It might be the classic project management tool, but perhaps it's time to look at MS Project alternatives? After all, the software in this space has come a long way in recent years!
Best known as one of the originals in the project management software space, MS Project is highly-rated by many organizations.
But what’s true for one company might not be true for others - which brings to mind an uber-important question: is MS Project right for your team?
The short answer: it’s only suitable if you’ve got deep pockets, a dedicated project manager, and a team that’s already familiar with the Microsoft suite of tools. Otherwise, there’s a steep learning curve involved that can prevent you from driving the maximum value from MS Project.
Ready to dig deeper? In this guide, let’s take you through whether Microsoft Project is a viable option for you and if not, what are the other MS Project alternatives that you can explore.
But if you’ve already made up your mind against using Microsoft Project, go ahead and jump to the section that’s most relevant to you:
Microsoft Project, also known as MS Project and Project Professional, is a powerful project management software for large teams.
It offers numerous features including:
However, it’s best suited for teams that:
MS Project does integrate well with other tools in its ecosystem. But, as with other Microsoft tools, it has a particular interface that resembles Excel’s clunky interface. So it’s important you make sure your team is already familiar with Microsoft’s tools to encourage them to adapt to using MS Project.
If you found yourself nodding your head in agreement with the points above, MS Project is likely a good option for you. Keep in mind though, it’s hard to learn this platform - let alone master it. And unless you master it, you won’t be able to make the most of its advanced features as a Capterra reviewer points out:
“You will need quite a considerable time of training to properly get expert and get comfortable in using this project management software to the maximum usage. Some of the features or tools [are] quite hard to understand; the usage manual [does not] explain the tools in detail.”
Don’t think you’ve the time or resources to dedicate to learning, setting up, and using MS Project? Let’s walk you through what your peer’s frustrations are with the tool then dive into sharing some MS project alternatives with you.
Besides being challenging to set up and costly, users complain the following about MS Project:
Keep in mind that ease of use is one of the leading things to look for when selecting a project management tool. However, in the case of MS project, something as simple as linking projects can be tough with one TrustRadius reviewer sharing:
“Linking tasks between different MS Project files - it can be done, but it's hard to manage and easy to completely break the project plan. We've learned to save multiple versions of the plan in case an external link breaks the project catastrophically.”
Fortunately, a number of project management tools have filled the gap that MS Project’s shortcoming has created. Several are also at a lower price point than Microsoft Project.
However, it’s important to understand which features are key in a project management tool as it helps you pick the tool that’s right for your team.
Essentially, your ideal project management tool should help you organize and automate certain aspects of project management. These include:
To this end, the best software is one that:
If a project management tool isn’t fulfilling these three principles, it might be time to start shopping around for something new.
But first, review which approach to project management suits your organization the best:
Besides making sure the tool you choose suits your organization’s way of working, you need to make sure it comes within your budget and is easy to use for your team
With that, let’s dive into some analysis of the best Microsoft Project alternatives on the market today, and help you select one that meets your business needs the best.
The great thing about having so many project management apps to choose from is that you're bound to find one that does everything you need as a project manager. The downside is the time it takes to review all the features they offer before make your choice!
So we've done the hard work for you. Here are the ten best Microsoft project alternatives available today.
Runn is an intuitive, simple-to-adopt solution to the resourcing complexities that come hand-in-hand with large-scale digital projects. Runn gives you a complete view of how people are deployed across projects so you can see and manage the risks of interdependencies, changing timelines, time-off, over- or under utilization, and possible project conflicts in real-time.
Features: Resource scheduling, project planning, capacity planning, scenario planning, project forecasting, timeline view, timesheets, project financial reporting, skills tracking, resource reports, open API, integrations, import and export of data.
Pricing: Free for teams of up to 5 people; for larger teams, $8 per user/month on an annual plan. Enterprise plans are available. Runn also offers discounts for non-profits and companies based in OECD low or middle-income countries.
Best for: Companies that need robust resource management; professional services organizations such as consultancies and IT firms; internal IT departments that work on projects.
Our analysis: Runn might not be as well known as some of the names on this list, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just because a platform is young doesn't mean it's immature.
Runn has built many features in a relatively short time, and it is constantly collaborating with customers to refine and develop the features that will be most useful to them. You can see Runn's roadmap here.
It's a solution that works well for teams of all sizes—from small agencies of ten or so people, to departments with hundreds of resources.
Developed by Gartner, Mavenlink (now Kantata) is an MS project alternative specifically designed for businesses involved in the service industry. The software has features for collaboration, resource management, project management, and financials. This Microsoft project alternative can be deployed on the cloud, or used on Mac and Windows systems.
Features: Gantt chart/timeline view, task management, resource management, progress tracking, PPM, resource reports, budgeting and forecasting, expense tracking, and client management.
Pricing: Mavenlink offers free trials to interested businesses. However, the project management software does not have a free plan, and pricing starts at $59 per month.
Best for: Businesses involved in the professional services industry, such as marketing, IT and software development services, and management consulting.
Our analysis: Mavenlink offers extensive reporting functionality for better visibility of your project. It also allows extensive customization of how time and funds are spent, and enables you to monitor progress on several projects simultaneously. When used correctly, you can gain valuable insight into aspects of your business that were previously siloed, which can help you make informed business decisions.
Using predictive scheduling, LiquidPlanner aligns your team members with your project schedules and priorities. The intuitive interface is the main feature of LiquidPlanner, which enables you to deliver and optimize projects in real time.
Features: Kanban board, reporting and analyzing data and information, real-time alerts, business process automation, task progress tracking, utilization reporting, workflow management and configuration.
Pricing: The free version is for a 3-person team for up to 10 projects. You can also get a trial of the paid version, which are then charged according to the number of tasks and projects you need to manage. The packages range from essentials ($15 per month), to professional ($25 per month), and ultimate ($35 per month).
Best for: Projects needing remote access from project managers and team members. LiquidPlanner is also good for organizations with a small number of employees and low budgets.
Our analysis: LiquidPlanner's features help facilitate project management through improved team collaboration. It is accessible and intuitive, allowing you to monitor project progress while automating aspects of your workflow.
Another commonly used Microsoft Project alternative is Smartsheet. This online work execution platform allows businesses to plan, track, automate, and report on work at scale. The tool adopts Agile methodologies to give users a flexible solution to the changing needs of dynamic work across the company.
Features: Ad hoc reporting, backlog management, Gantt chart, Kanban board, project scheduling, ROI tracking, API, Agile methodologies, capacity management.
Pricing: Smartsheet does not have free plans but offers a free trial period for their services. The paid basic plan starts at $7 per month and may go up to $25 monthly.
Best for: Because of its features, Smartsheet has been used by organizations across various industries, including construction, computer software, marketing, and healthcare.
Our analysis: Smartsheet is considered an Agile project management tool, which means it can help refine the entire team's tasks. Smartsheet is regarded as a more business-oriented version of other spreadsheet applications, but is easy to learn and use because of the similarity of its interface with Microsoft Excel.
Known as an end-to-end management solution, Scoro enables project management to control the entire workflow in one place. This Microsoft Project alternative combines project management features with CRM, billing, and reporting tools so that you can automate recurring tasks and simplify the workflow.
Features: API integration, budget management, Gantt chart, Kanban Board, invoice history, price and cost calculations, financial management, online time tracking software, task management features, status tracking.
Pricing: Scoro has no free plans but offers a free trial to interested organizations. There are four pricing plans: essential ($26 per month) for small teams needing management all essential business aspects in one place; standard ($37 per month) for teams that need holistic time management, resource planning, and collaboration tools; pro ($63 per month) for fast-growing businesses needing a 360-degree view of customers, finances, pipelines, and more; and ultimate, which can provide you with custom workflows.
Best for: Businesses and organizations that need to manage their projects' time, finances, sales, and reporting in one place. Typical industries using Scoro include marketing and advertising, higher education, design, management consulting, and architecture and planning.
Our analysis: Scoro's dashboard is easy to use and optimizes your work breakdown structure, while the interconnected modules avoid the need for other tools. You can set up recurring projects, track them throughout the project pipeline, and have a visual overview of your project plan which is easy to share.
A leader in collaborative work management, Adobe Workfront integrates people as well as project data across the organization. This MS Project alternative enables users to deliver exceptional customer experiences at every stage of planning and executing work.
Features: Capacity management, Approval Process Control, Digital Asset Management, email-to-task conversion, KPI monitoring, Kanban board, recurring task management, scenario planning.
Pricing: Annual subscriptions are available at different levels depending on your needs, but the prices are not published. Customer reviews mention costs upwards of $30 per user per month, or between $600 to $1,500 a year depending on the license you choose. There is no free version but you can ask for a free trial.
Best for: Project managers who need to manage work and Agile methodologies from a single, connected location.
Our analysis: Adobe Workfront is good for remote teams who need customizable features and prioritize keeping data up to date. The software can help you track projects and your organization's functions and departments.
Combining intuitive Gannt charts with task-level communication, file sharing, team resourcing, and more, TeamGantt helps you execute your project management all in one place.
Features: Gantt chart, KPI monitoring, milestone tracking, task scheduling, dependency tracking, resource scheduling, time and expense tracking.
Pricing: TeamGantt offers three pricing plans when it comes to its software. Single (free) allows unlimited users for one project. Standard, which costs $9.95 monthly, is for basic planning and management projects. Finally, the advanced plan gives you full access to all TeamGantt features for $14.95 a month.
Best for: TeamGantt is best for larger teams, and is often used by businesses involved in computer software and IT, marketing and advertising, and construction.
Our analysis: For teams who frequently use Gantt charts, TeamGantt may be a nice solution, as it combines other project management features into the Gantt framework.
Planview Clarizen is a Microsoft Project alternative widely used among PMOs and professional delivery teams. The platform is based around robust portfolio management capabilities which allow managers and project team leaders to automate workflows and overall manage projects effectively.
Features: CRM, PPM, business process automation, collaboration, capacity management, compliance tracking, cost-to-completion tracking, Gantt charts, time tracking, project planning and scheduling.
Pricing: Planview Clarizen offers different tiers, but the prices are not published. Customer reviews indicate a range from $30 to $60 per user per month. A recorded demo is available to view online, but there is no free trial.
Best for: Mid-sized and enterprise PMOs, EPMOs, PSOs, and ESOs, as it helps them gain visibility across teams, manage risks, automate workflows, and have delivery confidence.
Our analysis: Planview Clarizen is a practical project tracking system for you to improve your deliveries and avoid delays.
With plenty of customizable features, ClickUp is considered to be one of the most used Microsoft Project alternatives in project planning. You can plan, organize, and collaborate on your work using its features such as Docs, Chat, Goals, and Whiteboard.
Features: Audit trail, CRM, business process automation, campaign planning, automatic time capture, backlog management, email-to-task conversion, communication management.
Pricing: ClickUp offers a free trial on its platform. It also has a free version with a limited file storage quota. For paid versions, there are three pricing plans: unlimited ($5 per month), business ($12 per month), and business plus ($19 per month).
Best for: ClickUp users come from many industries, but most are from marketing and advertising, computer software, and IT services industries.
Our analysis: ClickUp features are extensive, which helps you in managing tasks and your team. The platform is designed without the need to become tech-savvy.
Focusing on end-to-end client work management, Accelo is commonly used by professional service providers worldwide. This cloud-based alternative to MS Project provides you with up-to-date business data.
Features: Task and activity management, recurring task management, scheduling, project map, dashboards and reporting.
Pricing: Much like other MS Project alternatives, Accelo offers a free trial for interested users. Its software plans cost either $24 a month for the basic version or $39 per month for the premium version.
Best for: Accelo is used across various industries, including IT and computer software, marketing and advertising, and management consulting.
Our analysis: Accelo's features enable customization so that the platform can cater to your project needs. This capability helps simplify processes, especially with time-consuming tasks, and ensures project managers always have up-to-date information.
Every team operates differently, and every project has its own distinct needs, goals and budget. Because of this, you need a project management tool that can be customized and adapted for your current and future project management needs. Each software and platform on this list could be a good Microsoft Project alternative for your situation, depending on your industry, the size of your teams, the number of projects, the complexity of those projects, and how involved you need to be with the granular detail of each project.
However, if your biggest concerns are resource and capacity planning, and you want a tool that is intuitive and enjoyable to use (which you should - nobody needs to settle for poor UI these days!), Runn is a great option. It's a budget-friendly, highly scalable solution that will be able to stand your organization in good stead for years to come, no matter how big you grow and how many projects you take on.
Having a top-notch toolkit always makes the job easier - that's why it's vital to use the right project resourcing tools! This list features some of the best.
Your step-by-step guide to creating a resource management plan - for project managers that love delivering on time and on budget.