Project management can be an unforgivingly complex business—from making watertight plans and estimates, to coordinating resources and keeping everything within budget. It's created a small galaxy of project management tools that try to facilitate the journey. Unfortunately, in many cases these tools actually only add to the project management burden. As such, we've done our best to highlight some of the simplest project management tools out there. While they don't try and solve every problem project teams face, they perform their one specialism very well.
Many heavy-weight project management tools leave a lot to be desired. There’s a rabbit warren of options to contend with, a saturation of features you didn’t know you needed, and an eye-wateringly boring design that makes you weirdly existential. Months in, you’ll find your employees still don’t know if they’re using it correctly—or that they’ve disengaged entirely. Too often, project management tools bite off more than they can chew, with certain areas of functionality receiving less developer attention than others. It leads to a frustrating user experience and, often, a huge subscription you don't necessarily ever see return on.
We’re firm believers in keeping project management tools simple; they shouldn’t require your team to sink tons of productive hours just using them, or try to solve too many problems. In fact, we're suspicious of any vaguely affordable project management tool that tries to solve every aspect of project delivery. Simplicity isn't just about feature sets, of course—we look for intuitive, enjoyable UI that makes it easy for teams of all technical abilities able to quickly use the tool, as well as solid self-serve onboarding materials and support to flatten that initial learning curve.
From Gantt chart software to monitoring progress, here’s our pick of the best light-weight project management tools out there, which require little-to-no training.
TeamGantt is a project scheduling tool that makes scheduling a breeze. Though its timeline charts may look complex, they’re actually simple and self-explanatory, and you can create your own charts just by dragging and dropping – no training necessary. Perfect for people who like to envision project progress with a timeline, TeamGantt is also handy for getting everything together in one place; all related conversations and files are pinned to the appropriate task or project.
Good time management is central to good project management, and luckily Timely helps make both a doddle. By using automatic time tracking, it can help you keep accurate records on how project time and budgets are actually spent. All your team’s logged project activity is fed into a central dashboard, so you can make sure everyone is working to your priorities with a balanced workload. Real-time budget spend tracking and team capacity bars give you full resource visibility without digging for any information. From keeping within deadlines to seeing who’s heading for burnout or available to help out, Timely is unsurpassed when it comes to managing team resources. Its precise time records are also essential when it comes to making better estimates for future projects!
GanttPRO is a Gantt chart-based project management tool that is highly appreciated by teams from all over the world. It offers an attractive Gantt chart timeline where it is so easy to create, assign, and track all of your team’s tasks, assignees, dates, projects, and project portfolios. You can quickly make changes in your plans literally in a few clicks and in most cases, by simply dragging and dropping elements. GanttPRO is also a good fit for those teams that need to keep all project-related information in one place.
When it comes to project management simplicity, ProofHub is a tool for every kind of team. It effectively combines multiple project planning and communication tools under one roof. With its smooth onboarding process, you can quickly get to grips with it, even if you’ve never used a project management tool before. Step-by-step tooltips guide you through its impressive feature set and clean interface, which you can customize according to what you want to see. From adding tasks, assigning work and setting deadlines, to discussing projects, planning and sharing files, ProofHub offers supreme control – for both teams and projects.
Wrike is known for being one of the very best project management tools around, and thankfully you don’t need hours of training to get familiar with its different services. On the dashboard you can see all pending tasks, with upcoming or overdue assignments highlighted for ease. Importing and exporting from Google Docs can be done with just a click – a basic service that’s still sadly (and strangely) missing from many other project management apps. Though a multipurpose tool, Wrike is probably best at measuring project progress and assigning tasks, so be sure to get familiar with these services when you first play around.
The multipurpose Basecamp is another favourite for restructuring communications and keeping on top of different tasks. It’s especially great if you work remotely as it gets everything onto one page – so if you find yourself searching fruitlessly for old documents or important info, Basecamp will be a godsend. It’s simple to create individual to-do lists for every project, and if you forget about a task, the software is smart enough to give you a nudge. Basecamp’s straightforward message boards and scheduling abilities are also worth mentioning – they’re great for keeping all the discussions your team has throughout a project’s development in one place. Think of it as an information hub for organizing the project.
Known to be one of the most versatile and flexible project management tools around, Asana is unrivaled when it comes to streamlining collaboration. This tool allows you to map out each individual step within a project, create and assign tasks, get the latest updates from team members, keep notes and ask questions, alter task deadlines, and keep on top of your to-do list. The most basic Asana version is free, easy to get to grips with, and delivers detailed reporting on your strengths and weaknesses.
If you ask people to name a simple project management tool, Trello will no doubt be one of the most they mention. This user-friendly tool keeps tabs of absolutely everything, and gives you a unique shared perspective on both tasks and projects. The simple, visually appealing design is easy to get used to, and you don’t need any training to start setting up workflows, allocating tasks or uploading documents. The free version allows you to create and access numerous boards for every project, and you can drag and drop lists and files between boards with a few simple clicks. Great for staying updated on task progress!
ProProfs Project is a user-friendly tool that thrives on unmatched task management capabilities. You can effortlessly create, prioritize, and assign tasks across multiple projects within seconds. Its intuitive interface offers multiple project views such as Gantt charts and Kanban boards, giving you a quick overview of project tasks and activities. Moreover, you can fetch actionable reports and gain insight into task status, time spent on a particular task, and much more. Also, the tool allows seamless team collaboration with features such as instant messaging and task comments that enable a smooth-flowing project.