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The Best Project Management Software of 2018

Zoho Projects

Bottom Line: Online project management service Zoho Projects has a clean and straightforward interface, an excellent array of features, and plenty of support for integrating other business tools.

LiquidPlanner

Bottom Line: LiquidPlanner is an impressive online tool for managing projects, tasks, workers, and their time. Though expensive, it's one of the best work-management tools on the market.

Bottom Line: When you need a project management and collaboration solution yesterday, turn to Wrike. It offers plenty of ways to integrate with other apps and services, and you can set it up in a hurry.

Bottom Line: Workfront provides high-end project management for enterprises, as well as tools for getting day-to-day work done, all in one highly customizable service.

Bottom Line: Online project management platform Mavenlink could be a good fit for midsize to large organizations, but it can get expensive for small businesses.

Bottom Line: Clarizen is an online work management and PM service that's best suited for enterprise organizations. Though it's easy to start using, it's a bit expensive and less slick than other options.

Teamwork Projects

Bottom Line: With wonderful usability and features, Teamwork Projects is one of the best places to manage projects.

Bottom Line: Easy to learn and cleanly designed, project management app Celoxis offers a wide range of features for tracking tasks, financial resources, and time. It could be stronger in collaboration an.

Bottom Line: Highly intuitive for beginners, TeamGantt is an excellent project management app for small businesses. It could use improved communication tools, however.

Bottom Line: Volerro is a kanban-style project management app. It provides excellent tools for communicating, but comes up short on mobile apps and integration with other services.

What Is Project Management Software?

Teams that have to handle multiple projects simply can’t rely on human memory to keep them all organized. And trying to keep everything together in email is a recipe for disaster. To deliver projects on time and within budget, information needs to be written down, deadlines plotted, and documents shared. Team members need to be in constant communication with one another. When your team needs to get serious about managing projects, the solution is to get project management software.

Project management services are online systems for both working and collaborating on projects. These real-time workspaces let team members and outside partners keep an eye on every detail that brings a project to fruition. They typically provide an overview of all the projects in the pipeline, as well as the nitty-gritty details about the daily work being done to move the projects forward.

The very best project management apps help teams handle common problems, such as slipped deadlines, by automatically rescheduling tasks that are affected by them. They generate reports that give managers insight into which team members have too much—or too little—work on their plates. Many track time spent on projects and integrate with invoicing and billing systems.

The most important thing to know about project management apps, as opposed to other kinds of work-management apps, is that they are for projects. That might sound like a tautology, but it’s important.

Projects are a specific type of work. Projects have a start date, an end date, and deliverables. Creating a new design for a website is a project. Maintaining that website, however, is ongoing work with no clear beginning or end date. Publishing a monthly magazine is a project that you complete once a month. Writing daily content for a blog is ongoing work. You could, theoretically, manage each blog post as its own project, but if the turnaround time is quick and only two or three people are involved, using a project management system could be more trouble than it’s worth.

The kind of work that benefits from a project management app typically takes more than a few weeks to complete, and there are generally many steps and people involved. Is selling a house a project? It very well could be.

How Project Management Apps Work

Many projects are managed by a dedicated project manager, and that’s true even when project management software is being used. While a project manager might still be the person overseeing the whole project and helping to redirect resources as needed, she or he is not the only person using the project management application. Get into a project management app and you’ll find people working together to break complex projects into component parts, namely milestones, tasks, and subtasks. Employees, contractors, and sometimes even clients also use the project management system to share documents, sign off on plans, log time spent on tasks, and so forth.

In a best-case scenario, every milestone, task, and subtask is assigned to a specific person and given a deadline. Typically, other team members can see who is responsible for what, whether that person is on track to complete it on time, and if there are any unanswered questions about the job. That level of insight is important because it alerts people who are further down the planned chain of events of possible delays before they occur.

Having visibility into every team member’s task list is also useful for understanding whether people are falling behind because they’re overworked. When you can see that a colleague has six task assignments all due within the next 48 hours, it’s easy to spot the problem and redistribute the work before deadlines slip. By looking at a Gantt chart, for example, a pretty common feature in project management apps, a manager can see clearly when employees have too much work on their plates, or not enough. on line colleges It helps everyone use available resources more effectively.

Projects also usually have assets, which range from a detailed description of the project and its parts to a visual mock-up. People on the project team all need access to these assets, and the project management app becomes the central place where they live.

Many project management solutions include storage space so that your team can upload files right into the workspace, where everyone on the team can see them and discuss them. It’s also common for services to have an option to connect to third-party online storage services, such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive, so that team members can link to or upload files to the project management system from the repositories they already use.

Free Project Management Tools

A few project management software systems have free versions, but they are generally quite limited. The primary limitation is usually the number of projects you can manage (think one or two), although sometimes a service might restrict the amount of storage space you get or or prevent you from using certain features.

Almost all project management apps have, at a minimum, a two-week free trial. When a free trial has a time limit on it, I don’t count it as having a free tier of service. To me, free means you get to use it forever with no charge, even if it is limited.

While it’s helpful to try out software for free while you’re deciding whether to upgrade, most businesses, in the end, will want the features and space allotments that come with paid accounts. Still, it’s often helpful to try a product for longer than a couple weeks before deciding whether it’s right for you, your team, and the work you all do.

Which project management system has a free version? ProofHub, Teamwork Projects, Volerro, Wrike, and Zoho Projects all do. As mentioned previously and as you can see from the chart above, most free versions only allow you to manage one or two projects, except for Wrike. With Wrike, the limitations are that only five people can use the tool, you only get 2GB of space, and you don’t get proofing and approval tools.

Free trials often come with other limitations, which I’ve listed in the Price section of the complete reviews, which are linked in the table above and the in the short capsules below.Collaboration Software

Although they might sound like the same thing, collaboration software is a little different from project management software. While you do collaborate in a project management app, project management software is something much more specific.

Collaboration software comprises many different kinds of apps and services that handle everything from video conference calls to letting two people type on a document at the same time.

Modern project management services often roll communication and collaboration tools right into them. They may also let you connect to the collaboration apps that your team already uses, such as Slack, HipChat, or even Google Docs.

Whether you use communications tools included in the project management application or connect to an outside one, the idea is that your team can log into one workspace and have at hand everything they need to get work done, including a prioritized to-do list, all the necessary assets, notes from other colleagues, a calendar of deadlines and milestones, and a place to ask questions and find answers. Some project management apps even offer billing and expense tools, too.

Workflow Software

Earlier I mentioned that project management apps are designed for managing projects, but not other kinds of work. What kind of work isn’t a project? Any kind of ongoing work fits the bill, such as fixing bugs as they get reported or answering support calls. Ongoing work often is marked by recurring tasks.

For ongoing work, people often talk about using workflow management tools rather than project management apps. Workflow management software and project management apps have considerable overlap in what they do from a theoretical standpoint. They both help groups of people write down what needs to be done and figure out when to do it. Project management apps, however, tend to offer more features that provide structure for ushering the work along, in part because they make assumptions about the work. The work has a start date, an end date, and a deliverable, after all. Workflow management apps make fewer assumptions about the type of work you’re managing and how best to do it. So they often end up being more flexible. With workflow management, you often have to decide how to use the tool. That’s not usually the case with project management apps, which have a more prescribed use.

Workflow management is tricky to classify because sometimes it’s handled as a standalone issue and sometimes it’s rolled into other apps. Editors’ Choice Asana, for example, handles workflow management pretty concretely, as do kanban board apps—more on these below. But all-in-one work hubs, such as Workfront and Podio, can include workflow management tools if you add them to your account. They can also have full-scale project management applications inside them, too. But workflow management isn’t necessarily the core of the service, and neither is project management. Those are just apps you can add to your account.

Kanban boards are another kind of workflow management software. Trello is one example. Kanban can be described as a style of working. It comes from Japan, and it was traditionally used in manufacturing for just-in-time delivery. These days, kanban apps are popular among software development teams. Kanban is typically a visually oriented system that is particularly good at controlling how much new work a team takes on before the current batch of work in progress is complete. The idea is to keep work flowing smoothly by not overloading workers with too many competing mandates. Some businesses do use kanban to manage projects, but kanban apps aren’t really project management apps.

There are a few project management apps that are designed to also serve as workflow management apps, depending how you implement them. Two examples included in the chart above are Wrike and Clarizen. Volerro is also an example because it offers a kanban-style experience, which is always a good fit for managing workflows.

Task Management Software

Task management software is slightly different from project management software. Project management apps do include task management features in them, but you can get standalone task management apps if that’s the only piece you really need.

One of the clearest examples of a task management app is Asana, which, confusingly, is also a very clear example of a workflow management app, as mentioned above. With Asana, you can have tasks assigned to specific individuals, and those tasks can have descriptions, deadlines, and attached documents, but they aren’t necessarily part of a larger project.

Task-management apps work pretty well for ongoing work. You can manage a project in Asana, but it takes a little more work on your part to do so. The best way to explain it is with an analogy.

Think of Asana or a kanban app as a deck of cards. Now think of a project management app as a board game. Board games come with rules, and the game is usually the most fun when you play it as it was designed to be played. With a deck of cards, however, you can play a game someone else invented or you can make up your own game. Before you play cards, you have to make sure everyone at the table knows the rules and plays by the same rules, because they aren’t written down on a handy sheet of paper for you all to follow.

The same thing happens when you start using a task management app. You have to spend a lot of time figuring out how you’re going to use it. On the one hand, it’s very flexible. On the other hand, it can take considerable trial and error to get it right.

That’s not to imply that project management systems are inflexible. With a board game, you could certainly make up your own rules or create variations on the rules. But you buy a board game with an understanding that it works best when you use it for its intended purposes. You use a project management app with the understanding that you are going to manage projects by assigning tasks and deadlines, monitoring work, tracking billable hours, and so forth.

To-Do List Software

Another kind of app that people sometimes confuse with project management apps are to-do apps. Some to-do apps are collaborative. They sometimes give you the ability to create “projects” within them. You can assign a person to a to-do, give it a deadline, and watch for when the task is complete. But they’re not project management apps.

Similar to the issue with task management apps, to-do list software doesn’t give you the whole range of tools and features for tracking a complex project through its completion. Collaborative to-do apps are good for lightweight work. They’re also good for families and multi-person households. But they’re incapable of giving you a Gantt chart or an estimation of how much work time is left before the next phase of a project can begin.

My favorite collaborative to-do app is Todoist Premium. Asana also works extremely well as a collaborative to-do app.

Project Management for Small Business

Many small businesses turn to project management software because they’re overwhelmed by working in email. The right project management platform can help kill email, but know that it won’t happen overnight. projects management software It takes time for employees to learn the software, and for your organization to figure out how best to use it for the projects you have.

Small business and enterprises have very different needs, however, and it’s important to find the project management tool that best fits your business.

One tip-off as to whether a project management solution is better suited for small companies or large enterprises is how they charge. Project management platforms that can support enterprises typically have a per-user-per-month fee structure, while those that cater more to very small businesses often charge a flat monthly rate for a set number of licenses or for unlimited licenses. And it’s not that a very small business can’t or shouldn’t use the same software that the big players use, but sometimes it’s overkill, and who wants to get stuck paying for features they don’t need?

Another differentiating factor is whether the project management platform has many permissions levels. Workfront, for instance, has different permissions levels for executives, portfolio managers, project managers, and team members. Having such hierarchical roles can ensure that each person in the organization has the right level of access. In a very small business, where each employee wears a lot of different hats, permission levels might not be as advantageous.

There are other differences, too, aspects you’ll want to consider for your particular business, team structure, and style of working. The summaries below will guide you toward finding the right service for your organization. When you’re ready to get the full story on a particular service, click through to read an in-depth review.

What’s Not Here?

We review far more project management software than we can fit into a story like this. Plenty of great services, including the very popular Basecamp, are not currently in our list. Rest assured, however, that we update this story frequently, and the rankings change as the services themselves do. If you’re looking for service that’s not in this story, please visit our project management product guide.

Featured in This Roundup

Zoho Projects Review

Bottom Line: Online project management service Zoho Projects has a clean and straightforward interface, an excellent array of features, and plenty of support for integrating other business tools.

LiquidPlanner Review

Bottom Line: LiquidPlanner is an impressive online tool for managing projects, tasks, workers, and their time. Though expensive, it’s one of the best work-management tools on the market.

Teamwork Projects Review

Bottom Line: With wonderful usability and features, Teamwork Projects is one of the best places to manage projects.

Clarizen Review

Bottom Line: Clarizen is an online work management and PM service that’s best suited for enterprise organizations. Though it’s easy to start using, it’s a bit expensive and less slick than other options.

Igloo Review

Bottom Line: Igloo’s custom intranet is a place to communicate, with tools for managing work and projects, too. The service is reliable, but it’s not on the cutting edge in terms of design or features.

TeamGantt Review

Bottom Line: Highly intuitive for beginners, TeamGantt is an excellent project management app for small businesses. It could use improved communication tools, however.

Volerro Review

Bottom Line: Volerro is a kanban-style project management app. It provides excellent tools for communicating, but comes up short on mobile apps and integration with other services.

Workfront Review

Bottom Line: Workfront provides high-end project management for enterprises, as well as tools for getting day-to-day work done, all in one highly customizable service.

Wrike Review

Bottom Line: When you need a project management and collaboration solution yesterday, turn to Wrike. It offers plenty of ways to integrate with other apps and services, and you can set it up in a hurry.

AceProject Review

Bottom Line: AceProject puts function over form in its sturdy but basic project management solution. It’s affordable, but not feature-rich.

Celoxis Review

Bottom Line: Easy to learn and cleanly designed, project management app Celoxis offers a wide range of features for tracking tasks, financial resources, and time. It could be stronger in collaboration an.

Comindware Project Review

Bottom Line: Comindware Project is a solid project management service. It doesn’t have every feature your team might desire, but if it has everything you need, it’s a good option at a competitive price.

Mavenlink Review

Bottom Line: Online project management platform Mavenlink could be a good fit for midsize to large organizations, but it can get expensive for small businesses.

ProofHub Review

Bottom Line: Project management app ProofHub aims for simplicity without skimping on major features. Offering excellent tools at a competitive price, it should be on your short list if you run a small bu.

Trello Review

Bottom Line: Trello is an online kanban tool that helps teams collaborate and manage work. It’s a solid, flexible system, but it’s less powerful than traditional project management software.

eXo Platform Review

Bottom Line: If your company is looking to implement a centralized intranet or social experience, eXo Platform can deliver it on the cheap, but without an impressive array of features.

About the Author

Jill Duffy is a contributing editor, specializing in productivity apps and software, as well as technologies for health and fitness. She writes the weekly Get Organized column, with tips on how to lead a better digital life. Her first book, Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life is available for Kindle, iPad, and other digital forma. See Full Bio

Zoho Projects

Feature-rich online project management platform. Includes plenty of integrations with other services. Easy setup and use. Responsive. Good value.

Bug-tracking costs extra. Could support more drag-and-drop functionality.

Online project management service Zoho Projects has a clean and straightforward interface, an excellent array of features, and plenty of support for integrating other business tools.

Zoho Projects (which begins at $25 per month for the Express plan) continues to lead in the field of project management (PM), having freshened up its look and added features that all teams can use to work collaboratively. It’s one of only a few PM applications that still offer a truly free level of service so that you can try it fully and without any time restrictions before you upgrade to a paid version with more features and support. If you buy Zoho Projects, then you’ll be getting a great product with ample add-on tools and services that allow your Zoho Projects account to grow as your business and team grows.

Similar Products

Teamwork Projects

LiquidPlanner

Easy Projects

Comindware Project

Smartsheet

Time Doctor

TimeSolv Pro

The only other tool that compares in excellence of plan options and value is Teamwork Projects , which also offers a free account level. Both Zoho Projects and Teamwork Projects are Editors’ Choice services for online PM, and this is reflected in the 5-star editor rating we’ve given it in that category. A third Editors’ Choice product, LiquidPlanner, is better suited for organizations of 50 people or more, and it excels specifically in the areas of scheduling, reports, and interactive Gantt charts. Zoho Projects is also a good time tracking tool and earns a 4-star editor rating in that category.

Price and Plans

Zoho Projects offers a few levels of service, including a free tier, which supports integration with Google Apps. The paid plans are competitively priced. I’ll explain the details of the free account first and then explore some of the added benefits of the paid plans. For complete details, see the comparison chart for Zoho Projects.

Zoho Projects’ free plan lets you manage only one project with a meager 10 MB of storage space, although there is no cap on the number of people you invite to join your team. I’m pleased to see a free level of service at all because not every PM platform offers one. A free offering lets people try out the platform at their leisure. With any of Zoho Projects plans, you can also sign up for a free 15-day trial. There are some limitations, however. You don’t get tools for time tracking, budgeting, invoicing and expensing, recurrences and reminders, subtasks, and task duration. Those features are included in all the paid service levels.

Other PM services that still offer a truly free level of service include Teamwork Projects, Wrike, and Volerro. Wrike has a fairly generous free account. It supports up to five users, does not have any limit on the number of projects you can create, and includes 2 GB of storage space. See PCMag’s head-to-head comparison of Zoho versus Wrike for more details.

Paid tiers of Zoho Projects offer a little more. The Express account, at $25 per month or $249 annually, lets you manage 20 projects and comes with 5 GB of storage. For this price, you get unlimited projects and unlimited users. The Express package limits you to eight project templates. Another big limitation is that you can only view but not edit Gantt charts. There are other limitations as well. While Zoho Projects Express is a good deal, very small teams managing five or fewer projects might be enticed by Teamwork Projects’ Personal plan, which costs only $12 per month.

The next tier of service is Zoho Projects Premium, which costs $50 per month or $499 per year. With this plan, you can have 50 active projects in any given month. It includes 100 GB of space and 10 project templates. That’s more space than you get with a similar deal from Teamwork Projects, which charges $49 per month for 40 projects but only 20 GB of space. At the Premium level with Zoho Projects, Pages and Chat work across all projects (you’re limited to just one project in the Express tier), and you can edit your Gantt charts (hooray!).

A special bug-tracking feature, which is essential for most teams working on software or interactive Web projects, is included to try out in the free account, but it’s an add-on service for Express and Premium users and costs an additional $25 and $50 per month, respectively. That’s on the expensive side. At least you can import bugs from CSV, XLS, and XLSX formats, as well as from Atlassian JIRA. Bug import is included in all tiers of service.

I love that with Zoho Projects, no matter the tier of service, you don’t pay per user per month. You just pay a monthly fee for as many users as you need. Many other PM platforms charge by the seat. For example, Comindware charges $9.99 per user per month. Volerro charges $19.99 per user per month for its Pro plan. It’s not hard to do the math and see that Zoho Projects has serious financial appeal for any organization with more than a handful of people that need access to PM software.

Zoho Projects does offer an Enterprise level of service for $80 per month or $799 annually, although enterprise features are not considered in this review.

Features and Interface

The Zoho Projects site has a clean and up-to-date appearance. The look was updated in early 2017. The site is intuitive so you can figure out the basics of how to use it within a few minutes of creating an account.

Business owners and team leads will appreciate that Zoho Projects prompts people to enable two-factor authentication to help keep accounts safer and more secure. Who doesn’t appreciate a simple security nudge for those employees who are guilty of setting weak passwords or reusing passwords?

Setting up projects is simple, with plenty of room to create even very complex projects. As you invite other team members to join your project workspace and start adding milestones to your calendar, you’ll find the tools you need without having to search for them. Zoho Projects has an excellent layout and puts relevant options at your fingertips at the right time. You can customize your dashboard to show whatever charts or updates you need to see first. For example, there’s a Task Status widget showing both a pie chart and a raw number count of how many tasks are open versus closed. Whether you’re concerned with timesheets or individual workloads, you can modify your dashboard accordingly.

The site is also responsive. on line universities Click on a title to change a project name or enter the number of hours someone has worked on a task, and the app moves in time with you. That’s the kind of responsiveness that’s easy to take for granted when it’s available, but that you’d really miss if it weren’t there. The PM app Easy Projects is one of the most sluggish applications I’ve used. Compare it directly to Zoho Projects for speed of use, and the winner is obvious.

My favorite features in Zoho Projects are the ones related to chat and notifications. Zoho Projects has a live chat component built right into the workspace, so you don’t have to flip to another app when you need to quickly ask a colleague a question. You can create a chat with multiple people in it and return to the thread as needed. The chat history won’t disappear when you log out. While many teams rely on internal company chat apps, such as Slack and HipChat, I love to see the option to use one that’s included in the online tool where you are already working. If your team doesn’t live and breathe in a PM app, having a chat function may not be so important to you, but at least the option is available.

The notifications are well implemented; you can open some of them and interact directly from the notification itself. This interaction mechanism lets people reply to or comment on important matters quickly without leaving the screen on which they were getting more important work done. That’s good for productivity.

Zoho Projects gives you easy links in that left rail to jump among views. The project calendar and your timesheet, documents, and forums are all reachable with one click. You can also jump to Pages. Like webpages, Pages are static content, where team member or project leaders might put important information that doesn’t change frequently.

You can reach even more information about your project in the areas labeled Tasks and Milestones. The Tasks area, in particular, has some great options for letting you change how you view tasks: Classic, Plain, Dependency, and Kanban. The Task area also opens up the option to see Gantt Charts and Task Reports. Task Reports show how many tasks various people on the project have assigned to them, how many tasks are unassigned, as well as completion state as a percent.

Time Tracking isn’t included with the free account but it is available at the Express levels and higher. A Time Sheet Approval feature doesn’t come with the Express account but it is available for Premium and Enterprise users. When you use Timesheets, you’ll find a Start-and-Stop Timer icon appears next to some of your tasks to help you keep track of how long you work on them. You can also log hours manually by typing them.

Zoho Projects also has a newer feature that lets you add start and end dates to tasks, milestones, and projects so that you can estimate how long it takes to get work done, rather than simply assigning a deadline. There’s also an option to set your project times to “strict,” meaning the system prevents you from assigning due dates for milestones that are outside the time scope of the project.

If you’re really into planning work around time, however, then LiquidPlanner is the best tool available. It’s an online PM and management tool that tightly ties project tasks and other work together through time and dependencies. In LiquidPlanner, for example, if someone on the team enters their upcoming vacation, all tasks that are dependent on that work’s presence will be flagged for attention so that you can reassign the work. If the work isn’t reassigned and the worker turns in everything a week late, all the other tasks in the project will be pushed by the appropriate amount of time. LiquidPlanner is expensive, but you do get some unique and powerful features for your money.

Apps and Integrations

One great aspect of Zoho Projects is that it works with many other apps and services. You can integrate it with other Zoho software and services, such as Zoho Books or Zoho Invoice if you want to manage budgeting and invoice easily.

As mentioned, Zoho Projects also works with Google Apps, meaning you can connect your Zoho Projects account to your Google account to import files directly from Google Drive. You can track high-priority events by exporting them to a Google Calendar. Finally, you can use Gmail to create tasks and record working hours even if you can’t log into to your Zoho Projects account.

Dropbox , Box, Evernote, Github, Microsoft OneDrive , and Bitbucket are all supported as integrated or add-on third-party services, too. It’s not an especially long list, but it does cover many of the basics.

For the mobile worker, Zoho Projects is available as an iOS app and an Android app. While I did not test these mobile apps as part of this review, their availability makes Zoho Projects an attractive option for groups with mobile team members.

Time Tracking for Professional Services

Zoho Projects, like Mavenlink and other PM-focused tools, offers a basic time tracking module that lets users punch into and out of tasks throughout the work day. Within tasks, users can log hours retroactively, choose the number of hours they will work each day, choose a percentage of the day they will focus on specific tasks, or just add a total of hours they will work on a task period. Alongside each task a user is assigned lives a tiny Stopwatch icon, which users can click to start tracking hours for that specific task. When the work is done, just click the timer again and the system will stop tracking your time. You can also enter time within your time sheet retroactively: simply choose your date, choose your users (if you’re an administrator), select the task, and add hours and notes. Zoho makes it possible for users to clock in and work on multiple tasks at once, which is a nice feature that you won’t find on most time tracking tools. Unfortunately, workers won’t be able to add time for future tasks, a feature that’s available in other time tracking modules like the one in Mavenlink and Wrike .

Time tracking for admins is a breeze on Zoho Projects. Within your main dashboard, you’ll see how many approvals you need to make in numeric form via a very small but noticeable icon next to the timesheets module. If you click the icon, then you’ll see all tasks and approval requests. Zoho gives you the option to make all work billable or not billable by default, and you can also default whether time sheets need to be approved when they’re submitted. You can group approvals by date or by user. Click the checkbox and press approve. If you have dozens, then you can approve all with one check.

Time tracking reporting in Zoho Projects isn’t very robust. There are no custom reports and, because you can’t add any advanced custom tracking items such as mileage or quantities, these elements won’t show up in your basic canned reports. However, once you begin to run the simple reports Zoho has given you, it’s easy to filter logged and unlogged users by date view or by custom periods. This makes running simple “who did what and when” or “how many people were staffed for this project” reports easier to run than reports on other systems.

Because of its professional services and PM focus, Zoho Projects shouldn’t be compared to tools like Hubstaff and TSheets . Those tools are pure play time tracking solutions that get down to the nitty gritty of how admins require users to clock in and how they make staffing decisions for shifts and specific projects or work locations. For example, with Zoho Projects, you c an only track by hours as there is no phone-to-clock-in feature, and you can’t track clock-ins by GPS location or IP address. These are pretty standard time tracking elements that you’ll find on almost all of the pure play time tracking solutions on the market. So, if your goal is to make sure workers are showing up on time, that they’re working where you need them to work, and that they’re picking up shifts ahead of time, then Zoho Projects isn’t the right solution for you.

However, Zoho Projects’ PM focus and integration options with other Zoho and third-party apps gives you a world of opportunity those pure play solutions won’t give you. For example, you could theoretically plug Zoho Projects into Zoho Books , Zoho CRM , Zoho Invoice, and Zoho Recruit to create a comprehensive overview of how an employee performs from their first interview with the company through their last interaction with a white whale account. When the account is signed, the project is closed in Zoho Projects, the interaction is entered into Zoho CRM, and the payment is made through Zoho Books. This kind of software cohesion makes data transfer and automation easier, which some companies prefer to using disconnected tools.

An Outstanding Service for PM

Zoho Projects packs more features than most other PM tools, and the free trial really does give you enough functionality to test the waters. With the latest update, its user interface (UI) is more streamlined and easier to use than ever. It offers the tools teams need to manage projects and puts them into relevant places where anyone can easily find them. It still takes some time to get the hang of Zoho Projects but not much. Overall, it’s an excellent tool, does well as a time tracking service, and garners PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for PM.

If you do choose Zoho Projects, then be sure to read 5 Zoho Projects Features to Organize Your Business for help getting started.

Project Management Research

From infographics to pricing guides, eBooks to comparisons, the resources below will help you find the perfect project management software.

Use our FAQ section to learn the basics and answers to commonly asked questions about project management software.

This infographic illustrates the data from Capterra's project management user research report, showing how this software is found and used.

Capterra surveyed project management users to see how they find, buy, and use project management software. See everything we learned.

Not sure what features to look for in project management software? Use this guide to learn about popular project software functionality.

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LiquidPlanner

Rich tracking and resource management. Unique dynamic features. Drag-and-drop simplicity. Responsive site.

Expensive. Steep learning curve.

LiquidPlanner is an impressive online tool for managing projects, tasks, workers, and their time. Though expensive, it’s one of the best work-management tools on the market.

LiquidPlanner is one of the most impressive and complex work-management systems on the market. While PCMag technically classifies it as a project management tool (and one of the best, at that), LiquidPlanner can manage and track any kind of work, not just the jobs affiliated with deadlines and deliverables. While LiquidPlanner is highly specialized and takes some learning to master, it offers a considerable payoff for those who fully commit to its complexities. For midsize-to-large companies, LiquidPlanner is an Editors’ Choice and a wonderful piece of software for teams serious about working smarter.

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Small teams, however, that are simply looking to get up and running with a project management tool quickly should turn to a simpler and less expensive solution, such as Teamwork Projects and Zoho Projects . Both are Editors’ Choices as well, and they have different strengths than LiquidPlanner.

Pricing and Plans

LiquidPlanner offers three tiers of service: Standard, Professional, and Enterprise. You can try LiquidPlanner for 14 days before buying. There is no permanent free account, however. A few competing project management tools do offer free accounts, and I’ll name some of them in a moment.

The three LiquidPlanner account types are Small Team, Professional, and Enterprise. Small Team supports up to five users. Professional and Enterprise require a minimum of 10 users. All pricing is based on annual contracts.

When you sign up for LiquidPlanner Small Team, you pay $599.40 for a year of service, which equates to $49.95 per month, based on a per-person, per-month cost of $9.99. Regardless of whether you have two, three, four, or five people on the team, you still pay the same $9.99 rate. LiquidPlanner Small Team supports 250 active tasks, includes 5GB of storage, and supports integration with Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. But you don’t get everything with Small Team. For example, you don’t have the ability to invite clients into the system. You can’t create custom fields. There are no internal or external dashboards, analytics, API access, expense tracking features, or resource-workload reports. But you do get many core features, such as Gantt charts, time tracking, and predictive scheduling.

LiquidPlanner Professional costs $540 per person per year, which equates to $45 per person per month. Keep in mind that there’s a 10-person minimum, so you’ll be paying at least $5,400 per year, or $450 per month. The Professional account includes 2,000 active tasks, 100GB storage space, and the ability to give access to as many as 100 clients. Professional includes all the features found in the Small Team account, as well as the ability to create up to 10 external dashboards, support for 20 custom fields, baseline reporting, critical path information, API access, and integration with calendars, Quickbooks, and Zapier. With this tier of service, you still don’t get expenses (the ability to record billable and non-billable expenses), nor do you get a resource-workload report.

LiquidPlanner Enterprise costs $828 per person per year, which equates to $69 per person per month. Again, keep in mind that the contract is annual and there’s a 10-person minimum. It’s refreshing that LiquidPlanner provides a list price for its Enterprise service, as many companies don’t disclose the cost, stating that they charge custom pricing depending on the setup. The Enterprise plan includes unlimited active tasks, 500GB of storage, the ability to invite an unlimited number of clients, 50 custom fields, and more. LiquidPlanner provides a highly detailed list of what is and isn’t included with the different account types, if you’d like more detail.

LiquidPlanner costs more than many other work management apps, but it is also more sophisticated than others. In particular, it excels in the enterprise space, where you often find that companies don’t advertise their prices, as I mentioned.

I did manage, however, to get some ballpark figures from Workfront , a tool that’s close to LiquidPlanner in what it does and in that it’s suited to very large companies. Although Workfront calculates custom prices for each of its customers, company representatives have said that the average price ends up being about $30 per person per month.

Podio is another service that shares some similarities with LiquidPlanner, though it’s more flexible in the sense that you can add apps to a Podio account and build it into whatever kind of workspace hub you want. Podio Premium, the highest tier of service before its Enterprise account, charges $24 per person per month.

If you’re looking to try a project management platform for a while without making a commitment to pay, turn to Teamwork Projects, Zoho Projects, Wrike, or Volerro . Each of those services offers free but limited accounts.

Features and Interface

For managing projects, LiquidPlanner offers all the tools you might want or need. You can create and name a project, add a description, assign various team members to work on it, set deadlines, add milestones, and so forth. Tasks can have subtasks, and projects can have subprojects. Dashboards are highly customizable. It’s easy to get lost in the abundance of options.

LiquidPlanner isn’t just for managing projects, however. You can use the site to track and manage resources that aren’t related to projects per se. LiquidPlanner also capably handles ad-hoc work and ticket queues.

LiquidPlanner is as much a way of working as it is a platform for keeping track of work. The overall concept is that this online, collaborative tool helps organizations manage available resources as they are being used for different work and different projects, and it does a lot of this dynamically.

Let’s say, for example, that Genevieve has a two-hour task that suddenly takes priority. How does that change in priority affect all the other work assigned to Genevieve? How does it affect all the tasks assigned to other people who are dependent on Genevieve’s work? And, what happens when Genevieve’s two-hour task winds up taking four hours instead? LiquidPlanner deals with exactly this type of juggling.

Employees can enter their best- and worst-case scenario times for tasks. The app then keeps track of both the estimates and the actual time to completion. In this way, LiquidPlanner helps teams learn over time how to more accurately estimate the length of projects and tasks.

LiquidPlanner makes use of other data related to tasks, too. For example, you can add priorities, estimate how much effort is needed to complete tasks, and assign the resources being used to complete it. From there, LiquidPlanner can do the math for you to determine realistic completion dates for projects. The system is also smart enough to expect that from time to time, estimates, resources, and priorities change. Sometimes those changes are unforeseen, and sometimes they are completely planned, such as when an employee schedules vacation time. Team members can enter their planned time off right into LiquidPlanner and afterward see exactly what work and resources will be affected when they’re gone. Being able to do so enables managers to reassign work appropriately.

If nothing else, LiquidPlanner is certainly sophisticated. Learning to use the system not only takes time, but the same goes for setting it up appropriately for your needs. With LiquidPlanner, you can expect to invest a significant amount of time in the initial setup. That’s not always the case with project management tools designed for smaller teams, such as Teamwork Projects and Easy Projects . Those allow you get started very quickly, though they don’t do nearly as much as LiquidPlanner does.

LiquidPlanner cracks the whip with a built-in time tracking tool. Users can switch it on and let it run while they do their work. The clock doesn’t automatically know when you’re using certain programs or websites related to the task at hand (the way RescueTime does), so you have to be diligent about turning it off when you’re done. If you forget, you can always fix the recorded total time manually. In fact, you don’t have to use the stopwatch time-tracking tool at all. The option to manually jot down hours completed is always available, too.

One element missing from LiquidPlanner is a chat app, which are sometimes included in other project management platforms. Volerro, Clarizen, and Zoho Projects all offer them. The purpose of a chat app is to further facilitate communication among teammates without asking them to leave the primary interface where they manage work. However, with so many organizations now turning to third-party chat tools, such as Slack , not having a chat app in your work management tool may not be a deal-breaker.

Smooth drag-and-drop capabilities and fluid interaction with most elements of the page make it easy to adjust schedules, to-do lists, and other information in LiquidPlanner. While you make some of the adjustments manually, there are plenty of automated adjustments, too.

For example, let’s say one team member has several tasks assigned to her across three projects, and then one of her projects suddenly gets put on hold. All her tasks from the other two projects can dynamically readjust to make use of the time she just earned back from the paused project. Project managers always have the ability to change priorities of tasks and projects, and LiquidPlanner makes that dead simple with drag-and-drop functionality.

When you add new teammates to your LiquidPlanner account, you can give them full, unfettered access, or restrict what they can do and see.

The options for roles are:

  • Restricted Member, who is restricted to specific projects that a co-owner defines;
  • Full Member, who can view and update projects as well as access project tab reports and people resource workload reports;
  • Manager, who can do everything a Full Member can do, plus access analytics roll-up reports, review and export timesheet data, and more; and
  • Administrator, who has full access.

LiquidPlanner has a number of excellent reporting tools, all housed in the Analytics area. Many of the reports show a balance of hours logged versus estimated hours remaining on a project, which LiquidPlanner refers to as Roll-Up reports. Sound fuzzy to you? The dashboard has plenty of helpful links to training videos and web pages that teach you what these things are and how to use them.

Apps and Integrations

LiquidPlanner supports integration with the following services: Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Formerly Salesforce was supported for Professional and Enterprise members, but it is being discontinued.

Professional and Enterprise accounts also can use Zapier to create additional connections to services not natively supported. Zapier is an online service that helps people create automations or connections between services without them having to know anything about APIs. LiquidPlanner Professional and Enterprise have access to an open API, though, as well.

For teams with a mobile workforce, LiquidPlanner has mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

Time Is Money

LiquidPlanner is a capable online project management and work management tool with some excellent dynamic features for helping teams see work through to completion. Because it’s feature-rich and uses a unique system for prioritizing and entering time estimates, it can be a lot to absorb. But helpful training videos, drag-and-drop simplicity, and great reporting tools work together to make it the efficient, and rather serious, platform that it is. business plan software free It’s on the pricey side, but for large organizations that are serious about productivity and changing they way they work, LiquidPlanner is worth the investment.

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