Best Project Management Software For Small Businesses
Searching for the perfect project management application can make you feel a bit like Goldilocks — taste-testing each app until, finally, you settle on the choice that is “just right.” But all of that testing and trying can be exhausting! Sometimes just want someone to come along and tell you which software is the best for your business.
In this article, we’ll attempt to do just that! Take a look below to find a list of seven of our favorite project management software apps. We will present each option and give a quick summary of pricing and feature, along with each program’s pros and cons. We’ve tested each option out on your behalf (although we still recommend that you try it for yourself), and while we know there is no one-size-fits-all solution for project management software, we hope you’ll find your perfect platform in the list below!
Keep reading to find the app that is “just right” for you.
Other Featured Options:
- Basecamp : Best for small businesses looking for an easy to use, low-cost task manager.
- Trello: Best for small to midsize businesses that love Kanban-style task management.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Top 7 Project Management Software Apps For Small Businesses
Here are our top seven project management picks based on features, pricing, customer support, and user experience.
Best for businesses that need feature-rich software and don’t mind a learning curve.
Wrike is a feature-rich project management software that fits the needs of many businesses. This software includes many advanced features, including workload management, automated workflows, and file proofing. What’s more, Wrike integrates with over 150 software apps, so you can use the software even more effectively. And Wrike offers all of this at a reasonable price point.
That said, because Wrike has so much functionality built-in, it does involve a bit of a learning curve. You will need to invest some time into learning the platform and teaching it to your team. For this reason, we recommend Wrike to businesses of all sizes that need a comprehensive project management solution and don’t mind adjusting to new software.
Is Wrike the software for you? Keep reading to find out.
Wrike offers plans at multiple price points. As you move up in pricing, you gain access to additional features. Wrike offers a limited free plan that includes five users and basic task management features. The next step up is the Professional plan at $9.80/user/month. Wrike recommends this level to businesses with 5, 10, or 15 users. Then there’s the Business plan which costs $24.80/user/month and accommodates 5-200 users. At the very top of these pricing tiers is the Enterprise plan, which fits an unlimited number of users and is available at a custom price point.
According to users’ comments, Wrike is not the easiest software to learn. There is a bit of a learning curve that you have to overcome in the beginning, and users say you can expect a bit of ongoing “clunkiness” in everyday use. The good news is that Wrike is very well organized. The initial learning curve is primarily due to the large number of features included with the software. However, once you figure out how to use those features, things will start to make more sense.
Here are a few of Wrike’s native features:
- Gantt charts
- Time tracking
- User groups and permissions
In addition to these features, Wrike has a large collection of over 150 available integrations. These include apps for analytics, collaboration, marketing, HR, finance, and more. They also offer an API that you can use to build your own connections.
Wrike’s basic customer support is available 24/5 and allows you to contact a support representative by phone, live chat, and email. There are also resources like a knowledge base, video tutorials, and live webinars available. If you need 24/7 support, you can pay for Wrike’s premium support plan and gain access to longer support hours.
Wrike is a strong project management solution. Really, the only downfall of this software is the time it takes to learn to use the program. With more features comes greater complexity. Expect to devote some time to learning the software.
When To Use Wrike
We recommend Wrike to small to large businesses that need in-depth functionality, like time tracking, workflow automation, and strong communication tools. In particular, we think Wrike works well for teams that are eager and willing to learn how to use new software.
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2. Teamwork Projects
Best for businesses that need a fully-featured project management solution.
Teamwork Projects is an excellent project management platform designed to grant just about anyone the ability to manage projects effectively. Teamwork Projects offers an advanced feature set at an affordable price. Teamworks is true project management software — not just a task manager — and it includes features like workload management, a risk register, and multiple ways to view your projects.
What’s more, Teamwork Projects is a very scalable product. Because the software is priced per user, businesses of any size are able to afford the tool. So, if you have aspirations of growing your business, this could be the project management app for you.
Teamwork Projects Pricing
Teamwork Projects is priced per user. Teamwork has a free option, offering a reduced feature set to five users for either limited-use or use in a trial phase. If you want the rest of Teamwork Projects’ features, you have to pay $9/user/month or $15/user/month, depending on the amount of storage, projects, and user seats you need. If you have more than 100 users, you may need to sign up for Teamwork Project’s Enterprise plan, which will give you access to even more storage, better security, and priority support.
Teamwork Projects Features
When it comes to ease of use, we’d like to note that Teamwork Projects’ interface is well designed and logical. That said, some users have mentioned that the software has an initial learning curve. There are a lot of features built into Teamwork Projects, and for that reason, the user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first. Commenters go on to say, however, that after that initial learning curve, Teamwork Projects is fairly intuitive.
Teamwork Projects is a fully-featured project management app. Here’s a bit of what you can find built-in:
- Gantt chart exports
- Project management templates
- Workload features
- Time tracking
- Risk register
- Board view
You can also add more functionality in the form of apps and integrations. Teamwork Projects offers a total of 57 integrations with third-party software apps such as Slack, Xero, QuickBooks Online, DropBox, and Google Drive. An integration with Zapier (which is a software that connects other third-party software) offers even more opportunities for integrations.
Teamwork Projects offers support 24/7 through all of their communication channels: phone, live chat, and email. I rarely find phone support available 24/7 for project management apps, and I’m excited to find it here. Teamwork Projects also offers a number of self-help resources, like a help center and live webinars.
As a whole, Teamwork Projects is an excellent solution with very few downsides. The one potential disadvantage of this application is the initial learning curve when getting started. It may be difficult to train your employees to use the software initially, but I think the features and the cost make it work the effort.
When To Use Teamwork Projects
Teamwork Projects is a superb option for businesses that need a fully-featured project management solution. While it is true that Teamwork Projects may take a bit longer to learn, this is because of the many features that are already part of the program. Teamwork Projects includes nearly every feature that your project manager needs to keep things moving, and we think many businesses will find it’s worth the initial time investment.
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Best for small businesses that need to track projects, but don’t need cost analysis features.
Redbooth is a Kanban-style task management app that specializes in ease of use and clean design. Redbooth gives small to mid-size businesses the tools they need to plan projects, track tasks, and communicate within the software itself. We love how Redbooth makes it easy to move tasks and projects from “to-do” to “done.”
Like many other options in this list, Redbooth offers a pared-down version of its software free of charge. This free plan provides two user seats and allows users to work in two “workspaces” or projects. If you need more user seats or projects, you’ll need to sign up for a paid plan. These paid plans cost $9/user/month and $15/user/month, and they give you access to unlimited users, unlimited workspaces, more sophisticated features, and more storage. As you might expect, more features and storage are available on the $15/user/month plan than on the lower-tiered plan. In addition, Redbooth offers an Enterprise plan (custom pricing), which gives you access to better support options including phone support and free training.
Ease of use is one of Redbooth’s best features. It is very, very easy to use Redbooth on a day-to-day basis. You can create new tasks by simply typing a line into an empty box and hitting “Enter,” and you are able to rearrange those tasks and task lists any way you’d like through the power of drag-and-drop. It really couldn’t be any easier.
That said, part of Redbooth’s ease of use is due to its minimalist feature set. Here are a few of the features Redbooth offers:
- Kanban board
- Basic reporting
- Collaboration tools (conversations and comments)
- File storage
- Gantt chart (available as a “timeline view.” This feature is not as robust as a traditional Gantt chart)
Redbooth is also a bit limited in terms of integrations. There are 15 pre-built integrations available including connections with Box, Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, and Clockify. An integration with Zapier does expand these options, however, which is good to see.
Your level of customer support depends on your pricing plan. Every user gets access to support through email and community forums. Users of the Enterprise level plan are also provided phone support and free training.
I think it’s important to remember that Redbooth is built to be task management software, not a complete project management solution. For this reason, Redbooth is missing some of the features that some businesses consider essential, such as job costing, workload management, and scheduling. However, if that doesn’t bother you, Redbooth is a great option.
When To Use Redbooth
Redbooth is ideal for users who are looking for an easy to use and affordable tool for Kanban-style task management. In particular, we’d recommend Redbooth to small and mid-size businesses that want to track progress on tasks and projects, but who don’t yet need the functionality of a full project management solution.
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Best for businesses looking for excellent customer support.
ProWorkflow was developed with the intention of promoting communication within teams and boosting efficiency. This software includes more tools than a basic task management program would, but it is still missing a few features. ProWorkflow is a flexible solution, offering pricing options for single user companies and large corporations, and we’d recommend it to businesses of all sizes who need the features ProWorkflow offers.
One of the ways ProWorkflow stands out from the crowd is its excellent customer support team. The ProWorkflow team will go out of their way to ensure you understand how to best use the software, even if you’re on the lowest level pricing plan. Does ProWorkflow sound like a good option for your company? Keep reading to find out more.
Pricing for ProWorkflow is based on the number of users on the platform. If you need a plan for just one user, you can sign up for the $10/month plan, which allows 10 active projects and up to 5 GB of storage. If you need multiple users on the software, you’ll have to sign up for the $20/user/month or $30/user/month plans. These plans give you access to unlimited projects and the ability to add integrations. Unsurprisingly, the $30/user/month plan includes more advanced features and more storage.
For such a feature-rich platform, ProWorkflow is surprisingly easy to use. The software includes a well-designed dashboard, which makes it easy to create projects and add tasks manually or from a template.
As I mentioned before, ProWorkflow includes many of the features you need for project management. Here are a few highlights:
- Task management
- Time tracking (including time tracking for individual tasks)
- “Timelines” or Gantt charts
- Resource management
- Quotes and invoicing (available at an extra cost)
- Mobile apps
When it comes to add-ons, ProWorkflow offers seven applications and 10 integrations. These integrations include connections with QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Google Drive, and Dropbox. An integration with Zapier and an available API further expand your options.
One area in which ProWorkflow excels is customer support. They offer free personal training and webinars, and they respond to email support within 24 hours. What really gives them an edge is their dedication to ensuring the merchant understands how to use the software. ProWorkflow representatives will even create personalized tutorial videos in response to support requests, just to make sure that the merchant gets the best help possible.
ProWorkflow offers most of what you need from a project management tool, with only a couple of downfalls. Firstly, there are no risk management features. This can be a big factor for large businesses that need to track costs and risks throughout a project. In addition, I’ve seen reports from some users that the reporting tools are a bit “clunky,” although these reviews do not give any further details.
When To Use ProWorkflow
ProWorkflow is a great solution for many businesses. The pricing model allows the software to fit both small and large businesses, and the feature set is a huge benefit to many users. What’s more, ProWorkflow’s incredible level of customer support makes it an even more attractive option. If ProWorkflow sounds like a good option for you, we recommend checking it out for yourself.
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Best for businesses that need a project management solution at a low flat rate.
ProofHub is an affordable solution for businesses that need many users and a full-featured project management software. ProofHub is different from some other apps on this list because it is priced at a single flat rate (not per user). This makes the solution much more affordable than other options, provided you will be adding multiple users to the platform.
In addition, ProofHub includes strong ease of use and many of the features that are necessary for in-depth project management, such as time-tracking and file proofing. Keep reading for more details on ProofHub’s pricing and built-in features.
Pricing for ProofHub’s software is divided into two plans. The lower of these is the Essential plan at a flat rate of $45/month. This plan includes unlimited users, 40 projects, 15 GB of storage, and core task management features.
The next step up is the Ultimate Control plan, which costs a flat rate of $89/month. This plan gives you access to unlimited projects, unlimited users, 100 GB storage, priority support, plus more advanced project management features.
In terms of ease of use, ProofHub does fairly well, in part due to their “getting started” tutorial. Add that toProofHub’s organized and cleanly designed user interface, and you have a pretty user-friendly app for day-to-day use.
ProofHub has many of the features you’d expect to see in a basic task manager, plus a few more advanced features. Here’s a quick overview:
- Gantt chart
- Tasks and subtasks
- Board view
- Time tracking
- Calendar view
- File proofing
ProofHub has very limited integrations (with just eight total): Freshbooks, Google Calendar, iCal, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Onedrive, and Outlook. ProofHub also offers an API, which you can use to build a custom connection to your favorite software. This collection of integrations is fairly slim, and honestly, we’d like to see many more options added in the future.
ProofHub provides a few different channels for customer support. You can get direct support via live chat, email, or web ticket. Or, if you’d rather figure things out on your own, you can use ProofHub’s help center, video tutorials, and blog to find answers to your questions.
While ProofHub has a lot of positive factors, there are a few downfalls. Proofhub is missing many of the features that come built-in with some platforms. For example, there are no budgeting features, and there are limited risk tracking and resource management features. What’s more, limited integrations make it more difficult to add that functionality into the software. So, while ProofHub is great software for many, it isn’t a perfect software for all users.
When To Use ProofHub
ProofHub is great for businesses that need to add many users at a low price. ProofHub’s flat-rate pricing makes this solution more affordable per user than many other platforms. In addition, ProofHub is a good choice for businesses that need basic task management plus a few advanced features like time-tracking and file proofing.
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Best for small businesses looking for an easy to use, low-cost task manager.
Basecamp is a task management tool that is designed with usability in mind. At first glance, Basecamp looks like a large whiteboard with a number of post-it notes stuck to it. Clicking on one of these notes opens up more details about each section of the software, including a “Campfire” conversation hub and to-do lists for each of your projects. Some users find this post-it note style software to be very user-friendly while others (including myself) don’t think it is quite as intuitive.
Basecamp is also popular because of its affordability. Basecamp only has two pricing options; one is free, and one is a flat rate. This flat rate pricing means that no matter how many users you have on the software, you will pay the same price. This is an excellent perk for businesses that need an affordable way to include multiple users at a very low price. This flat rate price is also the reason that we deem Basecamp best for small to mid-size businesses with between 10-50 users. Businesses of these sizes will get the best use of Basecamp’s features at the best per-user price.
It’s also worth noting that Basecamp actually has three different versions of their software available. They are Basecamp Classic, Basecamp 2, and Basecamp 3. We recommend signing up for Basecamp 3 since it has the best features at the best price. Basecamp 3 is the version we will be discussing here. If you’d like more information on each of the different versions of the software, head over to our full review of Basecamp.
As I mentioned above, Basecamp has two pricing options: the free plan and the paid plan. Basecamp’s free plan allows you to create and manage three projects, add 20 users, utilize 1 GB of storage, and contact basic customer support. Alternatively, when you pay $99/month for Basecamp Unlimited you gain access to unlimited projects and unlimited users. You will also have access to 500 GB of storage, team collaboration tools, advanced features, and VIP support.
Basecamp’s specialty is ease of use. Their post-it notes style organization makes it easy to create project “cards” and add tasks and details on the virtual “backs” of these cards. Many users really love this style of organization. They find it natural and intuitive. I have to admit that it is not my favorite style of dashboard. I am accustomed to toolbar-style organization, and there is very little data listed in Basecamp’s toolbar. Based on what I’ve seen of Basecamp’s user reviews, though, my opinion on this is not universal. You may really love Basecamp’s organization, or you may feel the same way I do. You’ll have to try it out for yourself to find out.
When it comes to features, Basecamp is fairly simple. Basecamp is more a task manager than a full project management app, meaning that it is missing many of the budgeting features that larger businesses need. Here are a few of the features that Basecamp offers:
- Tasks and subtasks (called “to-dos”)
- Multiple messaging options
- View tasks in calendar
- Basic reports
In addition to these features, Basecamp comes with 61 total integrations, including apps for time tracking, invoicing, accounting, and reporting. An integration with Zapier and an open API expands these options.
Basecamp’s customer support depends on your pricing plan. If you are on the free plan, you have access to fast support via email and occasionally live chat. You can also use Basecamp’s self-help resources including a knowledge base and tutorial videos. If you are on the paid plan, you gain VIP support, which means that your email will be answered faster than those on the free plan.
While Basecamp is strong in ease of use and pricing, the software has a few weaknesses when it comes to features. Basecamp does not include any of the advanced tools that project managers need. There are no budgeting tools, no time tracking, no resource management tools, and no Gantt charts. In fact, you can’t even add multiple people to one task. Basecamp is a great basic tool for planning tasks and communicating across teams; however, it is by no means a comprehensive project management tool.
When To Use Basecamp
Basecamp is a great solution for businesses of 10-50 employees that need a way to plan and track projects and tasks. Basecamp is an especially good solution for users who need strong ease of use, and who are content with a more basic feature set.
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Best for small to midsize businesses that love kanban style task management.
Trello is a pioneer in the field of project management, popularizing the “board with drag-and-drop cards” view well before it became popular in other apps. This is the original board-view software, and it’s one of the best as well. Trello is another task manager, meaning that it has strong tools for planning and tracking tasks, but it is missing some of the more advanced budgeting tools that you’d find with a more robust project management software.
Trello is an affordable option, with per-user pricing and many plan options available. We recommend Trello to many small to midsize businesses as these businesses will get the best use out of the simplified feature set and usability.
Trello’s free version is incredibly versatile, offering many of the features you find on other paid software. You are, however, limited to ten team boards and one “power-up” (integration) per board. Trello Gold is a slightly more advanced version of the free plan. It costs $5/month, and it is designed for individual use. The Gold plan allows you three power-ups per board, and gives you 250 MB of storage. If you are going to use Trello with a team, it’s probably best to sign up for the Business Class ($12.50/user/month) or Enterprise ($20.83/user/month) plans. Users on these paid plans gain access to unlimited user seats, additional features, and advanced automation.
Trello is an excellent tool in terms of ease of use. The whole software is built as a Kanban board that utilizes drag-and-drop to re-arrange tasks and projects. Creating and planning projects, tasks, and subtasks feels very natural. It will take you a matter of minutes to figure out the basic functions of Trello, and only a couple of hours to figure out the more advanced features.
Trello’s feature set is fairly basic. Here’s what you’ll get:
- Flexible Kanban boards
- Tasks and subtasks
- Attached files
- Comments within tasks
Fortunately, you can add many more features in the form of third-party apps and integrations, which Trello calls “power-ups.” Trello offers nearly 150 of these “power-ups,” and they include features like Gantt charts, time-tracking, and calendar views. Trello also makes an API available, which you can use to build custom apps and integrations.
Trello’s customer support includes personal support by email and web ticket. You can also use the knowledge base, community forum, tutorial videos, and blog to find answers on your own.
While Trello is an excellent task management tool, it’s important to keep in mind that it is just that: a task manager. If you need more than a basic tool for planning and tracking tasks, Trello will not meet your needs.
When To Use Trello
Trello is the perfect tool for small teams that need a task management team and love Kanban-style planning. Trello’s ease of use and educational discounts also make it a great tool for classroom use!
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How To Choose The Best Project Management Software
Now that we’ve given you several great options, how do you choose which project management software is right for your business? Here are a few rules to help you choose the perfect project management platform:
Rule 1: Consider Where You Need Help
Different project management software programs have different focuses. While one prioritizes simple project organization, another places more importance on team communication. One may integrate time-tracking into every tool, while another might make workload management a key element.
As you consider your options for project management software, step back and take a good look at the way your business works. What are some areas that you need help managing? Do you need a tool that can track how much time your team members spend on each task so you can better estimate the cost of a project? Do you need a scheduling tool that helps you give jobs to employees who are currently available? Or do you need a range of communication tools to keep your team organized and working together?
As you consider your business’s needs, decide on a few of your priorities, whether they be a few features, a certain level of ease of use, or an overall “vibe” of a software. Write down those needs and priorities and evaluate each software with regard to whether or not it will meet those needs.
Rule 2: Decide Which Project Management Features You Need
Project management software of all kinds offers a range of features. Some software is more simple, including only the features you need to create, assign, and manage tasks. Other apps have much more robust features which include tools for estimating the cost of a project, tracking each team member’s workload, and editing files within the software.
That said, here’s a list of the basic features you can expect from every app:
- Projects, tasks, and subtasks
- File storage
- File management
- Discussion channels
- Instant messaging
- Task dependencies
- Gantt charts
- User permissions
More advanced project management software may also include the following features:
- Contact management
- Job costing
- Quotes and invoices
- Automated scheduling
- Risk/issue management
- Automated workflow
- Video conferencing
- Screen sharing
- File editing
- Image editing
As you research project management solutions, be sure to keep a running list of must-have features that you can compare against each option.
Rule 3: Understand The Cost Of Project Management Software
Project management software is priced in three typical formats. There are free plans, plans that charge a certain price per user per month, and flat-rate plans that charge one set rate no matter how many users on the account. Your choice of software will likely depend in part upon the cost, so it’s important you understand the benefits and drawbacks of each of these common pricing setups.
Free plans work exactly as you’d think. In these plans, you are able to utilize a limited version of an app free of charge. Often, these plans place restrictions on the number of users you can have on the account as well as the number of projects you can create. These free plans are a great way to test out software (to see if you want to subscribe to the paid version), and they are perfectly workable options for teams of five or fewer.
The most popular form of pricing is the tiered price/user/month model. In this pricing model, a software company typically makes its software available in three pricing tiers, ranging from $5/user/month to around $12/user/month. More expensive options can even go as high as $25/user/month. As you move higher in these pricing tiers, you gain access to more features and a higher level of customer support. Because these plans are based on the number of users on the software, they are fairly flexible pricing plans that work for businesses of many sizes.
Finally, there is the flat rate pricing structure. This type of pricing plan is fairly uncommon; however, you will find it offered by a couple of the software apps on this list (Basecamp and ProofHub). With a flat rate pricing model, you pay one charge, no matter how many users are on the platform or how many projects you create. These plans typically cost around $100/month, which is a huge saving for businesses of over 20 employees (when compared with the price per user model). Because of this, these pricing models are not the best for very small businesses, but they are financially advantageous for many businesses that need to add multiple users to the software.
Rule 4: Do Your Research
This is the most important rule of all! It’s always in your best interest to thoroughly vet a software before you commit to it. Read our full reviews of each software that catches your interest, check out current user comments and complaints, and don’t forget to test out the software for yourself! Most of the programs on this list offer a free trial or a free plan, and just spending a day or two using the software for your daily work can help you get a good feel for how it would fit your business.
When it comes to business software you can never be too informed!
A Full List Of Project Management Tools We Recommend
Although the seven options we list above are all excellent solutions, there are many more great options out there. Here’s a little synopsis of the seven software we list above along with a number of alternative project management software we recommend:
- Teamwork Projects — Feature-rich project management
- Redbooth — Kanban style task management
- ProWorkflow — Project management with good customer support
- ProofHub — Affordable project management
- Basecamp — Easy to use, affordable task management
- Trello — Kanban style task management
- Binfire — Time tracking and project management
- Wrike — Feature-rich project management
- Zoho Projects — Time tracking and project management
- SquidHub — Easy to use task management
- Harvest — Time tracking and project management
- TSheets — Time tracking software
- Monday.com — Flexible project management
- Hiver — Google Chrome extension for email management
Now that you have a strong list of possibilities for your business, we hope you’ll continue your research! Head on over to our complete in-depth review of each app that interests you. Read our analysis, and choose a couple of final contenders. Then, we recommend that you navigate to the project management software’s website, call up a support representative to ask some of your big questions, and sign up for a free trial of the platform. At the end of the day, the right choice will be one that fits your workflow and feels natural to use.
We hope you’ve found this list helpful in your search for the project management tool that is “just right” for you.
Do you already use project management software? What do you like about it, and how can it improve? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
A Last Look At Our Top Picks
Summary - Best for businesses that need feature-rich software and don't mind a learning curve.
- Teamwork Projects
Summary - Best for businesses that need a fully-featured project management solution.
Summary - Best for small businesses that need to track projects, but don't need cost analysis features.
Summary - Best for businesses looking for excellent customer support.
Summary - Best for businesses that need a project management solution at a low flat rate.
Summary - Best for small businesses looking for an easy to use, low-cost task manager.
Summary - Best for small to midsize businesses that love Kanban-style task management.