A major consideration when evaluating project management (PM) software tools is deciding between free or paid software. Free solutions can significantly reduce costs, but they tend to have a limited feature set and support options.
Still, not every business is ready to invest in a comprehensive project management system. And researching the various options requires a significant time investment. To save you some time, we have outlined five free project management software solutions* below (in alphabetical order) that can help you manage the tasks and deadlines of your project team.
Free project management tools
Project management software is designed for teams to collaborate, as well as create and manage tasks and deadlines. It helps keep a team on track and in the know during a project. Some PM tools can also manage a team’s basic work tasks, such as pulling a report in prep for a team meeting or creating a presentation for an executive. Hence some PM software will be called task management or work management software.
Manage project and ongoing tasks on Bitrix24’s Kanban boards (Source)
Bitrix24 is a project management and customer relationship management (CRM) system. This means that teams such as a sales team can use this single program as their sole workspace. Projects can be managed alongside leads and customer contacts and communications.
Free features include:
- ✓ Group task management
- ✓ Project Kanban board
- ✓ Gantt charts and calendars
- ✓ Basic CRM capabilities
- ✓ iOS and Android mobile app for task tracking
Manage task owners and status on Freedcamp’s Kanban project boards (Source)
Freedcamp is a project management and collaboration tool, as well as a 2019 Software Advice FrontRunner for PM software. It is designed to keep teams on track with the ability to create and manage tasks on a project or one-off individual tasks.
Features included in the free version:
- ✓ Unlimited projects, tasks, and online storage
- ✓ Task time tracking
- ✓ Set task priority, owner, and status
- ✓ Project milestones and deadlines
- ✓ File storage and sharing
Gantt chart timeline view in OpenProject (Source)
OpenProject is an open-source project management tool. Open-source means the software creator offers the source code openly to you, allowing you to make custom changes and share your version with as many people as you’d like. Their free Community version is offered as a self-installed, on-premise solution. (Here’s an article on the differences between on-premise and cloud deployments.)
The Community version includes:
- ✓ Task statuses, assignees, and grouping in work packages
- ✓ Gantt charts and project timelines
- ✓ Budgeting and cost reporting
- ✓ Agile and Scrum style project methods
- ✓ Basic user groups and permissions
Kanban task board in Trello (Source)
Trello is a web-based task and project management tool. The free version includes limited use of Trello’s automation feature, Butler. Butler can perform some tedious and repetitive tasks by performing calendar and due date commands.
Features included in Trello’s free version:
- ✓ 10 team Kanban boards and unlimited personal ones
- ✓ Up to 50 monthly task automation “commands”
- ✓ Unlimited tasks and lists
- ✓ Two-factor authentication
- ✓ 10MB file uploads
Trello’s free version supports an unlimited number of users. Their paid versions are billed per user, per month. The capability and availability of their automation feature, Butler, is considerably increased in the paid versions.
Project timeline dashboard in Wrike (Source)
Wrike is a cloud-based project and portfolio management system. The free version focuses on task management and helps smaller teams manage projects. Wrike’s paid plans offer robust program and portfolio management (PPM) features and can support enterprise-sized companies.
Free features included in Wrike:
- ✓ Spreadsheet-style task lists
- ✓ Activity stream with social media-style collaboration
- ✓ Scrum task boards
- ✓ File sharing
- ✓ Integrations to Google Drive, Dropbox, and more
Wrike’s free version supports up to five users.
When should you invest in paid software?
A growing team often requires a level of technical and customer support that isn’t available with most free systems. Free versions typically don’t offer the fastest service level agreement or communication options that are available for support. So for example, if you need responses within 4 hours via a phone call or instant messaging, you’ll want to look into the paid versions of the software.
Several of the above products offer advanced project management features in their paid versions. If you like using the free version of the software, it’s possible that the paid version with the desired additional features will be a good fit. If your team requires project management capabilities such as resource scheduling or if you run multiple projects at the same time, you may need a more comprehensive PPM system.
If you run Agile projects, check out this quick guide to three popular, paid Agile project management systems.
You can compare project management systems with our comparison tool here. Add up to three products to compare their user ratings, price ranges, technical details, and more. We’ve also created a Project Management Software Buyers Guide with information on key features, benefits of the software, and more.
If you’d like a real person to chat with about software and your specific business needs, our expert advisors are always happy to help. It’s free for you. Click here to schedule an appointment for a phone call or start a live chat here.
*To identify the systems featured here, we Googled the term “free project management software” during the month of January 2020 in an incognito window with the location set to the United States. The top search results were vetted to ensure they offer basic project management capabilities and offer a free, standalone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time). Search results such as blog posts listing free PM tools were excluded.