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The 5 Best Free Project Management Tools

Business owners know the importance of completing projects on time and on budget. The business cannot move forward without finishing projects and keeping clients happy.

But if you focus solely on the end point and final deadline for each project, your chances of completing it successfully are small.

Everyone collaborating on the project needs to have focus all the way through the process, hitting milestones and understanding the amount of work remaining.

Project management software helps you do this, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Better yet, many of the top packages have powerful free versions. We’ve put together a list of the five best free project management tools for your organization.

Airtable

For those who have grown up using spreadsheets to organize and create lists, Airtable will feel extremely natural.

The project tasks and subtasks fit in rows and columns, which provides an overview of what is happening for the entire team. You then can click on a box to receive additional information. (There are other options for visualizing the projects if you don’t like spreadsheets.)

We appreciate that Airtable provides significant features in its free version, including an unlimited number of users and projects.

You may find some users in your organization will need a bit of extra time to learn how to use the software, as a few aspects of it can be a little confusing.

Pros

  • Very few limits on the free version
  • Resemblance to a spreadsheet will please some users
  • Includes a variety of templates to simplify building out projects
  • Has multiple other views on hand if you don’t like the spreadsheet layout

Cons

  • Can be tricky to learn how to use it for novices
  • Prices for subscription tiers can add up quickly for big teams

Pricing

  • Free version
  • Plus: $10 per user per month
  • Pro: $20 per user per month
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Asana

Asana is not as powerful as some of the other packages on our list, but it does an excellent job of meshing an easy-to-use interface with a useful set of basic features.

Asana’s interface is outstanding, allowing even novices to pick up the basics in no time. It uses visual clues to help team members stay on task and easily see all of the deadlines they’re facing. Team members can rely on kanban boards or calendar views to see their progress.

It gives users the ability to use templates that simplify setting up repetitive tasks.

Unfortunately, you’ll have a limit of 15 users with the free version.

Pros

  • Visually pleasing interface
  • Allows users to easily track the progress of tasks
  • Has multiple templates to help administrators work quickly
  • Novices can pick it up in no time

Cons

  • Limited to 15 users in free version
  • Not the best choice for those with complex needs

Pricing

  • Free version
  • Premium: $10.99 per user per month
  • Business: $24.99 per user per month
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

ClickUp

Compared to other free project management software packages, ClickUp has an impressive list of features, giving quite a few organizations everything they’ll need to have success with keeping projects on track.

It’s easy to see the status of your tasks with ClickUp. You can choose an overview window, or you can drill down to see how many of your goals you are meeting on a particular project.

ClickUp has excellent communications tools in its free version to keep team members on task. It even includes helpful marketing tracking tools.

You can set up an unlimited number of users and tasks with ClickUp’s free version. But one area where the free version falls short is in its file storage option, which is limited to 100MB. You’ll need to use a paid version to receive unlimited storage.

Pros

  • Strong collection of tools in the free version
  • Multiple views available, so the team can clearly monitor its progress
  • Allows for unlimited number of users and tasks
  • Paid version is reasonably priced

Cons

  • Storage amounts are very limited in free version
  • No integration with Google Drive or Dropbox

Pricing

  • Free version
  • Unlimited: $5 per user per month
  • Business: $9 per user per month
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Freedcamp

If you want the greatest level of features in a free project management software package, Freedcamp is an excellent choice. Its developers didn’t miss a trick with the free version, including an unlimited number of users, projects, and file storage. (You’ll find a limit of 10MB per uploaded file with the free package.)

It also hits the other important basics for a project management tool, allowing team members to easily communicate and monitor the progress of tasks and subtasks.

For those with advanced needs, the paid version of Freedcamp offers integration with other software packages, as well as the ability to generate invoices. The prices for the subscription tiers with Freedcamp are highly competitive.

Pros

  • Desirable set of tools in free version
  • Includes unlimited users, storage, and tasks in free version
  • Reasonably priced subscription tiers
  • Nicely organized project management tool

Cons

  • Free version centers more on managing tasks than managing huge projects
  • Individual file size limited to 10MB in free version

Price

  • Free version
  • Minimalist: $1.49 per user per month
  • Business: $7.49 per user per month
  • Enterprise: $16.99 per user per month

Trello

If you love the idea of using kanban systems with your project management software package, Trello is one of the top free versions you’ll find.

Kanban involves creating a visual system for management workflows. Trello keeps things simple for managing small projects, allowing you to easily see how the projects are moving forward.

Each project has its own card, and users just move the card along the various milestones in the project (represented by columns) until reaching the final stage. Novices will pick it up in no time.

However, Trello is not as detailed as some other packages. It becomes unwieldy if huge teams are trying to work on a single project. It works best for projects with just a few people involved.

Pros

  • Very simple drag and drop interface
  • Easy to see the progress of a task
  • Unlimited number of tasks and users
  • Uses images to define each task

Cons

  • Too simplistic for complex projects with multiple users
  • Subscription tier prices are a little high

Price

  • Free version
  • Business: $9.99 per user per month
  • Enterprise: $20.83 per user per month (lower prices for more than 300 users)

How to Pick Your Project Management Software

As we compared the best free project management software packages, we paid close attention to the features they offered. But we didn’t forget the “free” part of these solutions.

Some software packages claim to be free, but the vast majority of the core tools sit behind a paywall. We eliminated those choices.

Yes, all of the packages we’ve listed here have a subscription component to go with the free component. And you may find that some of the advanced features you need are only available with a subscription. But with all five of these, you can at least perform basic project management capabilities for free.

Here are the most important features to consider with the free packages.

User Limits

You should expect some free project management software packages to limit the number of users you can have. If you subscribe, you then could remove these limitations.

However, the majority of packages will allow at least five unique users for free, and they often allow many more than that. Quite a few on our list have no user limits in the free version.

Trial Period

If the free version is going to expire after 30 or 90 days, it probably isn’t all that valuable for you. You don’t want to be facing a mandatory deadline for making a choice on whether to buy the software.

Look for a package that does not have an expiration date for the free version.

Setting Permissions

Depending on how you plan to use the project management software, you may want to pick a package that allows the administrator to set levels of permissions for the users. For example, some team members may not need the ability to set up projects or to add files.

Mobility

For a workforce that has employees scattered at various work sites or at client sites regularly, look for a package that has a strong mobile version, so team members can receive notifications and participate from anywhere.

Structure of Tasks

When working on a project, we’re guessing you have a way that you like to visualize the tasks required. Your software should be able to break down the project’s components into a series of tasks and subtasks that make sense to you.

The software should give you a mixture of visual and text tools to help you structure the project in the way that makes the most sense to you.

Assignment of Tasks

One of the most common ways a project falls off the rails is because someone on the team misses a deadline, which affects everyone else down the line.

Your project software must allow you to clearly define who is responsible for each task on the project.

Better yet, there should be a series of connections that shows how each deadline affects others down the road. Team members waiting on information may place some peer pressure on each other to meet deadlines and to keep the project on task, which becomes an effective tool.

Effective Communication

Your project management software tool should allow you to organize the communication threads about each project, making it easy to find the exact information you need.

As part of communicating effectively, team members must be able to set notifications, so they can receive alerts about changes in the project and about their individual tasks. Additionally, they should be able to limit the notifications so they don’t receive alerts for unimportant items.

Seamless Integration

To truly make the project management software something that team members will embrace, it needs to integrate with the tools they already enjoy using. If your team relies on software like Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive, the project management software you select should support it too.

Customization

Having the ability to change up the look of the project management software is extremely important. Team members will receive the biggest benefit from this tool when they can set it up to match their preferred way to see the information, whether that’s sorted by project, sorted in a calendar, or highlighted by the most important tasks.

Sometimes, a free version will limit your customization options, and you’ll have to switch to the subscription version.

Selecting the Best Free Project Management Software

Even though these are excellent free tools, you may find yourself needing some of the pay features at some point. Before choosing to pay for these packages, be certain that you’ve fully vetted the free version.

If the free version feels like a comfortable tool for your organization, paying for some extra features can represent a good investment. After all, it’s impossible to put a price tag on keeping projects moving forward in a timely manner and keeping your clients satisfied, especially if this reliability results in them hiring you for repeat work.

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