Update: What a year it’s been in free project management software! This piece has been updated to bring you the 10 best project management tools available.
Have you ever felt restricted by time?
You may be an unintentional project manager. If you often aim to complete complex, multilevel tasks with a clear goal and end date, you’re partaking in project management. Add in multiple team members, stakeholders, office politics, a PMP certification, and a ton of coffee, and you’re facing one of the most common—and complicated—jobs in the world.
If only there were a way to make your job easier.
Like an incredible tool that could help you manage your processes that was also completely free.
Like the top free and open source project management software.
If you’re a small business and you’re looking for the best free PM tools, you’ve come to the right place.
Best free and open source project management software of 2017
These top programs have been selected based on:
- Number of allotted users
- Available project management functionality
- Storage capacity
- Ease of use
- Relative “wow” level to the rest of the industry
Let the countdown begin!
If you’re interested in a top open source project management software option that’s more geared toward agile software development, definitely take a look at Taiga.io. It’s free for one private project with four collaborators and unlimited public projects. Taiga.io doesn’t limit any of its features with its free version.
It wasn’t too long ago that Taiga.io made its first appearance on our shortlist of top “underground project management tools.” Since then, it’s grown into a fully functional app, complete with multiple modes (kanban, scrum), backlogs, user stories, and everything else you’d need to get started with agile development. The app is sleek, customizable, and has some bonus features not commonly found in agile software, like video conferencing tools and a built-in wiki.
Small business owners may feel squeamish that they’re limited to one private project. Additionally, Taiga.io is still in beta and struggles with related issues—servers can sometimes slow to a snail’s pace (though not regularly). There is no Gantt-chart functionality, and some users have expressed distaste for the user interface.
(Used Taiga.io? Leave a review!)
From the glut of open-source software, 2-Plan stands out. The system has three symbiotic programs—all free:
- 2-Plan Desktop, a project management system.
- 2-Plan Team, a web-based project management tool with multiple hosting options.
- Work 2-gether, a Scrum-based task management board for one-team projects.
All of these options are free, but you may choose to pay for additional extensions.
2-Plan is a behemoth when it comes to features. On the desktop version alone, project managers can create an animated graphical WBS, craft project milestones, implement top-down and bottom-up planning, and build project control systems.
2-Plan Team makes it easy to coordinate with off-campus teams and track time spent on tasks—and it integrates seamlessly with 2-Plan Desktop. Work 2-Gether is similar to Trello in that it uses the Kanban system, but it also has the ability to expand into a greater workchart.
2-Plan offers a lot of features that can quickly get overwhelming for teams with little time for their extensive manuals. Furthermore, the free option can be limiting. Work 2-gether, for example, only permits businesses to use two taskboards for free and team size is limited to three.
Thankfully, its pro accounts are reasonably priced—businesses only have to pay $15 a month to fully upgrade Work 2-gether.
(Used 2-Plan? Leave a review!)
Zoho Projects lets you have as many users as you’d like and, apart from a 10 MB limit on storage, doesn’t have any limitations on functionality in the free version. Users have the option to upgrade for $25/month.
Zoho Projects has a dense list of features and, incredibly, its interface has been compared to the intuitive layout of Facebook. For Waterfall enthusiasts, Zoho Projects has incredible Gantt chart options, allowing users to set complicated tasks and milestones. Zoho Projects also offers timesheets and detailed reporting features (and for those who don’t want to make their own reports, it has 50 pre-made templates to choose from!).
Free users will miss out on Zoho Projects’ document management system because they are limited to 10MB of storage (the paid version offers 5-30GB, depending on the plan). It’s made the tail-end of our list because users can only run one project before upgrading.
(Used Zoho Projects? Leave a review!)
GanttProject is another open-source free project scheduling and management tool. Reviewers have compared this heavy-hitting application to Microsoft Project—both in terms of features offered and complexity. This system can generate Gantt and PERT charts, produce reports in HTML and PDF formats, and offers versatile scheduling and time management tools.
There is no limit to what you can do with GanttProject. The management platform allows users to quickly create a structured schedule for any project. It offers task assignment and milestone implementation. The open-source software also enables project managers to identify problem areas in the workflow so that companies can set goals for improvement.
I would not recommend GanttProject to people who are unfamiliar with project management software. Many have found it overwhelming—and support is largely left to its forums.
(Used GanttProject? Leave a review!)
MeisterTask has all the important features: it offers time tracking, issue tracking, and collaboration with both internal and external users. There is no storage limit, so exchanging files is hardly a burden on the system’s capacity.
MeisterTask’s project boards are perfectly suited for various agile methodologies. The boards are completely customizable so that teams can create anything from Kanban to Scrum and various mixed forms.
Finally, the layout is just gorgeous to look at. Communication is a breeze–it’s similar to the conversation system on Trello, except with instant updates. MeisterTask has also added task relationships, tasks from emails, and collaboration options (like liking and commenting) for team cohesion.
MeisterTask is still a new-ish project management system, so it’s working on a lot of projects that haven’t been launched yet. This includes:
- Gantt charts
(Used MeisterTask? Leave a review!)
Wrike kicks off the second half of the best free project management software with a product that’s free to up to five users, offers 2GB of storage space, and tons of integrations, including Google Drive, Box, and iCal).
Pros: Wrike is really one of the best options for small team collaboration. Users can set privacy settings on their (unlimited number of) projects and interact with Wrike’s real-time activity stream. The free PM software offers task management functionality, expanded storage options through integrations, and it’s so easy to use that an intern could learn to do it within an hour.
Cons: Wrike suffers as a free PM tool because of how much it limits from its full software bundle; while a paid (starting at $9.80 per user per month) user gets access to Gantt charts, time tracking, and real time reports, most free Wrike users are stuck with task management and basic collaboration. In other words, Wrike’s free version won’t do the trick for a full project management system.
(Used Wrike? Leave a review!)
Based on their 140,000 customers and 1.4 million users, Asana is one of the most popular project management apps available—and best of all, for up to 15 users, it’s free. And reviewers love it—Asana maintains a 4.5/5 overall overall score with 1,300+ reviews on Capterra!
Dustin Moskovitz, the co-founder of Facebook, also designed Asana. True to the aesthetic and simplicity of the most popular social network, Asana is an intuitive task-management system that works best for teams seeking real-time interaction.
Asana allows its users to visualize their goals, track their time, assign priority to their tasks, and get updates on the project right in the program. It also has a calendar function to graph the team’s tasks right onto the dashboard.
In addition, over the past year, it’s added an Android app, the ability to convert a task to a project, conversations, and dashboards. It’s been beefing up–last year, its biggest con was that it didn’t have enough features.
Asana does not allow offline use. In addition, reviewers feel that “sometimes it is not intuitive enough to find something,” and list a number of frustrating conversations with Asana’s seemingly lacking customer service.
(Used Asana? Leave a review!)
Orangescrum offers the best locally-hosted, free project management software for IT teams. It provides the groundwork for agile software development and resource management. The on-premise version costs $0, whereas the cloud version (which is admittedly far more supported) starts at $9 a month.
Pros: Orangescrum is completely customizable. If you have tech teeth, you can basically make this free PM software whatever you would like it to be. Users can look at their project with Kanban view, Gantt charts, and task status groups. Additionally, Orangescrum users can integrate the Google Drive and Dropbox in the free (on-premise) version.
Cons: Because Orangescrum is so versatile, serious coding knowledge is required to make the most of this tool. It is not a program for beginners, and most support relies on forums.
(Used Orangescrum? Leave a review!)
Optimized for communication.
Kanban or tasks–you choose.
Freedcamp is just shy of the #1 spot on this list.
Freedcamp is great for businesses who want to be able to scale with their project management software; the free version will last your company for a long while, and upgrading is fairly inexpensive for small businesses. ios
The free version can certainly hold its own though.
Administrators can limit different users’ permissions right down to the client level. Freedcamp also offers time tracking, templates, and invoicing.
Its collaboration features are awesome. Users will never be behind because Freedcamp makes sure to add notifications everywhere when there’s an update (and they’re innocuous, like a Facebook notification, so they don’t get in the way). Freedcamp has optimized its website for mobile use and offers an iOS app.
Reviewers have claimed that there is a small learning curve on site navigation. There are some missing features as well, including Gantt charts, task dependencies, and recurring tasks.
(Used Freedcamp? Leave a review!)
Bitrix24 is a project management system entirely free for unlimited users. It limits storage to 5GB a month, with an option to upgrade to more for $39 per month. The features rival those of PM’s current go-to software: Basecamp.
Users can choose whether to use Bitrix24 in the cloud or self-host on the company’s own server. The PM features are outstanding: Bitrix24 offers Gantt charts, layered task options, time tracking and management, and even employee workload planning.
Bitrix24 also makes real-time communication a breeze with group chat, videoconferencing, and instant messenger. It also acts as a DropBox alternative—the free version offers 5GB of cloud storage for easy document sharing.
In addition, recent updates include:
- An Employee Workload Planning tool that lets managers plan certain number of hours for a task and then compare it with the number of actual hours spent by those who the task were assigned to.
- The ability to make task templates that contain subtasks and checklists.
Bitrix24 aims to address a number of business problems, and users can easily become overwhelmed between its project management functionality and CRM tools. With that said, most complaints tend to stem from the latter part of the software than the former.
(Used Bitrix24? Leave a review!)
For all of the free options available, many small businesses may want to consider upgrading to paid versions for more users, expanded functionality, and better customer support. Thankfully, most of the leading products are pretty cheap. Smartsheet, for example, offers its team membership at $15 per user per month, and ProWorkflow offers its team services for just $20 a month per user.
Love free project management software? You might also appreciate these:
- 8 of the Best Free Time Tracking Software
- The Top 9 Free Task Management Software
- The 12 Best Basecamp Alternatives
- The 5 Biggest Project Management Trends Shaping 2018
What free or open-source project management tools have worked well for you? Were there any programs that I didn’t include? Please let me know your recommendations (I’d love to hear from you!) in the comments below!
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.