19 min read
Aug 27, 2020
Project Management

Project Management Software Comparison Made Easier With These 5 Options

Struggling to find a project management solution that meets all your needs and is within your budget? Here are the top five options and everything you need to know about them.

R.B.
Rupal BhandariContent Writer

On the face of it, project management is about keeping track of what each team member is doing vis-a-vis the defined business goals and objectives. However, if you are a project manager or business owner, you know that it gets a lot more complicated than that. 

Large companies and enterprises have the luxury to turn to certified project management professionals, extensive project management training, and expensive software for this. However, individual entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small and midsize businesses like yours often find themselves struggling to find the right resources within their limited budgets. 

But no more! With this article, we’ll help you understand what project management tools are, what to look for in them, and what the current top tools (based on our Project management Software Category Leaders, 2020) have to offer.

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What is project management software?

Project management software is a tool that helps teams plan and organize various aspects of their projects, including timelines, tasks, budgets, and workflows. It helps them collaborate in a streamlined manner, providing each team member the space to share feedback and opinion. It also helps them meet goals on time while constantly keeping an eye on schedules, resources, and costs. 

Project management software often tends to work as an umbrella term, encompassing a range of solutions from lighter task management tools to advanced project portfolio management solutions. However, the essential features of project management solutions we’ve covered in this article are:

  • Gantt chart, Kanban board, or timeline view to visualize the project plan.

  • Task management to create and assign tasks to team members and align each task under one or multiple projects.

  • Dashboard to track the real-time project progress.

  • Collaboration, commenting, or discussion features to manage communication within the team.

  • File sharing features for team members to upload documents.

  • Time and expense tracking for recording the resources spent on tasks and providing multi-level views.

For a more detailed understanding of project management software, you can consult our buyers guide here.

Here’s a crisp summary of how project management software can help your team:

How project management software helps teams
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Things to consider when exploring project management software

Simply knowing what project management solutions are and what their features do is not enough. It is important to know exactly what to watch out for when exploring them. 

Following are some considerations to keep in mind:

Integrations

Comparison of integrations between GanttPRO and Beesbusy

Comparison of integrations between GanttPRO and Beesbusy (Source)

A project management solution can’t deliver its maximum value by working in isolation. It needs to function alongside other tools for document management, scheduling, analytics, and various other functions in your business. Hence, it is important to ensure that the project management solution you select integrates with the other tools you are already using or plan to use.

When making a project management software comparison, look for integrations via the following methods:

  • Built-in integrations: These are direct integrations between two solutions provided by the tool’s developer. In simple terms, this is how the calendar on your iPhone syncs with your Gmail calendar. Most leading solutions offer limited built-in integrations, connecting with only those third-party tools that are in high demand.

  • Integration via automation tools: These are integrations that are built via automation tools such as Automate.io and Zapier. The automation tool functions as a patch connecting the project management software to other tools of your choice. Most leading project management solutions provide integrations for at least one automation tool.

  • Open API: An open application programming interface (API) is a publicly available interface that enables developers with technical expertise to build their own integrations for the tool providing the open API. This option requires extensive expertise but offers vast customization flexibility to meet unique business requirements.

Security

Comparison of security features between ClickUp and MeisterTask

Comparison of security features between ClickUp and MeisterTask (Source)

The project management software you employ will hold some of the most confidential and proprietary data of your business. It is no surprise then that security has to be an important consideration when making a project management software comparison. 

Following are some aspects to look for:

  • Physical security of the data storage: You don’t want the servers holding your data to be in a country or location that is prone to unrest or has lax rules around privacy. Check with the vendor where they are going to store your data and make sure that the security standards at the storage facility are up to date and independently validated.

  • Network protection measures: Ensure that the vendor follows standard network protection measures to provide you with secure connectivity to your data. These include VLANs, firewalls, router technologies, intrusion detection and prevention systems, centralized log aggregation, and alert mechanisms.

  • Application security: This pertains to the defensive checks put in the software to prevent hacks and data leaks. Standard features to look for are two-factor user authentication, data sharing and role-based access control, user activity monitoring, and data encryption in transit and at rest.

  • Privacy policy: Check for a clearly laid out privacy policy that details what information the vendor collects on you, how it is stored, who has access to it, and where it is and can be used.

  • Compliance with security standards: There are various regulatory authorities worldwide that ensure that vendors meet a set standard of data security and privacy. Some of these standards include ISO/IEC 27001, SOC2 Type II, EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks, and GDPR. Ensure that the vendor you choose complies with the standards of the regulatory authority in your location and industry.

    Tip

    All the five solutions listed in this article offer the security features discussed above. However, when evaluating any solution, it is a good idea to discuss the security features with the vendor in detail, especially with regards to the physical safety of your data and network protection measures.

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Top 5 project management software compared

Samepage, WorkOtter, Project.co, Workzone, and Nifty are the top five solutions in our Project Management Software Category Leaders, 2020

The category leaders are selected by our team of researchers using thousands of ratings from real users to identify five key areas: ease of use, value for money, functionality, customer support, and likelihood to recommend. You can review the detailed selection methodology here.

Here is a quick summary of their ratings before jumping into the project management software comparison:

A comparison of ratings of the top 5 project management software

1. Samepage

Samepage is a collaboration tool that combines the project management capabilities of task management software with real-time co-editing capabilities of Google Docs and the chatting functionality of instant messaging software

Its features include typical project management features such as tasks, subtasks, project assignees, task tracker and reports, @mentions in tasks, and administrative controls.

Real-time collaboration on “pages” in Samepage

Real-time collaboration on Samepage “pages” (Source)

Some of the tool’s highlights are:

  • Built-in “page” and “sheet” functionalities for users to share information and data.

  • Kanban-style board view and calendar view for users to organize deadlines, events, and milestones.

  • “Mindmap” functionality for creating free-flowing information maps on hierarchy, org charts, or sitemaps.

  • In-document chat for users to discuss context-specific information within documents. 

Integrations:

The software offers built-in integrations with dozens of tools and platforms, including calendar, customer service software, email clients, cloud storage software, forms, maps, social media software, and video editing tools. It also offers integrations via Zapier

Pricing and use cases:

Plan Ideal for
Free Individual entrepreneurs and freelancers looking for a way to organize projects and share information with clients/collaborators. The plan offers basic collaborative and sharing capabilities.
$7/month/user Small businesses looking for a way to organize projects and share information within teams. The plan offers some advanced collaborative and sharing capabilities.
$9/month/user Midsize and large businesses looking for a way to manage projects and the flow of information. The plan includes 1 TB storage and advanced data and privacy controls.

Prominent customer reviews:

Reviewers of Samepage on GetApp share the following feedback:

Pros Cons
The ability to share/modify files and have a conversation within the project or task helps streamline all communication related to each task. Navigating the tool can be confusing for new users and it can take a while for these users to find the files they need.

Reviewer breakdown: Among the reviewers, 80% were small businesses, 10% were midsize businesses, and 10% were large businesses (numbers have been rounded off to the nearest whole number). 

2. WorkOtter

WorkOtter is a project management system from the late 1990s that has managed to grow and develop alongside technological evolutions and remain relevant even today. The tool offers a combination of capabilities for resource capacity planning, project scheduling, time management, and portfolio management.

Resource management showing the forecast of hours and usage for the team in WorkOtter

Resource management forecast for work hours and team usage in WorkOtter (Source)

Following are some of the tool’s highlights:

  • “What if” scenario planning to make changes to project timelines via a drag-and-drop interface and evaluate the effects.

  • Visual reporting of resource capacity planning that highlights the supply vs demand gap and helps determine what you can accomplish with existing resources or assess additional needs for projects.

  • Detailed financial reporting to map business expenses to project goals and track estimates (vs. actuals), forecast budgets, and perform cost-benefit analyses.

  • Multiple views for project timelines and workflow, including Gantt, Kanban, and Agile. 

Integrations:

The project management system offers built-in integrations with multiple file sharing platforms, calendars, and reporting and analytics tools. It also provides integrations with other project management solutions such as Jira, Microsoft Project, and ProjectLibre.Pricing and use cases:

Plan Ideal for
$10/month/user Individual entrepreneurs and freelancers looking for a way to track time and project status. The plan includes functions such as timesheet, project estimates, and project notes.
$20/month/user Small businesses looking for a way to organize projects and collaborate on tasks. The plan includes functions such as chatting, reporting, email updates, timesheet, and expense tracking.
$35/month/user Midsize and large businesses looking for a tool that combines the management of resources, workflows, portfolios, and estimates. The plan offers a detailed reporting dashboard.

Prominent customer reviews:

Reviewers of WorkOtter on GetApp share the following feedback:

Pros Cons
The detailed and extensive reporting capabilities make it easier for managers to track project-related activities and make informed decisions. Several languages and currencies are currently not supported, which some users feel are needed when working on international projects.

Reviewer breakdown: Among the reviewers, 62% were small businesses, 20% were midsize businesses, and 19% were large businesses (numbers have been rounded off to the nearest whole number). 

3. Project.co

Project.co is a classic project management tool that can help your team visualize project plans, streamline tasks, and collaborate on various activities and documents. It offers an easy-to-understand workflow and feature-set for new or comparatively inexperienced users. 

It is also easier to adopt and implement in comparison to project management solutions that are more advanced and technical.

Adding client’s team members to the project in Project.co

Adding client’s team members to the project in Project.co (Source)

Following are some of the tool’s highlights:

  • Separate space for each project, which includes a dashboard for overview, tasks that can be assigned to team members, discussion board for conversations and collaboration, and file storage to streamline all documents related to the project.

  • Ability to embed third-party tools and platforms and view shared documents without leaving the Project.co window. Team members can also have discussions in the comment space alongside each file.

  • “Time” tab in each project to tally the actual time spent on tasks against the allocated time frame.

  • Ability to add clients as users, similar to your team members. This enables sharing information, timelines, project plans, and documents with clients, and receiving feedback in real time.  

Integrations:

The project management solution integrates with multiple third-party tools such as document editors, multi-media viewers and editors, analytics solutions, design boards, and databases.

Pricing and use cases:

Plan Ideal for
$10/month/user* Individual entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses that need essential project management features. Available features include unlimited users, projects, tasks, team members, clients, and embeds. They also include 10 GB file storage per user and custom branding and URL.

*Project.co offers only one pricing plan.

Prominent customer reviews:

Reviewers of Project.co on GetApp share the following feedback:

Pros Cons
The learning curve is short and most of the features are easy to understand for new users. The solution currently does not have an open API or integration through Zapier, so built-in integrations are the only options.

Reviewer breakdown: Among the reviewers, 94% were small businesses and 6% were midsize businesses (numbers have been rounded off to the nearest whole number). 

4. Workzone

Workzone is a project management solution providing the essential features, such as project dashboard Gantt charts, status updates, time tracking, workload reporting, and group calendar. It also offers extensive file sharing capabilities, including commenting, image markup, approvals workflow, and file versioning.

Workload reporting in Workzone

Workload reporting in Workzone (Source)

Following are some of the tool’s highlights:

  • Auto-created to-do lists for each user. These lists give users a focused, cross-project view of everything on their plate.

  • Ability to create dependencies between two tasks, creating a sequence for the parts that need to happen one after another.

  • Custom project request forms that streamline incoming requests and provide teams a central place for communications. 

  • Workload reporting that provides a single-window view of planned work hours across projects to highlight over or under allocation of resources. 

Integrations:

The project management solution provides integrations via a built-in open API to enable users to build their own integrations. It also offers integrations via Zapier. 

Pricing and use cases:

Plan Ideal for
$24/month/user Small businesses that need a templatized project management tool and do not need to build integrations of their own.
$34/month/user Midsize businesses that need a templatized project management tool, custom intake forms, and an open API to build their own integrations.
$43/month/user Midsize and large businesses that need to customize most aspects of their project management workflow, build their own integrations, and use single sign-on (SSO).

Prominent customer reviews:

Reviewers of Workzone on GetApp share the following feedback:

Pros Cons
A short learning curve when adopting the software. A strong customer support team that has been appreciated by several users. Updating task deadlines can be cumbersome and time-consuming when done without setting up dependencies between tasks.

Reviewer breakdown: Among the reviewers, 48% were small businesses, 19% were midsize businesses, and 33% were large businesses (numbers have been rounded off to the nearest whole number). 

5. Nifty

Nifty is a project management software that combines the channel-like informal communication style of Slack with the classic project management features of tools such as Project.co or Asana

The software can be customized to fit use cases for marketing teams, digital marketing agencies, product development teams, legal case management teams, and client management teams.

time tracking report in Nifty

Time tracking report in Nifty (Source)

Following are some of the tool’s highlights:

  • Automated milestone progress tracking that offers a real-time indication of ongoing, completed, and overdue tasks.

  • Time tracking capabilities that map each team member’s work hours against project goals, allowing managers to see where team members are spending their time and how that impacts the business.

  • Ability to embed Google Docs, Sheets, and Presentations directly into tasks, so that users do not need to exit Nifty’s window to edit these documents.

  • Functionality to launch a document from the project discussions tab to immediately invite and involve team members. 

Integrations:

The project management solution provides integrations with 1,000+ third-party applications via Zapier. It also provides an open API for users who would want to build their own integrations. 

Pricing and use cases:

Plan Ideal for
$39/month Individual entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to manage a team of 10. The plan allows handling up to 10 active projects.
$79/month Midsize businesses that need to manage a team of 25. The plan offers 500 GB of storage space.
$124/month Midsize businesses that need to manage a team of 50 people. The plan allows handling unlimited active projects and offers up to 1 TB of storage.

Prominent customer reviews:

Reviewers of Nifty on GetApp share the following feedback:

Pros Cons
The overview section is helpful in tracking each project, its progress, and time frames. The interface is clean and easy to understand for new users. Almost complete reliance on Zapier for integrations. The Zoom call integration does not launch a call within Nifty but provides a link to launch a separate Zoom window.

Reviewer breakdown: Among the reviewers, 94% were small businesses, 4% were midsize businesses, and 2% were large businesses (numbers have been rounded off to the nearest whole number).

A comparison of the top 5 project management software

Find a detailed comparison of the top 5 project management software here.

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Finding the right project management software—what type of buyer are you?

Now that you have a good understanding of project management solutions and what the top ones offer, you might want to begin exploring and shortlisting options for your business. However, beware! Features, integrations, and security measures are not the only things to look out for, nor are they limited to the essentials we have covered. 

It is critical that you spend time doing your own research and comparing multiple solutions. You can begin this by trying to understand what type of buyer you are and what are your objectives to using the software:

  • Individual entrepreneurs and freelancers: These are individuals who need low-cost (and often, free!) project management solutions with basic features such as scheduling, task management, Gantt charts, and file storage.

  • Small businesses: These businesses want the project management solutions to visualize project plans, keep track of workflow, and have accountability in their teams. They need tools that provide features for team collaboration, commenting, project discussions, and file sharing, but do not come with the added expense of advanced budgeting, resource management, or project portfolio management features.

  • Midsize businesses: These businesses want to be able to manage multiple projects across teams, within one platform. They also need advanced team collaboration capabilities, including image markup, approvals workflow, and file versioning, to enable team members to collaborate in a streamlined manner. However, they also often do not want features such as advanced budgeting, resource management, or project portfolio management features.

  • Large businesses/enterprises: These businesses need a tool to manage the entire life cycle of the project, from planning, resource allocation, budgeting, inventory management, to completion and final payment. They need tools that can provide advanced capabilities such as resource management, project portfolio management, and invoicing. They also need the tool to be customizable as per the needs of the businesses, so they can design workflows, dependencies, and reporting mechanisms fit for their needs.

Tip

Individual entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small and midsize businesses should focus on cloud-based project management solutions, so they can hit the ground running. This will save them the time and resources spent on deployment and implementation of the tool. Large businesses and enterprises, on the other hand, should explore hosted project management solutions, to make use of the extensive customization capabilities they offer.

If you want to accelerate your product search, try our project management Appfinder. This will eliminate all non-specific options and enable you to compare up to four products side-by-side to see which is the right one for you.

Notes

For the "user feedback trends (pros/cons)" sections, we performed sentiment analysis of reviews left for each product in the 12 months previous to the creation of this report. Reviews data may have changed since publication and may not reflect current conditions.

Listed pros and cons are derived from features listed on the product website and product user reviews on Gartner Digital Markets domains (Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice). They do not represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, GetApp or its affiliates.

Some applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

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