Update 9/25/2017: This piece has been updated to include 20 project management tools, and now includes screenshots of each tool.
I live in Washington, D.C., which means two things. One is that I spend an inordinate amount of time brunching, navigating through networking events, and living a life of “Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” The other is that my city is swarmed almost every weekend with tourists who misunderstand how D.C. works. Stand to the right if you’re not walking up the escalator! Stop pausing in the middle of the street to take pictures of trees! And most importantly, stay away from my local dive bars.
D.C., luckily, has a host of awesome and hidden bars that have yet to make the lists of tourist destinations where I can enjoy their excellent service and food without having to worry about overcrowding.
I feel similarly about a lot of project management software.
The old standbys tend to be great—I’m talking about software options such as Microsoft Project, Wrike, and Atlassian—but sometimes it can feel like bigger companies have so many users that their “personal touch” is lost.
As a software hipster, I’m always on the lookout for underground project management tools that have yet to make it big—especially free project management software, which is great for small businesses and individual users. Check out my findings below, where we’ll cover:
- Agile software
- Gantt software
- Task management software
- Time-tracking tools
Free Agile software
While there’s a host of wonderful Agile project management software available on the market, my bet is that you haven’t heard of these. But they’re worth a look.
Need a program that can run different project management methods depending on the project? Look no further than Hansoft, an Agile planning tool that can also handle SCRUM, Kanban, and Gantt scheduling.
Price: Free for up to nine users
Beyond its adorable name, iceScrum is a free and open source Agile solution for teams of any size. You can take advantage of their local option for free, and it runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac!
Price: Installed option is free. The web option starts at 9.90€ (roughly $11.80 USD) a month.
3. PROJECT in a box
Based in the U.K., PROJECT in a box is built around PRINCE2 methodology, so it is best suited for users in Australia, England, and parts of Canada, where PRINCE2 is the standard project management certification. The free Community Edition includes a project planner tool and document management.
Price: The Community Edition is completely free to download.They also offer five different paid products.
As far as free and open source Scrum tools go, Scrumpy raises the bar by providing long-term story views and running entirely on Java. This is a locally-installed software made for Product Owners.
Price: Completely free.
This gorgeous free and open source tool offers what most paid Agile software provides: backlogs, Kanban boards, task management, sprints, and QA.
Price: Public projects are completely free; there are five tiers of paid plans for private projects.
YouTrack excels at reporting. Need a burndown chart? QA reports? Issue distribution reports? Timeline reports? YouTrack has it all… for free.
Price: Free public projects for ten users and 5GB of storage. Plans for private projects start at $20/month.
Free Gantt chart software
If you’re more of a Waterfall project manager, check out these free Gantt chart software options.
Have an enterprise-level team in need of some free Gantt software? Check out Gantter, which can be hosted with smartapp.com, Google Drive, Google Apps, or even locally. “You can think of it as a web-based Microsoft Project,” according to Gantter’s web site.
Price: Free unless locally installed for $9.99.
Ganttproject is entirely locally hosted software for Windows, OS X, and Linux. It offers Gantt, Resource Load, and PERT charts, and integrates with Microsoft Project.
Price: Totally free.
Okay, ProjectLibre might not be quite so hidden, but it’s a fantastic alternative to Microsoft Project—so celebrated that it won ComputerWorld’s “Best of Open Source” software award. ProjectLibre was actually built off of OpenProj’s code base when that open source project was abandoned in 2012.
Price: Zilch. They also have a paid cloud version “coming soon,” according to their website.
10. Tom’s Planner
This gorgeous, cloud-based Gantt tool is all about the drag-and-drop—this software is so easy to use, you could teach a five-year-old Gantt in about 10 minutes.
Price: Free for personal use; starts at $9.95 month for 20 project schedules.
Free Task Management software
There are lots of great free task management software options out there—but I’m sure you’ve heard of a lot of them. Check out these alternative options hiding from the mainstream.
11. Efficient To-Do List
Efficient To-Do List is a simple task management app with some additional features such as task prioritization, progress tracking, and color labeling.
Price: Efficient To-Do List has a free edition with unlimited tasks. The Professional Edition, which adds data sharing, subtasks, attachments, and more, is $23.96 after a 30-day free trial.
Fleep is a task management app for mobile, browser, and desktop built around a team messaging tool. You start conversations with your teams, and then create, assign, search, and track tasks alongside those conversations. It also has a file drawer for sharing attachments, a bunch of integrations, and a public API for additional customization.
Price: Fleep has a free version with unlimited messages, conversations, teams, and integrations, and 5 GB of file storage. The Business plan, which adds administrative controls, custom branding, premium support, and 45 GB of additional file storage, is €5/user/month (about $6).
MeisterTask is as feature packed as it is visually pleasing. Offering task relationships, lots of integrations, instant messaging among team members, and even a free mobile app, MeisterTask is a steal.
Price: Unlimited users and unlimited projects for zero dollars and no cents.
The Pro Plan, which adds workflow automations, project groups, search and statistics, priority support, and more, costs $8.33/user/month.
Producteev is intuitive, it’s collaborative, and it does everything you want a task management app to do—without overloading its users with useless features.
Price: Nothing. The Pro plan, for $99/month, adds personalized support and custom branding.
Twproject doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it does a lot of stuff. Now in its sixth iteration, Twproject can handle task management, project management, team management, issue tracking, time tracking, budget management, and document management.
Price: Twproject is free for unlimited projects and records for up to five users.
Free Time-Tracking software
Sometimes, billable hours are the most important part of a project. For freelancers and small business owners, check out these intuitive free time–tracking tools.
Are you a freelancer looking for a free time–tracking app that does more than just track your minutes? MakeSomeTimeDue offers invoicing, making it easy to translate your time to a paycheck. It also integrates with Basecamp for project management, and you can custom brand your invoices.
Price: Due is free, but you pay a 2.8% transaction fee when accepting payments on your invoices.
Kimai is a completely free and open source time–tracking solution that can run even when you close your browser. It’s made with the whole team in mind, and testimonials agree that it’s “super easy to use.”
Price: Goose egg.
Download RescueTime to your computer and get going—this free time-tracking software logs your every movement on your computer and uses that data to ship out weekly reports.
Price: Free for the basic version— a substantially upgraded version with more reports and filters is $9 a month.
Clock in, clock out, share your hours, and break them down by task. It’s that simple. Oh, and as a bonus, Slimtimer offers reporting features so you know how everyone on your team is spending their time.
Toggl is a little more well-known than the other time-tracking software, but it’s still worth mentioning. Built for teams, just touch and go to start tracking and reporting on your time.
Price: $0 for the basic version for up to five team members—which should suffice for most.
What is your experience with free project management tools?
There are so many hidden and awesome free project management tools out there that it would be impossible to name all of them in this list. What did I miss? Did you have a good experience with the software mentioned above? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Great list of PM tools. I am looking for open source work breakdown structure software.
Wow, thanks for the interesting review. I thought one more tool might fit into it – Deskun for Gmail. It’s a pretty simple task management app that works entirely in Gmail.