Project management software simplifies workflows, improves collaboration, and ensures your project gets completed on time. Our research team recommends Monday.com as the best project management software for most. The tool is highly customizable, easy to use, and has every task management feature you can ask for.
The Best Project Management Software for Most
Monday.com shines above other project management tools on the market with its simplicity. It’s easy for everyone on your team to use, so day-to-day operations are a breeze. Monday.com is versatile enough to fit nearly any use case, and it’s packed with functionality for different projects.
You can use the software to quickly identify bottlenecks before they become a bigger problem and keep your team on track for success. You’ll also benefit from seamless integrations and built-in CRM tools. Best of all, Monday.com is an affordable option that accommodates any budget.
The 6 Best Project Management Software Options to Consider:
- Monday.com – Best for project management software for most
- ClickUp – Best remote work platform
- Smartsheet – Best for flexibility
- Teamwork – Best for client and service-based businesses
- Asana – Best balance of power and simplicity
- Trello – Best Kanban project management
When it Makes Sense to Invest into Project Management Software
Project management software simplifies larger projects into smaller, actionable tasks that can be assigned to different team members. These tools help define the scope of a project and ensure everything is completed on time.
You should be investing in project management software if you’re a new manager in charge of seeing a project through completion. Project managers rely on these tools for full visibility, improved project planning, and collaboration.
Project management software is also extremely useful for ongoing projects with no defined end date. For example, maybe you’re managing content production and social media posts for a small marketing team. You can rely on project management software to move new content ideas through the workflow—from inception to publishing and updates.
Anyone who currently feels overwhelmed or limited by their current method of managing projects should be looking into project management software.
Hand-written notes and spreadsheets might be fine for small personal tasks. But this is not a scalable solution when you’re working with teams. You can’t rely on email chains and unorganized Slack messages to plan, manage, and complete projects at scale.
Project management software also provides resources to help decision-makers. You can use different tools to see how your team is performing, keep your budget under control, and modify the project timeline.
#1 – Monday.com – The Best Project Management Software for Most
Monday.com is excellent at tracking projects and other information all in one place. It has a built-in CRM that makes project management and customer information tracking a snap.
Build your sales team’s cohesion with Monday.com’s collaboration tools, so you always keep track of contacts, lead scoring, campaigns, and much more.
Let’s dive into how having a CRM and project management software combination can catapult your business ventures.
- Pricing: 4.5/5
- Onboarding: 4/5
- Ease of use: 3.5/5
- Task management: 4/5
- Collaboration: 5/5
- Workflow and Visibility: 3.5/5
Pricing: 4.5/5 – Monday.com’s pricing is average for the project management space, but you are getting a lot more for every dollar you spend. The built-in customer relationship management tools make managing projects more efficient, and you don’t have to shell out more cash for a CRM software subscription.
Build your sales funnels, organize your contacts and leads with precision, and plan out your sales projects with project management features in one place.
The Basic plan is $8 per user per month for a yearly payment, or $10 per user per month for a monthly payment plan.
They have a minimum of three users required, so it really starts at $24 or $30 per month, depending on how you pay.
The average of our list of products is $23 per month for three users, so it’s indeed right around average.
You can also add an unlimited number of additional users for $8 more per month.
The next higher plan is $2 more per month for each user and gives you multiple project management views you don’t get on the entry-level plan, like Gantt, calendar, and map views.
A free plan is available, which allows for unlimited projects. You can create up to 1,000 tasks, use templates and custom fields, and more for up to two users.
It’s not the best free plan, but it’s a good place to start if you want to get your hands dirty before going all-in.
Now, we can move on to actually getting started with the software.
Onboarding: 4/5 – Monday.com is situated between Trello and ClickUp in terms of a streamlined setup process.
There are walkthroughs that show you a high-level overview to help you get acquainted with the software and how it works, plus pre-built project demos to show you how all the pieces work together.
The interactive product tour shows you how to look at the project dashboard and how to access the built-in project management learning center.
You’ll also learn how to rename a project, how to create and edit tasks, how to assign tasks, how to look at Gantt view, and how to see tasks assigned to just you.
There are many templates to help you get started. But, unfortunately, a lot of the templates include features you don’t have access to on the entry-level tier.
You can use them during a free trial but you can’t use them once your trial expires and you start paying for the actual plan. This is typical, but it’s not super clear which templates those are, either. You’ll just find out after the trial expires and you try to use one.
When you first begin, choose if your plan will be for work, school, personal, or nonprofit use.
Then, set your role in the company and choose departments to use the platform for, like sales and CRM, marketing, HR, IT, operations, or something else.
Monday.com’s software allows you to dictate how you want to use it, so it can help you maximize what you’re trying to do.
The marketing track, for example, focuses on reaching the best possible leads and prospects, while sales and CRM homes in on building your client lists and keeping clients well-managed and happy.
This is very unique compared to other platforms that just leave you to make your business fit inside their software’s dynamic.
There are several items Monday.com could have added to take this onboarding process to the next level, but they fail to offer more hand-holding on how to use other features. The learning center helps, but you have to know what you’re looking for or what you want to learn.
A little extra help getting set up would have imrpoved Monday’s score in this category.
Ease of use: 3.5/5 – We all want things to be simple. Monday.com only checked a couple boxes for features that make navigating the software pain-free. The overall platform is fine, but there were a few inefficiencies compared to the other platforms we tested.
For example, advanced search is available, but it’s kind of confusing.
There are two search bars you can use. One is super basic and only lets you filter by project. The other gives you more control, but isn’t quite as advanced as other search functions. That one is pictured below.
You can search through everything, or for specific projects, boards, files, people, and tags. Looking deeper, you can search for comments related to you. But you can’t filter by assignee or date, nor can you sort search results.
Another way you can normally make your task management simpler is by adding tasks or other documents with a one-click quick add button.
With Monday.com you have a quick add button, but it’s only available within a project. Other platforms make this visible on every screen you visit. So, you are limited in the freedom you have to easily add specific dashboards, integrations, apps, and more.
When inside of a project, the quick add button is in the top right. Use it to quickly add a new column, task group, view, integration, automation, app, or dashboard.
There’s a different button for adding a new task. Both buttons are shown in the image below. You can see the big blue button at the top-left in the image below for adding a task.
Monday.com makes using the software in common languages other than English pretty simple. There are 12 other languages, excluding English, that your team can use the platform in.
There are other tools that cover more languages, but it’s a decent range and more than a mere two or three that some tools offer.
What’s nice is that all users can set whatever language they prefer without affecting anyone else’s language preference.
It might be shocking to you that Monday.com missed out on the other two features in the entry-level plan: natural language processing and task templates. If you’re curious as to what those are in more detail, head on down to the methodology section for a full review on how we score each section and why.
Task management: 4/5 – You’ll be able to get more detailed with task management in Monday.com than you can with some of the lighter tools. It’s not quite as easy to master as Trello, but you can drill down into the specifics a lot easier with Monday.com.
If you don’t have features that help you manage your tasks within a project’s lifecycle, you can pretty much kiss your organization goodbye.
Monday.com being both a CRM and project management vehicle makes this somewhat intuitive, though it’s missing a few key features other providers have in their entry-level plans. In other words, we could see the allure of the gated features in the premium plans.
Let’s talk about what you get first.
You are able to use your work area in the left navigation menu to see all of the tasks assigned to you across all your projects, but you can’t customize the information, or the columns shown on the screen. So, it’s a bit rigid.
You are, however, able to hide or show completed tasks.
When it comes to adding more information to a task—like a subtask, for example—you have more control than just adding another bullet to a list.
Each subtask can have its own assignee, due date, priority, and start date. You also get an independent column view for subtasks, so you can clearly see what’s important about the task you’re looking at.
Unlike other tools, subtasks aren’t treated as predecessors for the parent task in Monday.com. It’s up to you to ensure subtasks are done before the main task is marked complete.
You can view or hide subtasks in the main project view, depending on the level of detail you want to see. This is important because if you are the one only responsible for the subtasks, this view will be all you need to focus on instead of a full view of everything.
You also can easily create checklists inside your task view.
And if you need to add more than one person to a task, multiple assignees are easy to set up. Any assignee can also mark the task as complete when it’s completed.
One of the greatest differentiators Monday.com has over other providers in project management are the custom fields.
There are 36 different field types you can add to your views. These custom fields let you control how tasks and projects look, because you can add any information that matters.
Most are available on every plan, but a few of the more advanced ones—like formulas, dependencies, time tracking, or automations—require you to be on the next higher pricing tier.
Some of those 36 available field types are a task-based timeline and connecting a task to another board’s data.
With the entry-level plan you don’t get any automations or dependencies. People can jump from one project task to another because you can’t have rules set to prevent that.
Once you have your tasks and project looking and moving in the direction you want, you’re going to want to be able to collaborate on them easily. Monday.com knows how to do this well, and it shows.
Collaboration: 5/5 – Monday.com does a phenomenal job helping your team work together. You get a built-in document system that promotes collaboration, with unlimited storage. That’s great for creating sales letters or SLAs on the fly for prospects and customers.
The document creator is in beta, but it has a ton of features already. Plus, you can be involved in the development process if there are specific features you’d like to see when it’s fully rolled out.
You can create public, private, and shareable docs, add docs to project folders to keep things organized, or just make standalone docs.
A super cool feature is that users can comment and have conversations right within the document builder. That’s in addition to Monday.com’s project-based message board.
This discussion board is a free app you can add to any project for another layer of collaboration that isn’t tied to a specific task.
You also have activity logs that can be filtered by person, if you’d like to see who’s done what in the past seven days.
If you use forms to get feedback, approvals, or other information, you can build them within Monday.com. Easily add forms to any project and each project can have multiple forms.
One restriction that’s important to mention is that you can only add fields to a form that already exist for your project. If you want to add new fields, you first have to add them to your project, then you can add those fields to your form.
After you build your form, you can easily preview it before adding it to your project.
Workflow and Visibility: 3.5/5 – The workflow and project visibility in Monday.com is fairly restricted on the entry-level plan, which we tested, and there are some limits to premium plans that bothered our research team.
For basic project tracking, Monday.com can provide helpful charts, but it’s certainly not a data visualization tool.
The entry-level plan gives you dashboards and list and table views for reviewing project data.
You can have unlimited dashboards, but each one can only pull information from one board or project. There is no way to see information across all of your projects, only on a project-by-project basis
If you move to the next highest tier, you can pull information from five boards. Again, this is fairly good for a built-in feature–especially at the price–but having your CRM software tied into your PM software is going to give you rich opportunities to connect data. Five boards might start to feel limiting.
On the entry-level plan, you have 53 pre-built widgets that you can use to further customize the data you see in your project. Use a progress board, for example, to show if you’re on or ahead of schedule.
If you want to show stakeholders or others this data, you also can export or print the dashboard.
List view is the default for Monday.com. You can add as many columns as you’d like to keep track of the info that’s most important.
Add multiple table views if you want to filter out tasks or set them up differently while still keeping them attached to the same project.
The table view is very customizable to match your needs, and it’s one of the main reasons Monday.com makes this the default.
Of course, there’s also a Kanban view available for when you want to assess and organize projects that way.
Monday.com is a name that always comes up when discussing the best in project management. They are a name you can trust when starting out or when you need its capability for specialization to match your needs.
This software provides you with a different style of project management that adapts well to sales teams’ needs because of its built-in CRM. Never lose track of your long-tail sales cycles and campaigns ever again. It’s time to make your sales projects easier to manage by using Monday.com.
#2 – ClickUp – The Best Remote Work Platform
Best Remote Work Platform
Get everything you want from PM software at the best price point around. The entry-level plan from ClickUp alone comes with the best collaboration tools, workflow customization options, and flexible project views among the products on this list, all for the starting price of $5 per user per month.
The Swiss Army knife of project management, ClickUp has more top-rated features than any other option on this list.
It scores highly in task management and collaboration, and is tied for first for workflow and visibility tools. Everyone on your teams knows the status of each project, whether they are at the home office or on-the-go.
The best part about all of this is that it doesn’t stop ClickUp from being the cheapest plan on the list, when you pay in full for a year.
Let’s dig into these features so you can see for yourself why ClickUp is best for remote teams.
- Pricing: 5/5
- Onboarding: 2/5
- Ease of use: 3.5/5
- Task management: 4.5/5
- Collaboration: 4.5/5
- Workflow and Visibility: 5/5
Pricing: 5/5 – ClickUp gives you a few surprises when it comes to pricing.
First, they are the cheapest on the list in annual cost—just $5 per user per month when you pay for a year up front.
But what if you don’t want to pay the whole year ahead of time? Do you miss out on a deal?
Not exactly. You just have to settle for the second-cheapest plan on this list. The rate goes up to $9 for each user each month.
Are you picking up what we’re putting down?
It means you get the cheapest annual price or, at worst, the second-cheapest rate if you pay month-to-month.
All while getting the best, most versatile PM software option on the list. You can’t lose with a deal like this.
Especially with all that you get—but more on that later.
We used the monthly rate for three users to judge pricing. Compared to the list-wide average of $23 per month when paying annually, you’re getting savings of nearly $100 each year if you choose ClickUp’s yearly pricing.
In fact, ClickUp is less than half the price of the two most expensive options on our list.
A free forever plan can also be tested if you like. It comes with unlimited tasks, up to five separate work spaces to create and use, custom fields, Gantt charts, timeline view, and more.
Once you confirm your love for ClickUp, like so many other users have, you can upgrade seamlessly to a paid plan through your account dashboard.
If you jump straight to a paid package, you still get a 15-day trial to test things out.
Now that we’ve covered pricing, let’s move on to you actually setting up the software and how that works.
Onboarding: 2/5 – ClickUp’s learning curve would be better if it required little to no explanation to grasp. Unfortunately, this tool requires a significant amount of training.
But, that makes sense when you think about the number of features they offer within the software. It’s to be expected.
Getting up and running isn’t bad, though. It only took us a little over four minutes to lay eyes on our personal dashboard.
To get started, just click on the plan you want to choose from ClickUp’s pricing page.
They’ll ask you for your email and name and to set a new password. Once you get your confirmation email, you’ll click on the link there to take you to your dashboard.
Confirm your workspace name, pick your primary colors, pick a few customizations you might want at the start—like time estimates, tags, and custom fields—then you’re in.
What’s awesome is they give you a “read me first” link when you get to your dashboard that tells you all the important next steps and how to follow them.
ClickUp even populates a few demo tasks to help you get acquainted with the software and learn about the different elements of how each project works in the platform.
These tasks teach you about your home screen in ClickUp, notifications, templates, and importing tasks.
There’s also a list of videos that help you get acquainted with the terminology and features.
Each task in the image above has a corresponding video that’s a few minutes long. They show you how simple functions work in ClickUp. And most have a link to different areas, so you can go explore the things each tutorial talks about.
Each section of setup tasks they give you is based on weeks, so you will go through your first week of tutorials, then your second, and so on.
You’re not limited to waiting a week to keep learning, but it’s recommended you follow the tutorial as directed to really grasp each section clearly. The second week contains more advanced information and guidance.
There are a few things that will pop up as quick tips as you start marking things complete and navigating around the software.
One example is a quick tip showing how to use a slash command to mark tasks as complete with your keyboard.
The tips are nice, but we find there’s a lot going on and not really much explanation of any of it unless you watch those videos embedded inside the tasks.
It would be nicer if there was an interactive walkthrough or something more hands-on showing you how to navigate the software and all the features.
Fortunately, after onboarding, using the software becomes much better.
Ease of use: 3.5/5 – ClickUp is just above average when we tested how simple it is to use.
They do an excellent job, for example, by letting you use natural language processing to set up appointments and dates for starting and ending projects.
For example you can type “next Wednesday” or “Friday at 4 p.m.” to set a task’s date. The software will recognize those words and set those times instead of you having to actually click on the date within your calendar.
It’s the most robust natural language processing for dates we’ve seen out of all the tools.
You can also add assignees, set priorities, add a checklist, create a bullet list, add a table, create subtasks, and add attachments with natural language commands.
Use the tons of slash commands available to speed things up even more.
Rather than clicking in the due date box, you can do a slash command to add the due date without ever moving your hands away from the keyboard.
Clickup’s advanced search function lets you look for people, tasks, documents, chats, and files. Choose one type or search through all of them at once.
Suppose you search for the same task every day and you need to fill in a form with new information each time. With ClickUp, you can make a template of your task, making it reusable and never having to do redundant setup work. That way, all you have to do is update the fields that change from one task to another and everything else is filled out and ready to go.
Overall, it just makes life easier after you’ve set these templated tasks up.
And, if you want to quickly add a task, you don’t have to jump through hoops and navigate all the way back. You can just use the quick add button at the bottom right of the screen.
There is also a button next to it to start recording your screen, start tracking time, open up a notepad, create a reminder, start a new document, or open up your calendar.
When you click any of those options, a new pane pops up so it doesn’t disrupt what you’re currently working on or looking at.
Here is what the tracking time popup looks like, for one example:
ClickUp makes it super convenient to add tasks and perform all of those actions without having to stop what you’re doing or navigate to a new screen to do so.
If you’re dying for more, let’s move on to task management, where ClickUp got the highest score out of all the other project management software providers.
Task management: 4.5/5 – You sit down at your desk, open up your project details in ClickUp, and see everything you need in a simple workstation. Simple as that.
The home page is dedicated to all of your assigned tasks and Includes tasks across all of your projects, so it’s all there, listed out in one place.
This is what you get with ClickUp. How much time and confusion do you think that would save you?
Just think how much better it would be to drag-and-drop your most important tasks to the top area to remind yourself which ones are top priority today. As you check them off, they’ll disappear and you can then move onto other the next tasks that take their place.
Have you ever started one part of a project, then moved to something else before you finished the last task? We all have. But this can cause chaos.
With dependencies in ClickUp, you can set up rules that won’t let you move on until the task beforehand is completed. This makes it impossible to leave things out or get out of sorts by jumping around to different things.
Sometimes, you will have tasks you can automate. On this base level plan of ClickUp, you get 1,000 automations per month to use.
You can add custom automations with specific triggers and actions or choose from hundreds of pre-built automations. A few examples of pre-built automations are what happens when a checklist is completed, when you archive a task, or when a due date arrives (such as sending an email to assignees or closing the task altogether).
If you opt for setting your own automations, you can use the ClickUp builder.
ClickUp also makes it easy to add subtasks or checklists to a task card. Plus, you can use an editor that lets you set up formulas for calculations like tracking time.
If you have tasks that require custom fields, you can easily add these too. Customize the types of information you include on tasks so your team has the info they need to complete them much faster.
Here’s what setting up custom fields looks like in a task:
Now that you have tasks set and they’re easy to see, who needs access to them? Is it just you, or do you have a team that works together in various roles?
You should be able to collaborate easily within your project management software, instead of having to use other tools. And ClickUp demonstrates serious awareness of that need.
Collaboration: 4.5/5 – Have you ever had a project that lost its way because of poor communication between team members or departments? This problem only intensifies for remote teams.
When you buy the base plan of ClickUp, you get unlimited free viewers. That means they can’t edit anything whatsoever or leave comments, but you can make sure no one is left out of the loop—all without having to pay an extra cent.
For those who need more authority on your entry-level plan, you can add up to five guests with customized permission settings, and each of those five people can add two extra guests per user under them with view-only access.
When it’s time to view or create documents, there’s a built-in document creator. It’s very similar to Google Docs. Users can work on files together, which is great for company-wide things like processes and SOPs in addition to task-related documents.
The document creator also has dozens of pre-built templates for event planning, product development, brainstorming, educational resources, release notes, and so many more use cases.
Being able to message each other within your project management tool is a critical part of speed and accuracy when working on a project together. And ClickUp delivers solid project-based messaging.
You can add a chat view at either the space, folder, or list level, which keeps ideas and communication segmented to the appropriate areas, minimizing confusion.
Activity logs are another easy way to keep tabs on progress. However, ClickUp only lets you look back at your activity logs seven days in the past on the entry-level plan, which falls short of the unlimited historical logs other providers give.
You can also choose several activity widgets on your dashboard for easy viewing. Hide or show subtasks, view all tasks, or see only tasks assigned to specific people.
There might be times when you need forms approved or need to send out requests for approval. You can use the drag and drop form builder to help organize inputs, requests, and feedback from others outside of your team.
Having this feature makes it easier to collaborate with clients, customers, and other departments.
Share forms easily via a public URL to anyone who has internet access.
Collaboration will always be necessary within project management, regardless of the size of your team. With ClickUp, it’s so simple.
Workflow and Visibility: 5/5 – Make sure nothing falls through the cracks as your team grows and projects become more and more detailed. ClickUp ties for first place for workflow and visibility features.
As you manage your projects, you will want a view that’s tailored to you. But you will also want options that are best for your team.
With ClickUp, each user on your plan will also have an “everything view” where they can see all tasks assigned to them across all projects. They can then use the different types of views to sort and filter all of their tasks and due dates in one place.
You have a native time tracking tool built into the software, which includes full time tracking functionality on the mobile app and a Chrome extension to track time. These features are available on every plan.
This is perfect if you are looking for a way to decide client payment for a task or project. Plus, this feature integrates with numerous other time tracking features too.
You can access time tracking from two different views. First, within a task:
And the second time tracking view is from the quick add button (as we showed you earlier):
When you want to look at other reports, you can create as many dashboards as you want.
There are so many pre-built widgets to choose from, such as a task list, including tasks by assignee and by status, a chat widget, number of tasks in progress, and more.
There is a short walkthrough that shows you where to access things and how dashboards work.
You can select filters, date ranges, specific users, different spaces, lists, or folders—the possibilities are endless with the drag-and-drop dashboard editor.
Here is a look at our dashboard we created for the research for this article:
You can also set up interactive Gantt charts.
Start by moving tasks around, then shorten or lengthen the time allotted for tasks or open the full task view by clicking on it. Make the chart your own by changing the color scheme, setting a time frame, applying filters, sorting by different criteria, and more options.
ClickUp makes it easy to see what you need to see and make adjustments as necessary. And, with a handy zoom to fit button, you don’t have to scroll to see all your data at once.
See your projects by calendar view as well, and filter what you need and what you don’t.
If you have team members who prefer a list or table view, that is also available.
Mind maps can also be created. This lets you list one idea and then break it out into several dependent ideas or tasks in a nice visual interface.
Mind maps can get complicated, but what you see above is a simple research project broken out into six different providers to dig into.
And, of course, view project boards in the familiar, traditional Kanban style:
See the data for your projects in any way that appeals to you or your team. It makes seeing what’s working—and what isn’t—for your project crystal-clear.
In closing, ClickUp is by far the best for most users, because it offers a wide variety of features while still being the cheapest. And you won’t find one provider on this list better in the categories of collaboration and workflow visibility.
Spending time with old ways to manage your projects is only going to get you more behind, and lead to frustrated employees. Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to fight with your processes or chase after other team members shuffling their feet on deadlines?
ClickUp makes not only project management more simplified and effective, it makes accountability easier on everyone. You need that for every task, because in project management there is no room for finger pointing.
Results are all that matter, so get started on improving your project work by signing up with ClickUp today.
#3 – Smartsheet – Best for Flexibility
If you thought you had to say goodbye to spreadsheets for a so-called better way of managing your projects, we have outstanding news for you.
Smartsheet is what spreadsheet junkies turn to in order to get their fix but still manage projects in a modernized way.
In fact, 90% of Fortune 100 companies use Smartsheet to run projects. Take that in for a second. Smartsheet is so trusted in what it can do for larger teams that 90 of the richest 100 companies prefer it over anything else.
What’s that tell you? First, it says it’s great for large teams. And, second, it says this software can be the winning solution you are looking for.
It’s basically Excel on steroids. Smartsheet’s project management software can morph into anything you need it to be if you really take the time to learn it.
Let’s look at Smartsheet closely and see what our researching and testing found out about it.
- Pricing: 4/5
- Onboarding: 3/5
- Ease of use: 3.5/5
- Task management: 2.75/5
- Collaboration: 3.5/5
- Workflow and Visibility: 4/5
Pricing: 4/5 – Pricing is clearly on the better side of our scale, coming in second place for annual plans.
The entry-level plan is $7 per user with a minimum of three users, equaling $21 per month and a $252 one-time payment every year.
A less jarring way to pay is month-by-month, but the price rises to $9 per user. That’ll cost you $324 per year for three users.
You can add up to 25 users on the entry-level tier and up to 50 on the middle tier and higher.
An important thing to know is you can’t add just one user if you need more seats. Seat additions are fixed, so you’ll have to pay for 10 seats even if you have less than that but more than three users. That can lead to a big jump in price.
Keep that in mind if you have a particular team size you need to accommodate.
There is no free plan with Smartsheet, but a 30-day free trial does accompany any plan you choose.
Onboarding: 3/5 – In short, Smartsheet is the most complex, customizable, and powerful tool on the list. It’s also the hardest to grasp and get started with.
The introductory videos and embedded tutorials help with basic setup and getting started at a broad level. That said, a little more help getting things set up would have improved Smartsheet’s score in this category.
At a glance, it looks just like Google Sheets or Excel. You have rows and columns and you can change their labels to whatever you want.
To start with Smartsheet, all you do is click on the Start Smartsheet for Free button on their website. Then, add your email and answer a few questions.
After that, check your inbox and click on the link in your welcome email to confirm it. You will be asked for a password then.
During our free trial we only tested the entry-level features, to keep the reviews fair. But you will have access to all features, even those beyond the entry-level plan, during the trial.
If you have team members you want to invite, you can do that too. After that, you are immediately brought to your user dashboard and shown a brief welcome video.
Once that’s complete, you begin your journey of learning the interface of Smartsheet with a few videos breaking down the basics of the software.
You learn how to set up a sheet, which is at the core of Smartsheet. The tutorial explains what sheets are, how to set them up, and how to customize them with different types of information.
The short tutorials give you a nice overview of the basic possibilities, as well as how to make basic adjustments to match your needs.
What is nice is you get links to video tutorials throughout. Smartsheet makes it easy to watch the right videos at the right time, rather than just seeing a long list of videos you ought to watch.
However, more powerful features and options aren’t covered by them. You have to know what you’re looking for and have an idea of what you want to set up, then search the knowledge base, forums, or turn to Google.
In the end, Smartsheet’s platform is complex and requires a significant time investment in training. This is the reason for the lower score. It’s simply not as easy out of the box as something like Monday.com or ClickUp.
Ease of use: 3.5/5 – Smartsheet scores a little above average for easily using the software after the initial setup. But, again, this is more if you already know what you’re looking for.
For example, you have an advanced search feature that lets you find things quickly and easily throughout your sheets and projects. You can search all of your sheets, a specific sheet, or the help center.
What’s nice is you can filter what type of thing you’re searching for, including sheet name, summary field, comment, attachment, workspace, and more.
This filtered search can also include a last modified date. Some choices are the last 24 hours, last seven days, or last 30 days.
You can also use natural language to set due dates or other specified dates you need to use within your sheets. Smartsheet will recognize basic terms like days of the week, tomorrow, next week , next month, and more.
This really speeds things up when you have tons of appointments or projects to schedule at once.
A quick note that we have to mention is that Smartsheet doesn’t have the auto-save option enabled by default. So, when you make changes, you actually have to click the save button or you will lose all your progress.
Prehistoric in nature, to say the least. Why the heck would a modern project management software not have auto-save features enabled from the jump, like Microsoft Office has for years? It boggles our minds.
To be fair, you can find an autosave option nested within your settings, but it’s not pre-enabled. So, you’re responsible for finding it and turning it on.
Another feature that is a bonus, but not as potent as it could be, is the quick add button. This feature underdelivers because you can’t use it to add a new task when you think of one or when something pops into your head.
The quick add button only works for creating new sheets, reports, or dashboards, and is not nearly as convenient as other tools. If you want to add a new task, it has to be while you’re already looking at a sheet.
If you have a team with different language preferences, Smartsheet offers eight different languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Some other providers offer up to 25 different languages.
Another thing that’s confusing is that it shows dozens of languages in your account settings, but only those eight we listed above are supported.
The entry-level plan doesn’t give you global account controls, so the default language for all user accounts is English. However, your users can then choose which language they prefer from their own account settings.
Another thing that’s missing is task templates. Smartsheet makes you create every task from scratch, which can become a huge burden and time consuming.
For some, it’s perfect because you’re never on autopilot, which can sometimes lead to mistakes. But keep this in mind if you’re looking for ways to save time when creating tasks.
Task management: 2.75/5 – Task management is very important as you already well know. Smartsheet doesn’t do the best job in this department, though, tied with one other provider for next-to-last on our list.
It’s missing some core features of task management, like intuitive task views, recurring tasks, and work areas that provide you with quick overviews of all projects and other data.
But, you do have access to task dependencies. Set up rules that require tasks to be finished by certain dates or times and make sure team members can’t move to another part of a project until the dependent tasks are done.
You also get up to 250 automations per month. Use pre-built automations or create your own using the workflow builder.
Easily set a trigger, add conditions (as well as what happens if conditions aren’t met), and a desired action.
Your automations can get really granular and complex, which makes them both powerful and a challenge to understand and use at first. There are so many options it can become overwhelming.
Luckily, if you want to keep things as simple as possible, you can use the multiple pre-built workflows.
Alert someone, set a reminder, assign someone, set or change a cell value, record a date, clear a cell value, and do a dozen other really cool automations without much effort.
Subtasks are also a quick way to organize larger project components. Smartsheet makes this pretty simple—all you have to do is add a parent task and then the subtasks in rows below them.
After that, you can select and indent them to turn them into subtasks for the row directly above them.
Next up, setting up formulas. This is one of the best features when dealing with spreadsheets and Smartsheet made sure to include it inside their entry-level plan.
You can use hundreds of functions and operators to create formulas. There are short explanations of all the functions, which helps keep things from getting too confusing.
If you love sheets, you probably love formulas. So get excited, because Smartsheet is super powerful and customizable since they give you so many options.
Unlike other tools, there’s no basic or advanced options to choose between. It’s all there and you have to sort through all the options to find what you need. Many project management professionals love that they can jump in and hit the ground running, but it can be troublesome if you need intense training.
And for even more power and control, you have custom fields to add. Tons of options for those mean you can set up and track all different types of data, depending on what you’re using the software for.
Collaboration: 3.5/5 – You might not always work with a team, but you will often need to collaborate a few times with someone, at least, in project management.
Smartsheet doesn’t make this as easy as some other providers, but you still get project-based message boards and request and approval forms, which are two of the best features to have.
The messaging is nothing you aren’t already familiar with, so it won’t be hard to pick up and use quickly.
Users can comment on specific rows or an entire sheet, depending on the context of the message. This gives you two layers of communication for different levels of detail. You can keep project-related and task-related conversations centralized.
As for the form builder, it’s an easy drag-and-drop interface. You can add any current columns and fields you have or create new ones on the spot.
Add static text, headers, and dividers if you need to, as well as a file upload area.
Forms are pretty solid out of the box.
Sadly, Smartsheet doesn’t give you a ton of document storage to save all your forms. You only get 2 GB, which is the lowest out of all the plans on the list.
Another thing missing is the activity log other providers offer you on their entry-level plans.
It’s nice to be able to see how things are going and what still needs to be done in a simple-to-read activity log. Smartsheet does offer this feature on higher tiers, but on the entry-level plan you don’t get this feature.
You also don’t get to leave messages on documents you create, so no help from Smartsheet with collaborating on those. It surprised us really that the entry-level plan left this out.
These are a few critical features that are missing that would really make Smartsheet even more appealing to newcomers.
Workflow and Visibility: 4/5 – Smartsheet being the corporate powerhouse it is, they make it simple for teams and departments to keep projects on track with reporting that accommodates different views for people.
To improve your workflow, you have access to dashboards, Gantt charts, and calendar, table, or list views.
Smartsheet gives you the freedom to create as many dashboards as you’d like. Each dashboard can have up to 10 widgets.
If you create reports, each report can be attached to one sheet (this limit goes away on higher tiers) and you can then add a report widget to a dashboard to see your reports in one place.
The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to move widgets around and resize them.
You also have unlimited Gantt views and can turn any sheet into a Gantt chart.
It opens up to the right of your sheet, so you can see both the chart and your data. That makes your understanding of the data much more efficient, since you can see both right there.
The chart itself is not as interactive as others on our list. You can’t drag and drop start or due dates around like you can with ClickUp’s Gantt feature, but the major functionality is there and it’s easy enough to use.
If Gantt charts aren’t your thing, switch to calendar view in one click.
This view shows all of your tasks and rows, plus the start and due dates with duration, so you can plan out the upcoming weeks and months.
You can also filter, add conditional formatting to tasks, publish to a Google, Apple, or Outlook calendar, and overlay your Google calendar.
If you want to see task schedules in different calendar views, you can switch between weekly, biweekly, triweekly, and monthly.
For list and table views, Smartsheet shines. This is really the core of Smartsheet, so it’s really good at table views. You can do just about everything you can do in Excel or Google Sheets, and then some.
Highlight changes, add background color to cells, change font color and size, use conditional formatting, align text, add attachments, and much more.
The look of the interface could use some work, though. It’s quite basic and very boring to look at.
Last of the views is the Kanban view. It’s simplified and makes any project easy to see as a whole board of tasks.
You can see what’s in progress, what’s yet to be completed, and what’s already done, all on one screen.
Clearly Smartsheet is geared towards lovers of spreadsheets and the enterprises and companies that want to transition from Excel or similar software with the least amount of aggravation and inefficiency.
Smartsheet has the power and the project management functionality to shift regular old spreadsheets into modernized PM, bolstered by its advanced search capability, form building power, and so much more.
Take your current workflow, visibility, and productivity to new heights, with Smartsheet. Start your free 30-day trial today with just a few clicks and no credit card information needed.
#4 – Teamwork – Best for Client or Service-Based Businesses
Best for Client-Based Work
Want a PM solution that also replaces your invoicing and team chat software? Get it all with one easy-to-swallow bill from Teamwork. You'll get features no other PM software offers, like built-in invoicing and unlimited roles for clients, contractors, and other project viewers.
It’s right there in the name—Teamwork. This provider focuses on making collaboration and workflow management powerful, because your success depends on working together with each other and with clients and stakeholders.
They give you a ton of features specific to running a client or service-based business. For example, Teamwork is the only PM software provider that gives you built-in invoicing.
Let’s dive into each category so you can unravel the benefits and see how you can use them within your projects.
- Pricing: 2.5/5
- Onboarding: 2.5/5
- Ease of use: 3.5/5
- Task management: 3.25/5
- Collaboration: 4/5
- Workflow and Visibility: 5/5
Pricing: 2.5/5 – Teamwork is tied for the most expensive project management provider on our list.
However it won’t feel like a raw deal because of the features you get, some of which normally require a whole new piece of software to pay for. Which, in turn, means a separate monthly or annual payment on top of your PM software.
Teamwork starts at $10 per user per month, equalling $30 each month for three users and a total of $360 if paid in full.
The monthly plan is $37.50 per month for the same three users—$450 for the year. That’s $12.50 per user each month.
The average monthly rate for three users across the rest of the providers is $23, so you can tell Teamwork is more expensive in comparison.
But Teamwork can also replace your invoicing and team chat software.
So, that can be an instant $15 to $40 of extra savings per month on software, depending on the size of your team.
There are two other pricing tiers available for Teamwork which offer more features and benefits, but we did not test those plans.
If you love how this all sounds but want to try a free version first before committing, that’s a great idea.
The free plan includes subtasks, dependencies, milestones, board and calendar views, Gantt charts, dashboards, tags, time tracking, and more.
You’re allowed up to five users and two projects with 100 MB of total storage.
However, it doesn’t have templates, billing and invoicing, custom branding, or integrations except Zapier.
Still, not bad for free, right?
And that entry-level pricing makes more sense when adding in the savings on invoicing and team chat software.
Onboarding: 2.5/5 – Teamwork has a lot of features and navigating the tool feels overwhelming when you’re logging in for the first time.
On top of that, there’s only a basic, high-level overview of the software to help you get started. It barely grazes the surface of how to use the tool, so you’re mostly on your own to figure that out.
When we first signed in, we were unsure of where to start, even to just set up our basic research project.
Starting from the beginning, you’ll enter your email, password, name, company, and phone number. Then, choose your industry, tell Teamwork the size of your company, and give your first project a name.
It’s up to you to add tasks, set their statuses, and choose a preferred project view. That can be a list, table, or board view.
Take a look below:
After selecting your view, you can invite your team and take a short tour of the software.
The tour covers tasks and task lists, milestones, projects, people, settings, and your home screen. It takes you to each of those areas and explains what that area does.
The initial tutorials and configuration of your first few tasks are great for understanding how the software works as a whole, but it doesn’t go into much detail.
It would be great to have more hands-on help while learning the software at the outset, like walking you through time tracking or setting billable hours.
Luckily, getting started and ease of use are different. Even though Teamwork has a lackluster showing in terms of onboarding, they do a much better job when you start really using the software.
Ease of use: 3.5/5 – Teamwork invites you to enjoy your experience by offering simple ways to navigate around and find what you’re looking for.
It’s easy to set up company profiles to group users and projects by client or brand.
Since you’re dealing with client and service-focused software, key features are included like file versioning, the ability to create project-level teams, billable hours, and custom branding. These are things other providers usually charge extra for.
Advanced search features let you find anything in Teamwork’s interface with ease, and it’s very customizable.
Being able to drill down to find the things you’re looking for without having to dig through hundreds of tasks or projects makes your life so much easier.
You can search for client-specific tasks or projects, even if you have hundreds going on at the same time.
The ease of creating reusable task templates is also very important for sustainable use of this software. Make it easier to onboard clients, set approval processes, or any other routine work that’s repeated with each client or multiple times during a project
However, you can’t create templates for individual tasks. You can duplicate existing tasks, which is shown by the Save as a Template option in the image below. But you can’t create a standalone task template on its own.
Teamwork supports 48 different languages, so each user has the ability to work in the software using their preferred language without affecting anyone else’s work experience.
You might also need to make new project tasks or milestone goals as you make changes or updates to your project. The quick add button is how you can do that, regardless of the screen you’re on. There’s always a quick add button in the top right corner—just look for the plus sign.
Start a timer, log time, or invite a teammate. Something that makes Teamwork’s quick add button unique is that you can add your own shortcuts depending on the types of things you do regularly.
Think how much time that saves. No other tools on this list offer this option to customize your quick add button’s options.
Task management: 3.25/5 – Having an intuitive task view means you can see more in one place, so you don’t have to go searching for what you need when reviewing a task.
Teamwork may score less than two other providers on the list, but this works better in their platform because you don’t have to scroll through extra clutter to find your information. You get a two-column view of tasks and subtasks by default.
You don’t have to click on a task to see what’s embedded. Just hover over the task and, voila, it’s right there for you to see.
You can also use your home view to see all of the tasks assigned to you, organized by status.
To make this view much easier to manage, you can rearrange columns and add new ones to customize your personal view. Your workflow is clear the minute you look at your home screen in Teamwork.
When editing a task, you can add dependencies. The only limitation is there’s only one dependency type, so whichever task you’re editing is the one that can’t start until its predecessors are complete.
Say you want to set up automations to remove busy work. You have up to 500 automation runs per month on the entry-level plan.
You’re able to create them from your imagination with the custom workflow builder. When creating your own, set a trigger and the project it applies to, then set a desired action.
You don’t have to create them out of thin air either. Just use one of the 27 pre-built automations, like adding an assignee when a new task is added, changing a task priority when a tag is added, or notifying someone when a task is complete.
And if you want to create a recurring task, just set that up when you create the task originally. Repeat options are incredibly flexible, allowing you to fine-tune how and when recurring tasks are deployed.
Honestly, the options on how you want to set up your tasks are nearly endless. This makes collaboration even easier, because you can just set up meeting and huddle schedules for the full quarter or year and never touch it again.
Speaking of which, Teamwork excels in the collaboration department. Keep reading to find out why Teamwork is truly the perfect name for this project management software.
Collaboration: 4/5 – Unlike other providers, Teamwork doesn’t put a stranglehold on the amount of people you can add to your projects.
You get unlimited client and collaborator accounts for free, an excellent and required feature for service or client-based businesses.
Invite all of your contractors and clients to join you without paying for a full seat. They can only work on the projects you invite them to. Not only that, but you can also set granular permissions for each type of role.
Every project has a separate message board for broad communications that don’t pertain to a specific task, great for getting feedback on deliverables, asking questions, and sharing wins.
You can look at messages in a condensed way with only the headings displayed, or in an expanded view where you can see all the contents of every message in a social media-style feed.
And if you feel you want even more organization, add message tags and categories to help keep the message board crisp and clean.
Document management and sharing is a snap as well. You can attach files to messages and decide which team members should be notified.
Your communication will be so clear, it’s impossible for anyone to get lost in the shuffle of a growing project. That’s always the biggest problem in project management, and you can solve it with Teamwork.
The activity feed feature Teamwork employs makes it super easy to see all activity across all of your projects. Just click Activity from within your home screen. Any user can see this, so everyone knows what’s happening.
Activity view includes unlimited historical logs, so you always have everything at your disposal, rather than having activities disappear after a certain amount of time.
Sometimes you’ll need forms filled out or requests answered, especially when touching base with clients. Teamwork has a nice form builder for that.
After you build your form, it’s easy to preview it to make sure it has all you want to include.
You have an unlimited number of forms you can create. The Teamwork logo is on all forms, however, unless you’re on the next tier up from the entry-level plan or higher. That’s a bit of a drawback for client work and your agency’s professionalism.
So what do you do, now that you have everything clicking in Teamwork? How do you keep all of your data front-and-center to drive even better results?
Easy, you focus on your workflows with Teamwork’s visibility feature set.
Workflow and Visibility: 5/5 – You can’t get any better than the workflow and visibility performance Teamwork shows for this category.
When you want to step to the next level of project management, you need to focus on your workflows and what those look like within your team.
For starters, if you need to track time for your projects, you can easily attach time logs to tasks and then tie it to billable hours for charging clients.
You can use the quick add button in the top right to start the timer or input a manual time log. If you work with freelancers, you can set the time as billable or non-billable.
The best part is this is entirely built-in to Teamwork, with no integrations required.
When it comes to dashboards, you’re given two types—global or project-based.
Each project comes with a pre-built dashboard that covers your tasks by status, the number of tasks created, unread messages, a breakdown of active tasks by assignee, milestones, and project trends.
Here’s what a project-based dashboard looks like.
Global dashboards are more customizable. Each user can create their own dashboards that cover everything across all the projects they’re assigned to, working on, or managing.
You can create as many dashboards as you’d like. Design personal dashboards for just you with only your tasks and projects or starred dashboards for projects you’ve added to your favorites.
Add dozens of different widgets (Teamwork calls them panels) for different types of things, including task breakdowns, project health, latest project updates, and more.
A global dashboard looks like this in the software:
Gantt charts are also used so much in the project management space that it could lead to anarchy if Teamwork left them out. So the software automatically creates Gantt charts for each project.
You can hide or show completed tasks, hide or show weekends, turn autosave off or on, and select how dependent tasks are moved.
Your visibility for the project can be rearranged for tasks, you can change the start and due dates, set dependencies, view dependencies, assign tasks, everything in between.
It makes it super easy to plan projects and get a timeline look at when each task and the entire project will be done.
You also have list, table, and calendar views. And, let’s not forget, a trusty Kanban view for a simple board-based approach:
Teamwork keeps you in the loop with so many different ways to see how your project and team are getting things done, you would find it hard not to be organized.
With so many features for client and service-based businesses, you can’t ignore how useful this software is and how it can take you from where you might be struggling now to thriving beyond what you thought could be possible.
The built-in time tracking, unlimited users for collaborating, and the easy navigation makes this perfect for you, no matter the industry you serve. Grab hold of Teamwork’s business-changing software and create the environment of consistency you deserve.
#5 – Asana – The Best Balance of Power and Simplicity
Best Balance of Power & Simplicity
Even with the easiest onboarding and interface to learn among PM software solutions, Asana's no slouch on powerful features. Get unlimited automations on its entry-level plan, plus natural language processing, dependencies, recurring tasks, and so much more.
Let’s say you need a project management solution fast, but you don’t need tons of bells and whistles. You just need the essentials.
Plus, you want an interface that is pretty and fast that also isn’t laggy. You want just enough power and customization to be useful without feeling overwhelmed.
Wait, you’re not done. Let’s say you also want to have unlimited automations—because you’re tired of those monthly limits other tools hold you to.
Say hello to Asana, your new best friend. A powerful yet easy-to-use project management savior.
Why is Asana so popular? Let’s look at the reasons in detail.
- Pricing: 1/5
- Onboarding: 4/5
- Ease of use: 4.5/5
- Task management: 3.25/5
- Collaboration: 3/5
- Workflow and Visibility: 4/5
Pricing: 1/5 – Despite the score, and Asana coming in as tied for most expensive, it’s still second on our shortlist of worthy project management providers.
Yeah, Asana is $32.97 for three users per month on the plan we tested—totalling $395.64 annually.
If you want to pay monthly. It’s $485.64 per year for three users, at a monthly cost of $40.47.
At these prices, why are people using Asana?
It’s because project managers, freelancers, and regular users—everyday people—can learn this software fast. It’s easy to use, and anything that improves performance in record time as well as Asana does is worth the price.
If you want to start with the free plan, you won’t be disappointed. You can have up to 15 users and take advantage of unlimited tasks and projects.
You also get calendar views (but no Gantt views on the free plan), 100 free integrations, and basic workflows—all the things you need to start and end a project with precision.
The entry-level plan is what we tested, and now we’ll talk about how easy getting started really is.
Onboarding: 4/5 – Asana wipes out difficulty when it’s time to get started, coming in second only to one other provider on this list.
You get help with configuring the tool to match your needs during initial onboarding.
First, Asana finds out what kind of work you do, be it customer service, sales, IT, operations, marketing, engineering, or something else.
Then, you select what your primary objectives are. For example, project and process management, personal task management, portfolio and workload management, or goal management.
Doing things this way doesn’t limit what you can do in Asana. The opposite is true, actually. It helps streamline getting started since you can choose which route you’d like to walk from the start.
You can see a preview of each setup before choosing how you want your dashboard to look.
Once you decide on the view, your dashboard will be set up in a way that makes sense based on what you’ve input.
Next, you get help setting up your first project. Asana walks you through the process—you’ll give it a title, set up three tasks, and set up three statuses to track those tasks.
Once you add your tasks, set which view makes the most sense for the project, between list, Kanban, calendar, or Gantt.
This helps prevent an overwhelming feeling of confusion, since you’re given one tailored option at the beginning. Later, you can switch to different views, but choosing this now helps inform how you set up your first project and initial tasks.
You’re given a solid starting point rather than having Asana toss you into an empty tool
You can invite teammates after you set up your project, as well.
Once you go to your project, there are short explanations of a few different areas—like your inbox—to explain what you’ll find there and how each works.
We love that the interface is so simple.
From here, you get to explore and play around with Asana on your own. It’s pretty intuitive, the software doesn’t require a lot of explanation.
Plus, there are additional pop ups as you navigate around your project to explain tools and sections a bit more.
You won’t have a problem getting started, because every detail is right here. If you do run into a problem, all the guides remain available for you to refer back to.
Asana does what it’s designed to do—get you started without so much as a hiccup.
Is using this software as easy as the onboarding was? That’s the question we asked ourselves. And, you know what? It’s even easier.
Ease of use: 4.5/5 – Asana eliminates all uncertainties about whether you can use this project management software. Just about any user can manage to figure this out in record time. The positive results you’ll find as you use this software will be fast-acting.
For starters, you can use natural language programming to set up appointment dates. Say you want to meet with your marketing manager Paul on Thursday this week, and it’s Monday now.
If you just type “Thursday” inside Asana’s calendar, then an appointment for Thursday of this week in your calendar will be set up for Paul. Use specific days or even just type in “next month” (which will set an appointment for the same numerical day of the next month), “next week” (sets the same day of the week), or other terms like that.
Use Asana’s advanced search functionality to get really deep into what you’re looking for. This also includes several filtering options like date, people, and projects, even your custom fields.
More than that, you can look for projects assigned to someone in particular, only tasks that have attachments, completed tasks, and tasks with a specific due date, to name a few more examples.
Asana makes it foolproof to find what you need in a few seconds.
Another benefit of using Asana is the task templates you can create.
Turn any task into a reusable template, versus having to re-enter all of that information every time. You can save as many templates as you’d like.
It really stinks to have to type the same task or outline over and over. Now you don’t have to.
Sometimes ideas and things you didn’t remember when setting up a project will come to you later. With the convenient Add Task button, you don’t have to navigate to the right project and the right screen to add a task.
Add a new one any time, anywhere in the platform. The button is ever-present in the top right corner of the screen, no matter what screen you’re on.
Add a new task, project, or message. You can also quickly invite someone to the software.
Now you can assign the task, choose which project it belongs to, set the priority, set a due date, and fill out any custom fields.
It’s all laid out in a beautiful and very intuitive platform.
Since we’re on the subject of tasks, it’s a good idea to look a little deeper into task management features, so you know exactly what you can do with Asana.
Task management: 3.25/5 – Out of the ten features we tested for, Asana has seven of them to make task management much easier for you.
You have intuitive task views that let you open up a task to see more information. In the board and timeline view, it opens up a new pane on the right of the screen.
You also have a personal work area that enhances how you deal with tasks in Asana. Your task area is easily accessible from the left-hand navigation menu.
In it, you can view all tasks assigned to you in a list, board, or calendar view.
We love that you can review tasks and sort by due date, task status, alphabetical, or by project.
This workspace makes managing your tasks a no-brainer.
Asana makes setting up dependencies intuitive, too. You have two types of dependencies—blocking and blocked by.
“Blocking” dependencies mean the task you choose in the drop-down can’t be started until the task that’s currently active gets done.
For example, if you select put the cake in the oven in the drop-down list, you can’t start doing that until you mix the ingredients. Once that’s done, you will have a cake to put into the oven.
When you think about a “blocked by” dependency, try to imagine that the task you choose in the drop-down needs to be completed first, before you start the next task.
Going with the cake idea again, now the drop-down task is to put the cake in the oven. That needs to be completed before you can add frosting, which is the next task. Putting on frosting is blocked by putting the cake into the oven.
Each makes it so you can complete one task at a time in the right order. If you have a sales qualifying process, you shouldn’t start calling clients to pitch them until the lead is verified, for example.
Automations are important to task management, and Asana gives you unlimited automations to help you keep busy work off your hands.
You are limited to using pre-built rules, which is a bummer. If you want to use automations that aren’t available out of the box, you’re out of luck unless you upgrade.
There are 54 pre-built rules you can choose from, including rules that work with other tools like Slack, Jira, Microsoft Teams, and Zendesk.
Even though you can’t create your own rules, there are still a lot to choose from and a ton of possibilities and room for automating repetitive tasks.
Recurring tasks are made easy within Asana because of the simple design and the automation options on the screen after creating a task.
Turning any task into a recurring task can be done with just a few clicks.
If you want to customize your task fields, you can create as many custom fields as you want. That’s great for adding different labels and levels of organization to your tasks.
Collaboration: 3/5 – Collaboration comes in at an average score for Asana. Not terrible, but nothing to ooh and ahh over.
You can invite an unlimited number of guests, including clients, contractors, vendors, suppliers, and whoever else you see fit. And team messaging is baked into Asana.
To enhance this, you also get unlimited document storage. There is just a limit of 100 MB per attachment.
Asana is one of only two PM software providers that offers unlimited storage, so you never have to worry about running out or losing older documents.
If a team member needs to review meeting notes from whenever, they can go back to them and comment in the project-based message board about their findings. This is something many project management softwares don’t provide, so Asana gives you yet another feature and reason for being worth the price.
The thing that’s missing is built-in document collaboration. You will still need to use Google Docs or some other means for that.
You can create basic unbranded forms with as many fields as you’d like. Add a single-line text field, multi-line text field, a number field and more, plus you can add custom fields on the fly with the Asana form builder.
This can be useful for surveying clients, stakeholders, or getting preferences from team members.
You also can use these collaboration tools Asana’s workflow and visibility features to strengthen your results. Let’s look at how you can merge both to really supercharge your project performance.
Workflow and Visibility: 4/5 – Asana makes it their business to help you see your goals and performance in the clearest view possible.
You can use dashboards to see results with full transparency. Each of your allotted unlimited projects gets an exclusive dashboard, pre-built automatically with every new project
It shows total completed tasks, total incomplete, overdue tasks, and other task completion stats over any set period of time.
You can filter these to see what you care about most and edit or delete these charts entirely.
Gantt charts are also available, if you prefer to see your projects that way. Asana calls it a timeline, and it’s automatically available for view once you create a new project.
The Gantt/timeline chart is interactive, so you can change start and due dates, mark tasks as done, add milestones and new tasks, and update or add dependencies.
Just like the timeline chart, a calendar view is also created when you create a new project. Below you can see what your project will look like in this view.
This makes it super easy to see what tasks are coming up for the day, week, and month. Plan your time accordingly and give managers or team members an overview of the upcoming days’ work.
A list view can also be used where you can add, hide, show, or delete columns depending on what types of information you want to see.
If you want, you can filter by complete, incomplete, or all tasks.
And, of course, don’t forget the Kanban view:
No one wants choppy and unclear workflows. So, when each employee can use their own view of a project that works best for them, project work will be clearer for everyone involved.
The marriage between functionality and ease of use is what is so inviting about Asana. It’s not hard to use and it’s honestly beautiful to look at. Unlimited automations and simple-to-apply task management features makes this project management software even better.
If you want project management software you can use in minutes, Asana is worth the money.
#6 – Trello – The Best Kanban Project Management
Best Kanban Project Management
Trello is popular project management software that leverages Kanban-style boards for visual project management. It's easy and simple to use, albeit a bit limiting on power features. But at the price you'll pay (including a generous free plan) it can be more than enough for simpler projects.
Trello is practically a household name in project management software. It’s easy to set up and you can actually learn how to use it without any training if you just start looking around.
It’s best for simple projects. Plus, it supports many integrations so you can easily include the apps and software you’re currently using.
Plus, its value for the price tag is only matched by ClickUp. So, if you want a low-risk investment into PM software, there’s no wrong time to start with Trello.
- Pricing: 5/5
- Onboarding: 5/5
- Ease of use: 2/5
- Task management: 3.5/5
- Collaboration: 2/5
- Workflow and Visibility: 0/5
Pricing: 5/5 – Trello makes starting with project management software easy on your wallet. Its pricing matches ClickUp for most affordable on our list.
It’s just $5 per month for each user when you pay for the year. That’s $180 for three users.
For a monthly plan, you are bumped up to $9 per user per month and will spend $324 each year for three users.
That doesn’t mean you have to have three users—that’s just for consistency in our testing—so it can be even cheaper.
A free plan is also available and includes unlimited cards, up to 10 boards, unlimited storage, unlimited automations, unlimited integrations, and more.
The free plan is perfect if you have no budget and want something simple with plenty of room to grow.
Trello recently added a Premium pricing tier that costs $10 per user per month when you pay for the year (or $12.50 if you pay month to month). For three users, you would pay $360 per year when paying annually.
If you want multiple views available for tracking your projects, the Premium tier is the better selection. You receive dashboard, timeline, map, and calendar views in this tier. Trello suggests this tier for teams with up to 100 users that need the ability to visualize their projects in multiple ways.
Let’s hop into the onboarding process and see how you can get things up and running in under 10 minutes.
Onboarding: 5/5 – There isn’t a getting started tutorial or video or anything when you first log into Trello, but you honestly don’t need that level of help. Trello is just that simple to get started with.
Once you login and create your first board, it’s all so intuitive you don’t need any additional training to set up your first project.
Within a few minutes, you’ll know how Trello works and how things are organized just by clicking around.
All you do when you start is enter your email and name. Once you verify your email, you’ll enter a password.
After you get logged in, there’s a short getting started checklist that covers adding your first board, connecting other business tools, configuring basic settings, and inviting your team.
For most project management software providers, this wouldn’t be enough to get rolling. But, for Trello, it’s all you need.
There are helpful tips throughout to help you get to know the terminology and different areas of the software.
It took us about three minutes to sign up and create our first board.
There are a few templates you can choose from for your first board. You can preview the template then create your own board from it.
Trello defaults to Kanban boards, which is why it’s so easy to use.
The templates have columns already set up for you and a few pre-made tasks so you see how it all works together.
It’s so simple you may feel like you’re missing something—but don’t worry, you’re not. Trello is just that refreshingly easy to set up.
Ease of use: 2/5 – Don’t think that because Trello scores tied for last in this category, you won’t be able to use it. It just doesn’t have some of the features that we tested for which other providers have.
Right out of the gate, setting up tasks within your board is simple. You have task templates to help you get started. They are useful for recurring cards and automations, as well as for tasks that have a lot of information in them.
You can turn any task into a template in one click. You also have the option of hiding the template card so it doesn’t appear in your task list.
And here’s what a created template looks like in standard Kanban view.
Trello is versatile, too. Most teams now are remote, and some have members for whom English is not the native language. Trello swoops in with the ability to have your project management team select between 21 languages.
This can be a bonus to clear up possible confusion when communicating. Individual users can set their own language without affecting everyone else. Trello offers translations for two types of Chinese, Finnish, Italian, Turkish, and many others.
Other tools only have two or three languages to offer, so there’s a lot more to choose from here.
However, Trello’s low score comes from a lack of natural language processing, no persistent quick add button on every screen, and no advanced searching. So, it’s just not as effective for power users who want to add and manage tasks with the smallest possible number of clicks.
Task management: 3.5/5 – Trello comes in just above average in task management. After setting up what you want, you have several features to make tasks even easier to manage.
Let’s talk about intuitive task views. This lets you lay out your tasks in a way that is perfect for how your team works.
Even with a ton of information inside the task, it doesn’t look cluttered. Everything is in one place for you to see, with the most important information listed from top to bottom.
If you want to see all the cards assigned to you, just use your work area.
If you click on your user icon in the top right of the platform and click on Cards, you can see all the cards assigned to you across all of your projects in one place. Then, if you want, you can sort them by board or by due date.
What’s nice about Trello is all plans, even the free one, include automations. If any of the cards in your work area can be automated, you can set that up.
There are four different automations inside Trello.
Set up rules with a trigger for a condition and desired action, which is great for building processes and workflows.
Or, add a button that triggers an action. When you click it, it triggers a desired action, like moving a card from one column to another and changing the assigned team member.
After that, we have due date commands. What this does is use a card’s due date as the trigger for which you can set the desired action.
The last automation type is calendar commands that run at set calendar intervals. In a simple example, say every Friday at midnight you can have all cards in the Done column archived, removing clutter from your Trello board.
The language used for automations is super simple and requires no experience to set up. Trello’s automation tool, called Butler, observes common actions you’ve done in the past, then gives recommendations on how to automate those actions.
If you want to make things even more streamlined, you can set up simple checklists for your cards too. Add one or many checklists in a single card to keep to-do items organized.
In your board, you can even see the number of checklist items and how many have been completed without opening up the card:
Adding recurring tasks is just as easy as setting up everything else.
Let’s face it, certain tasks can be automated, but some cards will have to be recreated over and over.
Why do that manually?
Creating recurring tasks is simple. Set what time the new card will be created and on what days of the week, plus which column it goes in and whether it repeats weekly, monthly, or yearly. That’s it.
You can even pick a number of weeks, months, and years you want this recurring card to repeat for.
Cards allow for multiple assignees, too. The user icons will appear in the lower right corner of the card, clearly showing who has responsibility.
Say that card also needs some custom fields. You can make the task card exactly how you want it to look.
Add as many custom fields as you need to, choosing from options like checkbox, date, dropdown list, number, and text.
Custom fields will appear under the task description. They’re easy to set up, and they add depth and clarity to your task cards when things are a bit more complex.
And when you’ve got project items that require more than one person to get the job done, that’s when you need some in-platform help with collaboration.
Collaboration: 2/5 – There isn’t much to discuss in this category for Trello, as it’s not big on collaborative features.
It’s simple, so pinging and tagging people you work with is built in. You can leave comments for other users, but it’s not streamlined the way some other providers are.
You have unlimited document storage, which is instrumental when building processes for your business. If you have tons of SOPs or Google Doc templates, you don’t have to pay for storage. It’s only one of two providers who offer no limits on document storage.
An activity feed feature also lets you keep up with exactly how progress is moving.
There are two different activity feeds: your home feed and project-based feeds. Both are unlimited, with no time frame on how long activity logs are kept.
For the home feed, it’s all the tasks you’re assigned to.
This feed shows your upcoming tasks in descending order. Click on a task to open it up, mark tasks as complete, change the due date, add comments, and assign a different user right from the feed.
The second one is the project-based feed which shows all of that project board’s activity by every user.
You can’t filter or sort within this feed, but you can look at a feed of user actions and comments on the board.
It would be nice to be able to see an activity feed for all projects in one place. But it’s not a deal breaker, especially if you’re dealing with relatively simple projects.
All in all, Trello has bare bones collaboration features. But integrations with all your favorite apps and software (like Slack) can make collaboration better than what you have now.
Keep in mind, this is for simple projects, so the comments within the cards are usually just fine for that purpose.
At Crazy Egg, we use Trello for our entire editorial calendar. Leaving comments and pings works fine in our crazy world, so we think it can work for you, too.
Workflow and Visibility: 0/5 – Not to sound like a recording or anything, but Trello isn’t meant for high-powered analytics.
It’s best for simple drag-and-drop Kanban projects, keeping you organized on less complicated projects.
Here is that typical Kanban view which Trello defaults to.
Kanban is at the core of what Trello does and it does it really really well. This simple, clean, intuitive interface is what allows Trello to work wonders on simple project management.
If you love Trello’s simplicity but find yourself needing additional views after you’ve grown bored of Kanban, you will need to upgrade to a higher tier.
If you want simple and easy-to-use tools for your small or medium-sized project, Trello grabs hold of your workflows and tightens up the loose ends in no time.
All you have to do is start with your first project and you will quickly see why it’s the best low-cost way to start with project management software. Try Trello risk-free right now to see for yourself.
Methodology for Choosing the Best Project Management Software
Like most of you, we want to find the fastest way to deliver the best possible project—and under budget, if possible.
Keeping this top of mind, we researched the best characteristics to focus on when you decide what project management (PM) software to get.
Our methodology walks you through every area of what’s important and breaks down why we chose each of these categories in the first place.
Each level of testing for the methodology was weighted from highest to lowest based on importance.
- Price (20%)
- Onboarding (20%)
- Ease of Use (15%)
- Task Management (15%)
- Collaboration (15%)
- Workflow and Visibility(15%)
We calculated the price for three users for a year, to make sure you know exactly what your expenses would be.
Then, we signed up for each tool and watched the provided training materials for every provider. Then, we evaluated the complexity and learning curve for each tool based on these features and the intuitiveness of each interface.
Along the way, we looked for handy features that help speed routine things up and make the software easier to use from day to day. Part of that involved creating tasks and schedules for this current research project and mapping it to each platform, to test the ability to collaborate and see progress in different ways.
Like a scientist looking for cracks and flaws in their formula, we paid close attention to task management features and the overall intuitiveness of creating and moving tasks around.
It’s our intention to ease your buying decision and offer the clearest insight into what will work best for you or your team.
Is Price Still King… Or Is It Value? (20%)
Buying anything causes you to consider if its value is worth your cash. That makes perfect sense, especially if you are a small or new business owner, solopreneur, or freelancer.
And we understand that at some higher levels of PM software, there are some price tags you may just not be able to afford.
We placed this first among considerations because there’s a decent range of price points in this software category. And you should know up front whether a platform that looks good comes at a price point you are willing to pay.
First, we calculated the monthly cost for three users to ensure we’re comparing apples to apples across all providers. We used annual rates for calculation and scoring, but included monthly rates and the total for the year in each review.
Then we took each provider and compared them to our grading scale below.
- 5 points for less than $17 per month
- 4 points for $17 to $21 per month
- 3 points for $21 to $25 per month
- 2 points for $25 to $29 per month
- 1 point for more than $29 per month
The list-wide average is $23 per month, or $276 per year, for three users. A few options we reviewed are budget-friendly and came in well below that average, while some others come at a premium.
Of course, we had to take the value into account. We adjusted the scores slightly to reflect the fact that some platforms include far more with their entry-level plans than others.
If You Can’t Get Started, Why Would Features Matter? (20%)
Project management tools range from super basic to extremely complex.
Some are better than others at providing sufficient training materials that walk you through learning everything you need to know to get started.
You want something that’s super easy to set up in minutes, so you can spend time actually working rather than wasting days or even weeks figuring out how to set your projects and team up in a new software environment.
We assigned a score to each provider based on our experience signing up—watching the provided training videos, setting up our research project for this post, and joining as a team member with a separate email address—so we can tell you how it looks from both the admin and the employees’ points of view.
- 5 points if it requires no training to get started
- 4 points if requires some getting used to and information is provided in an easy-to-digest way
- 3 points if the tool requires a decent amount of training to get started, with most info provided in an easy-to-digest way
- 2 points if the tool requires a significant amount of training and the provided training is hard to follow or only grazes the surface
- 1 point if the tool is complex and requires a significant time investment in training
You might be thinking, what about actually using the software? Can I see if that’s easy, too?
We’ve got you covered there, too. Project management should offer task templates, to ease setting things up quickly for example. Do you want to always set up your tasks from scratch?
Of course not, unless you just love busy work. If that’s the case then go for it. But most of you don’t. Let’s dive into what ease of use for project management looks like.
Is It Really That Easy To Use This Software? (15%)
Project management software is supposed to make your life easier, not cause more admin work or make you search high and low for the projects and tasks you’re looking for.
You should be able to use it to speed up project coordination and troubleshoot issues and project gaps without fear.
In this section, we use a feature-based scoring system. Each provider scores one point (out of five) for each of the following key features they include:
- Natural language processing lets you type in real words and phrases to set due dates for tasks, instead of clicking buttons
- Advanced search functionality allows you to filter and apply advanced search capabilities to easily find exactly what you’re looking for
- Task templates let you create new action items in just a few clicks
- Quick add buttons let you add ideas, notes, pings, and more in a snap from any screen
- Availability in multiple languages is crucial if you have team members all over the world or who prefer their own native language
Each of these features are described in detail for each product in the reviews above.
Our approach here is to make finding a project management choice simple based on the top features real users find the most valuable when using the software every day.
Now, we’ll go a bit further and break down task management.
Project Management Is Really Task Management (15%)
Managing tasks and the different types of things you can do with them came up hundreds of times in our research.
It’s a core function of project management software and something just about everyone is looking for in project management software.
How many times have you needed to find a workaround when setting up or managing a task in your project? Chances are, at least a handful.
If you have daily recurring tasks, not having an efficient way to manage and organize them results in clunky processes that annoy even the most reserved team members. And, it can cause issues later with reporting or collaboration.
We also use feature-based scoring in this section. Each one a provider demonstrates scores a half-point, which totals up to five if all are available to you within the plan we tested.
- An intuitive task view that lets you see all the details associated with each task
- My work area is a section of the software that conveniently lists out all tasks assigned to you
- Task dependencies ensure one task can’t start until another is complete, great for outlining processes and ensuring they’re followed to the letter
- Automations that include triggers, conditions, and desired actions after something is done
- Subtasks that are nested under a parent task
- Checklists for items to do
- Recurring tasks that remove having to manually set up tasks you do over and over again
- Multiple assignees that allow you to assign tasks to more than one user
- Formulas that will automatically calculate things for you based on other inputs
- Custom fields that let you populate tasks and projects with any information that matters to your team
Each feature we discuss in a review shows examples and real-world applications to give you some ideas on what benefits you can enjoy.
Some of these features allow you to incorporate collaboration effortlessly. And we all know how important working together is with bigger projects.
Follow us as we talk more about collaboration below.
If You Have To Collaborate, Make It Easy (15%)
Collaboration can be a gift or a curse, depending on how it’s done.
Project management software is designed to make it a gift. When we looked at each provider, we combed through every detail to find how you can master this crafty dynamic of project management.
Collaborating with teammates, clients, stakeholders, and managers is something you want your teams to be able to do in their sleep. So we looked for ways that PM software providers can centralize communication and keep everything organized.
Options need to be abundant, especially if you have remote teams or are currently communicating across multiple tools.
Each provider is given one point for each of the following features:
- Built-in document collaboration lets people create and work on documents together in real-time, similar to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
- Project-based message boards offer a more broad space to talk about the project as a whole, share milestones and wins, or ask project members for help, for example
- Ample document and attachment storage dictates how many files you can store within the software before having to upgrade or store them elsewhere
- An activity log keeps a running record of all comments, changes, and attachments so you can see who did what and when
- Request and approval forms make it easy to collaborate with other departments, teams, and even clients or customers in an organized way
Being able to see if the project management provider does any or all of these things is a guaranteed way to know if your business can improve in any of these areas before spending a dime.
If you’re not able to do these now, you’re missing out on ways to streamline your workflow. That can lead to lost dollars and cents, not to mention your team’s sanity.
Speaking of workflow… that’s the last factor on this magical list.
Working Smarter Through Seeing What’s Going On (15%)
Workflow and project visibility allows you to see a high-level overview of project and task progress for everyone. It’s a core function of any good project management team.
Dive deeper into where time is being spent using analytics, resource allocations, employee workloads, planning and scheduling of upcoming projects, and more.
If you’re a manager you need this to work for you all the time, not just sometimes. You need to keep your eyes on all the moving pieces so nothing falls through the cracks and projects get completed on time with no missed steps.
Adequate project visibility helps decrease the number of meetings required, since managers or stakeholders can check the status of everything without having to ask. Employees can look at their daily to-do lists plus see who’s working on things they’re waiting on from others.
In many cases, you may want to see an overview of all tasks, due dates, start dates, and dependencies together on a Gantt chart or Kanban board.
And what if things change from project to project? You need flexibility, right?
Having the option to switch between different types of views or reports is key. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend time setting up workarounds or change how you do work to match the software, rather than the other way around.
We looked at the features that give you visibility and confidence, with each scoring one point.
- Time tracking gives managers a closer look at how long tasks and projects are taking
- Visual analytic dashboards let you see a high-level overview of everything at a glance
- Gantt charts help you see start and due dates, milestones, and dependencies in a timeline view
- Calendar view allows for a convenient, familiar way to see progress and due dates
- List or table views let you see projects with multiple key details front-and-center
Each of these features improves your capability to smoothly transition from the start of your project to a successful end.
And this is a key area for seeing where some PM software providers fall short compared to others. For example, each provider we tested offers Kanban boards (so we didn’t score on that), but not every provider offers a Gantt chart view.
Now you are a wiz on our methodology.
Go up to the reviews and see which provider catches your eye, and then click on the convenient link to learn more, start with a risk-free plan that’s your next, or sign up for the paid version and move from where you are now to where you want to be.
In summary, the best project management software for you depends on how you plan to use it. Looking for something versatile and flexible? Monday.com is our top recommendation.
Its superior set of features and tools offer an efficient way to manage projects of any size in any industry.
But if Monday doesn’t perfectly fit your needs, look to the other options on our list or use our methodology to guide your personal search for the best PM software.