No matter which methodology project managers subscribe to, they know they need to organize and execute tasks proactively and efficiently. They don’t just wake up one day with all facets of a project ready to roll. It takes planning, planning, and more planning.
Project management tools make a manager’s job easier and more productive, and a project’s planning stage gets a major boost from project planning tools. Benefiting from automation, managers can more thoroughly and accurately lay out the roadmap that guides the project’s success.
Choosing the best project planning tools puts project managers ahead of the game in creating a project management plan that works. However, finding the best tools can be intimidating: There are dozens of choices and they all do different things, so it can be tough to know where to dive in.
Before shopping for project planning tools, check out the must-have features to look for below — we’ve also included our shortlist of the best project planning tools on the market today!
What makes a project planning tool great?
Before you implement new project management software, you need to consider your options. It may seem daunting to wade through them all at first: Choose wrong, and you’re stuck with a tool that doesn’t provide value, users won’t adopt, or doesn't do what you need.
No pressure, right?
We’ve scoped out several project management tools, weighing their features and best use cases. From our research, we've determined four points that separate decent tools from great ones:
Enables seamless team collaboration (in person or remote)
From project scheduling to task management to meeting milestones, keeping projects on track takes enthusiastic collaboration. The current work-from-home trend has pushed for tools to be increasingly inclusive of both on-site and remote team members. There's been a recent shift to virtual project management, and remote-friendly tools are even more necessary. Complex projects, in particular, benefit from tools such as remote team management that allow team members to message, chat, brainstorm, and solve problems — in real time and asynchronously.
Project planning tools with robust team collaboration features cut down on bottlenecks, decrease response time, and increase everyone’s efficiency. When you’re looking to add project planning software to your toolbox, substantial team collaboration should top your list of priorities.
Integrates with other essential apps
Your team most likely needs multiple tools to assist with the different aspects of project delivery: They need collaboration tools (like we mentioned above), organizational tools, and task management tools, just to name a few.
Every time you have to click out of one app into another, you waste a few seconds. If this happens dozens of times a day to every member of your team, the result is a lot of wasted time that could have been used to forge project progress.
Avoid tedious, time-consuming clicking by choosing apps that integrate with your existing tech stack. This way, your team can access all the tools they need in a single, simple framework. Be sure to look at a tool’s integration page before deciding to add it to your stack.
Offers a variety of tools to stay organized
The path to project completion is fraught with a hundred ways for you and your team to veer of course. When weighing the pros and cons of project planning tools, look at how well they do (or don’t) at helping everyone stay organized.
Gantt charts offer a visual of upcoming tasks (which you can break into subtasks) and deadlines. Great tools typically include Gantt templates that prevent you from starting from scratch, and dashboards that let you measure progress. Judge a potential tool by its ability to keep your project on track and moving forward.
Is as customizable as your team needs
Yes, projects may run similarly, but there are unique components to every project and team: A cookie-cutter approach rarely works well for anybody.
Think about the specific areas that your team needs the most help. Do they struggle with repetitive tasks that may benefit from task automation? If so, you’re not alone: Fifty-four percent of respondents to a recent survey say that they feel that they could save five hours a week with task automation tools.
Maybe your team needs more help managing project files or timelines instead. Or, perhaps there are certain aspects of team members’ performance that need improvement, like staying organized and finishing their work. You may need a tool that performs more than one function.
Don’t invest in a tool with the expectation that you and your team will adapt to it: The tool needs to be customizable and intuitive enough to serve your needs from the jump.
7 powerful project planning tools to boost workflows
You may be a seasoned project manager who sees some holes in your current processes that you think new tools can fill. Or, you may be a new project manager (or one managing a small team), and have decided to build a suite of solutions that help you complete your projects faster and more efficiently.
Whichever category you’re in, these seven project planning tools can help you create smooth, productive workflows from the beginning of your planning to the end. To help you make the most informed choice, we’ve outlined our favorite features, the pros and cons, and the pricing structure for each tool.
Teamwork is an ideal project planning software tool that is trusted by more than 20,000 companies (including over 6,000 agencies) to better track and manage projects from start to finish.
As one of the only project management platforms designed specifically for agencies and client work, this intuitive software provides everything you need to manage the full lifecycle of client work in one place.
Powerful integrations covering numerous business elements, including Gmail, Chrome, Office 365, Slack, and many more.
Modular platform that grows with you, adding new capabilities when you need them.
Customizable project templates to get your team up and running faster (no need to recreate the wheel with each new project!)
Multiple project views including Gantt and Kanban.
Advanced reports to give you detailed real-time insights into project health, account profitability, resource utilization, and beyond.
Let users visualize timelines
Saves time using templates to manage your team’s work, track progress, and deliver on time
Allows users to identify and respond to risks easily
Intuitive mobile app
Can be difficult for new users to get up to speed with its more advanced features
Free Forever: $0
Deliver: $9.99 per user per month (five-user minimum)
Grow: $19.99 per user per month (five-user minimum)
Scale: Get a custom quote
With this handy app, project managers can stay in the loop on the project’s progress and their team members’ contributions. Chock full of helpful features, Runn boasts forecasting and time tracking capabilities along with easy ways to schedule and track tasks. Catch the gaps in your projects early to help know how to assign work and set priorities.
Birds-eye view dashboard
Helpful business insights
Forecasting and projections tools
Helps track and prioritize tasks and efficiently perform resource allocation
Real-time visibility into granular project details, including remote team members’ contributions
Allows you to manage profitability per project
Streamlines scheduling and changing tasks to stay in line with milestones and deadlines
Needs better integrations
Permission levels need to be upgraded
14-day free trial with no credit card
Free: $0, with up to five people managed
Pro: $10 per managed person per month
Enterprise: Get a custom quote
Projects that need custom workflows can greatly benefit from using Kintone. The flexible app offers broad functionality that empowers project managers with advanced features like building apps from the ground up. Alternatively, you can save time by taking advantage of its fully stocked library of templates.
All-encompassing project tracking capabilities
Customizable apps option, or use pre-built templates
Built-in project management tools
Robust reporting tool with unlimited custom views
Lets managers track individual tasks, project data, and collaboration efforts
Structured workflows to track both granular task-based actions and broad project milestones
Turns data and analytics into easily digestible graphs
Automated follow-ups and notifications to keep team members on schedule
Settings menu needs to be more intuitive
Needs more search capabilities
30-day free trial-no credit card required
$24 per user per month with a minimum of five users
If you love using Gantt charts (and who doesn’t?) for project planning, this tool is another one to shortlist for your project planning initiatives. Its central workspace gives project managers and their teams a single location to manage project progress, assign tasks, and collaborate. The result is a more agilework management process where everyone focuses on the most important tasks.
Resource planning and management
Easy way to manage projects; assigning tasks, setting milestones, checking progress, and receiving notifications
Allows users to add and change due dates and milestones quickly
Connects resources to specific tasks and adds cost per hour
Tracks time spent on tasks, measures and reallocates resources for greater efficiency
Mobile version needs to be improved
Doesn’t have enough color-coded options
14-day free trial
Basic: $7.99 per user per month (billed annually)
Pro: $12.99 per user per month
Business: $19.99 per user per month
Enterprise: Get a custom quote
This tool is a no-code, low-code project management app. Its package of features is perfect for both on-site, remote, and hybrid teams. Highly customizable features let project managers drive their own experience. It’s easy for project teams to share information, stay informed of progress, and measure project analytics via multiple visually appealing options.
Multiple ways to visualize projects, such as Kanban and matrix views
Customizable and pre-built templates
Data-driven custom reporting
Lets users quickly create subtasks and then segment them as needed
Increases team collaboration with built-in chat and team channels for asynchronous communication
Allows managers to assign roles easily
Real-time visualization into data and workflows
Support can be slow in responding to issues
Assigning tasks needs greater functionality
Small Business: $18 per month per user, if paid monthly (20 user minimum) $10 per month per user, if paid annually (50 user minimum)
Corporate: $20 per month per user, billed annually (100 user minimum)
Enterprise: Get a custom quote
If you need a centralized location for your team’s task lists, workflows, collaborations, and calendars, ProofHub may just be what you’ve been looking for in a project planning tool. The tool offers a simple solution, giving its clients everything they need and nothing they don’t. Proactively plan, stay on top of project tasks, and keep everyone organized with their helpful, customizable features.
Custom role assignments
Group and individual chat options
File sharing and online proofing
Segments tasks by workflow stage
Gives project managers complete control over which users have access to information
Enhances communication for both in-office and remote team members
Provides the ability to review, collaborate on, and make approvals seamlessly, without time-consuming back and forth
Needs an easier way to organize files
Interface can seem clunky at times
14-day free trial
Essential: $45 per month billed annually, $50 per month billed monthly
Ultimate Control: $89 per month billed annually, $99 per month billed monthly
7) Kanban Tool
Aptly named, this kanban board tool gives you streamlined project visuals to let you see your project status and progress at a glance. Get a broad view of your project workflow, manage it from start to finish, and give your team members and clients a convenient, simple way to collaborate and communicate from anywhere.
Robust notifications and reporting
Mobile app available for iOS and Android
Kanban analytics and metrics
Increases team collaboration by sharing tasks and messages
Helps proactively pinpoint and eliminate bottlenecks and other issues
Lets managers monitor key project metrics to improve project performance
Free version offers limited features
Needs more add-ons available
14-day free trial
Team: $5 per user per month
Enterprise: $9 per user per month
Teamwork is your ultimate project planning tool
Project management is critical to delivering what's expected, and nailing the planning portion of your projects is integral to their success. Project management software tools can help you see the project in its entirety, stay on top of project timelines, and proactively identify bottlenecks. These tools also offer ways for teams to collaborate and stay focused on their assigned tasks.
Our list is a helpful starting point to increase your workflow efficiency and bring deliverables in on time and within budget. However, each team’s needs are unique, so think carefully about which features you need in a tool to help you accomplish your project objectives.
Do you need a robust solution that’s customizable, functional, and easy to use? Learn more about how Teamwork can streamline your processes, increase your profitability, and help scale your business.