Update 4/17/2017: This piece has been updated to include new top Microsoft Project alternatives for Microsoft Project 2016 and to remove those that were featured in our Microsoft Project 2013 alternatives roundup. There are now eight options instead of seven.
Microsoft Project is the behemoth of project management software options.
That’s no exaggeration. It is by far the most popular project management software. According to Capterra’s own project management software research, 67% of project managers use Microsoft Project. The next most popular system, Atlassian, would have to grow 2,414% to match Microsoft Project’s number of customers.
Microsoft Project sets the pace for the project management software industry. Many try to impersonate it, like the free and open-source platform ProjectLibre, but others, including the ones I’ve listed below, have tried to expand on Microsoft Project’s enticing feature list.
Microsoft Project Alternatives
In order to qualify as one of the best Microsoft Project 2016 alternatives, these project management software options must have the following features:
- Detailed reports
- File sharing
- Gantt charts
- Integrations with common third-party apps
- Real-time communication between team members
- Task management
- Timesheets and invoicing
The following list was created with these requirements in mind. By no means is this list comprehensive of all the MS Project alternatives, but it does include some of the best.
These options are listed alphabetically.
Like Microsoft Project, Active Collab offers both cloud and self-hosted options. It’s a system that has attracted several notable clients, like NASA, Intel, and Apple, and appeals to businesses that value design, simplicity, and a robust feature set.
- Estimated vs Tracked Time: Use this reporting system to filter through your tracked time by project, task name, estimated time, percent of time, person, and/or project.
- Uninvoiced: This report provides an overview of all the uninvoiced billable hours logged in your system
- Workload: Gain insight into how your team is distributing their project-based tasks
Active Collab provides between 5 GB and 500 GB of document storage and file sharing depending on the user’s plan. It also provides a self-hosted option, meaning you can install Active Collab locally and use it across your pre-existing servers. Cloud users will often expand their storage capabilities by integrating with Google Drive or Dropbox.
Active Collab calls its Gantt chart feature a “timeline,” though that undersells what the timeline function does. Like a Gantt chart, timeline gives a visual project overview, but it also provides insights into tasks and workload across multiple projects. And unlike Microsoft Project, Active Collab made its timeline feature to be accessible to the entire team, so everyone knows who is working on what and when.
- Google Drive
- Brainstorming: Active Collab offers Kanban boards for idea management.
- Comments: Users can comment on tasks, discussions, and notes. Active Collab keeps the thread stored for conversation history.
- Synchronous editing: Users can create “notes” (which are effectively documents) in Active Collab which allows team members to make comments and edits. Active Collab stores every change and provides a full revision history.
Active Collab centralizes team members’ work into individual dashboards. From there, users can track updates, see what needs to be done by when, and use workflow features like file attachments, reminders, and filters, to make sure everything is completed on time.
Project managers can set hourly rates by job types, projects, people, and more. Active Collab also offers a timer app (called “The Timer”) so users can track their task hours right in the system.
Price: Starts at $25 per user, per month for the cloud-based plans and at $999 for the self-hosted option.
Have you used Active Collab before? Leave a review!
Celoxis, a project and project portfolio management tool available both in the cloud and on-premise, has an impressive list of honors and clientele. For example, it earned a spot in Software Advice’s FrontRunners analysis for project management software and is the project management tool of choice for brands like HBO, Deloitte, and Rolex.
Reviewers are quick to point out Celoxis’ “balance between ease-of-use and power,” “wide variety of reports,” and “great Gantt charts.” One user pointed out, “I would highly recommend this tool as a lower cost, yet fuller featured product in comparison to Microsoft Project,” highlighting the very reason why it’s on this list.
- Portfolio report: If you’re dealing with a portfolio of projects, this report gives you the “big picture” context of your resources, budgets, and timelines.
- Project status report: Visualize your schedule and cost variances, issues, risks, changes, and decisions made in a single project.
- Project tracking: As a project progresses, project managers can use Celoxis’ project tracking report to quickly glance at budget predictions and adherence, progress, and the team’s level of effort. This analysis comes with alerts, should the project start to derail.
Every Celoxis team gets 2 GB of file storage per team member, with the option of paying $10 for every extra 10 GB per month. Celoxis also integrates with Box and Google Drive for additional file storage.
Gantt charts are arguably Celoxis’ most-loved feature. The Microsoft Project alternative’s take on Gantt charts includes interactive chart maintenance, portfolio dependencies, and even keyboard shortcuts, making it one of the standout Gantt chart software options available.
- Google Drive
- Microsoft Outlook
- Microsoft Project
- Comments: Celoxis uses discussion boards to keep users and their clients connected, along with task, bug, and document conversations. Use @mentions to keep everyone up to date on project progress, and keep track of the conversation right in your activity stream.
- Document management: You can use Celoxis to store all of your project-related documents in one place (and organize them in folders and subfolders). Enable version control to keep track of who edited which project when and to never lose an important file.
- Remote workers: Celoxis supports multiple time zones in its project and resource calendars.
Tasks are one of Celoxis’ core features. Users can use and update tasks to track and assign task duration, budget, and predicted versus actual time allotment. Celoxis also provides a timer for each task so you can bill your clients accordingly.
Users can track their time using Celoxis’ built-in time-tracking feature, or manually enter it themselves. They can also customize their invoices, timesheets, and reports with filters like activity codes, expense codes, location-specific rates, and project-specific rates.
Price: Starts at $25 per user per month for the cloud version or $450 per user for on-premise
Have you used Celoxis before? Leave a review!
Clarizen has been named one of the best IT project portfolio management software for usability, best enterprise project management software, and best project portfolio software, making it a heavy-hitting contender for Microsoft Project’s place as the preferred enterprise-level project management platform. When evaluating Clarizen’s user reviews, praise centered on its powerful reporting, collaboration, and project portfolio planning features, built to match and exceed Microsoft Project’s capabilities.
- Project highlight report: Clarizen provides its users with an app called “Project Highlight Report,” which summarizes project information, issues, requests, risks, and what happened the week prior and what will happen in the upcoming seven days.
- Time reporting compliance: See where your people are spending their time, drilling down specifically on those who haven’t logged time at all, those who haven’t fulfilled their contract hours, and those who worked more than 120% of their contract hours.
- Portfolio optimization: Use this dashboard to align your project portfolios with your business’s key performance indicators. The report can run “what-if” scenarios, including changes to the budget, resource workload, and project priority.
Clarizen teams get 1 GB of file storage per team member with the enterprise plan and unlimited storage with the unlimited plan. Clarizen also integrates with Box and Google Drive for additional file storage.
Clarizen users can access an interactive Gantt chart, which features scheduling, project performance, and projected timelines. If you’re a shift-based company, use these charts to track and assign when your team members are in and out of work, including vacation time.
- Google Drive
- Oracle E-Business Suite
- Brainstorming: Clarizen uses “discussions” to keep track of new ideas, which can be linked to items (like tasks), users, and groups.
- Comments: Users can use discussions attached to specific tasks and projects to keep everyone informed. Like Facebook, team members can like, reply, follow, and pin particularly relevant conversations.
When using Clarizen, all team members can see what tasks everyone else is working on in the Team Panel, which fosters transparency and collaboration. Users can search and filter through tasks, attach relevant emails and tracked time, and link tasks to resources, files, and discussions.
Clarizen’s timesheet module tracks minutes, hours, and/or days of reportable work to a “work item,” such as a project or task. Once the project manager approves a team member’s timesheet, Clarizen updates the hours related to the project, along with percent-complete status.
Price: Contact the vendor for pricing
Have you used Clarizen before? Leave a review!
LiquidPlanner is a well-regarded project portfolio management tool that’s used by big brands like Honeywell and Ericsson. It has over 200 positive reviews on Capterra, where users praise its strong analysis tools and ease of use.
- Baseline: A daily project report that dives into project level-of-effort (LOE) expectations versus reality and how LOE will impact the forecasted completion date
- Personal status report: Distill what you’ve done and what you need to do for each project
- Project workload: Use this report to visualize how your team is distributing their efforts within single or multiple projects
- Resource workload: See what your team is working on, when they’re working on it, and how much work they have on an individual level or across multiple teams
- Task estimation: Gain insight into the accuracy of your task time and effort estimations over time
- Total trend: The total trend report analyzes total remaining effort plus project progress
LiquidPlanner provides 5 GB to 500 GB of document storage and file sharing depending on the user’s plan. Users will often expand their storage capabilities with an integration with Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box.
LiquidPlanner’s Gantt charts automatically update with changes to variables like hours logged and priority changes. Project managers do not need to manually keep their charts up to date.
- Google Drive
- Brainstorming: LiquidPlanner offers a standardized intake form widget for team members to present new ideas
- Comments: Comments can include rich text and images and are connected to the tasks and projects they pertain to.
Tasks represent individual work items but can be shared among multiple team members. They can be assigned to a project, subfolder, package, or the Inbox. Users can attach tracked time to each task and use a variety of labels—like which project it belongs to or by client—to keep them easily sortable.
LiquidPlanner offers a time tracker that can automatically create and export timesheets.
Price: Starts at $9.99 per user per month for five users; upgrades start at $39 per user per month
Have you used LiquidPlanner before? Leave a review!
Want to join the likes of Buzzfeed, Coca-Cola, and Genpact? They all rely on Mavenlink, another alternative to MS Project. Reviewers love this software. As one happy user summed up at Capterra, Mavenlink is simply “Great. Instant. Live. Useful. Can there be any better review for support?”
- Project status: Compare your budget estimates with what you’ve actually spent
- Resource utilization: Learn who is doing what, and who’s free for another project
- Customizable reports: Available with over 300 variables
Mavenlink provides 10 GB to 1 TB of document storage and file sharing depending on the user’s plan. Users will often expand their storage capabilities by integrating with Google Drive.
Mavenlink’s Gantt charts are ridiculously simple to use. Project managers can drag-and-drop tasks, dependencies, and due dates while Mavenlink spits out insights into how far along you are in your project and what you need to know about the critical path.
- Google Apps
- Brainstorming: Team members can share and comment on ideas using a public message board.
- Comments: Each file type has a section available for commenting.
- Instant message: Mavenlink allows its users to send real-time messages. Users can also share files using the messaging system.
Individuals using Mavenlink’s task tracker can share it with anyone they like, including clients and third parties. Tasks can be broken down and analyzed with a variety of views, including by information, progress, or finances.
Mavenlink allows users to distinguish between billable and nonbillable tracked hours, and has report templates to export time data.
Price: Starts at $19 a month for up to five users
Have you used Mavenlink before? Leave a review!
When it comes to Microsoft Project alternatives, Project Insight doles out stiff competition. Not to be confused with the Marvel Universe plot point, Project Insight focuses on ease of use, while catering to the IT, professional services, research and development, and marketing communities. If you’re within those niches, users give Project Insight a near-perfect review average, reflecting their appreciation for the product.
- Resource utilization report: If you’re interested in forecasting what kind of workload your team members can take on based on their prior history, check out this report. It filters through the user’s target workload, actual workload, and billable hours, to provide insight on how to best use that team member in future projects.
- Task resource report: If you have a project that requires multiple team members to work on the same task, this report provides insight into individual task assignment, what parts of tasks have been completed, and filtered task information by team member.
- Unsubmitted time report: This report provides a visual display of time accounted and unaccounted for, making it easier for project managers to get their teams to submit timesheets.
Every Project Insight team gets 1 GB of file storage per team member, with the option of paying $1 for every extra 5 GB per month. Project Insight also integrates with Box for additional file storage.
Project Insight encourages its users to view their project schedule in a Gantt chart view. Its Gantt charts are interactive, so project managers can easily attach tasks with dependencies using the drag-and-drop system.
- Atlassian Jira
- Microsoft Dynamics
- Microsoft Office
- Microsoft Outlook
- Microsoft Visual Studio
- Sage CRM
- Comments: Users can use Project Insight’s dashboard to chat about projects, tasks, and issues in a unified, Facebook Timeline-like stream that Project Insight keeps archived for reference.
- Document management: Project Insight uses a check-in, check-out system to maintain version control.
Users can update, comment on, and sort through their tasks directly from their dashboards.
Like Microsoft Project, Project Insight provides a number of ways to enter time, including by project, by company, and by user. Project managers can set permissions so timesheets have to go through them (or another user) for approval.
Price: Starts at $3 per user, per month, though most businesses looking for a Microsoft Project alternative will likely opt for the “Team Member” plan, which starts at $30 per user, per month.
Have you used Project Insight before? Leave a review!
Teamwork, like the name implies, focuses on collaboration above all else. Team members update their statuses in real time so everyone is aware of who is working on what. Project managers can break down tasks into the nitty gritty so that, in its words, “Nothing gets overlooked—no excuses for a team member not knowing next steps on a project.”
- Links: Export all the links that you’ve used in your project.
- People: Learn who is doing what and who’s free for another project.
- Risk register: Teamwork Projects has a built in risk register for tracking and managing project risks. Simple reports can be output to Excel or PDF.
Teamwork provides 20 GB to 500 GB of document storage and file sharing depending on the user’s plan. Users will often expand their storage capabilities with an integration with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive.
Teamwork Projects offers a drag-and-drop Gantt chart service for planning and scheduling projects. The Microsoft Project alternative also offers a kanban-style “board” view.
- Time Doctor
- Brainstorming: The “notebooks” feature acts as a shared document across the team. It’s a perfect ecosystem to store ideas about future projects.
- Comments: Users can comment on tasks, notebooks, and projects. Users can also provide real-time status updates as they work through their to dos.
- Document version control: Teamwork Projects is careful to provide a number of document management features, including version control and file labeling. Users can also upload and download multiple files at once.
Teamwork Projects provides a number of project task features, including dependencies, recurring tasks, time estimates, task-assigned time tracking, and task labeling. All of these filters can be exported for reporting purposes.
This Microsoft Project competitor allows its users to distinguish between billable and non-billable tracked hours, track time while working or manually enter it later, and export invoices with variable hourly rates.
Price: Starts at $44.92 a month
Have you used Teamwork before? Leave a review!
The final Microsoft Project substitution on this list is meant exclusively for larger teams who are serious about getting their projects done on budget and on time. Workzone’s client list includes Verizon, Wells Fargo, and Adidas.
Having such a long list of notable customers typically leads to a long list of shortcomings, but not for Workzone–it has continued to garner positive attention from reviewers. For example, the Director of Creative Operations at Samford University writes,
Workzone is by far the best online project management tool I’ve found for creative teams. Its robust features track everything and are easy to use. The customer service and training are superb. WorkZone is responsive to its users and constantly works to improve the system with new features as a result of customer feedback. I wouldn’t want to run a team without Workzone.
- Workload: Evaluate scheduled work by person or workgroup over a specified time period.
- Usage: Learn who is doing what, how much they’re doing, and what their progress has looked like over the prior week.
- Expense tracking: Workzone can pop out financial information by workspace, project, task, and expense class, to keep your project on budget and on schedule.
Workzone provides 100 GB to 200 GB of document storage and file sharing depending on the user’s plan. Users will often expand their storage capabilities in this Microsoft Project competitor with an integration with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive.
Workzone’s Gantt chart features include drag-and-drop functionality, templates, and automatic updates.
- Brainstorming: Workzone offers a customizable intake form so users can organize how they want to prioritize new ideas and projects.
- Comments: All items are available to be commented on.
- Document version control: Workzone has users “check” documents in and out to make sure that there isn’t accidentally synchronous editing.
Workzone provides a number of project task features, including mapping tasks to a calendar, creating template-based tasks, and placeholder tasks.
This Microsoft Project competitor allows its users to export time-based invoices using filters like hours by project or hours by client. Project managers can also check out Workzone’s time grid to make sure that all project hours have been logged and accounted for.
Price: Starts at $24 per user, per month
Have you used Workzone before? Leave a review!
There are plenty of other alternatives to Microsoft Project out there. If you’re using an older version of MS Project, consider LiquidPlanner, Mavenlink, Merlin Project, OmniPlan, Smartsheet, Teamwork, and Workzone, which were all featured in the Microsoft Project 2013 alternatives version of this post.
What other Microsoft Project competitors should we include in this list? Or do you prefer Microsoft Project to all the options here? Let us know in the comments below.
And if you have a strong opinion on Microsoft Project, don’t forget to leave a review.
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.