When it comes to free online project management software, there are a host of options to try. Consider these 20 free largely unknown systems, or even rankings of the top-10 free PM software. You’re not going to run out of options.
There are trends, however. No matter which top project management software list you’re using, three products tend to make the list: Wrike, Freedcamp, and Trello.
These three options take strikingly different approaches to project management, but they do share these commonalities:
- They provide a free version (which is what I’ll be reviewing today). Their paid version is a substantial upgrade (which I’ll cover toward the end of this post).
- They were made for collaboration.
- They are all cloud-based.
- They are flexible enough to cover a multitude of industries.
- The free versions tend to cater to small businesses or individuals.
Topics I’ll be covering in this post:
- The basic features of all three products
- Team communication
- Project planning
- Project execution
- Upgrade options
Wrike is the fourth most-popular project management software and the recipient of a variety of software awards, including Deloitte’s Fast 500 in 2015. Leading companies like Hootsuite, PayPal, and HTC rely on this system to keep their projects in line.
Wrike’s layout is fairly straightforward. Free users have a three-column view; on the left side are Wrike’s menus, like your inbox and projects you’re working on. When you go into a project, you can immediately see tasks, details, and deadlines.
From there, project managers can communicate with their team, upload files, and mark the task’s status.
Wrike will also tease free users with upgrades — in the task detail panel, you’ll notice that time tracking and dependencies are not available unless you upgrade. Reports, customized dashboards, and integrations outside of Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive, and iCal are not available.
Wrike gives users the option to receive daily or weekly rundowns of all the things slated for the day. While some might find these emails cumbersome, I’ve found that Wrike does a good job of filtering out what’s important and what isn’t.
They also offer apps for Android and iOS.
- Great for Getting Things Done and task management
- Easy to learn; if you can use Facebook, you can use Wrike
- Excellent communication tool for small teams
- The free version comes with a generous 2GB of storage
- The free version does not include subtasks and cuts off at five users
- Many features, like time tracking, are not available without an upgrade
The free version is robust. As I noted in the top free project management software review:
Optimized for communication.
Kanban or tasks–you choose.
200MB of storage–upgrade to 1 GB for $2.49 a month.
Freedcamp has truly earned its #1 spot on this list.
Projects are divided into boards. Click a board, and Freedcamp will take you to a dashboard divided into three sections: tasks, files, and calendar. Tasks can be arranged by user, due date, priority, and more, and team members can mark how far along they are with each to-do.
While 200MB of free storage isn’t huge, the free Freedcamp version makes it easy to sort and filter through which files you have uploaded. They offer version control and commentary on uploaded files.
Finally, the calendar view offers a visual display of when things are due and who is assigned to what.
They currently do not offer a mobile version, though it looks like they’re working on an iOS release that will be due out soon.
- No limits on users or projects
- Created to grow with your business; cheap to upgrade
- Simple interface
- Free version offers permission levels, which is uncommon for free project management software
- No mobile apps
- No support for Gantt charts
If you’re more of a stickynotes person, Trello can scratch that itch. It’s a kanban-based board, where you can specify categories for each section. We use Trello to plan out our content-creation process here at Capterra.
The great thing about Trello is that most companies can get away with their free version without truly losing any project management functionality; most of the add-ons are nice-to-haves, like Salesforce or Slack integration or the ability to export your team’s history and data, but are not required to make Trello work for even large corporations.
The power of Trello is in each card, which is representative of a task. Users can add attachments (from Box, Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, or from your computer), add labels, update due dates, create subtasks (in the form of checklists), and communicate with comments. The card provides a simple breakdown of what needs to be done and has been done when.
Users use the kanban system to move cards along repetitive paths. For example, when I used Trello for freelancing, I’d have a column for pitches (labeled for outgoing or incoming requests), what was currently in progress, what needed edits, what had been submitted, and what had been approved. If something needed a revision, it’d go back to the “in progress” column. Simply shift your card to their appropriate placing as your work process flows.
Trello also has iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire apps available.
- The free version is scalable to any-sized company
- Great for agile software development and iterative project management
- Visual project management and planning
- Time stamps and comments make for a great communication tool
- Short learning curve for using the entirety of Trello’s free features
- No way to look at project(s) with a high level of detail
As you can see, Wrike, Freedcamp, and Trello all take different approaches to project management. Which one you select will depend on the size of your team, whether you need a mobile app, how much storage is available, and what your final projects require.
With all that said, these three free project management apps definitely stand out as outstanding options for companies who don’t want to overspend on project management software.
Do you use any of these options? Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to check out some other great free productivity software? Start here: