Project management can quickly become a nightmare.
It’s easy to lose your way in the creepy, dark micro-management alley. And end up wasting your time and making your team miserable.
And, while modern tools can help, in most cases, they only add to the burden. Many of these tools have a steep learning curve. Months in, most of your team doesn’t know how to use the tool the right way. Or worse, it has stopped using the tool completely.
Today, simple project management tools make it easy to manage projects without overwhelm.
By the end of this article, you’ll learn about:
- Why Do You Need Simple Project Management Software?
- What Makes A Simple Project Management Software?
- Top Free & Simple Project Management Software Applications
- How To Find The Right Simple Project Management Tool?
Why Do You Need Simple Project Management Software?
It’s tempting to go with project management software that gives you lots of feature options. But, the truth is you’ll never use most of those features. And yet, end up paying for them.
Instead, think of investing a simple project management software because:
- Get more done: Cluttered interfaces are exhausting. And you’ll end up overcomplicating simple workflows. Instead, using simple tools will help you focus on the work at hand.
- Low learning curve: Using a complex system means you and your team will have to spend time learning it. On the other hand, using simple software means your team can hit the ground running.
- Save on costs: Advanced project management features have a price tag. When you use simple tools, you’re paying for precisely what you need.
If you’re working on technical projects, it makes sense to use tools like MS Project. But for most creative, marketing, and small business teams, simple PM software is the way ahead.
What Makes A Project Management Software Simple?
Today, there are a lot of project management tools available. How can you find the ones that are simple and easy to use?
Three primary factors make a project management tool simple:
- Core use-case: Who’ll use this project management tool? What is its expected usage? Is it for trained project managers? Or is it for non-project managers? Does it help managers keep an eye on the team? Or does it help team members get work done without feeling micromanaged?
- Features: What features does the project management software offer that supports the core use case? Does it come with visual planning and execution features? Or does it come with multiple ways to visualize projects, track critical paths, and track budgets.
- User interface: How easy is it to learn and use the project management software? Do you need to be trained in technical project management before understanding how to use the tool? Or can you use the tool right away?
Generally, project management software built for technical project managers and enterprise users will have complex use cases, features, and user interfaces.
On the other hand, tools for individuals and small teams are more straightforward.
Top Free & Simple Project Management Software Tools
Now you know about the factors that make project management software simple. Next, let’s look at top simple project management tools.
Toggl Plan is beautifully simple project management software. It’s a tool that needs no training. And, your team can start using it from day one to plan and manage projects.
Toggl Plan comes with three primary features — Project timelines, team timelines, and boards. Depending on your PM method, you can either use timelines or boards to manage your project.
Project timelines make planning projects a breeze. To plan project tasks, simply drag and drop tasks on the timeline. Also, you can add color-coded milestones to the timeline.
Team timelines help plan your team’s availability and workloads. They offer similar features to the Project timeline. In addition to the Project timeline, you can see if your team members are over or underworked on the team timeline.
If you prefer Agile methodologies, you’ll find boards helpful to manage task workflows. Plus, boards are fully customizable. So you can adapt boards to your way of working.
You can assign timeline and board tasks to one or more team members. Team members can work together on tasks using file attachments and comments.
- Manage recurring tasks.
- Track time spent on tasks with the Toggl Track integration.
- Grant role-based access to guests and external team members.
- Get in-app notifications when tasks and plans change.
- Mark a timeline/board as favorite for quick access.
- Track personal work from the “My Work” screen.
Toggl Plan Pricing
Toggl Plan’s free plan is perfect for individuals. You can manage unlimited projects and keep track of unlimited tasks with the free plan.
Paid plans range from $9-$15 per user per month. When you upgrade, you get team timelines, recurring tasks, time-tracking, and role-based access. Also, all paid plans have a 14-day free trial.
Todoist is a simple project management tool. Instead of visual timelines and boards, it uses simple task-lists.
Every project in Todoist is a set of tasks. Tasks can have subtasks. You can set task priority. Plus, you can organize tasks into sections.
You can assign tasks to a team member. And, other team members can collaborate on the task using comments.
Todoist also provides real-time notifications when a task changes.
- Award karma points for completing tasks.
- Visualize project progress using color-coded charts.
- Keep projects on top of your mind by adding them as favorites.
Todoist’s free plan allows you to manage up to 80 projects. Also, you’re limited to 5 team members per project.
Paid plans range from $3-$5 per user per month. Upgrading to a paid plan gets you file uploads, labels, filters, productivity trends, and role-based access.
Basecamp is a remote team collaboration tool with simple project management features. If you need collaboration features with simple task lists, Basecamp may be suitable for you.
With Basecamp, you can manage projects using simple task lists. You can assign a task to a team member. Also, you can set a due date for each task.
Task workflows are not customizable in Basecamp. So, tasks are either in the to-do or done status. Team members can discuss tasks using comments. Also, you can schedule milestones or critical events on the project calendar.
Basecamp comes with three ways to collaborate — message boards, team chat, and shared files.
Besides, you can also set up automatic check-ins. So, you don’t have to ask team members for status updates every day.
If Basecamp’s simple to-do lists are a no-go for you, take a look at other Basecamp alternatives as well.
- Get pop-up notifications when tasks and projects change.
- Set work hours to prevent notifications from popping up during non-work hours.
- See everything on your plate on the “My Stuff” screen.
With Basecamp’s free plan, you can manage up to 3 projects and 20 team members.
The paid plan costs $99 per month. With the paid plan, you can manage unlimited projects and team members. You also add unlimited clients and get access to ready-made project templates.
Trello is a simple project management software. With Trello, you can manage projects using visual task boards. You can also visualize your projects as timelines, tables, and maps.
With Trello boards, you can create custom task workflows. Each board is divided into workflow stages. To change a task’s status, you simply drag and drop the task to the next workflow stage.
Tasks in Trello can have custom properties, one or more assignees, and color-coded labels.
In addition, you can visualize a Trello board in different ways by switching to the timeline, map, or table views.
If you don’t fancy Trello, you can consider other Trello alternatives as well.
- Add add-ons (called powerups) to improve a Trello board’s functionality.
- Set up automatic if-then automation rules to manage repetitive tasks.
- Integrate with other popular third-party applications.
With the free plan, you can manage unlimited personal boards and up to 10 team boards. And, you can add a maximum of one powerup for each board.
Trello’s paid plans range from $12.50-$17.50 per user per month. When you upgrade to a paid plan, you can manage unlimited team boards. Plus, you get access to automation rules, unlimited powerups, and board collections.
The next tool on our list is Kanban Tool. When it comes to simple task management, it’s similar to Trello. But does not come with all the bells and whistles that Trello offers.
Using Kanban boards, you can manage your projects using lean methods. Kanban Tool boards are customizable and can adapt to any workflow.
You can also add custom fields to tasks. Plus, add 30+ add-ons to improve a board’s functionality. Besides, you can also use Zapier to integrate with other third-party applications.
Kanban Tool comes with custom reports and dashboards to visually review project progress.
- Set work-in-progress limits to avoid multitasking.
- Collaborate on tasks with comments and file attachments.
- Get email notifications when things change.
Kanban Tool Pricing
With Kanban Tool’s free plan, you can manage up to two boards with two users.
Paid plans range from $5-$9 per user per month. Upgrading to a paid plan gives you access to file attachments, time tracking, and automation.
Notion is an all-in-one workplace software. It functions as a team wiki, notes, and document management solution. It also comes with simple project and task management features.
With Notion, you can manage projects visually using task boards. Besides, you can also use simple task lists to manage projects.
Task boards are customizable. You can easily customize boards to match your workflow. Besides, you can also set start and end dates and visualize your projects on a timeline.
Notion’s strength lies in its customizations. It comes with many different field types. So you can customize Notion any way you want.
- Document everything in one central location.
- Collaborate using comments and file attachments.
- Add tags, delegate tasks to teammates, set dues dates, and more.
Notion is free for personal use. You can manage unlimited personal projects and documents in the free plan.
Paid team plans start at $8 per user per month.
Hitask is a simple project management software. It’s very similar to Basecamp. In addition, Hitask comes with a few more features, such as time-tracking and repeating tasks.
With Hitask, you can organize your work into projects, tasks, and events.
You can manage tasks using simple task lists. However, task workflows are not customizable. So, tasks can only be in the to-do or done state.
You can delegate tasks to your teammates. Also, you can get notified when the task’s status changes.
Team members can collaborate using file attachments and shared documents.
- Create tasks by sending an email.
- Manage daily, weekly, and monthly repeating tasks.
- Track time spent on tasks and generate timesheet reports.
- Integrate with Outlook and Google Calendar.
Hitask is free for up to 5 users. You can manage unlimited projects and tasks with the free plan.
Paid plans range from $5-$20 per user per month. When you upgrade, you get unlimited file uploads, role-based access, and priority support.
If you’re looking for a simple Agile project management tool for software development, Yodiz is the way to go.
Yodiz comes with features to manage your backlog, sprints, and epics. Besides, you can plan and manage releases.
When it comes to issue management, you can create custom workflows within Yodiz. That way, Yodiz is customizable to match your issue tracking workflows.
If Yodiz is not your cup of tea, look at other agile project management tools here.
- Integrate with Zendesk and Freshdesk to manage support requests.
- Integrate with Slack for team collaboration.
- Use Zapier or Yodiz API to integrate with other third-party tools.
With the free Yodiz plan, you can manage unlimited projects with three users.
Paid plans range from $3-$5 per user per month. Upgrading to a paid plan gets you access to issue tracker boards, timesheets, custom dashboards, and reports.
Wrike is a versatile and robust project management tool. While it comes with many features, its user interface and templates make it easy to use.
With Wrike, you can create project plans using Gantt timelines and a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Using Kanban boards, you can manage project tasks. Also, you can create team-specific custom workflows for each board.
Wrike also comes with pre-made workflow templates. Using these templates, you can create and get started with a project quickly and easily.
- Implement a visual proofing and approval workflow.
- Integrate with tens of third-party applications, including chat, email, CRM tools.
- Track project portfolios for instant visibility across the organization.
With Wrike’s free tier, you can manage projects with up to 5 users.
Paid tiers range from $9.80-$24.80 per user per month. Subscribing to a paid plan gets you Gantt timelines, custom workflows, calendars, request forms, and role-based access. However, note that all plans are billed annually.
SmartTask helps you keep all your work organized in one place. It comes with task lists, boards, timelines, and calendars.
While SmartTask comes with a lot of features, its user interface is delightfully simple. As a result, you may find SmartTask easy to use.
You can manage tasks in SmartTask using to-do lists or boards. Also, you can customize task workflows to match your way of working.
Project timelines make it easy to track project progress and milestones. Additionally, you can compare your planned and actual project timelines to measure success or failure.
- Create projects quickly with pre-made project templates.
- Manage contacts with built-in CRM.
- Track time spent on tasks and manage workloads.
- Collaborate with instant messaging and file sharing.
With the free version, you can manage up to 1000 tasks and up to 20 users.
Paid versions range from $5-$8 per user per month. Sign up for a paid plan to get unlimited tasks, project templates, time tracking, and workload management.
How To Find The Right Simple Project Management Software For Your Needs?
Now that you know about the top simple project management software tools, how do you find the perfect tool for your needs?
- Determine your required features and per-user budget. Remember, more features often mean greater complexity. And, more complexity means a steeper learning curve.
- Shortlist 2-3 tools that meet your needs. Most tools have a free plan or a free trial. But avoid signing up for too many tools at the same time.
- Take the shortlisted tools for a spin. If possible, involve your team in the trial. Or, try using the tool with your team’s workflows.
If you don’t like any of the shortlisted tools, you can always shortlist the next set to try.
By the end of this exercise, you should find a simple project management software that you and your team will enjoy using.
Jitesh is an SEO and content specialist. He manages content projects at Toggl and loves sharing actionable tips to deliver projects profitably.