There are loads of free project management software tools in the market.
And I’m sure you’re trying to decide what’s best for your use case.
As a project manager or a team leader you don’t just want to see who is doing what task and when it will get completed. You also want to see how those task completes effect the larger picture — the progress of an entire feature and more.
The best project management software can help you achieve this.
As someone who has tried several project management software tools (free and paid), I’ll share with you the best free tools in this article and explain why I think each tool is considered to be the best.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
Get maximum value from these 9 project management software tools for free
Zepel is the best free project management software that is built for software product teams.
It's simple and catered to help any team get maximum value even if you're using the tool for free. That's why, when you sign up for Zepel, you get all the features for $0.
Unlike other tools that are built for simple task tracking, Zepel is designed to be intuitive so you can quickly plan features and go from simple task tracking to tracking the progress of an entire feature.
The hierarchy of Zepel is natural and uses terminologies that we use everyday:
- Once you create an account, you create a Squad where a cross functional team comes together.
- Inside each squad, you can create Features that can be spec’d using items of type User Stories, Tasks, Subtasks, Enhancement, or Bugs. They can be grouped together using Sections.
- Each of these items can then be tracked on Kanban Board or Sprint. You can view reports like sprint burndown, cumulative flow diagram, and real-time activity feeds.
- The progress of an entire feature can be tracked using a Progress view.
- Once the feature is deployed, you can use Streams to bring user feedback from multiple tools into Zepel for easy prioritization. This helps in easy handoff between product and engineering teams.
Key features you get in the free version of Zepel:
- Effortless Feature Planning
Plan unlimited number of features. With a simple, intuitive document interface, planning features in Zepel is as simple as typing in a document. Assign, set due dates, add estimation points, set Board status, or add to Sprint, by simply typing
- Sprints to bring features to life
Create unlimited number of Sprints. Whether you want to build your features in phases or be functionality complete, you can effortlessly plan and prioritize key user stories and tasks with Sprints in Zepel. Timebox work, estimate time to completion, and ship delightful features for your customers every time!
- Kanban Boards to gain visibility
Track using unlimited boards. Gain visibility of the progress of a task, at a team level, and know who is doing what. View dependencies between work items, manage workload using advanced filters, and remove roadblocks with ease.
- Make sense of all the updates across disciplines
Go from task tracking to feature tracking with Progress in Zepel. Progress in Zepel lets you quickly distil every update every member made and see your entire feature’s progress. Across every discipline. In real-time.
- Take data-informed decisions with Reports
When you need specific numbers and more information on how your team is performing, Zepel gives you a cumulative flow diagram of everything that’s happening in your squad and an activity feed to know exactly what’s happening. And with burnup and burndown charts, you can track how much progress you’ve made either by estimation points or by simple count.
- Integrations to fit right into your daily workflow
Zepel integrates with the softwares you already love and use every day - Slack, GitHub, Bitbucket, and Gitlab. PR got merged? Zepel will autocomplete it for you. Need to update your company on Slack? It’s done. Automagically!
The deep integrations in Zepel helps engineering leaders to truly understand the link between feature progress and changes to the codebase.
- Bring customer feedback, feature requests, and bugs from multiple tools for easy prioritization
Easily handoff priorities between product team to development team. Engineers then get context of why they are working on something and can actively participate in the prioritization process.
- Several other features for free
Further in this article, you’ll see several other project management software tools. Zepel might cap you to just five members in the free plan, but it never limits your capabilities with it. Because the last thing you want is a project management software that stops you from satisfying your customer’s feature needs.
- Zepel is free forever without zero feature restrictions for up to 5 members.
- When you decide to collaborate 6th member, you pay only $5/member/month.
What customers say about Zepel:
1. Gvag, a Senior R&D Software Engineer, wrote on Product Hunt:
"While I was looking for a Jira alternative I stumbled upon Zepel.io which not only is a note worthy alternative but much much more."
2. Anbin, Co-founder and Principle Engineer, wrote on Product Hunt:
"Within 20 minutes of using Zepel, I was convinced that this is the tracking system we are looking for and moved all of our projects there."
JIRA is perhaps the industry standard most organizations decide to use once the company becomes big despite the strong feelings team members usually have against it.
It is effective as an issue tracker. It comes with loads of key features that aid in agile project management and making the job of a project manger easier.
However, since the tool can be hard to use, several teams often wonder if they should choose other tools like JIRA. One such tool is Trello, which is simple and easy to use. You can read this article for complete comparison of Trello vs JIRA.
Key features you get in the free version of JIRA:
- Maximum file storage capacity of 2 GB.
- Only community support.
- Scrum and Kanban Boards
- Agile Reporting
- Customizable workflows
- Integrations with Zapier, GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, and more.
- Free for up to 10 members with feature restrictions.
- Standard plan costs $7/member/month when you want to collaborate 11th member.
What customers say about JIRA:
1. Ryan M., a dev manager, posted this review on Capterra:
“This product is very customizable. We are able to run our dev team using the software. Allows cross team communication.
Way too customizable, there are often 2-3 ways to accomplish the same thing. This makes tracking down problems hard because you have to check multiple locations. Admin capabilities are limited. Can’t change users names, or emails. Atlassian says it is temporarily disabled, but this has been disabled for years. Atlassian is very slow to respond to customer change requests and bug fix requests. Some very important and highly voted on change requests have been sitting for 10+ years, with little to no response from Atlassian, often they just close the issue and say “sorry, not going to do this”
2. Jacob H, a senior software engineer, posted this review on G2:
“Jira is the go-to project management tool in software engineering and all teams I worked at use it. It is a very comprehensive solution with very good integrations for most tools such as Github, Gitlab and Slack.
Jira’s user interface can be slow and laggy. Some features are hidden and hard to find for non-power-users.
It is the defacto standard in software engineering. However, there are more user-friendly and cheaper solutions available from other vendors.”
You might interested in 13 other tools like JIRA which are equally powerful, but are simple to use.
Asana is one of the most popular task management and project management software tools that comes for free. It is used by several teams to see who is doing what and by when. The all-in-one software allows you to visualize your project with several views and use reporting to see how your company is performing.
Most users generally like Asana for its visually appealing look. It is easy to move your tasks around and assign to teammates. It comes with several views like Boards, Calendar, Gantt charts, and List.
However, one of the things users complain is their pricing. While it’s free for up to 15 members, if you want more functionalities, you need to upgrade which comes at a hefty $13.49/member/month.
Key features you get in the free version of Asana:
- List view to view your tasks
- Kanban Board view
- Create unlimited tasks and subtasks.
- Calendar view
- Traditional project management software features like assignees and due dates
- Time tracking integrations
- 100 MB limit per file storage
- 100+ integrations.
- Free for 15 members with feature restrictions.
- Premium plan costs $13.49/member/month with more features.
- Business plan costs $30.49/member/month.
What customers say about Asana:
1. Brain W., Senior QA Engineer, wrote this review on Capterra:
“I guess it’s an easy interface to make a task.
It really doesn’t offer what Jira or other software packages offer… there’s no enforced flow for bug / defect tracking, there’s no easy way to pull tickets up (i.e. it’s not a simple task identifier such as CR4478, instead it’s a 20 character random string. When you pull up an individual task it takes nearly 5 seconds to load it, and you get the Asana splash screen while you wait. You can’t easily put code into the Asana tasks. Asana doesn’t have 3rd party API connecting (like Jira) to automatically link to Jenkins or other products. As a defect tracking system it’s entirely lacking. This may not be what you intended it to be used for, but that’s how we use it (for everything) and it’s incredibly lacking. We have to be creative with Asana to make it sorta work and it’s still not very appealing from the QA or Dev side of things.”
2. Mukul C, a software developer, wrote this review on G2:
“The ticket management is very good.
There are a lot of integrations and features.
Notification spam by default if the settings are not touched spams the inbox.
Projects get complicated.
It is a great tool to start from but gets complex with bigger teams and projects.”
If you work with bigger teams, you should see other free alternatives to Asana.
Trello is one of the most free and popular project management software out there, especially if you just want a kanban board software to keep track of your tasks. It does exactly one thing - help you keep track of tasks with a kanban board - and does it really well.
Each board is a project with each card in the board being a task. Within each card you can add checklists, descriptions, and comments. When you want to update progress of a card, you simply move it from one column (known as Lists) to another to indicate progress.
It is loved equally by developers, marketeers, project managers, freelancers, and even wedding planners. This has made this project management app as one of the go-to project management software for a small company because it is simple, doesn’t get in the way, and it’s free.
The problem comes when you want to use Trello for scrum and start running sprints or extract more information about how your company is performing. It lacks any of such capabilities. This makes using Trello for agile web development or agile software development inappropriate.
If you want to enable even a simple report, you’ll have to enable it using what they call as a “power-up”, which will require you to upgrade to their paid plan if you need more than one power-up.
Key features you get in the free version of Trello:
- Unlimited project board.
- 10 MB limit on file attachments
- 1 power-up per board
- 2-factor authentication
- Checklists that can be used for simple task management
- Time tracking via 3rd party power-ups
- Labels that can be colour-coded.
- Boards can be made public so external users can also view.
- Free for unlimited users with feature restrictions.
- Business class costs $12.50/member/month.
- Enterprise plan costs $17.50/member/month.
What customers say about Trello:
1. Dima V, a software developer, wrote this about Trello on Capterra:
“The nicest thing Trello has, in my opinion, is the to-do checklist you can add to a ticket. It is mentally helpful to tick items as you progress with an issue. Also you can upload screenshots and videos to a ticket.
The board is a total mess! You can create a lot of vertical rows, but once you have 8+, it gets really messy and when someone comes onboard in the middle of a project, they are disoriented. There is barely any visual aid, like color coding, to help one make sense of everything. I also could not find any way to only view my tickets, everyone’s tickets are in a large heap. No horizontal rows, so a whole organisational dimension is left out.”
2. Martin D, a full stack developer, wrote this review on G2:
“It’s good to organize people, assigning cards to people and different colors.
It can get really messy real quick.
Also, it is lacking Project Management functionalities such as using other task management systems, as the card system can only be used for Kanban systems.”
Read the comparison review of Trello vs Microsoft Planner.
5. Toggl Plan
Toggl Plan is where project managers go when they want to project plan and manage it using a kanban board or Gantt chart. It is designed for easy planning so you can get the visual overview of who is doing what and when.
This free project management software comes with checklists, colour coding, milestones, and attachments. This makes it easy to manage workload and always know what’s happening in your company.
Key features you get in the free plan of Toggl Plan:
- Unlimited projects
- Unlimited tasks
- Unlimited checklists for simple task management
- Team timelines
- Free for upto 5 members
- File upload
- Import .csv files
- Time tracking using Toggl Track
- Free for up to 5 members.
- Standard plan costs $7.50/member/month.
- Business plan costs $10/member/month.
What customers say about Toggl Plan:
1. Alan R wrote this review on Capterra:
“I love that you can see the whole team’s tasks and change them on the go. It’s easy to plan a project until the last deadline and see the process of the ongoing project.
It can be slow sometimes and some of the functions could be improved. It sometimes freezes and sometimes when you scroll, the loading of the previous weeks takes quite a bit of time. Also I liked the old task view more, since it was easier to modify and it didn’t take up the whole screen.”
Teamwork projects is a well known project management solution among remote workers and is also geared towards enterprises. It provides Gantt charts and integrations with Dropbox and Slack to name a few. It is a great collaboration platform that maintains some of the more complicated aspects of a project management such as Gantt Charts, Risk Register, Timesheet, and more.
The free plan on Teamwork Projects however is limited to basic project management requirements and limited kanban boards.
Key features you get in the free plan of Teamwork Projects:
- 2 active projects.
- Can collaborate with only 5 members.
- 100 MB storage.
- Limited Boards
- Unlimited tasks and subtasks
- Basic project management software capabilities.
- Time tracking
- Integrates with Zapier only.
- Free for up to 5 members.
- Pro plan costs $12.50/member/month.
- Premium plan costs $22.50/member/month.
What customers say about Teamwork Projects:
1. Daniel L, a development manager, wrote on Capterra:
“It looks pretty and modern, but to be honest, so do all the new apps and websites these days.
It is extremely laborious and time consuming to add tasks, set start and finish dates, and assign the task to people. Too much requirement to use the mouse pointer to select these. It should be just really basic where you can ‘tab across’ to the next thing. e.g. type in task tab start typing who the task is assigned to and it picks up the name tab enter start date tab enter end date tab <— notice I didn’t need to use my clumsy mouse at all during this process. using the mouse is slow, you need to allow us to have shortcuts that minimises the need to use the mouse.”
Wrike is a great project management solution that project managers, creatives, and marketing teams are fond of. Wrike’s interactive Gantt charts gives the full project scope and optimizes for project planning and resource management. However, Gantt charts in Wrike are a premium feature that can be used only when you upgrade.
This project management tool offers the ability to view your project in a calendar, spreadsheet, or board views. With their mobile form, it allows teammates to update information on-the-go. It comes with 2 GB storage space for you to upload attachments and files.
Their free plan however doesn’t provide an extensive support for all the essential features you’d expect and is limited to only 5 members.
Key features you get in Wrike’s free plan:
- Board view
- Simple task management capabilities
- File sharing
- Real time activity stream
- 2 GB storage limit.
- Collaborate up to 5 members.
- Free for up to 5 members.
- Professional plan costs $9.80/member/month.
- Business plan costs $24.80/member/month.
What customers think about Wrike:
1. Jen L, a senior developer & designer, wrote on Capterra:
“Sloppy interface Hard to follow threads for specific projects. Meaning if you are trying to follow a project, files etc… the interface is not so easy for the user”
2. Abhay K, web developer, wrote on G2:
“This software gives full control over the tasks and user can see and submit real time report in this software. it also tracks your work related issues and try to solve them.
the user interface of this software is not good. This needs a lot of improvement. File storage is also difficult to do.”
8. Zoho Sprints
Zoho Sprints is project management software catered to agile teams. Since it focusses only on the Sprints aspect of working, you’ll have a Backlog to house all your work and plan your next sprint, Epics to structure your work, and a Board to customize statuses.
It’s ideal for startups and project managers who want a simple project management solution with scrum capabilities and has a simple user interface. It’s effortless to get started and comes with all the agile capabilities you’d expect in it.
Zoho Sprints also provides reporting so you can how your team is making progress.
You might also be interested in considering other scrum tools.
Key features you get in Zoho Sprint’s free plan:
- 5 projects
- 5 users
- 500MB storage space
- Can run only 1 sprint at a time.
- Free to use for up to 5 members.
- Professional plan costs $12/12members/month.
What customers say about Zoho Sprints:
1. Jolly S, a product manager wrote on G2:
“I have a very small team so it helps to have this to manage my sprints.
Product is buggy and has few difficult interactions. Moved from Jira to Zoho and the transition is not simple”
Airtable is part spreadsheet, part database. Thanks to its flexibility it can be used as a project management solution and for collaboration. So you can customize and fit this tool to meet your project management software requirements. With several views such as calendar, kanban, grid, and gallery, included, you can be sure you can organize anything with anyone in your team.
For effective project management, many teams start with Excel. If you're one such team and frustrated with Excel as your current project management tool, then Airtable might be right up your alley.
Key features you get in Airtable’s free plan:
- Unlimited bases (like workbook in Excel)
- Comes with project management software capabilities like assignees and deadlines.
- 1200 records per base
- Real-time collaboration and comments
- Email support
- Grid, calendar, form, task board, and gallery views
- 2 GB attachment limit.
- Free to collaborate with unlimited users with feature restrictions.
- Plus plan costs $12/member/month.
- Pro plan costs $24/member/month.
What customers say about Airtable:
1. On Capterra:
“It adds several new dimensions to your traditional spreadsheet. Linked cells are a game changer and different views are interesting. Collaboration is very easy with peers.
If Airtable is trying to disrupt spreadsheets, it should make the transition from Excel as seamless as possible. Certain keyboard shortcuts are missing/different and the program feels clunky in its overall iteration.”