Project management software connects teams, enabling everyone in the organization to prioritize the work that matters most. Software that fosters this type of high-level collaboration is essential for most companies. But at a glance, many of the tools organizations use have seemingly similar features. Use our guide to narrow down your choices and understand which tools are best for different types of companies.
If you manage work, you’re a project manager. But that wasn’t always the case. For many years, the only people responsible for managing projects were (unsurprisingly) project managers. These highly specialized roles used legacy tools that required extensive training and knowledge to use.
Now, almost everyone is expected to manage their own projects, and these outdated tools are no longer practical. And while project manager roles and legacy softwares still exist, modern project management software has adapted to fill the needs of a more dynamic, collaborative workforce.
Whether you’re a brand new business owner who just needs help with invoicing or you're operating a multi-national company, there’s a project management software that’s right for you. Read on to see which project management software fits your company's needs.
Project management software is a tool that helps teams to organize, track, and execute work. In its simplest form, you can think of project management software as an interactive workspace, where you coordinate the way you work, collaborate, and communicate with others. But the best project management software goes far beyond that—connecting your most advanced workflows across the company and helping you achieve your biggest, boldest goals.
It’s a broad category, and can be as simple as digital checklists or as advanced as a full work management platform. The type of project management software you choose—and the way you use it—will depend on the size, needs, and overarching goals of your organization.See Asana in action
These days, everyone manages projects, but they don’t always have the tools they need to manage projects effectively. This often leads to teams using a spreadsheet, which is great for organizing work but doesn't show real-time updates. Spreadsheets are extremely manual, and can actually impede cross-functional collaboration. In short, they lack the capabilities of project management software.
That’s why project management software is so crucial to today’s working environment. Among its many benefits, project management software serves as the connector for work, teams, stakeholders, goals, and everything in between.
Focus your work. You’ll get more done—but more importantly, you’ll get the right work done. With project management software, you’re less likely to duplicate work or waste time searching for materials.
Reduce busywork. With project management software, you can connect every single task to goals that support the company’s biggest, broadest vision—so everyone knows how they’re driving the success of the company with every project. When employees understand how their day-to-day tasks impact the company, they’re even more motivated to produce their best possible work.
Connect your tech stack. Businesses need countless tools to operate in today’s workplace. With dynamic project management software, you can connect all your tools across one platform (think Slack communications, Dropbox files, and Google Drive attachments all in one place).
Create a system of record. Project management software serves as a system of record for all your projects and their related tasks. As a result, you can simultaneously store information while also making it easier for stakeholders and teams to access and use that information.
Increase cross-functional collaboration. Project management software is, at its core, a team collaboration tool. By bringing together work, goals, and people across projects, teams, and departments, project management software helps you build an interconnected, thriving cross-functional organization.
Store work safely. Ever delete a cell by accident in your spreadsheet? Or forget where you saved your latest to-do list? Keeping everything cloud-based both helps you stay organized and reduces the chance of you losing work—all while maintaining your privacy.
There’s a wide range of project management software available in today’s market—choosing just one can feel overwhelming. That’s why we compiled this list of the best products in the industry today, and the types of businesses they’re most likely to help. See how each one compares, and the different ways project management software can streamline and enhance your work.
Asana goes beyond traditional project management software to provide a full work management solution that supports the dynamic, changing needs of enterprise companies. Asana doesn't just help you manage your tasks (although you can do that too)—it connects all the work your company is doing to your highest-level goals and business strategy. With Asana, you get so much more than project management software, including:
Integrations to all your favorite tools and systems, so you can keep your work organized in one platform.
Goals that connect to everyone and every task across your company, so you can ensure the work that gets done is always the most important.
Automations for tasks, scheduling, assigning work, and much more—all designed to reduce the amount of time you spend on low-priority busywork.
Ready-made project templates so you can get to work on your most important tasks right away.
Reporting dashboards that automatically update stakeholders and eliminate status update meetings.
Security, privacy, and compliance features that keep your data safe.
Discover even more of what Asana can do.See Asana in action
Trello is a Kanban-board style project management software, owned by Atlassian. In Trello, you nest project tasks under boards labeled with an overarching theme. For example, you might have a board for “Not started,” “In Progress,” and “Complete.” The setup makes it easy to track project progress from board to board, which is helpful when you need a simple tool for small projects.Comparison: See how Trello compares to this alternative.
Think of Smartsheet as an advanced version of a spreadsheet, with more capabilities. This system can be intuitive for companies who traditionally used spreadsheets for project management, such as time tracking with timesheets.Comparison: See how Smartsheet compares to this alternative.
Designed specifically for software development, Jira comes ready to launch for teams that use the Agile methodology to do their work. Owned by parent company Atlassian, Jira is often used for common development projects like bug tracking, as well as projects that use the Scrum process.Comparison: See how Jira compares to this alternative.
Monday offers a broad spectrum of apps that make it easy to implement and get started right away. This works for small businesses who are new to project management software, though once you rev up your work, company size, or collaboration across teams, you might hit a threshold for what’s possible.Comparison: See how Monday compares to this alternative.
Clickup’s intuitive and colorful interface makes it easy to understand and adopt. Clickup is a popular choice for startups with limited resources and smaller teams that may not need as many capabilities.Comparison: See how Clickup compares to this alternative.
Notion is an elevated system to create and store dynamic documents, sheets, and note taking. This works best for companies or individuals who just need a more organized space for thoughts and ideas, though Notion can feel limited in how you can work with others in the tool itself.Integrate: See the power of Asana + Notion.
Airtable provides a flexible no- and low-code database you can use to build your own bespoke project management system (or other custom application). For those who prefer to oversee the backend development of their project management software, Airtable offers that option.Comparison: See how Airtable compares to this alternative.
Wrike offers stackable storage and security in an easy-to-use format, so both clients and internal teams can safely access information. This can be helpful when you’re working with external partners, such as clients, in addition to managing work as a company.Comparison: See how Wrike compares to this alternative.
Workfront (owned by Adobe) is a project management software that was initially developed for marketers. They’ve built out their platform to be a tool for all teams, but because it’s so targeted, users may struggle to coordinate with other teams outside of the marketing department.Comparison: See how Workfront compares to this alternative.
Microsoft Office is often labeled as a project management tool, but that’s mostly because their products are a staple at any company. Because we already know and understand how to use them, Microsoft Office products are often the first tool managers turn to when they start experimenting with project management. But the reality is, Excel spreadsheets and docs weren’t built for collaboration, so you’re better off using them in conjunction with full-fledged project management software.
Ready to buy? Each project management system will have different features and functionality, but we recommend you prioritize a platform with these features at a minimum:
Collaboration features that enable work between team members, departments, and across the company—including file sharing, project tracking, and resource management.
A platform that provides portfolio management capabilities and the ability to connect goals to actionable tasks, so the entire company can see how all work is connected.
A mobile app so you can send off approvals, receive timely notifications, and manage projects on the go.
Project and reporting dashboards that are easy to access and view.
Varying project view styles that support all your project types and operations, including Gantt charts, Kanban boards, Lists, and Calendars (so as your company grows, you know your software has the capability to grow with it).
Enhanced project scheduling to set due dates, create important milestones, and easily track time so everything stays on schedule.
Project management app integrations that fit your custom business needs.
Automations and dependencies that update you and stakeholders in real-time.
A lot of project management software claims similar features, and at a basic level, many of them are the same. But when you choose a project management solution, it shouldn’t just be another tool. It should be a full-fledged project management platform that enables you and your team to get their best work done, with less effort.
This means you need a platform that continues to grow, expand, and adapt as your company does. The last thing you need is to hit a ceiling just when you’re getting into your ideal workflow. Asana is built for enterprise teams, which means it can support your project management work from the beginning—when you’re a one-person team with an idea—all the way through your Fortune 100 growth. In fact, more than 80% of Fortune 100 companies use Asana*.
With Asana, it’s not just about putting out more deliverables. Instead, Asana focuses on how you can connect and leverage every aspect of your company’s work, goals, and resources to produce the right work.See Asana in action
The best project management software is the one with the features you need. Look for a tool like Asana, a full work management platform where you can integrate the apps you already use, connect goals to work tasks, break down silos between teams, and automate time-consuming busywork.
Project management software is a type of software used for every aspect of project management. Often, this includes everything from the project planning stages (resource allocation, setting due dates, and building and assigning work task lists) to project scheduling, tracking, and reporting. The best project management software will help you coordinate and automate work not just across projects, but also across portfolios, teams, and departments.
Task management software is used strictly to manage tasks and is focused on production. Often, this looks like a digital to-do list with more capabilities. Project management software goes beyond task management to the actual planning, coordination, and goals of a project. This incorporates the bigger-picture, high-impact work and the actionable tasks you need to get there. Good project management software will also have task management capabilities, but the reverse isn’t always true.
Project management software is a tool to help you coordinate everything you need for project management. Often, this includes capabilities to create and assign tasks, scheduling all aspects of a project, and coordinating with others in your project team. The best project management software will also enable you to work cross-functionally across all teams, departments, and projects within your organization.
The short answer: yes! Project management software has an almost endless list of benefits. Most people immediately think of productivity as the reason to purchase project management software, but the right project management software can do more than increase your output. If you invest in the best project management software, you can break down silos and connect your entire company to your largest visions and goals. This enables everyone to work better on the projects that matter most.
*Accurate as of September 7, 2022. Asana makes no representations about updating this number.See Asana in action