12 Project Management Software Apps Worth Looking At

The Best Software for Managing Projects

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Project management at your fingerips. Mareen Fischinger/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Choosing the right project management software can be a challenge. The marketplace is crowded and there are a lot to choose from. In this article, we’ll look at project management software tools that are a great fit for big companies, medium companies and smaller firms. Then we’ll look at the top tools that can help you collaborate effectively with your team, whatever your size.

For Big Organizations

Large organizations come with their own challenges.

Many locations, multiple teams, sometimes multiple Project Management Offices. You’ll need an enterprise tool that is fit for purpose. You could send your Project Coordinator off to surf the internet, or you could start with this list of products that might be exactly what you are looking for.

1. LiquidPlanner

LiquidPlanner is aimed at technical teams so if you work with software or in the IT arena then this is definitely worth looking at. It has built in scheduling algorithms that help you manage uncertainty on projects, which is great if you are managing risk on projects. It allows you to calculate schedules based on best and worst case scenarios, which helps you see how long tasks are really going to take.

It includes time tracking features, integrations with tools like Salesforce and Dropbox and supports both Agile and waterfall ways of working.

2. Clarizen

With out-of-the-box templates for projects and portfolios, Clarizen is a truly professional project management tool with enterprise-grade features.

You can track expenses by individual or team and link them back to project budgets. It’s got change request and risk management features built in.

Like some other cloud-based tools, Clarizen offers real-time overviews of project progress through dashboards and reporting. Project sponsors and senior management often find this type of dashboard the easiest way to stay in touch with what is happening with the whole range of projects that the company is working on, plus you can normally set up tailored views so they see the data that is important to them.

3. Genius Project

Genius Project is another enterprise solution that’s a great fit for mature and larger organizations. It offers cloud and on-premise options, which is handy if you are concerned about the long-term costs of Software-as-a-Service or have the need to tight security which prohibits using online tools.

It offers all the functionality you would expect from a professional project management tool including Gantt charts, resource management, time tracking and more.

Genius also offers support for stage and gate reviews. These are checkpoints that need to be completed prior to, say, funding being released for the next phase. This feature could be really useful if you work on long projects that have multiple steps and a high focus on governance. Another useful, and unusual, feature is the simulator: change the variables of your project to see how that will affect the outcome.

For Small And Medium Organizations

You can use any of the tools above and it is definitely worth checking them out to see if they fit your growing business. If none of them feel like they would be at home in your technology stack, then there is a raft of tools designed for exactly where you are. Here are some of the top picks.

4. Apollo

Apollo has been around for a long time now and is a reliable project and contact management tool. It also includes time tracking which is helpful if you want to understand where your time is really going.

The contact management side of the software is invaluable if you work with multiple clients or have a selection of freelancers that you need to keep in touch with.

5. ProjectManager.com

ProjectManager.com is another tool that has a long pedigree and you don’t have to be an actual project manager to use it. The user interface isn’t quite as smart-looking as some of the other products out there but it has a lot of features. If you are used to using Microsoft Project then the user interface won’t feel unusual to you. The Gantt chart is solid and there is also the feature to track your time with a workflow for managing timesheets.

6. Paymo

Paymo started life as a solution for contractors and has evolved massively into a robust tool for small and medium-sized businesses. Because of its roots, the financial and accounting side of the system is really good and it’s perfect for agencies who want to manage all their invoicing, estimates and expenses along with tasks from a single platform. Integrations with Zapier make it a one-stop shop for managing the business-end of projects.

It is also keenly priced so won’t break the bank. Gantt charts are available as an add-on so you don’t need to pay for functionality that you won’t use.

For Entrepreneurs and Microbusinesses

Again, you can use any of the above tools. You have ambitions to grow, so why not start as you mean to go on?

However, products designed for enterprise-level project management do come with enterprise level price tags. If your business isn’t quite ready to make that financial investment then here are some other options you should be looking at.

7. BusiBI

BusiBI is available as an iPad app which makes it ideal for small teams. Another plus is that it is extremely cost effective, which is great if you are working alone or with a couple of other people and haven’t yet got the funds in the business to invest in enterprise-level products.

It’s surprisingly feature-rich and has versions aimed at different industries like film, practice management (for professional services firms) and coaches. Each version comes with the right jargon and templates for your industry so you can get started more quickly although under the hood they all do basically the same thing.

8. Remember The Milk

The classic To Do list app, Remember The Milk is less of a fully-featured project management tool, more of a task management app. But there’s nothing wrong with that, and for many small teams, that’s exactly what you need. It also handles repeating tasks so you can set it and forget it for activities like reporting, recurring meetings or project reviews.

9. 5pm

5pm aims to have you completing more by 5pm every day so that you can go home on time and feeling accomplished. It’s not aimed specifically at entrepreneurs and it will make you feel as if you are using a ‘proper’ project management system – it’s definitely at the other end of the scale to Remember The Milk. I’ve included it here because the smallest pricing plan is very manageable for even the newest of startups.

For Collaboration

Regardless of the size of your team, you need to chat together. Today’s teams – even for the smallest businesses – are often made up of people who don’t work in the same location. Online collaboration tools are a simple and cheap way of staying in touch and improving productivity.

Stop sending emails to each other and then getting confused about which version of the document is the most recent! Here are some fantastic collaboration tools to try.

10. Slack

Slack rose to great acclaim relatively recently and has made a noticeable impression on the collaboration tools scene. You can organize your conversations into channels, which lets you segment projects and topics. There are also sophisticated security and permissions options so that you can keep certain topics private if you’d like.

Slack lets you share (by uploading) documents and other files, plus it has integration with Google Drive, Dropbox and Box, so it’s easy to keep everything accessible from the one place even if the files themselves are stored somewhere else.

Probably the best feature of Slack is that it is totally searchable, which makes it easy to find things. This is a big risk with online collaboration tools: if you don’t set up taxonomies or have some ‘rules’ for users uploading files then you can end up with a big mess of documents and discussions and a huge housekeeping headache. Slack takes all that away with the great search function.

11. Yammer

Yammer was acquired by Microsoft and they’ve really supported the tool. You can create groups for your project teams and host all your documents there too. All you need to get started is a company email address.

It has a very intelligent engine behind it, which surfaces content that it thinks you might find relevant based on your previous interactions, things you have liked and internal algorithms. The more you use it, the more it learns about what interests you within the company and the more it can connect you to people who might  be able to help you do your projects.

Having said that, as it is free it’s also a very good tool for small teams looking for somewhere to start working together.

12. Skype

Don’t underestimate Skype. It might not be the first collaboration tool that you think of but it’s a good one. The basic plan is free and it lets you dial Freephone numbers globally. You can use it for chat, voice calls, screen sharing, team meetings and more. The chat feature lets you share files with another person: upload in the chat box and your contact will be able to click a link to download it at the other end.

Many of the products in this list are paid-for solutions but you’ll find that most project management software tools out there offer you a free trial so you can see how the product works in real life. Use that trial as time to test out one of your own projects with it and get a feel for how the workflows and reports would help you be more productive.

Ultimately, the decision is yours and you’re going to have to live with your choice for some time to recoup the investment, so think carefully, test out a few solutions and then go for it!