Update 2/29/2016: Due to this post’s popularity, we’ve updated this piece to include 20, instead of the original 16, free project management tools that fly under the radar.
I live in Washington, D.C., which means two things. One is that I spend an inordinate amount of time brunching, navigating through networking events, and living a life of “Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” The other is that my city is swarmed almost every weekend with tourists who misunderstand how D.C. works. Stand to the right if you’re not walking up the escalator! Stop pausing in the middle of the street to take pictures of trees! And most importantly, stay away from my local dive bars.
D.C., luckily, has a host of awesome and hidden bars that have yet to make the lists of tourist destinations where I can enjoy their excellent service and food without having to worry about overcrowding.
I feel similarly about a lot of project management software.
The old standbys tend to be great—I’m talking about software options like Microsoft Project, Wrike, and Atlassian—but sometimes it can feel like bigger companies have so many users that their “personal touch” is lost.
As a software hipster, I’m always on the lookout for underground project management tools that have yet to make it big—especially free project management software, which is great for small businesses and individual users. Check out my shortlist below!
Free Agile Software
While there’s a host of wonderful Agile project management software available on the market, my bet is that you’ve heard of none of these ones, below.
Need a program that can run different project management methods depending on the project? Look no further than Hansoft.
Price: Free for up to nine users and has unlimited project and programs and free QA accounts.
Have a small company that needs an easily-scalable Agile solution? Gravity is a simple tool that offers burndown charts, bug tracking, and APIs.
Price: Free for one private project and up to five participants.
Beyond its adorable name, icescrum is a free and open source Agile solution for teams of any size. You can use take advantage of their local option for free, and it runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac!
Price: Installed option is free. The web option starts at 9,90€ (roughly $10 USD) a month.
As far as free and open source Scrum tools go, Scrumpy raises the bar by providing long-term story views and running entirely on Java. This is a locally-installed software made for Product Owners.
Price: Completely free.
While Taiga is still in beta, this gorgeous free and open source tool offers what most paid Agile software provides: backlogs, Kanban boards, task management, sprints, and QA.
Price: Public projects are completely free; private projects start at $3 a month.
YouTrack excels at reporting. Need a burndown chart? QA reports? Issue distribution reports? Timeline reports? YouTrack has it all… for free.
Price: Free for ten users and 5GB of storage.
Free Gantt Chart Software
If you’re more of a Waterfall project manager, check out these phenomenal free Gantt chart software options.
Have an enterprise-level team in need of some free Gantt software? Check out Gantter, which can be hosted with smartapp.com, Google Drive, Google Apps, or even locally.
Price: Free unless locally installed for $9.99
Ganttproject is entirely locally hosted software for Windows, OSX, and Linux. It offers Gantt, Resource Load, and PERT charts, and integrates with Microsoft Project.
Price: Totally free.
Okay, ProjectLibre might not be quite so hidden, but it’s a fantastic alternative to Microsoft Project—so celebrated that it won ComputerWorld’s “Best of Open Source” software award.
This gorgeous cloud-based Gantt tool is all about the drag-and-drop—this software is so easy to use, you could teach a five-year-old Gantt in about 10 minutes.
Price: Free for personal use; starts at $9 month for 20 project schedules.
Free Task Management Software
There are lots of great free task management software options out there—but I’m sure you’ve heard of a lot of them. Check out these alternative options hiding from the mainstream.
Bambam is a task management software option that can be either used for personal use or for Agile teams. It offers permissions settings, custom workflows, and is entirely secure behind SSH and HTTPS encryption.
Price: Absolutely nothing unless you have more than ten team members, which start at $70 a month.
MeisterTask is as feature packed as it is visually pleasing. Offering task relationships, lots of integrations, instant messaging among team members, and even a free mobile app, MeisterTask is a steal.
Price: Unlimited users and unlimited projects for zero dollars and no cents.
Producteev has made a number of my top free project management lists for good reason: it’s intuitive, it’s collaborative, and it does everything you want a task management app to do—without overloading its users with useless features.
If you’re struggling to choose between kanban (what Trello uses) and task lists, this free to-do list software offers both! The app is flexible, so you can use it for personal task management or to organize your team.
Price: Free for up to five users; $11 per user per month per workspace thereafter
Free Time Tracking Software
Sometimes, billable hours are the most important part of a project. For freelancers and small-business owners, check out these hidden and intuitive free time tracking tools.
Kimai is a completely free and open source time tracking solution, which can run even when you close your browser! It’s made with the whole team in mind, and testimonials agree that it’s “super easy to use.”
Price: Goose egg.
Are you a freelancer looking for a free time tracking app that does more than just track your minutes? MakeSomeTime offers invoicing, making it easy to translate your time to a paycheck.
Price: Free for five clients, five projects, and two invoices per month. Paid plans start at $3 a month for unlimited clients and projects.
Download RescueTime to your computer and get going—this free time tracking software logs your every movement on your computer and uses that data to ship out weekly reports.
Price: Free for the basic version—substantially upgraded version with more reports and filters for $9 a month.
Clock in, clock out, share your hours, and break them down by task. It’s that simple. Oh, and as a bonus, Slimtimer offers reporting features so you know how everyone on your team is spending their time.
Toggl is a little better-known than the other above-mentioned time tracking software, but it’s still worth mentioning. Built for teams, just touch and go to start tracking and reporting on your time.
Price: $0 for the basic version—which should suffice for most.
There are so many hidden and awesome free project management tools out there that it would be impossible to name all of them in this list. What did I miss? Did you have a good experience with the software mentioned above? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.