The 15 Top Microsoft Project Alternatives in 2019 (Free & Paid!)

The 15 Top Microsoft Project Alternatives in 2019 (Free & Paid!)

Microsoft Project is the largest and most well-known project management tool available. It was released in 1984 when any type of desktop software was a novelty. But because of that history, it can definitely seem outdated.

Sure, it paved the way for project management software (like Microsoft Planner), but now it lacks new innovation. It’s too scared of alienating its user base. That doesn’t bode well for new ideas!

MS Project: Trained Experts Only!

One of the biggest drawbacks to Microsoft Project is its clunky nature and steep learning curve. In many ways, Microsoft Project protects those who know it best.

It takes so long to master that anyone who does feel like they must defend their position (and the use of Microsoft Project).

“Microsoft Project is powerful when it comes to the more detailed aspects of project management, such as resource management, reports, and timesheets. Powerful doesn’t mean easy or simple, of course,” states one review of MS Project.

It can effectively plan and drill down into the nitty-gritty of your resources but don’t use it unless you are already trained to tame the beast that is Microsoft Project.

And just take a look at this…that’s not so user-friendly!

microsoft project alternative

Microsoft Project Pros

  • Time estimates based on past tasks
  • Customizable reports
  • Local hosting
  • Gantt charts
  • Dependencies

Microsoft Project Cons

  • Need a certified project manager
  • Depends on exports
  • Long adoption time

But thankfully we are in a new century, and there are tons of great Microsoft Project alternatives that you can use. You no longer need local access; instead, simple to use cloud-based project management reigns supreme. These Microsoft Project alternatives will keep you organized without getting a headache.

Take a look at this list of the top Microsoft Project alternatives, including reviews and feature lists.

1. ClickUp

Show your manager this one! ClickUp is impressive, racking up hundreds of reviews on the top software sites in only a short time.

And you won’t need to be a certified project manager to make this tool work for your team.

We prioritize features, so even the free plan comes with a lot that other companies make you pay for.

Recently, we’ve added guest accounts, Gantt charts, calendar views, a Notepad and more. Other project management software and Microsoft Project alternatives will have a hard time keeping up. ClickUp is a fundamentally new way to work that makes it quite simple to manage multiple projects with your team. It’s a beautiful and easy MS Project alternative!

Note: See the full list of amazing features!

Pros:

Cons:

  • 100MB of storage on Free Plan

Review:

“ClickUp is the swiss army knife of task and project management apps.” — G2 Crowd

Pricing: Free to $9/user/month

Note: Here’s how to convince your manager to select new project management software.

 

2. Asana

Asana started in 2011 and quickly gained a lot of notoriety, based on the founders’ connections to Facebook. With that pedigree, Asana had no problem raising funding and is on track to be a $1 billion company soon as a web-based project management tool. But does that mean this tool is right for you? Not necessarily.

Asana has a simple interface with clear sections and project tasks. Much like its name, it has a calm UI that helps you feel settled when working.

Despite a fast start, their product development has lagged in recent years. And it’s not great for all teams across your organization–most software dev teams wouldn’t use it.

Pros:

  • Very customizable
  • Great calendar sync
  • Good recurring task management system
  • Free Microsoft Project alternative
  • Portfolio management

Cons:

  • No time tracking
  • Slow UI
  • Big learning curve
  • Has user minimums
  • Gantt chart only through an add-on

Review: “We juggle many competing projects and deadlines, so it helps keep everything in one big picture, in a place we can talk about individual tasks as we go along. I prefer this workflow to Slack-like emphasis on chat/email, etc. Asana’s prospects for time planning are getting better, but are a bit obfuscated right now.” — G2Crowd

Pricing: Free to $11.99/user/month

Compare Asana and ClickUp!

 

3. Trello

Now for something completely different than Microsoft Project.

Instead of using lots of lists, you can switch to cards and a Kanban board for your task management. The system made popular with Japanese manufacturing has taken on a life of its own, primarily through the influence of Trello.

Besides creating tasks, it’s also become popular as a database repository. It’s public sharing features have also helped make it a productivity leader with teams, hobbyists and friends. 

Pros:

  • Easy onboarding
  • Simpler to use than most
  • Real-time collaboration

Cons:

  • No Gantt charts
  • No Calendar
  • Can be limiting
  • No integrations on the free plan
  • Free Microsoft Project alternative

Review: “Its interface is a little basic, I can also say that its search engine is not efficient since it does not find what I’m looking for, besides the free version is very limited.” — G2Crowd

Pricing: Free to $20.83/user/month

Compare ClickUp with Trello!

 

4. Paymo

paymo

Paymo is definitely a solid project management option. Nothing flashy here. They have a nice home screen that highlights what your most critical items are for the day and they also offer board views, similar to ClickUp and Trello. They also have robust dashboard features to help you gauge progress. A safe pick your manager will be comfortable with.

Pros:

  • Mobile app with tracking
  • Customizable timesheets
  • Beautiful Gantt charts
  • Task dependencies
  • Free Microsoft Project alternative

Cons:

  • No integrations on the free plan
  • Only 3 invoices with the free plan
  • A lot of views can make it difficult to learn

Review: “There’s no import function for tasks/projects so there’s a very manual process required to get up and running if you’re moving from different tools.” — G2Crowd

Pricing: Free to $18.95/user/month

 

5. Monday.com

Ah, Monday.

This tool is based on turning things green, meaning they want you to check off a bunch of things. They’ve also developed a very interesting table/task manager hybrid, with lots of custom fields to make your tasks the way you want them.

The problem? That’s not always scalable across teams for collaboration. They also have a limiting free trial that won’t give you enough time to explore all of their features without paying a hefty fee.

Despite an impressive advertising push, anyone with a working knowledge of Google can also find a lot of their features for free elsewhere (like at ClickUp!).

Pros:

  • Intuitive Interface
  • Lots of customizability

Cons:

  • No calendar
  • Expensive
  • No recurring tasks
  • No subtasks

Review: “The name change to “Monday.” Nobody likes Mondays. There’s a bad connotation there.” — G2Crowd

Pricing: $25 to $118/month/5 users

Compare ClickUp and Monday!

6. Hitask

hitask

Another team collaboration platform, this one is less powerful than MS Project but will have some of the features you want from a development perspective like issue tracking, repeating tasks and team chat. It has to report too, but may not be as advanced as Microsoft Project.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Clean interface
  • Google Calendar Sync

Cons:

  • Not many integrations
  • No private notes
  • No Gantt Charts
  • No kanban board

Review: “The visual environment lacks color, could improve by adding items that allow employees to differentiate quickly without reading, assigning color labels to each one in order to quickly detect any change or observation as well as its source…” — G2Crowd

Pricing: Free to $9.98/user/month

 

7. nTask

nTask views itself mostly as an Asana replacement, but it’s also great as a simpler tool than Microsoft Project.

nTask has solid reporting features around time tracking, meetings and minuts that all managers will love. 

It also has built-in Gantt charts to help view multiple projects from a high level. Add in their bug/issue tracking and it might be an easy solution compared to Microsoft Project.

Like most of these tools, it’s a lot more affordable than Microsoft Project as well.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Meeting manager tool
  • Bug/Issue tracking
  • Task dependencies

Cons:

  • No timer
  • Bad mobile apps
  • Gantt Charts are not interactive (yet)

Review: “The biggest difference in the meeting functionality compared to something like GCal is that you can create a detailed agenda, store meeting minutes, and automatically share it with a project team, without ever leaving the app.” — Bombchelle

Pricing: Free to $2.99/user/month

 

8. Zenkit

zenkit screenshot

Zenkit is a potent Microsoft Project alternative, with lots of different views–including a board and table view. It includes activity tracking and notification, so you always know what each member of your team is working on. It’s perfect for managers to get a high-level view. But because of some of its missing features, this may not be the best option for complex projects. 

You’ll also get rich text editing and custom backgrounds to make Zenkit your own.

Pros:

  • Multiple views
  • Simple task management
  • Mind mapping tools

Cons:

  • No Gantt charts
  • No time tracking
  • No public API
  • Long load times

Review:  “The user interface can seem a little utilitarian and not as friendly as some other software systems.” — Capterra

Pricing: Free to $29/user/month

 

9. Slenke

If you’re aiming for an easier tool with resource management, Gantt charts and more overall visual appeal than Microsoft Project, than Slenke may be an option.

It’s a relatively new tool, so there will be an adoption curve. Teams also use it to manage their internal communication, so you could wean yourself off Slack if you wanted to. It may not be the best for complex projects, but it’s a simple tool to help your team stay focused and communicate. 

Pros:

  • Lots of integrations
  • Internal communication
  • Clean interface

Cons:

  • No desktop app
  • No enterprise plan
  • English only

Review: “ Alerts section can get overwhelming at times, more control over what I what kind of alerts I receive would be ideal.” — Review on Capterra

Pricing: Free to $9.99/user/month

 

10. Basecamp

Basecamp took a whole different approach to project management compared to Microsoft Project.

They focused on team communication and project files overdue dates and tasks, making them one of the leaders for communicating with multiple teams, clients and vendors.

With Basecamp, you can set your to-do lists, add messages and update your schedule. It’s more about information and collaboration rather than exact project management. It’s a unified place for updates, but not project specifics.

Pros:

  • Same price, no matter how many users
  • Unlimited users and tasks
  • Reliable

Cons:

  • Limited features
  • No time tracking
  • Ugly dashboard
  • No analytics

Reviews: “Basecamp requires a bit of learning initially, not anyone could handle it at first, so I would only dislike that, but it’s not a counter because it really is software that is worth using.” — G2Crowd

Pricing: From $99/month

See the top Basecamp alternatives!

11. Celoxis

This is one of the most comparable tools to Microsoft Project. Track your project financials, identify risks, set up custom workflows and collaborate with project files/comments like the other task management platforms. Even export and use MS Project files. If you want to shake off Microsoft Project, but need something that’s technically similar, Celoxis may be the program for you. They also offer local, on-premise solutions or a cloud-based project management solution.

Pros:

  • Auto-scheduling feature
  • Very customizable
  • Good resource management tools

Cons:

  • No phone support
  • Only one paid type
  • Poor mobile app
  • UI needs improvements

Review: “I manage 20-25 projects at any given time, so tracking time and project status is a bit difficult. Celoxis makes it easier for me to do this efficiently, without taking too much time away from ‘real work.’” — G2 Crowd

Pricing: $25/user/month to $450/user/one time

 

12. RaveTree

Want to manage your sales contacts with your tasks? RaveTree offers a solid CRM function alongside project management. Everything you work on can be easily integrated into one platform.

RaveTree compares nicely to Microsoft Project with its resource management and admin tools.

Pros:

  • Highly Intuitive
  • Includes CRM
  • Client Portal

Cons:

  • No Gantt charts
  • No mobile app
  • Expensive

Review: “Ravetree is a fairly new, but for how new it is, it still works great. It does have changes implemented every now and again, but it’s also helpful that it’s constantly improving to make it easier to use. The company is smaller, but that has made customer support more attentive!” — G2Crowd

Pricing: From $29/user/month to $39/user/month

 

13. Wrike

Wrike is for active teams looking for additional support with their projects. Wrike banks on its accessibility–meaning that you can see a lot of things in one view. Not too many extra clicks.

The hierarchy is well-defined. If you hover over a task, the details will be pulled up automatically. It lacks multiple views and favors the List and Waterfall methodologies.

If your team needs something similar to MS Project, but with less bells and whistles, then you may find a home with Wrike.

Compare Wrike and ClickUp!

Pros:

  • Quick setup
  • Time tracking
  • Customizable

Cons:

  • Complex
  • Poor Interface
  • Poor Customer Service

Review: “Wrike is unique with respect to other similar applications because it is not just a project management tool. It also functions as a work management tool, which is slightly different.” — G2Crowd

Pricing: Free to $24.80/user/month

 

14. Clarizen

clarizen asana alternative

Clarizen is a hefty project tool that any serious (and certified!) project manager may want to consider. This is for planning and etching each detail into stone–you can’t afford to be wrong.

Clarizen gives you serious chops to scope, set specifications, estimate times, schedule due dates and staff your project appropriately. The back-end technicality does the heavy lifting, while the interface isn’t cutting edge.

If you’re looking for a serious technical solution (that feels that way, too) then try out Clarizen.

Pros:

  • Great scheduling and recurring tasks
  • Portfolio management and multiple projects
  • Capacity planning and resource management

Cons:

  • Clunky interface
  • Not much for agile/scrum
  • Poor search functionality

Review: “The most difficult part of implementing Clarizen in my environment was the initial configuration through the Clarizen Admin portal. It was quite overwhelming at first however after some practice I have become better at making changes on the fly. I am hoping to also attend one of Clarizen’s on site training courses soon to continue to develop my skills.” — G2Crowd

Pricing: N/A

 

15. Jira

Jira is a Microsoft Project alternative only if you’re running a software development, product management or QA team. Whereas Microsoft Project used to be the only option, in many ways, JIRA has morphed into that stale state, but for software.

It’s a difficult tool to use unless you’re nested deep within the development process. It has lots of integrations, issue tracking, and bug tracking. For other teams, it’s not a valuable tool.

Pros:

  • Customizable
  • Lots of integrations
  • Text notifications
  • Issue alerts

Cons:

  • Extremely complicated
  • Hard setup
  • Dated

Pricing: From $10/user per month

Compare JIRA and ClickUp!

Conclusion

Despite all of these Microsoft Project alternatives, there’s no doubt that MS Project is a leader in the project management field. However, many of these top programs are chipping away at that reputation.

Even with some of those benefits, its cons are driving users away. There’s not a simple way for teams to effectively collaborate, there aren’t many tutorials and it functions in a blocky way, much like Excel. Obviously, this isn’t the most appealing tool when there are so many great cloud-based project management tools available.

When your team desperately needs something the whole organization can use, it’s time to ditch Microsoft Project for a new, collaborative project management solution. You’ll get more work done and faceless bottlenecks.

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