Clunky. Frustrating to learn. Unfriendly.
Who wants to talk that way about their project management software? I think we could all agree that there has to be another option.
If that’s the way you’re feeling, then it’s time to try a Microsoft Project alternative.
In reality, Microsoft Project is meant for actual PMPs. And on today’s teams, many people aren’t professional project managers, but are building projects and teams. They need uncomplicated tools to track their work with some flexibility for task management and collaboration. They need an alternative to Microsoft Project. And you’ll definitely find a workable solution from the options listed below.
If you’re not used to the process-centric nature of Microsoft Project or have a more creative bent, then you should try Workzone. You’ll work smoothly and with less frustration. It’s built specifically for teams that need to get things done and manage their projects more effectively.
Here are some of the benefits of Workzone:
- Project dashboard provides a portfolio view of all the projects across the team
- Personalized to-do lists keep team members on track (and can be automatically emailed each day)
- Associate, share, and store documents by each project
- Customize your own intake forms and reporting features
- Interactive Gantt Chart and Calendar for visual project tracking
- Set permission levels by project and document, so each person sees just what’s appropriate
With Workzone, you’ll also get top-notch, dedicated customer support and onboarding that helps your entire team get started quickly on the right foot.
Pricing: $24-$44/user/month. Unlimited support and training included.
Scoro works with a lot of creative teams and offers an advantage if you want to keep your CRM with your project management tasks. They’re also good for client work, as they combine time tracking, billing, quoting and invoicing.
Bitrix24 combines a social intranet, project management tasks and a CRM together. Like if you smashed Salesforce into your project to-do list but wanted something simpler. A big part of Bitrix24 is the ability to keep all the conversations and company updates in one place, along with your projects. They have self-hosted and cloud-hosted versions, but there are storage limitations. Even though there’s a free option, with a large team, you’ll want to upgrade beyond the basics.
Turn things green. That means they’re done and dapulse hopes you get addicted to it. It features a colorful layout that shows how your projects fit together and overlap. You can re-arrange the pieces to make them fit to your whims, or project plans that is.
This is one of the leading lean project management companies that emphasize optimization and eliminating waste. Leankit has jumped to the top for their visualization boards, but also because their system scales easily. Before getting a Kanban-like approach, think about how your team works, and their habits. A project management tool should fit into your workflow, not completely change it.
For more on choosing project management software, check out this free guide.
For those that love processes, Planio tracks issues, keeps versions clean and offers chat and content wikis. It also has loads of storage.
Pricing: $25-$119 month / project / users
Clarizen has features that you don’t see everywhere, including accounting and sales functions. Scope, size and schedule a project quickly. Clarizen provides cross-deparment insights to determine risk, scope, size and estimates. It’s a bulky enterprise-level that will take awhile for your team to use. Mid-size teams (such as 5-15 users) won’t find it as nimble as others like Workzone.
Pricing: Upon request
If you’re in software development and want visualization, then check out Zenkit. They offer member-level swimlanes for your Kanban board and time estimates for tasks or Sprints. Non-agile teams won’t find it as useful.
Function Fox is best for client billing and time tracking. It has time sheets, project tracking and client management capabilities that may be right for service-oriented teams. There’s a stopwatch feature which helps any employees who are charging for client hours or non-billable hours.
Pricing: Classic plan starting at $35/month, Premier plan starting at $50/month, In-House plan starting at $100/month
Have difficulty scheduling your projects? Whenever you change the priority of a task, assign more work to a team member, the timelines in LiquidPlanner adjust and update everyone. Once a dependency is changed, the whole schedule is updated.
LiquidPlanner was designed for more technical users, so you may want to find a tool like Workzone that everyone can use right away.
Compared to Microsoft Project, everything is connected with Mavenlink. Their charts and reports are updated automatically and can quickly show you critical path. What sets Mavenlink apart is their financial capabilities, giving teams the ability to charge vendors or contractors right inside the tool. If tracking finances is not your main goal, then another tool may suit you better.
Well, if you’re on a Mac and need to connect with Microsoft Project, try OmniPlan. You can integrate files with MS Project, easily sort tasks by dependencies and dates and also have multi-project dashboards. But this may be the opportunity to check out multiple solutions than just choosing an Microsoft Project look-a-like.
Pricing: $74.99 to $299.99
Because it’s built to mimic a spreadsheet, Smartsheet’s interface has limits when it comes to effectively managing tasks and resources for more complex projects. Project managers can create multiple “sheets” for different projects and also customize their reports. However, the sheets could go on forever with no limit! Then you’re stuck with the same problems when using Microsoft Excel.
Pricing: Individual plan for $14/month, Team plan for $15/user/month, Business plan for $25/user/month, Enterprise plan quoted
14. Team Gantt
This one is built on its name–Gantt charts. So you better love them if you’ll be using this tool.
TeamGantt’s interface is based on breaking your team down into members who are assigned certain tasks on a certain timeline. Gantt charts are great, but mid-size project management tools offer Gantt chart capabilities within their tools. For different types of reporting and different ways of viewing information, like individual tasks lists and projects
Pricing: $0-$12 per month
While Workfront can handle lots of different roles, it’s not the easiest system to grasp. Expect a lot of onboarding time with an uninspiring interface.
Pricing: $30/user/month and up
Wrike is a little unfocused, because it be customized and do everything–which means it can be hard to learn and onboard new employees. You can subdivide projects into tasks and create larger hierarchies to represent your business units or company departments.
Because Wrike was meant as a document sharing solution that transitioned to project management, they’re stuck with a hard-to-navigate folder system that layers more and more on top of it. It can be hard to focus and track projects without helpful work spaces like in Workzone.
Pricing: Free plan, Professional plan for $9.80/user/month, Business plan for $24.80/user/month, Marketers plan for $36.40/user/month, Enterprise plan quoted
17. Zoho Projects
Zoho is known for marketing automation and CRM capabilities, but it also includes project management to assign tasks and collaborate. Unlike many similar services, you can add unlimited users on all plans at no extra cost.
This is meant for software development around Agile and Scrum. Much like Microsoft Project, it could take users lots of time to figure out how it works and to connect its many applications.
Another project management solution good for Agile or Scrum is Targetprocess. It has cards and some visualization, but allows for more tasks in timelines and milestones. Some users find the software’s interface overly complex and it often takes a while for team members to get up to speed.
For advanced features, Teamwork may have what you need. You can set privacy and permissions, receive real time team member status updates, and includes invoice tracking.
Pricing: Small Office plan $44.92/month, Professional plan for $136.58, Business plan for $228.25/month, Enterprise plan quoted
Podio is based on the idea of transparency and their “open-plan online office.” It has more social features like peer recognition and sharing than a more complex tool like Microsoft Project.
Pricing: Basic plan for $9/user/month; Plus plan for $14/user/month; Premium plan for $24/user/month; Enterprise plan quoted
JIRA is best known as the leader in devOps, and can support Scrum, Lean or Kanban. It also has issue tracking and prioritization for the items that must rise to the top of the list. If your team isn’t technical, then JIRA probably won’t be the right fit. It has a nomenclature all its own that may be difficult to learn.
Pricing: Small Teams plan (10 users) for $10/month, Growing Teams plan starting at $75/month for 15 users
This one is very familiar to most project managers. While it doesn’t have more advanced project management features like Gantt charts, time tracking, and dependent subtasks.
Basecamp only allows users to view one project at a time, which severely limits a project manager’s ability to manage. Project management tools need the ability to view multiple projects at once so it is easy to see where all projects stand. Catching delays before they wreck a deliverable is essential to a project manager’s success. Limited visibility is typical in lightweight project management tools like Basecamp.
Thinking about Basecamp? Before you buy, think about the size of your team and the number of projects. Basecamp could quickly get out of control.
Pricing: $99 per month/unlimited users
Developers love this one because you have to know Ruby on Rails to implement it. That makes it very flexible, but not necessarily meant for all users. But it does come with a load of extensions and plug-ins, so if you want it to do something, there’s a good chance someone has already written the code for it. Redmine isn’t necessarily for tasks, but for bugs and issues and ship dates that come up in software development. It also comes along with a wiki that’s set up for each project for storing documents and notes.
Asana is well-designed and is a hit for small teams. But as your team grows, your project management software will need too as well. It has a beautiful interface, but lacks a lot of the essential tools (like Gantt charts) that project managers are often looking for.
When you choose Asana, you’re choosing a solution with limited reporting and visibility. Question is–will it get the job done?
Pricing: Free for teams up to 15; Premium ($9.99/user/month); Enterprise (quoted)
If your looking to move to one of the Microsoft Project alternatives, remember to consider not only the features but how the project management software can help you succeed.
You don’t want another tool that will just throw you in the fire, but a collaborator that will work with your team and get them started on the right foot. Remember, you’re trying to avoid the complexity of Microsoft Project. You need an option that will make your life easier and less chaotic, not harder.