The Top 29 Free and Open Source Project Management Software for Your Small Business

The Top 29 Free and Open Source Project Management Software for Your Small Business

Update 5/31/2018: This piece has been updated to include new free project management software options and the most current information on the original options.

Competition in the free project management software landscape has exploded.

When we first wrote about the best free project management tools in 2014, there were about 50 contenders, ten really strong tools, and six that made our list.

Now, that contender list is at 681 vendors, and we’re highlighting 29 free and open source project management options in this article. Only 4.3% of available project management tools made the cut.

In other words, it’s more difficult to make our list as a top free project management tool than it is to gain acceptance into Harvard.

free and open source project management software

The competitive world of project management tools

If you have a small team (fewer than five people), are on a tight budget, and are willing to compromise on some premium features, then a free product may be right for you.

Alternatively, paid commercial project management software that offers a free plan (aka “freemium”) gives small teams a budget-friendly access point to the software. If you find you need additional functionality or more users, you can upgrade to a paid version.

Luckily, a majority of the tools listed here are inexpensive to upgrade, so they won’t crater your budget when it comes time to scale up.

Evaluating this list of 681 products was no small task (see our methodology section). Our goal with this list is to deliver an accurate, comprehensive, and tailored list of free project management tools.

This list offers a range of free software options that can meet both the most basic business needs for managing tasks and collaborating across a small group, all the way up to fully featured software that includes planning, scheduling, Gantt charts, and other Agile capabilities.

We grouped the tools into three categories: top free project management software, top free task management software, and top open source project management software.

We’ve also included a chart that provides a quick, high-level overview of all 29 products.

Note: The tools highlighted below all fall into the top 4.3% of free project management tools, based on our analysis. They are presented here in alphabetical order. They each have unique strengths and weaknesses and should be examined holistically against specific needs (rather than being generally compared one against another). Readers should seek out the features they care about most and consider what their business needs and goals for this software implementation are when making a purchase decision.

Without further ado, the top free and open source project management tools are (in alphabetical order) …

The top 29 free and open source project management tools for your small business

The top free project management software options

Bitrix24: Business management software for small and midsize businesses

Bitrix24 is a collaborative business management solution designed to unite customer relationship management (CRM), project management (PM), human resources (HR), and workflow automation on one platform.

The free plan includes 12 users, 5 GB of online storage, and a tremendous breadth of free capabilities. For CRM, this includes lead and contact management, email marketing, and sales automation; for HR, an employee directory, employee self-service, and gamification.

On the PM side, free capabilities include unlimited tasks and projects, time tracking, checklists, Gantt charts, and document management. It also provides several communication features such as social networks, chat/IM, and video conferencing.

The added CRM and marketing functionality on top of free project management makes Bitrix24 ideal for sales teams and professional service firms.

The added CRM and marketing functionality on top of free project management makes Bitrix24 ideal for sales teams and professional service firms.
The “My Tasks” view in Bitrix24 (Source)

Pros: Bitrix24 doesn’t limit the number of tasks or projects available through its free plan. It’s one of the more feature-rich free products we have on this list.

Cons: Capterra reviewers note two significant, and related, problem areas: poor technical support and a lack of adequate training materials for the expanse of functionality.

These will likely be acute pain points for businesses on the free plan as customer support is not included. New users will face a high learning curve with this tool, so prepare for a ramp-up period before teams are up to speed.

Cost to upgrade: For the cloud-based version: $39 for 24 users, per month (Plus); $99 for 50 users, per month (Standard); and $199 for unlimited users, per month (Professional).

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Small and midsize businesses that are focused on service, consulting, or sales and want a robust business management solution with project management capabilities.

Clubhouse: A highly functional Scrum tool

Clubhouse is designed for teams working on software projects, and it’s more lightweight than other tools. It offers a scaled-back feature set that might not be enough for every project team. But if you need software with essential Scrum features, Clubhouse is worth a look.

Cumulative flow diagram in Clubhouse
A cumulative flow diagram in Clubhouse (Source)

Pros: Clubhouse’s greatest asset is its specificity. Rather than trying to serve all corners of the project management market, it’s designed for teams that use Scrum to manage software projects. You can mark story relationships, plot epics, and usher your work through a Kanban board setup with automatic team updates. Several Capterra reviewers note that Clubhouse’s “essentials only” dashboard is a breath of fresh air compared with less intuitive competitors.

Clubhouse also ensures that user data is kept safe by deploying encrypted backups every ten minutes to Amazon S3 and AWS alongside offering SSL logins and HTTPS.

Finally, Clubhouse has a charitable side: If you’re a verified nonprofit that meets Clubhouse’s eligibility criteria, the tool is available free of charge.

Cons: Clubhouse offers only three user seats with its free version. After exceeding three users, it’s $8.50 per user, per month. The added benefits of the paid version are priority support and an observer role.

Although Clubhouse’s minimalist nature will appeal to the right users, it’s not robust enough for many project teams. It offers no storage options beyond integrations with other tools and lacks several features—including team chat, client portals, and time tracking—that are standard in other project management software.

Clubhouse offers an app only for iOS—and its latest version has attracted some ire from its users who indicate that the app is inferior to the tool itself.

Cost to upgrade: $8.50 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOS

Most suitable for:

Individuals or up to three-person development teams dedicated to Agile project management.v

Freedcamp: Unlimited users and projects

True to its name, Freedcamp offers much of its full functionality for free. In doing so, it has more advanced project planning features in its freemium version than many competitors.

File sharing and editing, discussion boards, project templates, and invoices are all at your service. Several Capterra reviewers praise Freedcamp’s easy setup and responsive customer service.

to-do list in Freedcamp
A to-do list in Freedcamp (Source)

Pros: Users can add tasks, milestones, and time tracking to projects within Freedcamp. The tool also offers Kanban boards to visually track tasks and allows you to keep your personal tasks private.

Cons: Despite offering a more robust free version than many competitors, Freedcamp does have limitations. Users must upgrade two levels if they need project reporting. And though Freedcamp offers subtasks, some users wish the free version would support additional layers.

Cost to upgrade: $5.99 for the owner and $1.99 for each additional user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Project teams that need software with free unlimited projects, users, and storage.

Hygger: Complete Agile project management tool for portfolio management

Want to use Kanban boards or Scrum, or a combination of the two? Hygger might be right for your team. The company has been operating only since 2017, but in that time it has already garnered a 4.5/5 star average user rating on Capterra based on more than 50 reviews.

Kanban Board in Hygger
A Kanban board in Hygger (Source)

Pros: One of Hygger’s biggest strengths is allowing users to handle multiple projects simultaneously without getting bogged down. Users can combine multiple projects into collections based on specific criteria. Hygger also offers great flexibility with its layouts—sprints, Kanban boards, swim lanes, backlogs, burn downs, road maps—you name it, Hygger has it. At the free level, you can use all of the system’s features for up to five users, which should be more than adequate for small teams.

Cons: Since Hygger is a relatively new product from a developing team, it’s a work in progress. Users report that bugs are still being cleaned up, and some features available in the desktop version are still being rolled out to the mobile apps. Users also say that switching between layouts—for example, Kanban boards to backlog—doesn’t happen seamlessly. You have to copy the data from one layout to the other.

Cost to upgrade: $9 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Growing Agile teams in need of a complete project management tool.

Pivotal Tracker: A well-rounded PM tool for small tech teams

Pivotal Tracker sits at the Agile table, claiming that it can make “project management almost as simple as pushing a button.”

Pivotal Tracker is a product of Pivotal Software, which was acquired by Dell as part of the EMC merger in 2016, forming one of the largest tech companies in the world. In other words: Pivotal Tracker has some heft behind it.

Searching across projects in Pivotal Tracker
Searching across projects in Pivotal Tracker’s workspace (Source)

Pros: Pivotal Tracker boasts a lot of features—this isn’t a glorified checklist or time tracker. It has advanced features such as automated sprint planning, multi-project workspaces, more than 100 integrations, and deep analytics. It breaks projects up into “stories,” which is common Agile development terminology. Native apps also ensure that Pivotal Tracker will run smoothly on any device. The free version is limited to two projects at a time. Pivotal Tracker also offers a free plan with unlimited projects for public projects, educators, and qualified nonprofits.

Cons: The free version is capped at three users, two projects at a time, and 2 GB of storage. Pivotal Tracker is also designed for Agile software developers, so if you’re not at least a little familiar with that world, you might want to look elsewhere.

Cost to upgrade: $150 for up to five collaborators, per year.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Small IT teams of three or less.

Redbooth: Task management and light PM solution for shared workspaces

Redbooth is a collaborative task and project management solution that helps teams organize their work in a shared workspace.

Within a workspace, users can move between tasks, conversations, notes, and files. They can also move from a workspace to their dashboard screen to see an overview of everything assigned to them.

Redbooth’s free plan includes up to ten users, 2 GB of file storage, and two active projects (aka “workspaces”). It’s robust in task management functionality and offers light project management capabilities. For example, the system includes Gantt charts for project planning but limited reporting (specifically, “calendar” and “task overview” reports only).

Gantt Chart in Redbooth
Gantt chart in Redbooth (Source)

Pros: Redbooth offers solid task management functionality in the free plan, allowing users to import tasks, turn emails into tasks, break tasks down into subtasks, and assign users and due dates.

There’s a limit of two active projects in the free plan, but archived projects don’t count against this number. So, once your team is done with a project, archive the workspace to save your data and keep your active project total within limits.

Cons: Redbooth’s free plan does not support external users, making it difficult for teams to collaborate with clients or users outside their organization.

They also don’t include much storage space (2 GB) in their free plan. Even small teams of ten or fewer users will likely need to take advantage of the product’s integrations with Google Drive and DropBox.

Cost to upgrade: $12 per user, per month (Pro); $18.75 per user, per month (Business).

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Small teams (ten users or fewer) that need to manage tasks and want basic project planning capabilities for a small number of internal projects.

Targetprocess: Designed for Agile teams

Targetprocess is a specialized project management tool that lends itself well to Agile project management frameworks such as Kanban boards and Scrum. The tool offers functionalities such as custom workflows, team capacity planning, time tracking, and issue management.

The free version allows you to create up to 1,000 projects and offers basic support that includes live chat and a knowledge base.

Sprint planning dashboard in Targetprocess
Sprint planning dashboard in Targetprocess (Source)

Pros: Targetprocess is an ideal tool for software development teams that need customized workflows for planning sprints, estimating user stories, and product backlog grooming. The tool also offers excellent reporting and tracking capabilities, and at a glance, you can view dashboard summaries of project progress, time spent by project members on tasks, and even granular reports such as bug trends per feature release.

Cons: If you’re looking for a simple project management tool, Targetprocess might not be the best solution. Because it caters to a niche market, it comes with specialized features that might be irrelevant for non-technical teams. Also, the interface design is not the easiest to use, and new users will need some time to figure out how to set up boards and access reports in detail.

Cost to upgrade: $25 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Software development teams.

Teamweek: A robust tool for teams

Teamweek started as an internal tool for well-known time-tracking softwareToggl and then launched as its own standalone tool in 2017. Though it’s still clearly in a transition period, the tool earned a spot on our list for its strong team capabilities.

Teamweek’s mobile app (Source)

Pros: Teamweek’s strength is just what its name suggests: facilitating teamwork. It offers a majority of what those seeking project management software look for: timelines, a beautiful calendar, shared assets, and milestones. It also has a host of integrations, with tools such as Slack, Github, and Chrome, and competitive capacity planning insights.

Cons: Teamweek’s free product is missing one fundamental feature: a projects roadmap. This is fine if you’re using it for short projects that can be entirely planned on a Gantt chart, but not if you need to look at large projects from a high level.

Users may need to go with a paid option if they want native hosting. Teamweek doesn’t let users attach files to tasks, so asset-heavy teams should look elsewhere.

The free version is available for up to five users. The other draws to upgrade, outside of needing new users, are color customization and an annual view. Both of these upgrades are often considered extraneous to many small businesses.

Cost to upgrade: $39 for ten users, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Small businesses that want a simple Gantt-based planning tool.

The top free task management software

Agantty: Visually attractive Gantt tool

Agantty is free project planning software (not a paid tool that offers a free plan), so there are no product tiers or costs to upgrade—all native functionality is free to use from the start.

This includes unlimited tasks, projects, and users as well as the ability to set team and user permissions. Within the shared Gantt chart view, users can create and sort tasks. Users also have an individual dashboard where they can see tasks and projects assigned to them.

The vendor is working on extensions that users can purchase for a small fee, some starting at $0.99 per transaction. Though all native functionality will be free, niche users could purchase these extensions in the future to better align Agantty with their industry-specific needs.

This Gantt chart tool is ideal for small and midsize businesses that need one step above task management but don’t need a robust project management solution with reporting or resource management capabilities.

Agantty’s dashboard view (Source)

Pros: The vendor is open about their product roadmap and lists the functionality they are working on for the remainder of 2018, including a native mobile app and time tracking.

They also have a feedback button within the app for users to flag bugs and facilitate quick resolution.

Cons: There’s no option to invite external clients or users to collaborate on a project in Agantty. Every collaborator, whether internal or external, needs to register an account with the vendor. Agantty does offer the ability to set user permissions, but this requires extra oversight from a project manager to ensure guests and clients don’t have access to tasks and projects they shouldn’t.

Cost to upgrade: N/A

Mobile apps: N/A

Most suitable for:

Small teams that want a light, browser-based Gantt tool to assist with project planning and task management.

Airtable: Flexible and multipurpose

Airtable is a relatively new entrant into the project management market, but it’s highly rated by Capterra users as a tool with a large set of features and a customizable interface for visualizing project workflows.

The free version allows you to create unlimited projects (known as bases), track up to 1,200 tasks (known as records) per project, add files up to 2 GB per base, and also comment on tasks.

Airtable product roadmap task management
Task management in Airtable (Source)

Pros: Airtable stands out as a tool that helps you track not only tasks but all kinds of data. Designed like a spreadsheet, the tool allows you to build databases containing information such as project details, client accounts, and team budgets. The software is easily customized, allowing you to view tasks as lists in a spreadsheet, cards on a Kanban board, or even as date fields on a calendar.

Cons: The key drawback of Airtable is its learning curve. Novice users might find the tool a bit overwhelming because of the many different functionalities. Besides that, there are functionality limitations in the mobile version, such as a lack of multiple task views.

Cost to upgrade: $12 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Teams that need a customizable task management tool.

Asana: Feature-rich tool

Asana is a popular project management tool with an average 4.5/5 star ratingfrom Capterra users. The tool offers functionalities such as project planning, file sharing, task management, and team collaboration.

The free version allows you to create unlimited tasks and projects, but there is a maximum of 15 project members, and features such as creating task dependencies or private projects are not included.

Project overview dashboard in Asana
Project overview dashboard in Asana (Source)

Pros: Asana lets users build product roadmaps, understand task dependencies, and collaborate with a geographically dispersed workforce. Additionally, the tool offers third-party integrations with time tracking, communication, and reporting tools, making it suitable for power users.

Cons: As a feature-rich tool, Asana is suitable for tech-savvy users. Capterra users note that the tool is text-heavy and lacks visuals, so teams looking for an easy-to-use and intuitive interface might find it daunting at first.

Cost to upgrade: $11.99 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Teams working on multiple projects at a time.

Checkvist: Checklist tool for freelancers

As the name implies, Checkvist eschews stylish layouts such as Kanban boards and Gantt charts for a good, old fashioned checklist. Because checklists are typically used by individuals (entire teams adding items to a singular checklist can quickly spin out of control), Checkvist is best suited for individuals and very small teams.

Checkvist tutorial
Checkvist tutorial (Source)

Pros: For those who need a super simple, straightforward checklist app to organize tasks, Checkvist makes a lot of sense. Checkvist supports unlimited hierarchies within lists, so you can get as granular as you want. Upgrading to premium for $3.90 per user, per month adds features such as attachments up to 1 GB, repeating tasks, and reminders.

Cons: Trying to get things organized around a checklist can become unmanageable once your team grows past two or three members. Checkvist is web-based, but if you’re offline, you can still check and edit your lists and have them sync when a connection becomes available. Checkvist also has a mobile portal—as opposed to a dedicated, native app—which they say is optimized for Chrome.

Cost to upgrade: $3.90 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: N/A

Most suitable for:

Freelancers and very small teams.

Easynote: Simple task manager

Easynote is a basic task management solution that helps users organize and manage their to-dos. The free plan includes unlimited users, tasks, and projects, as well as 1 GB of file storage per user.

Users choose from six apps (calendar, activity, subtasks, comments, urgency, and statistics) and add them to projects as needed. For example, in the screenshot below, you can see tabs for activity and calendar, and within the task “Implement Google Calendar,” there’s a drop-down menu for a status indicating urgency.

Though it has only a handful of reviews on Capterra, reviewers praise Easynote for its simplicity and give it 5/5 stars for ease of use.

easynote task overview
Overview of tasks in Easynote (Source)

Pros: Free accounts are guaranteed a response to customer service emails within 48 hours, a level of support that’s rare among free software. For less urgent issues, users can browse Easynote’s knowledge base and help documentation.

Cons: It’s a very trimmed down solution, especially on the free plan. For example, you can create unlimited tasks and projects in the free plan, but you have to upgrade to add a project deadline. The comments app is free, but you have to upgrade to add notifications.

Additionally, there is no mobile app for iOS, which could be problematic for dedicated Apple users.

Cost to upgrade: $5 per month (Business); $10 per month (Extended).

Mobile apps: Android

Most suitable for:

Small teams that need a simple task manager.

Hibox: Task management and collaboration

Hibox is ideal for project teams that need a collaboration and task management tool. Role-based permissions let you designate administrators, managers, basic, and external users. From there, your project team members can create workstreams for specific teams and projects.

Within each workstream, users can create task lists that let them see action items and who is responsible for each task. The free version of Hibox supports unlimited users, so you won’t have to switch tools as your project team grows.

A Hibox work stream
A Hibox workstream (Source)

Pros: Hibox is ideal for non-technical project teams that need a tool to collaborate and to prioritize tasks. It earned praise from Capterra reviewerswho work with clients and like that they can create rooms within Hibox for each client.

Several Capterra reviewers say that using Hibox improved their communication with teams and clients alike, as they can use it to manage tasks across different groups and easily track messages.

ConsHibox’s free plan has limited functionality. Despite the benefit of unlimited users, you get a small amount of storage and basic task management and online support. Advanced task management, unlimited search, external app integrations, and video conferencing are all reserved for its Pro and Enterprise plans. Hibox also lacks many project planning features such as Gantt charts and custom reports.

Cost to upgrade: $4 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Project teams that need free task management for unlimited users.

Hitask: An intuitive task management app for freelancers and solopreneurs

Hitask is primarily a task management tool. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just another limited-function checklist app. It was developed around the “Getting Things Done” methodology and includes collaboration features, time tracking, and a shared calendar.

Hitask’s project tab (Source)

Pros: If you need to organize team projects but the idea of learning to use a sprawling, enterprise portfolio management package makes you want to turn tail and run, Hitask might be the right fit. It’s straightforward enough to start using right away—everything you need is on one screen. The software has been continuously refined and enhanced with new features (including document storage, repeating tasks, and tags) for more than a decade, and it is a stable, reliable tool that will grow with your team.

Cons: Hitask is, at its core, a task management tool. If you try to use it to manage three simultaneous million-dollar projects involving multiple teams and organizations, you’ll likely be disappointed. The free version includes half a gigabyte of file storage, which won’t cut it for anything more than the simplest of projects. Basic support is available via email, FAQs, online forms, and a community forum, but priority support is available only for paying customers, and some users have reported that personal support is virtually non-existent for free users.

Cost to upgrade: $4 for individuals, per month; $25 for teams, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Individuals and small teams who need a task management app with some PM features.

KanbanFlow: Kanban tool for consultants and large teams

KanbanFlow, a product of Swedish developer CodeKick, is an excellent task management choice for fans of Kanban boards. However, if Kanban boards don’t really fit your style, you should continue your search elsewhere.

screenshot of the main interface in KanbanFlow
The main interface in KanbanFlow (Source)

Pros: With unlimited users, tasks, and boards in the free version, KanbanFlow can accommodate even the largest teams. This also makes it a great choice for consultants who work with groups of varying sizes from project to project. The free version also includes subtasks and recurring tasks, so you won’t experience feature pinch right away.

Cons: Because KanbanFlow doesn’t have a native app, the interface can be a little clunky on mobile devices. The vendor claims to have a “mobile web app,” but it’s really just a mobile shortcut to their web app.

If you need important features such as swim lanes, file attachments, search, and integrations, you’ll need to pay for them.

Cost to upgrade: $5 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: N/A

Most suitable for:

Consultants and larger teams.

MeisterTask: Kanban tool to visually manage tasks

MeisterTask is a visual task management solution that helps teams organize work on a shared, Kanban-style board. Users also have an individual dashboard screen that provides an overview of active projects and tasks.

Within a project workspace, tasks look like cards and columns represent different stages in the workflow. Within a task card, users can add files, break work down into a to-do list, and collaborate with other users.

It’s ideal for teams that want to group related tasks into a centralized project workspace but that do not need more advanced project planning or tracking (e.g., reports and analytics). The free version of MeisterTask includes unlimited tasks, projects, and internal collaborators, customizable project workspaces, unlimited storage, and file attachments up to 20 MB.

Screenshot of the to-do list view in MeisterTask
The to-do list view in MeisterTask (Source)

Pros: There’s no limit on the number of tasks, projects, or internal collaborators on the free version of MeisterTask. Capterra reviewers praise the product’s simplicity and say it’s easy for new users to get up to speed.

Cons: While most of the task management functionality is free, workflow automation (setting recurring tasks) and full-text search through archived tasks and projects is not. This functionality, along with priority support and guest access, is restricted to paid plans.

Cost to upgrade: $8.25 per user, per month (Pro); $20.75 per user, per month (Business).

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Small businesses that need basic task management and want to organize tasks on a Kanban-style board.

Pipefy: Award-winning operations management

Pipefy is an operations management tool for project teams with up to ten users. It lets users build custom workflows and use them to manage projects. Pipefy gets lots of love from Capterra users—it earned awards from Capterra in 2018 for “Best Value” and “Best Ease of Use.”

screenshot of Pipefy
Pipefy’s Kanban cards (Source)

Pros: Pipefy’s clean UI makes it easy to use with clients and internal teams alike. Capterra reviewers say they can easily delegate and monitor tasks after establishing custom workflows. The ability to automate and customize email templates is also a significant bonus.

Cons: Pipefy lacks time-tracking functionality and integrations with popular tools, including Slack. It’s also not ideal if you need a workflow management tool with a strong iOS app—Capterra and iTunes reviewers say the app is too limited for them to feel productive using it. Many reviews note that Pipefy lacks the automation features of some competitors, as upkeep of custom workflows and processes is largely manual.

Cost to upgrade$12 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Project teams that need free workflow management for up to ten users.

Podio: Customizable workflow management

Podio boasts a user base of more than half a million organizations, from small businesses to enterprises. From submitting graphics to tracking projects, it serves as a shared space to help teams of all sizes collaborate.

screenshot of projects within Podio
Projects within Podio (Source)

Pros: Capterra reviewers cite Podio’s customizability as a huge plus. Since the tool largely serves non-technical teams, it’s noteworthy that Podio is easy to configure without an IT department. Users also like the ability to track individual tasks against shared project goals.

Cons: Podio’s free plan offers limited functionality. Teams of up to five employees can access task management features along with apps and workspaces. If your project team needs features such as automated workflows, access for external users, and visual reports, Podio’s free version doesn’t offer enough. Capterra reviewers note that the tool lacks crucial project planning features, including the ability to track sprints and milestones.

Cost to upgrade: $9 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Project teams with five or fewer employees that need free task management.

Process Street: Workflow and process management

Process Street is a workflow management tool that helps teams and businesses structure and organize tasks related to a specific procedure (aka process) into a template. The template is then used to create one-off checklists each time the team needs to work through that process.

You can choose a template from the vendor’s template library or create your own using the drag-and-drop editor. Once you’re ready to start a process, “run” a checklist from the template, assign checklist items to users and schedule due dates. Then, oversee progress in the template overview dashboard.

The checklist activity feed creates a trail of activity, recording comments and completed tasks.

Process Street’s free version includes unlimited users, five active checklists, five active templates, basic reporting functionality, and chat and email support.

screenshot of the template overview board in Process Street
Template overview board in Process Street (Source)

Pros: Archived checklists and templates don’t count against the five active ones offered in the free version. So create and archive as many templates as you want, but just keep five or fewer “active” at any given time.

Additionally, Process Street recognizes two user types: members (paid users) and guests (free collaborators). You can have unlimited guests on the free plan; they’ll only be able to access the checklist they’ve been invited/assigned to.

Cons: If you need to create workflows around a small number of straightforward processes, the free plan will suffice. However, if you have more than five processes, you’ll need to upgrade to the Business plan. If you need to enforce the order in which tasks are completed (if task B cannot start until task A is completed), you’ll need to upgrade to the Business Pro plan.

Cost to upgrade: $15 per user, per month (Business), $30 per user, per month (Business Pro).

Mobile apps: N/A

Most suitable for:

Small teams across industries who need to structure five or less processes at any given time (processes should be fairly straightforward and not require completion in a specific order).

Quire: A hierarchical approach to task management

Quire uses a tree-like structure to break project goals down into tasks that are organized in the order of importance, helping users roll tasks up to their respective project strategies.

screenshot of Quire
Quire’s task hierarchy (Source)

Pros: Quire’s ease of use is its strongest asset. Several Capterra reviewers say that the tool’s tree-like structure is the best way to understand project tasks. The tool’s hierarchy is especially helpful for freelancers who work on projects for several different clients. Reviewers also like Quire’s priority settings and the ability to move tasks between projects. And for project managers who tend to be on-the-go, Quire’s iOS and Android apps have a similar aesthetic.

Cons: Quire’s task-list view might not satisfy project teams that want other ways to visualize their work via Gantt charts and Kanban boards. Similarly, Quire lacks portfolio management, project planning, and robust reporting. If you sort tasks by due date, you can’t easily tell which sub-tasks correspond to which tasks. This can be challenging for teams working on several projects at once.

Finally, Quire has a default limit of 30 members. So, while the tool can be a strong choice for small project teams, larger groups will need to look elsewhere.

Cost to upgrade: None, although Quire hints that paid versions will come in late 2018.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Project teams with less than 30 members that want a hierarchical approach to task management.

Streamtime: Collaborative work management tool for creative agencies

Streamtime is a work management solution designed for freelancers, creative teams, and agencies that do contract work for clients. The platform is built around four key modules: the job plan, to-do list, schedule, and reports.

The job plan is where users create a new project, add tasks, add contributors, and estimate the number of hours required to get the job done. Streamtime pulls the labor rates and calculates the total planned cost for the job, which can be ported into a quote for a client.

The to-do list shows users the tasks assigned to them, displayed as cards— the size of the card represents how long it’s estimated the task will take to complete.

The schedule shows your team’s tasks and projects across a calendar and helps track workloads, availability, and allocation.

Reports show a snapshot of current status across all jobs.

All four of these modules are included in Streamtime’s free plan, which limits users to five active jobs and 50 archived jobs.

screenshot of a task card in Streamtime
A task card in Streamtime (Source)

Pros: Streamtime is transparent regarding their product roadmap, highlighting what’s currently being built (e.g., ability to quote and invoice jobs in multiple currencies and languages), as well as changes that are being considered for future releases.

They invite users to vote on features they’d like to see, so stay active in the roadmap forum to make your voice heard. Capterra reviewers note that the vendor is quick to respond to and incorporate user feedback into their roadmap.

Cons: Users may find Streamtime’s language surrounding “time tracking” and “timesheets” confusing. To clarify, Streamtime doesn’t offer automatic time tracking using an in-app timer, or traditional timesheets. Instead, tasks are set up with a time estimate and can be manually updated to reflect actual work time. As you drag the item from “to-do” to “done”, the actual time is logged against the job. Users can run a report equivalent to a timesheet, either by customizing the report view using filters or using the pre-built “my time this week” report in the “favorites” tab.

Cost to upgrade: $15 per user, per month (Standard); $20 per user, per month (Standard+); $30 per user, per month (Premium).

Mobile apps: iOS

Most suitable for:

Freelancers and small creative teams running up to five jobs at once, who need to quote jobs and invoice clients.

Trello: Simple and easy-to-use Kanban board

Trello offers a Kanban board for creating and tracking tasks. You assign tasks to project members via digital cards, and they can add comments, attach files, assign due dates, and more.

There’s no limit on the number of project boards you can create in the free version, but you’ll have to upgrade to control who can access your projects, attach files larger than 10 MB, and gain access to advanced integrations with tools such as Jira, Bitbucket, Slack, and Salesforce.

screenshot of cards in a Trello Kanban Board
Viewing cards in a Trello Kanban board (Source)

Pros: Trello boards track tasks in a visually appealing way akin to sticky-notes on a whiteboard. While the tool is built for simple project management, its early 2017 acquisition by Atlassian has made it a scalable solution for businesses with growing requirements. Such businesses can switch to a more advanced project management solution (such as Jira) when needed, without any data migration hassles.

Cons: Though Trello makes it easy to track tasks for a few projects, businesses that have numerous projects at once will struggle to quickly view all ongoing tasks. The tool also lacks functionalities such as Gantt charts for extensive project planning, employee time tracking, or built-in accounting systems.

Cost to upgrade: $12.50 per user, per month.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Small teams looking for a simple project management tool.

Wrike: Strong security for very small teams

The Wrike experience lets users work with Kanban boards in a spreadsheet-like table. If you’re looking for a tool that teeters on the edge between a heavier task management tool and a light project management option while being super secure, Wrike is likely a good fit.

screenshot of a Gantt chart in Wrike
Gantt chart in Wrike (Source)

Pros: Wrike doesn’t limit the number of active projects for free accounts, which makes the 2 GB of free storage particularly enticing to individuals or two-person teams.

Wrike’s apps are generally well-liked (on Google Play alone, the app has a 4.3/5 star rating with over 5,000 reviews). The Wrike program is under steady lockdown, offering physical security for its data centers at SSAE 16 Type II, ISAE 3402, and ISO 27001 compliance, AES 256, and HIPAA qualification.

Wrike is an exceptional tool—once users upgrade. It’s sleek, intuitive, and provides plenty of features without overwhelming the end user, no matter their level of project management experience.

Cons: Unfortunately, Wrike’s free version is so handicapped that it appeals only to very small teams. The free version caps team size at five users, all of whom must share the allotted 2 GB storage space. This turns the software’s generous file upload limit of 500 MB into a communication and monitoring obstacle. Creative agencies with large digital assets—a large portion of Wrike’s target market—won’t get much out of the free version. For larger organizations, the free version is really only suitable as a trial sandbox.

Cost to upgrade: $9.80 per user, per month, sold in groups of five, ten, or 15 users (requires an annual commitment).

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Individuals, or teams of up to five people.

The top open source project management software

GanttProject: Established project planning tool

Founded in 2003, GanttProject is one of the more established tools on our list. It’s been through many releases in the last 15 years, with the most recent in May 2018 (GanttProject 2.8.8).

You can download GanttProject from the vendor or through a code repository where it’s registered, including GitHub and SourceForge.

It’s ideal for small businesses that need project planning, resource management, and task management capabilities but that also have an IT staff that can oversee implementation and troubleshoot issues.

GanttProject is written in Java (requires Java RunTime) and is compatible with Windows, OSX, and Linux operating systems.

Capabilities include task management, resource management, and project planning using Gantt charts and PERT charts. Users can export data to .csv and generate summary PDF reports.

screenshot of GanttProject
Gantt chart view in GanttProject (Source)

Pros: The product is fairly robust. And because it’s free, the vendor is straightforward about what is, and is not, available in their product. For example, on their FAQ page, they clearly state that GanttProject cannot perform resource leveling. Being upfront about their product offering shows they care about meeting the needs of their users.

In addition to FAQs, the vendor provides several support resources including video tutorials contributed by volunteers and a support forum.

Cons: You can’t measure task duration in hours, only days. While this isn’t a con unique to GanttProject, it may deter teams that need to manage smaller projects where single tasks don’t require a day or longer to complete.

Cost to upgrade: N/A

Mobile apps: N/A

Most suitable for:

Small and midsize businesses that need to oversee planning for large projects and that have a dedicated IT staff to oversee hosting, server maintenance, and software updates.

OpenProject: Robust project management solution

OpenProject Community is a robust project management solution written in Ruby on Rails and compatible with Linux operating systems.

Free capabilities in OpenProject Community include task management, time tracking, team collaboration, project planning using Gantt charts, budgeting, and reporting. It also supports Agile project management and offers task boards, backlogs, bug tracking, and roadmapping.

Users can upgrade to a paid license if they want to use OpenProject in the cloud or as an enterprise. Paid plans offer additional capabilities, including customization, security, and support.

OpenProject was established in 2012 and puts out new releases at least once a month, with the most recent in May 2018 (OpenProject 7.4.5).

You can download or purchase OpenProject from the vendor directly or download and install from a code repository where it’s registered, including GitHub and SourceForge.

screenshot of the Sprint overview in OpenProject
Sprint overview in OpenProject (Source)

Pros: OpenProject includes the entirety of their project management capabilities in their free version.

Businesses that want to upgrade to OpenProject Cloud or Enterprise for customization options, security features such as two-factor authentication, and professional support, don’t have to break the bank.

Cons: OpenProject Community offers minimal support outside of user guides. Additionally, as with any self-installed desktop solution, you either need to be tech savvy enough to troubleshoot issues on your own, or have an IT staff that can oversee installation and system maintenance for you.

Additionally, Windows OS is not supported, and to run OpenProject on OSX requires setting up a development environment. Linux may be the preferred OS for developers, but Windows is hands down more mainstream, which makes the fact that it isn’t supported problematic.

Cost to upgrade: €4,95 per user, per month (roughly $6 at the time of writing) for OpenProject Cloud, which has a minimum of five users; €9,95 per user, per month (roughly $12) for OpenProject Enterprise, which has a minimum of 15 users.

Mobile apps: N/A

Most suitable for:

Established small businesses that need a robust project management solution, with a tech-savvy IT staff familiar with Linux OS that can manage hosting, software updates, and server maintenance.

OrangeScrum: Basic task management for small businesses

OrangeScrum is a task and project management tool, available as a free and open source downloadable desktop app called “OrangeScrum Community,” or for purchase as a cloud-based or self-hosted software. It is written in CakePHP and is compatible with Windows, OSX, and Linux operating systems.

Free, standard features include task management using lists or a Kanban board, resource utilization, and task and resource reports and analytics. Users can purchase premium features as add-ons to the free plan, or they can upgrade to a paid plan.

Premium features include time tracking, recurring tasks, Gantt charts, project templates, client management, and user role management. Training and onboarding support is available for an additional fee.

OrangeScrum Community was established in 2014 and is available for download through the vendor, or you can download it from the code repository GitHub. The latest release from OrangeScrum was in August 2016 (v1.6.1), with ten lesser commits following that, the most recent in May 2018.

screenshot of the user dashboard in OrangeScrum
Viewing notifications on the user dashboard in OrangeScrum (Source)

Pros: OrangeScrum Community users have access to a global forum as well as online documentation to help troubleshoot issues. There’s also an installation guide and email, Skype, and phone support. Capterra reviewers give the product an average 4/5 stars for customer service.

Cons: Users may find information surrounding OrangeScrum’s plans a little confusing, as the free and paid versions go by the same name. If you do a Google search for “OrangeScrum” the top results are for and, with no clear indication that they are the same product.

Secondly, the vendor doesn’t distinguish between capabilities available for free and those available as an add-on, marketing them equally to site visitors. For example, on under “features” the first capability listed is time tracking, which is a premium feature users need to pay to add on.

For a clear comparison of plans, see this comparison chart.

Cost to upgrade: For the cloud-based version: $9 for ten users, per month (Startup), $29 for 20 users, per month (Basic), $49 for 35 users, per month (Standard), $89 for 60 users, per month (Professional), $129 for 100 users, per month (Corporate).

The self-hosted version is sold in similar user buckets, starting with a one-time payment of $259 for ten users (not including fees for maintenance and support), $439 for 20 users, and $709 for 35 users.

Mobile apps: iOSAndroid

Most suitable for:

Small businesses that are looking for a self-hosted task management solution that they can customize to their need, and that have a dedicated IT staff to manage hosting, software updates, and server maintenance.

ProjectLibre: An open source Gantt chart tool

ProjectLibre is a popular open source project management tool with over three million downloads. It offers Gantt chart functionalities that help you create tasks and simultaneously visualize the critical path on a single dashboard.

screenshot of ProjectLibre
ProjectLibre in practice (Source)

Pros: Capterra reviewers give ProjectLibre an average 4.5/5 star rating. Notable functionalities include Gantt charts to visualize task dependencies and spreadsheet reports for calculating project costs and understanding resource availability.

Capterra users also mention the tool’s compatibility with Microsoft Project, allowing them to migrate Gantt charts and files.

Cons: ProjectLibre’s user interface isn’t inviting for those unfamiliar with Microsoft Project and similar tools.

Finding support is also difficult—there’s an old 35-page Google Doc from 2014with notations such as, “I do not understand how this search function works. Can someone explain it to me?,” and, thankfully, a forum that’s modestly active. This is all to say that if you run into trouble with ProjectLibre, you may be in for a long game of troubleshooting before the problem resolves itself.

ProjectLibre is compatible with OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and Microsoft Project 2003, 2007, and 2010, but it has not been updated to accommodate fully with Microsoft Project 2013 or 2016.

Cost to upgrade: ProjectLibre does not offer an upgraded version—yet. Expect a paid cloud version to release within the year.

Mobile apps: N/A

Most suitable for:

Users looking for a free and open source Gantt chart tool.

ProjeQtOr: Open source project management system with plenty of features

ProjeQtOr is a solid, open source project management tool originally released in 2009 by French developer Pascal Bernard.

Over the years, dozens of contributors have put significant work into the project, expanding it into a deep project management system with a dizzying number of features, including portfolio management, bug tracking, risk management, and budget management.

You can take the system for a test run and try everything out with this online demo. In addition to the installed versions, you can run the program right through your browser.

screenshot of the main user interface in ProjectQtOr
The main user interface in ProjeQtOr (Source)

Pros: ProjeQtOr is completely free; the developer makes money off the project by charging for hosting the system, premium support (basic support is available via community forum), professional training, and developing custom features. Users can also request features for free in the forum; “sponsoring” a feature request just expedites the process.

The system is regularly updated, with new patches coming out several times per month and a new major update to add features and address issues roughly every other month. The community forum is also very active. Bernard (who goes by “babynus” on the forum) responded to ten topics on the day we took a look at it.

Cons: As you can see in the screenshot above, ProjeQtOr has a lot going on. This can be overwhelming for new users, and the website itself says: “ProjeQtOr can frighten you at first sight: The number of menu icons available after installing the application is impressive, and you may dread complexity.”

The site does note that users can turn off any buttons they don’t need/want to use.

Cost to upgrade: Completely free, unless you want the paid support mentioned above.

Mobile apps: N/A

Most suitable for:

Users in need of a project management system with lots of features, who don’t need a lot of support or a sleek user interface.

Our methodology

Free and open source products

In order for open source software to be evaluated for this article, the tool has to make its source code open to everyone to inspect, modify, and enhance.

The additional inclusion criteria are:

  • The source code must have been updated (full version or small fix) within the past 12 months.
  • The user reviews of the tool on Capterra’s site must average at least 3.5/5 stars.
  • The softwarea —at a minimum—must support one of the following operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux.

Free or freemium products

The first stage of our research evaluated the products in Capterra’s project management software directory to determine if there is a free version, and if it met our inclusion criteria.

Then, we sorted eligible products into task management and project management tools.

Our final assessment rated each product based on industry expertise, market trends, and specific software capabilities.

1. Is it free, and does it meet our criteria for a free offering?

For the purposes of this article, we classified a product as free if:

  • It offers a free, standalone version of the software.
  • It is not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product version after a limited amount of time.

Once a tool was classified as free, we analyzed that tool according to the following criteria:

  • It has at least three verified reviews on Capterra’s site.
  • It includes at least three independent users in the free plan.
  • It’s identified as a “secure” app on Google’s Play Store.
  • Its vendor didn’t send more than ten marketing emails during the first week of registration.

2. Is it project management or task management software?

The products that met the above criteria were then evaluated against our project management software definition:

Project management software helps organizations manage and deliver projects on time, on budget, and within scope. These tools help small business leaders, project teams, and stakeholders plan, monitor, and control projects.

This check verified their basic project management capabilities and appropriateness for the category.

Products were classified as project management software if they contain all of the following core features:

  • Task management—Create tasks, schedule due dates, and assign tasks to users. Track the progress of each task until complete.
  • Collaboration features—Provides a centralized workspace that lets multiple users communicate, conference, and coordinate.
  • Document management/file sharing—Share files and store them in a central repository, all while tracking version and change history.
  • Project planning—Set benchmarks for scope, budget, and timeline. Break projects down into milestones and individual tasks. Outline the critical path, and identify dependencies, constraints, and key resources.
  • Reporting/dashboards—Display graphs, charts, data presentations, and activity streams. Track “actual vs. estimated” time spent and costs accrued.

Many small businesses may only need software to manage tasks and collaborate across small groups. Therefore, if a product did not meet our PM definition, we evaluated these products against our task management software definition:

Task management software helps individuals and teams organize, manage, and complete tasks. These tools allow users to create tasks, track task progress, and collaborate.

Products were classified as task management software if they contain all of the following core features:

  • Task creation—Create tasks, assign to users, and set deadlines. Add task descriptions and designate each task as part of a project.
  • Task progress tracking—View task history and show task progression.
  • Collaboration—Comment on tasks and add file attachments.
  • Assign task specialization—Add labels/tags to tasks, show status, assign priority.
  • Notifications—Set up either email or in-app notifications for various action items, and/or location-based reminders.
  • Move/edit a task—Move a task using drag-and-drop, or pick a status or new designation.

3. Final assessment

The final assessment of remaining, eligible products combined seven specific factors with research analysts’ industry knowledge, experience with the tools, and understanding of the latest business needs and trends across the project management software landscape.

The final review factors include:

  • Native capabilities—Feature sets defined in the project management and task management market definitions.
  • Mobile—Availability for all device types (IOS, Android, Windows), overall review scores from App Stores.
  • Customer service—In-product assistance (help topics, FAQs, communities), text/email-based support, availability (24 hrs, limited, US-only or global).
  • Security—ISO/IEC 27001 qualification, HIPAA, SP 800-53, and/or DIACAP Level 2, AES, TLS/SSL, and 2FA.
  • API– availability, backward compatibility
  • Ease of use
  • Marketing outreach

A product was given an overall relative score on a ten-point scale for the purpose of selecting the top products; they are listed in this piece in alphabetical order.

Additional contributors to this research include Anthony Bradley, Rachel Burger, and Laura Clymer.

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