The tools your business needs to streamline your processes and boost productivity – without having to pay a penny
Using the right project management software will help you stay on top of tasks and manage workflows more efficiently. However, as with all good things in life, they come at a price – or do they? We’ve put together a list of the best free project management software currently available, which delivers the tools you need to help run your business, but without having to part with any cash.
Project management is one of those rare industries where users wary of spending money are made very welcome, with many of the best project management suites offering free tiers of their service. Surprisingly, most of these free plans are actually very good, acting as fully functioning programs, not – as can often be the case with other free software – just extended trials with much of their usability hobbled.
So to help you whittle down your options, below you’ll find guidance on the key considerations when choosing project management software for your needs, as well as our top picks of the best free management software available right now.
How to choose the best free project management software for you
The good thing about picking the best free project management software is that one major headache, cost, is taken out of the equation. If you settle on a free program and don’t like it, you can just start over with another one. Still, to ensure you don’t waste time – which is money, after all – there are a few things to keep in mind when making your choice.
The size of your business
The main consideration is how many people can use the free tier of a project management tool. Most services will either cap the number of users that can use it for free, or let you invite unlimited users but limit the number of tasks that can be performed. When choosing a free tool, base your choice around this or subdivide tasks across different tools.
Specific tools you may need
You need to ensure the program you’re considering meets your needs and expectations. If you need a kanban board and a list, for example, you need to make sure that the free tier of a particular service offers that functionality. Free project management software publishers often cut features as a way to entice you to sign up to their paid tiers.
Another thing to be mindful of is that Gantt charts and timelines, which are extremely useful, are quite rare in free offerings. If you’re planning to make heavy use of such tools, you’ll have your work cut out to find such advanced functions for free.
However, if your needs are more mainstream, you should be fine – all our picks below can handle basic tasks, although they may differ in their presentation. This is where usability comes in. While all our picks handle tasks well, the flow may be different to your requirements. As such, we recommend that you test any likely contenders for yourself to see if the way tasks and projects are set up works for you.
How we test project management software
Testing free project management software involves taking the free tier of any program and evaluating how it holds up to its paid offering. Although we expect performance to take a small hit – it’s free for a reason, after all – if it significantly suffers, we won’t bother to include it.
Thankfully, almost all the best project management software available on the market right now offers a solid free tier. All our picks have a lot to offer small to medium-sized businesses, and you won’t have to spend a penny.
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The best free project management software in 2023
1. Asana: Best free project management software overall
Price: Free (up to 15 users) | Sign up at AsanaWe’ll kick off with Asana, which is a great free plan. It offers more functions than most free plans, letting you make use of its list, kanban board and its calendar – which is pretty rare among free tools. We go over the details in our Asana review.
However, as much as we like Asana’s free plan, it does come with one major caveat: you can only invite up to 15 people to use it. This likely makes Asana unattractive to larger teams, unless they want to have Asana members relay tasks to those who aren’t signed up to the program.
That said, if you like Asana and have a large team, it may pay to sign up for the paid plans and make use of the program’s advanced functions. These include things like timelines, but also Gantt charts and more use of automations.
Key features – Number of users in the free plan: 15; Free kanban board: Yes; Free list view: Yes; Free Gantt chart: No; Free integrations: Yes; Free automations: Yes
2. Wrike: Best unlimited free project management
Price: Free (unlimited users) | Sign up at WrikeIf Asana’s 15-user limit chafes a little, you may want to give Wrike a spin. Although it doesn’t have the visual appeal of Asana’s colourful boards and bright presentation, it’s a real workhorse that lets an unlimited number of people use it for free. Wrike has a great table view and an even better kanban board, making it a very flexible program.
However, there are some downsides. For one, it’s a bit old-school in places (we have some examples in our Wrike review). That shouldn’t be a problem for anybody that remembers using DOS or older versions of Windows, but people that weren’t around during the digital Pliocene may find Wrike a little tough to work with.
Another issue is that while Wrike may not limit how many people use it, it does limit how many tasks you can have on your boards to 200. While it’s a small sacrifice for such a solid piece of software, it does mean that teams with a lot of smaller tasks may not be able to get what they need from Wrike’s free plan.
Key features – Number of users in the free plan: Unlimited; Free kanban board: Yes; Free list view: Yes; Free Gantt chart: No; Free integrations: Yes; Free automations: No
3. Trello: Best free project management for kanban
Price: Free (unlimited users) | Sign up at Trello
If you’re a big fan of the kanban board, Trello is a fantastic option for those looking for free project management software. Trello has one of the best boards in the business, and it places extremely few limits on its free plan. Also, thanks to the way it handles integrations, it’s probably the most flexible of all the entries on this list.
Trello’s free plan is so good, in fact, that you may never need to upgrade to a paid one – something we discuss in detail in our Trello review. All you get is ten boards and access to some basic automations, but since you also get unlimited users, you can do a lot with Trello without reaching for your wallet.
Even if you need more than just a board, Trello is an interesting option since you can integrate extra functionality through what Trello calls power-ups, special modules that work within Trello. Thanks to this system, you’re essentially handed a free project management tool that you can make as big or as small as you’d like. This is an attractive option for any project manager that likes to tinker – and a great reason to try Trello out.
Key features – Number of users in the free plan: Unlimited; Free kanban board: Yes; Free list view: No; Free Gantt chart: No; Free integrations: Yes; Free automations: Yes
4. Jira: Best free project management for agile teams
Price: Free (up to 10 users) | Sign up at Atlassian
Next up is Jira, a powerful program that started purely as software for teams using the Agile methodology; it has since grown to an all-purpose tool. As we mention in our Jira review, its free plan is a great place to start. While it comes with a pretty low cap on users, letting you invite only up to ten people, it places very few limits on what those team members can do.
If you’re not big into Agile, or you have team members outside of that structure, Jira is still interesting; it offers a great kanban board and some nice reporting tools. Although it still feels like Jira is working on outgrowing its Agile-only label, there’s a lot there for anybody that needs to track projects across multiple views.
Still, that limit of ten users will likely start chafing sooner rather than later. Thankfully, upgrading Jira isn’t too expensive – it has some of the most budget-friendly plans out there. If you’re looking for a free project management tool with an eye on growing your team, Jira definitely warrants a look.
Key features – Number of users in the free plan: 10 users; Free kanban board: Yes; Free list view: Yes; Free Gantt chart: No; Free integrations: Yes; Free automations: Yes
5. ClickUp: Best free project management for ease of use
Price: Free (unlimited users) | Sign up at ClickUpClickUp is another great free option – it’s easy to use, and lets you invite an unlimited number of people to its boards, list and charts. However, as we explain in our ClickUp review, it does limit what those people can do per month.
The best example of this is the Gantt chart, which you can only use 100 times per month; the timeline and the workload view have similar restraints. Besides charts, we also like how ClickUp handles boards and lists, which are free of limits in their use. We especially welcome the way the program handles subtasks, allowing you to divvy up larger tasks across a team in a clear way that’s easy to follow. Only Wrike does it as well.
One of the reasons we like ClickUp as a free project management tool is that it lets you do all kinds of actions without spending a penny. However, if you ever do hit the limits of the free offering, upgrading is pretty reasonable. Unlike many of its competitors, it has a budget-friendly intermediate plan that lets you remove caps for just a few pounds per user. As a result, ClickUp is a great tool for any team that has its ambitions beyond using free software.
Key features – Number of users in the free plan: Unlimited; Free kanban board: Yes; Free list view: Yes; Free Gantt chart: Yes, 100 uses; Free integrations: Yes; Free automations: Yes (through third-party apps)