Keeping a project organized, on track, and within budget are vital components of project management. A project manager takes on immense responsibility with each new project, and it is critical to use the best tools to keep the workflow steady.
Project management tools help keep the project's lifespan transparent and accessible to the client and the team. The right tools can ease barriers and promote collaboration, but the current market is saturated.
We’ve combed through the vast array of tools and narrowed them down to only the best project management software available:
ClickUp: Best for customizing and integrating with other apps
Wrike: A user-friendly interface for straightforward collaboration on Agile projects
Smartsheet: An easy tool that mimics the appearance of familiar spreadsheetapps
Scoro: A powerhouse for complex projects, with everything even a program manager needs to succeed
Monday.com: Great for new project managers and teams, with resources and a template library
Zoho Projects: Best mobile-friendly option
Hive: Great for remote team collaboration
Proofhub: Best for projects that have design and proofing stages needing approvals
Before we cover why we selected these tools, let’s talk about what to look for in a project management tool.
Features To Look For In Your Project Management Tools
When managing a project, a project manager needs extensive knowledge of the overall project, plus the intricacies involved in completing the project. The right tools help keep a project on track and within budget.
A project manager needs tools that make project planning and estimating accurate. Everything that comes after is based on these time, labor, and budget estimates. Tools for task management, time-tracking, resource allocation, and pricing all help streamline the process. Accurate metrics from previous projects will also help inform the planning and execution of future projects.
In any industry, poor communication can quickly derail a project. Collaboration tools for team members, like chat and messaging features, notifications, and mentions within the app, help everyone stay on the same page. These features can cross over to the client and stakeholders, allowing them to leave their feedback and make approvals as the project develops.
As the project progresses, tools for administration help PMs prioritize, assign tasks, and monitor milestones. When an issue arises, using a project management tool allows you to have proper risk management in place, giving you an overview and insight to adjust your resources accordingly.
How We Chose Our Favorites
We looked through stacks of project management tools and software to find the best overall tools. We compared strengths, features, and functionality. When examining the tools, we looked at the scalability, the reporting features, ease of use, integrations available, if there were ready-to-go templates or if templates could be created, automation features, and how secure the tools were. Here’s what we came up with:
ClickUp is a great all-in-one tool with features that can take you from planning the scope to project completion. Create your workspace and divide it through folders and lists down to subtasks. Despite the simple, user-friendly interface, ClickUp is packed with features. The custom dashboards allow you to filter and see only the information you want when you need it.
Custom fields let you customize virtually anything in your project timeline. There are 15 customizable views in ClickUp. Users can sync their Google Calendars to their calendar view or use a box view to see what’s done and the due dates coming up.
You’ll also get real-time reporting to track projects and integration with over 1000 other tools, including Slack, Google, GitHub, Webhooks, and many CRMs like Salesforce. Lastly, all data is encrypted and monitored 24/7.
Wrike is a tool worth checking out if you're an agile project manager. The team collaboration and communication in Wrike allows users to chat about their task lists, schedules, and shared workflows. This tool offers features for time management and use of calendars, plus pre-made templates to get you started. This is one of the most user-friendly tools available, allowing users to easily switch between screens, including Kanban boards and Gantt charts.
While Wrike does not have nearly as many integrations as ClickUp, small businesses can get unlimited projects, integrations, project tracking, and request forms for under $10 a user. It integrates with most major sales and marketing software, plus Microsoft and Google products. Wrike also encrypts data at rest and in transit, but if you're looking for 2FA, you’ll need to upgrade to the Enterprise plan.
One of the most critical parts of using a project management tool is ensuring the team can use it as easily as the project manager. SmartSheet appears to the user like a spreadsheet you’d find in Excel or Google Sheets, but it is a dynamic tool that includes dashboards for the PM and team leaders, an activity trail of work completed to stay on track, and the Gantt view to see the project progress.
SmartSheet works well for creating automation, saving you time from repetitive tasks. After acquiring 10,000 Feet, SmartSheet has added even more project planning features. We must take one point from SmartSheet, however, since team members in China cannot access this cloud-based service.
Scoro is a tool for project managers or even program managers. What's the difference between a project and a program? The difference between a project and a program is that a project is a stand-alone result or outcome, while a program is a collection of projects. Scoro can be used on the most complex projects and as an interactive way to collaborate with product managers.
Every part of your project, from planning to invoicing, can be organized seamlessly in Scoro. This suite of tools includes a CRM, reporting tools, automation, APIintegrations, and a timesheet view that shows a progress bar to help you and your team visualize time spent on tasks.
In Scoro, you can customize your workspace security settings. You can enable user session durations, two-factor authentication, and even IP restriction.
If you’re looking for customization, monday.com may be the best bet. This tool has transparency at the center, letting the project manager see who is working on what and how well the project is advancing.
The Template Center at monday.com is full of ready-made and automated workflows to kick-start your set-up. It also has different views depending on your project management methodology preference.
For less tech-savvy team members, monday.com has an intuitivedrag-and-drop interface and training tools to get your team up to speed. Monday.com is suitable for teams of any size, and it integrates with all major project management apps, including Dropbox and Zapier.
For security, monday.com supports the use of external identity providers in their Pro and Enterprise plans, as well as 2FA.
6. Zoho Projects
Zoho has a whole suite of user-friendly business apps, including Zoho Projects. This affordable project management software seamlessly integrates with the Zoho CRM and includes a mobile version of the tool.
The resource utilization charts in Zoho Projects lets you hone in on resource management and allocate more or less energy to areas of the project that need adjustments. The timer allows users to track time, checking in and out with the click of a button.
This management platform integrates well with file-sharing platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox, plus cloud tools like Bitbucket. While information at Zoho Projects has never reported issues, ManageEngine, a division of Zoho, was a victim of a security breach in 2022.
This online project management tool is known for its collaboration features. Project managers get a clear-cut view of team members’ progress and their upcoming tasks. The system allows users to track progress and integrate Google and Outlook messaging into the platform.
Hive is not just collaboration software! The flexibility of Hive allows project managers to set up workflows and project schedules easily. Communicate expectations by adding comments, dependencies, and attachments to the action cards assigned to team members.
Hive will maintain audit logs of actions performed on behalf of every user. If irregularities are noticed, the administrator will be contacted via their preferred way of communication.
ProofHub is an all-in-one tool packed with features yet an easy user interface. This tool works well for both large and small teams. The key featuresProofHub has to offer are the custom role definitions to allow specific permissions to each team member.
The digital proofing feature in this project management solution allows for pending, in-review, and approved status flows between your teams, professional services for specific tasks, and key stakeholders.
ProofHub has secured IP features and allows for restricting IPs in the admin’s account. All the projects are cloud-enabled for remote work management.
These were our top picks out of hundreds of options. These options offer integrations with other popular business tools. When choosing the best project management tools, it is best to consider your project's specific needs, then make your team a priority in your selection. If your team is used to another tool like Trello or Asana, consider the time it will take to learn a new tool.
With all these tools available, what is the difference between project management and project management software? The difference between project management and project management software is that project management is the act of a project manager organizing work across their team, while project management software is a tool to help plan and manage projects.
Before choosing a tool for your project management system, try out any free trials or free plans. Ask for feedback from your team on how they like the project schedules and their to-do lists; they’ll spend just as much time with the tool as you.
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