The essentials of effective project management do not only include a team of experienced and dedicated professionals. As much as they are critical for the success of any project, using a professional project management software really does the trick.
With an overabundance of project management tools flooding the internet, it can become a nuisance to choose one for your organization. Luckily for companies, they have innumerable options to conveniently cherry pick the one that fits perfectly with their team and organizational needs.
One such most widely used project management software is Microsoft Project. By far, it’s the first and most popular choice of around 67% of project managers. Coming with an easy integration with Office 365 applications, Microsoft Project seems like a reliable choice for project management.
But, apparently, the most chosen option for project management has lots of shortcomings too, in terms of features and user-ease. These shortcomings make professionals look for a solid Microsoft Project alternative.
Why You Need a Microsoft Project Alternative
Microsoft Project is a great free desktop-based tool to manage projects and streamline workflows. However, in this era of cloud and availability, you cannot limit how you access your data and when. Besides, there are a few limitations that come with Microsoft Project out of the box. Some of these are:
Flawless collaboration is what every team is looking for when using a project management tool. Microsoft Project makes it hard to share data with stakeholders. Unless the other person also has Microsoft Project installed and running, the data cannot be accessed.
In Microsoft Project, the real-time progress of a task is hard to track. Where the task is at a particular time, and whether it is pending, in progress, or completed, cannot be identified.
Communication Within Tasks
For perfect project collaboration, communication within the tasks is compulsory. While using Microsoft Project, team members cannot communicate or comment on the activities within each task. Moreover, assigned tasks updates cannot be taken within the tasks.
Contrary to most of the project management tools in the market which offer free plans to users, Microsoft Project does not have any free features for its users. All the plans are paid and begin from $7 per user/month.
We have compiled a list of top 10 free tools that can serve as a Microsoft Project alternative. And they are all free – you can get your hands on these without paying a penny!
nTask is a free project management software that has recently entered into the sea of project management tools available online. Coming with strong features of task management, nTask is the top contender for a Microsoft Project alternative and makes it to the top of our list. It’s a tool that caters a broad range of professionals with diverse project needs.
Let’s go through some of the key features and modules this tool deals with:
- A simple and elegant user interface for creating and managing projects and tasks.
- Advanced features of task management for assigning, organizing, and prioritizing tasks.
- Timesheets for smart tracking and monitoring real-time progress of activities.
- Meetings management for scheduling and executing meetings through meeting agenda, discussion points, and other such details.
- Intelligent issues management for documenting and solving issues linked with projects.
- Risk management for identifying and tracking potential risks directly or indirectly linked with projects.
- Integration with Slack to make communication even more smooth.
- Multiple workspaces for more than one teams to collaborate seamlessly.
- Multiple views and filter options to manage and search for projects, tasks, and issues etc.
nTask comes with two plans, Free and Pro.
Pro plan is priced at $2.29 per user/month with an annual billing plan.
- Unlimited tasks and meetings
- 5 free workspaces
- Up to 10 members per workspace
- 200 MBs of free storage space
- Risks and issues tracking
2. Bitrix 24
Bitrix 24 is one of the free project management tools that is adapted for social collaboration between you and your team members. The software primarily works on creating workgroups and centralized newsfeed for information exchange with the team members.
This Microsoft Project alternative lets you create personalized to-dos, and helps to manage projects and tasks through extensive features ranging from Gantt charts, task dependencies, and Kanban workflows, to more systematic tools like employee workload management.
Bitrix 24 offers you following key features:
- Interactive activity stream showing all the updates and changes in the workflow.
- Chat feature within the activity stream helping the team members to collaborate on a particular task or activity.
- Workgroups for teams to work together on tasks and projects for discussions, task planning, and monitoring progress.
- Customized task reports tracking the time each employee takes to complete a certain task.
- Extranet access for external users through which workgroups can be shared with clients and other organizations to share and monitor the workflow.
- Customizable Kanban boards to visualize the workflows and clearly depict the status of each task.
Bitrix 24 comes with free and multiple paid plans. The paid ones start at $39.
The free plan of the software comes with numerous features. Some of these are:
- 12 users, 1 admin
- 5 GB online storage space
- Unlimited projects
- Unlimited tasks/subtasks
- Gantt charts
- 5 task dependencies
Zenkit is another free Microsoft Project alternative which is simple to use and provides easy task management. The software provides different tools for different teams to fulfill their overall business needs. Whether it’s project management, CRM, support or any other business solution, Zenkit caters all.
- Personalized calendar to arrange tasks according to priorities.
- Team inboxes to assign tasks and monitor progress systematically.
- Customized to-do lists to keep track of all the work that needs to be done.
- Multiple view options (Kanban, list, calendar) for organizing tasks.
- Task labels to identify the priority level and status of each task.
- Comments within tasks to take regular updates from the team.
- Zapier integration which helps to connect with multiple other applications.
- Offline mode, facilitating work even without internet.
- Multiple powerful filters to access the tasks according to needs.
Zenkit provides 3 plans. Personalized, Plus, and Enterprise.
The personalized plan is free and the other two plans start from $9, billed on a monthly or annual basis.
- Unlimited collection
- 5000 items
- Up to 5 teams, 5 members
- 3 GB storage space
This Microsoft Project alternative is a cloud-based project management software which is designed for small and medium-sized companies. Through Zoho projects, you can easily divide your complex projects into smaller, manageable tasks and subtasks and share updates with the entire team through an interactive feed, featuring the activities.
- Kanban boards for classifying and organizing tasks according to their status.
- Social feed consisting of activity stream and status updates about particular tasks.
- Forums for lengthier discussions, with options to add multiple team members.
- ‘Pages’ specific to team projects only. All the information regarding the project can be updated and shared with relevant team members.
- A broad range of charts and reports that can be accessed for resource management.
- Timesheets to evaluate the time each team member spends on a particular task, and to identify bottlenecks in the workflow.
- Issue tracking, along with detailed reports, for timely identification and resolution.
- Gantt charts for visualizing and tracking the project progress.
Zoho projects facilitate free and multiple paid plans. The paid plans begin at $20.
The always-free plan comes with the following features:
- Up to 5 users
- 2 projects
- File attachments up to 10 MB
- Feed and custom status for tasks
- Calendars and forums
The 5th free Microsoft Project alternative in our list is Teamwork projects. Working on the similar functions of tasks and subtasks, Teamwork Projects helps businesses to achieve group goals through smart workflows and streamlined communication among the team members.
- Task and subtasks management, along with assigning tasks to multiple people at once.
- Task priorities label to identify the most urgent tasks that need to be done first.
- Task dependencies to better understand the relationship of tasks.
- Task estimates and progress tracking for managing the workload.
- Messages within the tasks to keep each team member updated on the project.
- Time tracking to determine the total time spent on each task.
- Categorization of time logs into billable and non-billable hours.
- Android, iOS application and chrome extension to access the software from anywhere.
- Gantt charts view of the project to highlight key tasks and milestones.
Teamwork Projects offers a free, pro, premium, and enterprise plans, along with a 30-day trial.
The paid plans start from $9 per user/month.
Free forever version of the software provides the following features:
- 2 active projects
- 100 MB file storage
- Basic project management
- Limited task boards
- Color schemes
Freedcamp is a free web-based project management collaboration tool which is designed for solo users as well as teams to organize and manage projects effectively. It made to our list of Microsoft Project alternatives primarily because the software comes with a clean interface which makes managing projects quick and easy.
- Division of tasks into subtasks with options to set their visibility on public or private
- Kanban boards to visualize the workflow
- Milestones to set goals for the team
- Wall for team members to communicate on one platform
- Documentation for keeping all the data in one place
- Issue tracker for tracking and managing issues
- Time tracking of the workday for billing clients
- Pre-built project templates for duplication
- Widgets in one place to access any type of information
There are 4 plans of Freedcamp; Free, Minimalist, Freelancer, and Business. The paid plans start at $1.49 and each plan comes with a free trial of 14 days.
- Unlimited tasks and projects
- Unlimited storage space
- Unlimited users
- Time tracking
- Wall and discussions
The 7th free Microsoft Project alternative of our list is Teamgantt. Teamgantt primarily works on creating Gantt charts for all the underlying tasks. The charts are highly organized and come with multiple interesting features such as separate colored bars for tasks and groups, and you can also easily add multiple resources to your tasks at any point.
- Drag and drop tasks for creating a schedule
- Discussions linked with relevant tasks
- Customizable Gant chart views
- Workload tracking
- Planned vs the actual timeline
- Project templates
- Time tracking of tasks
- Sticky notes for updates
- Task filters for customized viewing
- Project and task dependencies
Free, Standard Team, and Advance Team plans. The standard and advance plans begin from $49.75 and are billed on a monthly and annual basis. All plans come with a free trial.
- One free project
- Basic planning and collaboration for up to 3 people
Hygger is a product and project management tool which provides an impressive backlog prioritization features, because of which we added it to our list of Microsoft Project alternatives.
The tool helps teams to work on projects through the idea bank which stores all the ideas relevant to product and project development and once approved, these ideas can be transferred to relevant Kanban or Scrum boards for further development.
- Idea bank for storing ideas and feedback etc.
- Priority matrix for the screening of ideas
- Kanban boards for workflow identification
- Scrum boards for visualizing the progress of a sprint
- Work in Process limits for identifying bottlenecks
- Swimlanes and labels for organizing tasks
- Roadmaps for tracking the overall progress
- Live activity stream displaying the status of tasks
- Time tracking with detailed reports
- Team inbox for only team relevant messages
Standard ($7) and Enterprise ($14) plans with 14 days free trial.
All the features available in standard and enterprise plans can be availed without any cost for 14 days.
Mavenlink combines multiple project-based services together in a single application. It’s primarily designed for professional services and for teams to collaborate on large-scale projects. A full-featured project management tool which focuses on team task management, and supports multiple third-party application integrations too.
- Project portfolio listing down all the projects
- Gantt charts for tracking the progress
- Reusable project templates
- Powerful third-party applications integration
- Resources management at a task level
- Personalized views for monitoring projects
- Seamless collaboration through advanced collaboration features
- Public and private posts for easy sharing
- Project data secured through access permissions
Mavenlink offers Free and multiple paid plans. The paid plans begin from $19 per month for 5 users.
- Unlimited projects
- Unlimited team members
- 500 MB of storage
- Integration with Google Calendar, Tasks, and Contacts
10. Pivotal Tracker
The last free Microsoft Project alternative of our list is Pivotal Tracker.
Pivotal Tracker is an agile project management tool designed for agile software teams. The tool enables real-time project collaboration among the team members through a shared storyboard and a prioritized backlog.
- Story points to identify actionable work
- Activity estimation
- Workspaces for organizing projects
- My work panel for only your tasks
- Multiple charts for visualizing the team performance
- Mentions for assigning tasks
- Drag and drop file options
- Personalized labels for organizing tasks
- Shared calendar for daily assignments and projects
- Multiple third-party application integrations
Pivotal Tracker offers a free and 3 paid plans. Free, Startup, Pro, and Enterprise. The paid plans begin at $12.50, pertaining to the number of projects and collaborators.
- 2 projects
- Up to 3 collaborators
- 2 GB storage
Have you used any Microsoft Project alternative before? How was your experience? Join the conversation in the comments section below.