6 best free software for project management

Project managers have a significant amount of information to keep track of. They may be charged with handling an entire portfolio of initiatives or other strategic assignments: That’s a lot of organization and oversight to manage.


Thankfully, a PM’s job becomes a little easier when they use software and other online applications to help generate efficiency and effectiveness. A reliance on manual processes and record keeping functions costs time and money. It can also lead to errors and mistakes that could have been avoided, which in turn can create further drains on valuable resources. Given the rapid advance and increasing availability of software (both consumer and business), there’s no reason why project managers shouldn’t consider using such tools.


To that end, PMs need to assess each manual process that could otherwise be automated or performed with software and determine if switching the process would have more organizational benefits. Knowing what features to focus on when comparing options will help inform decision-making, but there are still more considerations: vendor, reliability, ease of use. Among those variables, PMs can eliminate one nagging con: price. Numerous free software products exist on the market. Thorough research, planning and implementation design—skills PMs are largely familiar with—can help uncover the best options.


Project managers interested in cultivating other efficiencies may pursue further education and skills gathering. Students in an online Master of Science in Project and Portfolio Management, like the one offered by Brandeis University, can open PMs to new methods and strategies to deploy.

Here are the six best free software options for project managers:


Google Suite
Finding software isn’t always about looking for the most niche and feature-heavy option. Sometimes it’s about the most bone-simple tools a project manager needs in the day to day. In that case, instead of having to crack open the wallet for word processing and spreadsheet products, PMs can look to the entire Google Suite of online applications. While there is a business-class option that users are billed for, the most essential Google services can be used by any individual with a Gmail address.


Google has a page illustrating how project managers can make use of its applications like:


  • Sheets
  • Calendar
  • Drive (for storing and sharing documents)
  • Hangouts


Project management is made a lot easier when there’s a central space from which to view every task, its level of completion and who is assigned the work. Available for free for up to five team members, Wrike has a big advantage in its visualization and real-time dashboards, which PMs can monitor and interact with to better organize workflows. Instead of PMs having to chase answers on project status, Wrike allows users to update certain tasks and steps, such as: not started, in progress, under review, delayed, complete, on hold and cancelled. The extra latitude in recording levels of progress is a huge benefit for PMs looking for a quick update.


Similar to Wrike, Freedcamp allows users to formulate and display projects as to-do lists, as well as integrate with other applications, like calendar and email. However, Freedcamp has a strong advantage for large teams in that its free version can be used for unlimited projects by unlimited members and with unlimited storage space. Extra storage and added CRM capabilities are available with paid subscription, but the free tool works well enough as a centralized hub that can even schedule tasks for the long term.


For PMs who use lean or agile processes and methods, don’t fret. There’s a free software option for you. Trello is recognized as one of the best kanban PM software products around, and is noted for its ease of use. Kanban, a Japanese style of project organization, uses boards to illustrate how one step of a project may lead to another or how all steps in the workflow are interconnected. Trello utilizes this concept to present users with interactive digital boards they can assemble and customize to their projects. Personalization is a key strength to Trello, and is available at zero pricing for unlimited projects and users.


While it sounds like a video game console, Bitrix64 is actually one of the leading free options for project managers that want to encourage and standardize collaboration. Not only does it have flexible access options (it can be used in the cloud or on premises), Bitrix64 also excels at facilitating group communication through a chat feature, as well as in-app video conferencing and screen sharing. Other key features include Gantt charts and the ability to create task templates. It also has an oversight option that allows PMs to enter the expected number of hours a project should take and can compare individual employees’ times logged, which can illuminate if a project is lagging because one task is taking more time.


Podio is another platform for small-team usage allowing core feature use for up to five people., Reflecting that smaller scale nature, Podio enables users to customize their projects, tasks, outlays and charts more than others can. Users can drag and drop any number of fields or lists to create a custom form, and has an in-app search function. The social intranet, which allows users to communicate seamlessly within the project, is another benefit to Podio.


Free software a crucial tool for PMs
Regardless of which option a project manager chooses, the important thing is that some type of free service is being used. Particularly when there is no charge affixed, such tools can generate noticeable efficiencies and lead to greater collaboration, organization and communication. If you end up liking an option, and if it has a large impact on management, there’s always a more built-out version available for paid subscription. Many vendors have pricing tiers that can help meet a PM’s needs or budget.


Beyond software upgrades, PMs who want to improve their skills and competencies may think about pursuing an advanced degree. An online program, like the Master of Science in Project and Portfolio Management at Brandeis University, is one option to consider for PMs who want to further sharpen and hone their craft. Contact us today to learn more about getting your Online Master’s in Project Management Online.








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