What do we mean by best? These are the top-rated free solutions in our software directory.
Missed deadlines. Bottlenecks. Conversation silos.
These issues are costing you time and money. Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to find a project management tool.
If you have a small team, are on a tight budget, and are willing to compromise on some premium features, then a free or freemium project management tool may be right for you. (Freemium products are free versions of paid software that offer limited functionality, user seats, or both.)
In this article, we highlight the 10 top-rated free project management (PM) software options on Capterra and explain each product offering and the cost to upgrade.
Use this list to determine 1) if free software is the right solution for your organization, and 2) which free project management solution is best for your needs.
What does “top-rated” mean? Each of the 10 tools included in this piece have an above-average overall user rating compared to other products in the category. You can find our full methodology here.
Project management vs. work management—which do you need?
“Project management (PM) software” has become an umbrella term, encompassing a range of solutions from lighter, collaborative work management tools up to robust portfolio management solutions.
It’s important to understand the differences between these types of software, so you can choose the tool that best meets your needs:
- Work management software helps teams manage workflows, organize tasks and activities (projects and processes), and collaborate in a shared workspace. These tools capture work execution, providing live notifications and views relevant to different stakeholders. Their target user is non-technical business professionals.
- True PM software helps project managers and organizations execute projects: unique initiatives with a set scope (deliverables), timeline, and budget (resources). These tools help businesses plan, monitor, and control costs, schedules, and resources so they can deliver value and meet project success criteria. Their target user is technical professionals, i.e., project managers. Many of these software tools also offer a project management app so you can check status updates and messages and respond on the go.
10 top-rated free project management software solutions
Airtable is a cloud-based, collaborative work management solution. Teams can view tasks on a grid (similar to a spreadsheet), calendar, Kanban board, or gallery. Key features include task management, collaboration, reporting/project tracking, and time tracking.
The central component of Airtable is bases, which contain all the data you need for a project. Bases are made up of a collection of tables, and each table covers a particular aspect of the project. Tables contain fields (file attachments, checkboxes, etc.) and records (relevant data points you’re tracking).
- Free plan: Includes unlimited bases, 1,200 records per base, 2GB of attachment space per base, and two weeks of revision and snapshot history, as well as real-time collaboration and commenting.
- Paid plans: Includes additional records per base, more attachment space, and longer revision history, as well as priority support and access to “blocks,” modular apps that extend the functionality of bases. The paid plans are per user, per month, and the next tier up from the free version is $10 per user, per month.
Asana is a cloud-based project and task management solution that helps companies manage and organize tasks and projects, communicate, and collaborate. It’s helpful for teams and companies that handle multiple projects at a time, and it can serve companies of any size.
Features include task management, reporting, automatic notifications, a customer portal, collaboration tools, dashboards, a mobile app, document management, and task assigning. Asana also includes an inbox feature that captures all updates generated automatically by the software.
Asana can be accessed through mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It can also be accessed on both Android and iOS smartphones.
- Free plan: Includes up to 15 users and allows list, board, and calendar view, time tracking, and 100+ free integrations. It also includes unlimited tasks, projects, and the activity log.
- Paid plans: Upgrades start at $13.49 per user, per month. Paid plans include things such as advanced integrations, dashboards, and custom branding.
Basecamp is a real-time communication tool. It includes to-do lists, calendars, due dates, and file sharing, which provides a way for teams to keep track of priorities and actionable items.
With Basecamp, users can create projects, document progress, and manage tasks. It’s web-based software, allowing users to sign in either through a web browser or through a mobile app.
Basecamp can be used by any organization that needs to manage a group, including nonprofits, startups, and client service firms—and even freelancers. Subscriptions are scalable, with tiers for varying amounts of storage and numbers of users.
- Free plan: Intended for freelancers, personal use, families, and light use and includes 1GB of storage, three projects, and 20 users.
- Paid plans: $99 per month flat fee and includes unlimited projects, users, and 500GB of storage space.
ClickUp is a cloud-based work management solution that bills itself as “productivity software.” It helps individuals and teams set goals, manage tasks, and organize work in “project spaces.” Key features include task management, collaboration, reporting/project tracking, time tracking, and Gantt charts.
The central components of ClickUp include tasks, custom fields, goals (defined objectives that are broken down into, and assigned, a measurable target), and portfolios (a high-level overview of your work, similar to a dashboard).
- Free plan: Includes unlimited users, unlimited tasks, and project workspaces, 100MB of file storage, 24/7 support (chat, phone, email, and an online help center), as well as 100 uses of custom fields, 100 uses of goals, 100 uses of portfolios, and limited reporting.
- Paid plans: Include unlimited storage, integrations, full reporting options, and additional features such as Gantt charts.
Jira software is a workflow management tool that Agile teams use to plan, track, and release software. Jira works for teams that use Scrum, Kanban, a hybrid model, or other unique workflows.
With Jira, users can create project roadmaps to map out all in-progress projects. The project board includes a drag-and-drop interface that allows teams to manage every project detail. Users can create user stories and issues, plan sprints, and distribute tasks across the team. Users also have access to information from thousands of business apps, from design and monitoring tools to source code and productivity apps.
Jira offers a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. Support is available through an online support portal, online documentation, and tutorial videos.
- Free plan: Includes Scrum and Kanban boards, Agile reporting, customizable workflows, 2GB of storage, and community support.
- Paid plans: Pricing is per user, per month, and depends on the number of users. For 10 users, pricing starts at $7 per user, per month, on average, or about $70 per month. The paid plan includes 250GB of storage (this increases as the pricing tier increases) and additional features like an audit log.
MeisterTask is a visual work management software tool that helps teams manage workflows and organize tasks on a shared Kanban board. It can be deployed in the cloud or installed on Mac or Windows OS. Key features include task management, collaboration, reporting/project tracking, and time tracking.
- Free plan: Includes unlimited users, tasks, Kanban boards, storage, and file attachments up to 20MB.
- Paid plans: Include priority support and additional features such as recurring tasks, reporting, and custom fields. To upgrade to the first paid plan tier, the cost is $8.25 per user, per month, when paid annually.
Citrix Podio is a project management and social collaboration tool. It allows businesses to create custom applications to meet unique business requirements and preferred workflows. Users don’t need technical skills to use the software, and it helps save development resources.
Users can access hundreds of free apps through the Podio App Market, such as task management, project portfolio management, and issue management. There are also apps for functions such as customer relationship management (CRM) and applicant tracking.
Across all apps, Podio offers a range of social collaboration features, including Facebook-esque “likes” and file-sharing anywhere within the system, as well as internal instant messaging and video chat.
Podio’s app-building capabilities make it a good fit for smaller organizations that require a high degree of customization—particularly those looking to manage multiple business processes within a single system.
- Free plan: Up to five employees allowed, and includes apps and workspaces and task management features.
- Paid plans: Start at $9 per user, per month and include unlimited items, user management, and unlimited external users. There is a discount on the per user pricing if paying annually.
Quire is a cloud-based project management solution designed to help small and midsize businesses manage to-do lists and tasks to enable collaboration across teams. Key features include document management, real-time editing, communication tools, discussion boards, file sharing, milestone tracking, and project planning.
Teams using Quire can arrange and prioritize tasks via a Kanban board so members can visualize workflows. Managers can assign tasks to team members, sort assignments according to priority, filter tasks, and view start/due dates of projects using Gantt charts. Additionally, users can follow tasks in order to receive reminders in registered devices about upcoming deadlines.
Quire comes with an application programming interface (API), which allows integration with various third-party applications, such as Slack, Outlook Calendar, iCal and others. Users can remotely manage business activities through mobile applications for Android and iOS devices. Quire provides support via email and FAQs.
- Free plan: Quire only offers a free plan at this time. According to their website, they’re currently working on paid versions, but whatever is free now will continue to be free even after paid versions have been added.
Teamwork is a cloud-based work management solution that helps teams collaborate, organize tasks, and deliver on time. Key features include Gantt charts, Kanban boards, task management, collaboration, reporting/project tracking, time tracking, and resource management.
- Free plan: Includes access for five users, two active projects and 100MB storage, and multiple support options (email, live chat, phone, online knowledge base, and training guides).
- Paid plans: Include additional projects, greater storage, priority support, and more robust tracking, such as the portfolio view and risk register. To upgrade to a paid plan, the cost is $12.50 per user, per month. There is a slight discount if paying annually.
Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ for both enterprise and small businesses. It comes with Gantt charts, calendars, a workload view for resource management, custom dashboards, and real-time updates. It allows for structuring via folders, projects, and tasks and auto-assignment based on task statuses. Wrike supports a wide range of teams, from finance and tech to creative and advertising.
Wrike for Marketers is a separate product with tailored templates, proofing tools, and an Adobe extension.
- Free plan: Allows for up to 5 users. It includes board view, task management, file sharing, a real-time activity stream, basic integrations, and 2GB of storage space.
- Paid plans: The first tier is $9.80 per user, per month and includes a Gantt chart feature, task and subtask management, advanced integrations, shared dashboards, and 5GB of storage space (storage space increases for more expensive tiers).
|Key capabilities and features of PM software|
|Task management||Create tasks, add descriptions, set start and due dates, set a priority, estimate level of effort (e.g., hours, points, etc.), and assign tasks to users. Users can add attachments, leave comments, and update the task status as they work on the item or move tasks through a workflow on a task board (either Kanban or Scrum). Additional functions include: convert emails to tasks, set dependencies, create subtasks, create recurring tasks, create task checklists.|
|Collaboration||Provides a centralized workspace that enables multiple users to communicate, conference, and coordinate among themselves to facilitate group work. Create shared team and/or project task boards, calendars, wikis, dashboards, etc.; stay up to date with other users’ activity via activity feed; loop in project team members via @mentions; share files; chat; video conference, and invite guests to participate.|
|Reporting/project tracking||Reports and dashboards provide a quick, visual way for users to understand the status of a project, its costs, or other key information. View progress made against the project plan, track milestones, track active tasks, view a completed task list, compare estimated time to actual time spent, compare estimated spend to actual costs, and track team performance.|
|Project planning||Define project scope, timeline, and resources/budget. Break complex projects down into milestones, identify deliverables, and forecast cash flow. Create the work breakdown structure, outline the critical path, identify dependencies and constraints, and plan key resources.|
|Time tracking||Track time spent on various tasks, report on estimated versus actual time spent working on tasks, measure billable versus nonbillable hours, pull time logged into a timesheet for invoicing clients.|
|Resource management||Create resource chart/record with contact information, pay rate, role, and skill level. Allocate staff to projects and monitor workloads. Functions may include resource capacity planning and project prioritization based on demand for key resources.|
|File sharing||Digitally share a wide variety of media types.|
|Gantt chart||Cascading, horizontal bar chart with dates that mark the start and finish of the interdependent parts of a project. Tasks are laid out in order of when each item needs to be completed. Often used to create the work breakdown structure and outline the critical path during project planning and then to compare current project status with initial plans during project execution.|
|Kanban board||The digital equivalent of sticky notes on a white board, Kanban boards provide a visual representation of a workflow or process. The board is divided into columns representing stages in a workflow (e.g., “backlog,” “developing,” and “testing”), or a status (e.g., “to do,” “in progress,” and “done”). Tasks are represented as “cards” that can be expanded to show assignee(s), task details, and comments. Kanban metrics include cumulative flow diagrams and lead and cycle time diagrams.|
This article was updated 12/15/20. Products considered for this article had to:
Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
Meet our project management market definition.
This definition includes project management software’s evolution to encompass a range of solutions, from lighter task/work management tools up to robust portfolio management solutions:
Work management software helps teams plan and manage workflows, organize tasks and activities, and collaborate in a shared workspace. These tools capture the work execution, providing live notifications and views relevant to different stakeholders.
Project management (PM) software helps managers and organizations execute projects: initiatives with a defined start and end date, a defined scope, and defined resources/budget. PM solutions help businesses plan, monitor, and control project costs and schedules so they can deliver value and meet project success criteria (e.g., on time, on budget, within scope, and meeting business goals).
Software that met the market definition also needed a minimum of 10 user-submitted reviews published between Nov 30, 2019 – Nov. 30, 2020, and have an above-average overall user rating compared to other products in the category.
Note: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users does not represent the views of Capterra. The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.