10 Free Project Management Software to Kickstart Your Workflow

February 14th, 2020

TrustRadius has already done the work of figuring out which project management software is the best, according to end-users (see our TrustMap for the deets). But not all of them are free. 

For freshly minted or newly hired project managers, sometimes a free solution is the best place to start with for a few reasons: 1) to help set up a project management workflow without any initial costs and 2) to help convince other stakeholders in the organization that you should invest in a paid project management software soon. 

To help fill this need, this article will give readers a list of the top 10 highest rated AND free project management products on TrustRadius. Here are the products that will be included in this post:

  1. Airtable 
  2. Trello
  3. Wrike 
  4. Asana
  5. Jira
  6. Basecamp
  7. Teamwork Projects 
  8. Todoist 
  9. Podio 
  10. Zoho Projects

These products are a mix of fully-featured PM platforms, and use-case specific products like Trello (for task management) and Todoist (for to-do list tracking). All of these products appear on the Project Management Software Trustmap, and also have a forever-free version available. Products will be in descending order of review count (i.e. products with the highest review count will be first). 

Best Free Project Management Tools 

#1 Airtable

Airtable is a collaborative platform designed specifically to assist companies with project management, content pipeline, research and more. The tool’s free version offers essential features, such as collaboration, email support, various view settings, unlimited bases and revision and snapshot history for up to 2 weeks. The free version allows for an unlimited number of users; whereas, upgraded plans require payments per user. Users can access additional features on paid plans, such as an unlimited number of users, assigning colors to records, and blocks are only available to paid plans. 

Pros

  • Ability to link external or internal documents in the dashboards/projects 
  • Cleanliness and visually appealing user interface

Cons

  • Some features are difficult and time-consuming to learn and master 
  • The free version lacks advanced color- coding capabilities to better organize data and link elements 

“Right now we use the free version…Every week we look at the Airtable to see what needs to be done and mark off tasks that are complete. It helps us store key information in the same place. It’s good for people that want to start to use a project management app. I think it’s a better version of Google Spreadsheets and forms; so, if you are using that for project management, please switch over to Airtable.”

Brian C. | Co-Founder and Business Director | Religious Institution 

#2 Trello

Trello is a Kanban-style, task management and organizational tool that allows users to see and maintain an active workflow and collaborate more efficiently. Trello’s free version includes unlimited users and unlimited personal boards, as well as cards, lists, ten team boards and one Power-Up per board. This product may not be beneficial to you if you are looking for a tool to write detailed documents, data or descriptions on your boards. 

Pros

  • It has various collaborative features, allowing users to easily track and work with other team members
  • The task/project overview and features are easy to use and transparent

Cons

  • File size and detail description limitations
  • Power-Up limitations on non-premium/paid accounts 

“[Trello] has helped to provide easy and quick visibility to the status of the workflow… Great for simple project collaboration tasks for somewhat tech-savvy users. Really easy to set up and to manage work flows and projects. The free version has tons of features; so, if you are less concerned with locking everything down, it is an easy and quick solution.”

Verified User | Executive in Manufacturing | Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing Company

#3 Wrike

Wrike is an enterprise-grade, online project management and work collaboration tool designed to help scale and accelerate a business’ impact. Wrike’s free version allows up to five users at a time. It offers a variety of features via web or mobile apps, such as task management, board and spreadsheet view, real-time activity stream, file sharing, and 2GB of storage space. It also supplies basic software integrations (Google Drive, MSFT Office 365, etc.) and cloud storage integrations. 

Pros

  • Good tracking views and customizable features – There are various ways to view projects while also easily communicating needs and tasks to teams 
  • Review and proofing capabilities, allowing users to easily share and collaborate

 Cons

  • The interface needs to be more intuitive for new users – users feel that they have to take a good amount of time to train new team members on the platform
  • Needs functionality and integration improvements for calendar capabilities 

“Wrike makes it tremendously easy for multiple team members to collaborate on projects… We use it to submit requests for projects, plan out timelines, track the status of projects throughout their cycle, and as a robust individual task management tool as well. Additionally, I use Wrike to manage my own tasks I’m working on at any given time. My desk is free of sticky notes because I know I’ll never forget anything I’m in the middle of, once I enter tasks in Wrike.” 

Verified User | Marketing Contributor | Computer Software Company

#4 Asana

Asana is a web and mobile-based project management tool that offers more than just standard project management features. This tool allows users to manage tasks, projects, conversations, and dashboards. Users working with the free version have access to an unlimited number of projects and tasks, various project view settings, and integrations. Users can upgrade to one of Asana’s three paid plans, starting as low as $10.99 per user, per month. Upgrading grants access to custom templates, timelines, task dependencies, proofing and more. Free trials are available for the Premium and Business paid plans.  

Pros

  • Easy to assign tasks and track personal tasks
  • Good integration features with various platforms such as Google Drive 

Cons

  • Lacks the ability to merge calendars and develop content calendars 
  • Unnecessary and confusing daily email updates and reminders on team and personal tasks 

“For simple, free collaboration, it doesn’t get much better than Asana. Asana helps us to stay organized and efficient while keeping the entire team in the loop. Asana allows you to assign tasks to team members and update those tasks with necessary information or files…It’s simple and easy to use from anywhere.” 

Verified User | Manager in Finance and Accounting | Real Estate Company

#5 Jira

Jira Software is an application lifecycle management and project management tool used to help plan, track, and release software. It is also a popular bug and issue tracking tool among software development teams. Their free plan allows users to customize individual workflows, backlogs, develop project roadmaps, conduct project reporting, and integrate with various platforms. Users can also access Scrum and Kanban boards as well as community support. The free plan limits the number of users to ten and provides only 2GB of storage, whereas the next paid plan allows up to 5,000 users and up to 250GB of file storage. 

Pros

  • The ticketing system – users can easily track and release tickets to teams, allowing for ease of collaboration and a clear line of sight on all projects
  • Easy to manage and prioritize their stories in the backlog

Cons

  • The user interface needs updating, as it creates product confusion and difficulty navigating. 
  • Jira may not be most beneficial to startups or smaller businesses as it is not an open-source tool 

“Whether it is software development, ASIC design or IP development, JIRA fits all flavors. We realized that switching to Agile with JIRA was a winning combination to increase productivity, together with having more homogeneous teams and the same mindset across team members. It is extremely configurable and allows a system admin to address complex project management requirements.” 

Cristian B. | Senior Software Development Manager | Semiconductor Company

#6 Basecamp

Basecamp is a web-based project management tool that offers users a comprehensive set of project management capabilities. These features include to-do lists, file sharing, time tracking, messaging and milestone management. Basecamp’s free version, Basecamp Personal, is limited to 20 users and  3 active projects at one time. It also offers one free GB of storage. This option is a great tool for students, freelancers, and personal projects. Basecamp offers only two plan options: Basecamp personal (free) and Basecamp Business (flat monthly fee of $99, giving users access to everything). 

Pros

  • The messaging board – adds a seamless method of communication between teams and projects
  • The ability to create schedules and task lists for projects, as well as neatly organize documents for projects

Cons

  • Software integration limitations 
  • Emails and notifications can be overwhelming if not set correctly 

“Basecamp is suited to individual small tasks to collaborate with others. It is a free tool and that can make it an excellent gateway into the world of project management tools… [It’s] easy to use, and supplies many means of access, through mobile and desktop applications… I recommend it as an option for people just starting out.”

Yosa A. | Vice President of Special Events | Management Consulting Company

#7 Teamwork Projects

Teamwork Projects is a cloud-based project management tool that facilitates collaboration, helps to organize and manage team and personal projects, and scale performance deliverability by ensuring a fast and efficient project and task management system. Teamwork Project’s free version offers basic project management features such as subtasks, color themes, unlimited free collaborators, up to five active users at one time and 100MB of free storage. 

Pros

  • The ability to create and customize detailed task lists, production schedules, and projects
  • The built-in time tracker for projects

Cons

  • Lacks the ability to create simple web forms
  • Users do not have the option to give one member of a client’s team a functional, free account 

“Teamwork Projects is great at having the ability to configure what components are going to be used on a project by project basis. It keeps the focus where it is needed. We have used several other project management solutions, either too complicated, too expensive or we outgrew them. Teamwork was introduced by a colleague and we moved forward immediately and have not looked back.” 

Verified User | C- Level Executive | Computer Software Company

#8 Todoist

Todoist is an online project management solution that helps individuals and small teams organize, plan and collaborate on projects and task lists. The free version of Todoist offers cross-platform support, collaboration features, productivity reports, and natural language input (helps computers and humans communicate in our basic language). With the free version, users can also collaborate on up to 80 projects at a time, though the number of users is limited to five. On the free version, users cannot make comments on tasks/lists, upload external files or receive notifications.

Pros

  • Easy to organize, edit and track personal or team tasks
  • The easy-to-use and clean user interface – making it easier for users to understand, adjust and complete tasks. 

Cons

  • Lack of a chat/messaging feature in the software
  • The inability to add notes and comments to tasks on non-premium/paid versions 

“Todoist is very user-friendly and simple to understand. They make it easy to add tasks with dates, comments, priorities, and attachments while organizing your projects. It’s similar to creating a checklist!” 

Amber C. | Inbound Marketing Strategist | Marketing and Advertising Company

#10 Podio

Podio is a cloud-based task and project management platform that organizes team communication, business processes, data, and content. Podio’s free plan offers users various task management tools, various apps, the ability to create workspaces, and up to 500 items in your workspaces. There can be up to five users in a workspace and up to 5 external members in your workspace. 

Pros

  • The ability to customize almost every aspect of the software (e.g. forms, apps, templates, etc.)
  • The ease of use for all types of users – don’t have to be tech-savvy to master the tool

Cons

  • The site does not offer a structured calendar system 
  • The user interface feels somewhat outdated and unappealing 

 “Podio allows us 24/7 real-time sharing of information and communication. Everyone receives updates at the same time, and tasks are assigned automatically when actions are taken, making the workflow much more efficient… Also incredibly easy customization of applications.”

Stephanie S. | Vice President of Operations | Hospital and Health Care Company

#10 Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects is a cloud-based project management tool designed for small to medium-size businesses. It provides teams with web-based communication and collaboration solutions. Zoho’s free version offers Google app integrations, custom status for projects and tasks, feeds, calendars and forums, and file attachments up to 10MB. It allows up to 3 users, 3 client users, and 2 projects at a time. Users can access a free 10 day trial for any of their upgraded pay plans.  

Pros

  • It is more customizable than many other project management solutions – can add start dates, due dates, dependencies, calendar, subtasks, etc.
  • The calendar system is very intuitive 

Cons

  • The user interface could use improvements 
  • Some features become too complex due to a large number of customization options 

“Zoho Projects has a great project tracking feature and has an easy task management interface. It gives me easy to switch between many projects at the same time, and I think no other software does that now. The best part of the Zoho Projects is that it’s free and is an online cloud base, project management.” 

Vikash K. | Product Design/Development Engineer | Civil Engineering Company

Wondering Which Free Tool To Start Using?

Sometimes different tools are better suited for different use cases. For example, Trello is a popular task management tool, JIRA is good at bug/issue tracking, Airtable is good for compiling a database of information and viewing it multiple different ways and Todoist is great for tracking to-do lists. 

Whatever your needs or desires, understanding the primary use for each tool is essential to selecting the best solution for your company. TrustRadius’ Project Management Software Buyer’s Toolkit can further assist you in your quest to find the best PM software for you. 

Free plans offer a variety of key benefits to companies of all sizes, including key project management features, messaging, task organization, and to-do lists.  It is always a good idea to try out a tool’s free version before purchasing a paid plan. Doing this can help project managers set up a workflow without the cost, help convince other stakeholders that eventually investing in a paid project management solution is beneficial, and it can simply help you discover what features will best suit your establishment’s needs. 

It is important to note that all of the tools above also have paid plans that offer advanced capabilities and, typically, significantly less user number restrictions. Be sure to check the vendor’s website for detailed featured listings and paid plan descriptions.