Project Management & Planning Articles

Project Management Software Pricing Explained: How to Save Money When Buying Apps

by Gitanjali Maria
Published on 31 March 2017

One of the key concerns of any company, especially start-ups and small businesses, is costs. The price of some of the software in the market may leave you shell-shocked and force you to think twice about making a purchase.

In this article, we'll explain how to save money when buying project management software. These applications can help you improve performance, efficiency, and teamwork. We'll explain how project management software pricing works so you can ensure you reap these benefits without paying more than you need to.

What is project management software?

Gartner defines project management as: "the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements". A project management software solution helps in project planning, budget management, quality management, and resource allocation. You also get features for documentation, reporting, and collaboration.

Buying project management software

You may feel lost trying to choose from among the many project management software available in the market. The various feature combinations, pricing models, and customer support levels can leave you scratching your head. You may also worry about the costs and ROI. In the next few sections, we'll guide you on how to save money when buying a project management software.

Project management software pricing made simple

GetApp'stop Category Leaders ranking lists the leading project management software products based on five different data points. Basing the different pricing offered by the top 15 project management software vendors (using the Q1 Category Leaders), we have classified pricing structure into three main categories - Starter price range, Mid-range price, and Enterprise price. The price ranges reflect the mean values of the pricing offered by the top 15 vendors. See the Appendix section at the bottom of the article to read more about the methodology.

Based on analysis of the top 15 vendors and their offerings, we have also matched the different price ranges with the number of users that a particular project management software pricing plan can most likely support.

Meter showing project management software pricing ranges

The above meter provides a rough estimate of how much you'll likely have to shell out to get a project management software for your business. Read on to learn about ways to optimize your costs.

Note: Prices are on a per user per month basis. Pricing plan terminologies used by different software vendors vary and may not exactly match with the terminologies used here. The three pricing categories here only provide a general estimate of the pricing ranges and target user base supported by different vendors. See the Appendix to learn more about the methodology we have used to arrive at the three price categories.

Putting a price on project management software features

GetApp's survey lists project management features that are most frequently used by small businesses. But will you be able to get all these features in a free version? Or does it require additional sums of money?

In the table below, we have identified the price range in which each of the features is likely offered. For example, most free software or those costing less than $25 per user offer task management while budget management features are only available in costlier versions. Basic reporting features are available in the starter versions while for more advanced reporting options, you'll need a mid range version or higher.

Table showing which features are typically included in a project management software pricing plan

Note: The above results are not for any specific software but derived from analyzing the features offered by the 15 software considered. For example, the green 'Advanced' cell represents the presence of a feature in a particular price range for 50% or more of products.

You can decide the features that you want, and select a version of the product based on that. A freemium version may not meet your advanced requirements, especially if you have a larger team. In the same way, you won't have to buy a costly application when a free version can do the job. You can save money by choosing the appropriate project management software versions based on your feature requirements.

Customer service considerations

Do you want a dedicated client account manager or are you happy with the general toll-free number? Do you want responses within two business hours or can you manage to wait a day? The level of service that you require from your vendor has an impact on your software buying costs.

Here's a summary of how the top 15 project management software compare on services offered and price ranges/software versions.

Table showing extra features included in project management software depending on price

Other ways to save money on project management software

Let us look at some simple tricks that could help you save a few hundred dollars.

  • Choice of billing cycle: Most software follows monthly or annual billing. Annual pricing options come at a lesser per month cost than monthly billing. But annual billing can leave you locked with a vendor for a year. If you are sure about your vendor choice or are renewing a contract, choosing an annual subscription can help you save money. The cost savings are higher as your number of users increase or when you opt for higher versions of the software.

Line chart showing Insightly pricing - monthly vs annual

The monthly cost saving for the annually billed version of Insightly is $30 per user!!

  • Free and open source software: Many of the leading players such as Basecamp, Trello, Insightly, and Zoho Projects offer free or "freemium" versions. Some of these can easily match your requirements if you're looking for a simpler solution. Prominent zero-cost open source software that might also tick all the boxes for you include MyCollab, Odoo, Taiga, OrangeScrum, Tuleap, Agilefant, and Redmine.
  • SaaS vs. on-premise software: SaaS solutions are available at lower starting prices. For example, JIRA (SaaS version) costs $150 per month for 25 users while the licensed version costs $1,800 one time for single server deployment. Many software such as Trello, Basecamp, and Wrike come only as SaaS options. A SaaS solution will work out to be a less costly option for small teams who are not sure whether they'll change software in a few years.
  • Number of active users: Maintaining a count of employees who actually use the software can help while purchasing/renewing licenses. The pricing model for most SaaS solutions is on a per user basis. Hence ensuring that there are no redundant license copies of the software translates into more savings.
  • Software compatibility and integrations: To avoid spiraling costs, it is always a good practice to ensure that the software you plan to purchase is compatible with your existing applications. You wouldn't want to buy a project management software that doesn't integrate with your email or HR systems, for example. Investing in many arbitrary applications can increase your IT costs.
  • Discounts and vouchers: Wouldn't you love to knock a little extra off a software's price tag? A bit of research can help identify channels like eCommerce sites that sell your choice of project management software at discounted rates. Some dedicated websites like Allsoftwarediscount.com also give you information about discount vouchers for software and related products/services.
  • Organization type: Many vendors offer discount prices for charity organizations, student bodies, and non-profits. Basecamp, for example, is available free for students and teachers and at a 50% discount for non-profits and charities.

Next steps

Appendix: Price range meter methodology

Starter price range

The starting price of most of the products is $0 and this forms the lowest value of the range. The higher end of the Starter price range is calculated by taking the average of the lowest prices of the top 15 products. This ensures that the starting price of most of the products fall within this range. Similarly, the number of users supported by a software in this price range is the mean of the number of users supported by the starter versions of the top 15 vendors.

Example: If the lowest pricing plan (other than free versions) offered by vendors A, B, and C are $10, $5, and $15 respectively, then the higher end of the starter price range would be $10 (average of all the prices).

Mid-range price

The lower end of the Mid-range price segment is the highest end of Starter price range. To get the highest end of the Mid Range price segment, we took an average of the mid prices of the top 15 products. In cases where there were multiple pricing plans between the starter and enterprise versions, we have taken the average of those plans to identify the product's mid price value.

The number of users supported by a software in this price range is the mean of the number of users supported by the mid price versions of the top 15 vendors.

Example: Suppose product A has four pricing plans: Basic, Professional, Business, and Enterprise at $10, $20, $40, and $60 respectively. Then the mid-price value for product A is the average of its Professional ($20) and Business ($40) plans, i.e., $30. If the mid-price of the other two vendors B and C are $20 and $40, then the higher end of the mid-range price segment is the mean of $30, $20 and $40 (= $30).

Enterprise price range

The enterprise pricing segment starts from the higher ends of the mid-range pricing segment. All prices above this is value lie in the enterprise pricing range.


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