 records per base, and linked records can be identified by blue link tokens.

Limitations

Users should always pay attention to Airtable’s limitations:

  • Can’t be accessed offline.
  • Doesn’t support report customization.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Compare Pricing & Costs with our Project Management Software Pricing Guide

Next Steps

Now that you have some knowledge about the top performers in the free project management software space, should you embark on the next step? Before you make a hasty decision, pause for a moment and reflect on the nature of your business requirements. Although you may not have to shell out a penny for your choice of free solutions, a poor selection can actually hurt your daily operations. Try following the steps below for a safer integration:

  • Make a list of near-future objectives that you want your free solution to meet.
  • Ensure that the solution you have chosen addresses these objectives in a holistic manner.
  • Calculate the time you have to roll out the solution of your choice. If the free software you have zeroed in on has a high learning curve, it could create unnecessary issues and waste your organization’s precious time.
  • Invest time to find a solution that maximizes your staff’s potential, increases productivity, and helps you meet your business goals efficiently.

Once you have your priorities sorted, you will be ready to decide on the kind of free project management tools you actually need. Here are some of the questions that you need to answer in your quest for that perfect fit for your organization.

What Kind of Buyer are You?

Firstly, you should decide which buyer category you fall into — small business buyer, departmental buyer or industry-specific buyer. If you fall into the first category, you should look for a free project management tool that can keep pace with your task and project updates. Small buyers often opt for online project management tools that can effectively schedule projects, handle tasks and facilitate document sharing capabilities.

Is it Secure?

Most buyers do not inquire about the security features of an application. Your vendor should be ISO 27001 and SOC Type II compliant. Adopting a solution is much more relaxing when you are confident in its security features.

Is the Vendor Verified?

It is also vital to verify the vendor you will be obtaining the free project management software from and look for flaws that might affect your business. Avoid vendors who have a poor reputation with customer service to avoid hassles post installation. Some vendors might catch you off guard with hidden charges, so be sure you are on the same page before selecting a system. It can be helpful to check out public forums about a vendor’s service quality before making a choice.

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Conclusion

It is abundantly clear that free project management software can efficiently manage tasks and boost productivity by keeping time and resources in check.

However, don’t be swayed by attractive products; look for a solution that addresses the core needs of your business. Make sure that your team is on board when you decide to shift your business strategies. While the benefits of a project management software solution are immense, if not chosen wisely, a failed integration can hurt far more than it helps.

Think carefully about the features of a free project management tool that are most important to you while making your comparisons. If you are looking to make a switch from an existing suite, it is a great idea to back up tasks into a CSV file. The information saved there can be imported into your new project management tool.

How have free project management software tools helped or hindered your business? Let us know with a comment below!

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Pragya SinghThe Best Free Project Management Software Tools For 2020

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