Agile and lean project delivery is difficult to do without the right tools, and often, these cost through the roof. However, there are plenty of free and mobile-friendly project management tools that can help organise, monitor and analyse the effectiveness of your business projects, task-by-task.

Whether you want more control over task scheduling, analysing your team’s effectiveness or an easy way to bill, invoice and expense a project - try out one of these free project management tools. 

get out of the Office and on the road with these apps.

Aceproject 

Overview 

AceProject's user-friendly dashboard offers a detailed drill down for projects, tasks and users. Users can manage projects easily by task and add colleagues, documents, time and expense reports to the dashboard. While it offers a Gantt chart tool to analyse productivity, you can also export data to play with in Excel or Google spreadsheets. AceProject offers a history trail for users to monitor any modifications throughout the project.

It's free for up to five users and two projects - which makes it perfect for a startup or small business- and offers several packages based on number of users, peaking at $99 (£65) for unlimited users and projects. 

Key features

  • Project management
  • Task management
  • Time and expense management/tracking
  • Statistics – Gantt Charts
  • Recurrent tasks
  • Document upload
  • Export data tool
  • Email notifications and reminders

 Specification

Works on web browsers, iPhone/iPad and Android.

Supported in Asia, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, India, Latin America, Middle-East and Africa, United Kingdom, United States and French and English language.

Pricing

The tool is free for up to five users working on a maximum of two projects. Ten users costs $19 (£13), 25 users $39 (£26), fifty users $59 (£39.15) and unlimited users and projects will set you back $99 (£65) per year.   

Pros and cons 

Pros

If you wanted to extend the amount of users after using it for free, it is one of the most reasonably priced tools out there. 

Cons

Its user-interface is not as sophisticated as some of the other tools, which may have an affect on user adoption.

Clarizen

Overview 

Clarizen can be used to manage requests, bug testing, scheduling, time and expense monitoring. The free version offers email-only accounts, but if you pay for the online tool you can download customisable reports. Users can look at the progress of a project and submit documents from their smartphones.  It has Gantt charting so you can map your team’s progress easily and is well suited for IT and software developers - as well as wider use across the business. Users will not need to be trained thanks to an intuitive interface. It has an open API to integrate with other business applications. 

Key features

  • Automatic notifications
  • Budgeting
  • Gantt charts
  • Multi-project management
  • Project templates
  • Scheduling
  • Time tracking
  • Personal calendars
  • Role permissions
  • Recurring task automation
  • Task feedback
  • Project percentage completion reporting
  • Progress report through your email
  • Email traceability
  • Contacts & Email Addresses
  • Discussions
  • Document sharing
  • Notes
  • Budget management tools
  • Expected and actual Revenue
  • Budgeted and actual Costs
  • Expenses
  • Time tracking
  • Timesheet approval
  • Excel reports

 Specification

Works on web browsers, iPhone/iPad and Android. Integrates with Microsoft Outlook Integration, Microsoft Project, Solidworks, Salesforce.com, Intacct, Zendesk, Google Apps, iCalendar.

Pricing

The tool is free for email-only accounts. Email-only users do not log in to Clarizen, but rather receive email update requests in which they can update their progress on tasks or subscribe to iCal feeds. Email-only licenses are free. Pricing model starts at $29.95 (around £20)

Pros and cons

Pros

Free for a larger team. It was designed for mid to large firms, and works effectively as a social networking tool as well as for task management, making it likely to be adopted by your team quickly.

Cons

No option to store the tool on-premise should its popularity grow with employees. 

Mavenlink

Overview

Rosetta, Aflac, Stanford University, Goodwill Industries, Crossmark, and AskMen are amongst Mavenlink's customer base and it is a well-known name in the project management software world. Nonetheless, it has gathered criticism for its lack of start and end dates for tasks and projects, as well as its hotly anticipated CRM feature.

Key features

  • Multi-task management
  • File sharing (SSL Security)
  • Task-level budget and time estimates
  • Time and expense tracking
  • Invoicing tool & QuickBooks integration
  • Online payments
  • Personnel planning & personnel Cost/bill rates
  • Project/job Costing
  • Advanced forecasting
  • Work in Progress Reports & Project Summaries
  • Margin analytics
  • Time, expense, and invoice reports
  • Google Apps and email integration

Specification

Works on web browsers, iPhone/iPad and Android.Integrates with Google Apps, Salesforce Sales Cloud, QuickBooks accounting software and PayPal.

Pricing

The tool is free if you sign up for the free trial and pricing starts from $4 per month (£2), per user.

Pros and cons

Pros

Users across forums appear to give this tool a big thumbs up.

Integration with Google Apps, Salesforce Sales Cloud and QuickBooks accounting software mean you can expense easily once a project is completed.

Cons

While it is useful for a team who wants a tool with for collaboration but is not critical for liaising with clients and customers. A light CRM tool which has been promised for years has yet to be released by Mavenlink - so think twice before investing solely in the tool if you want an all-rounder to cover your customer relationship needs.

Podio

Overview

Podio is owned by Citrix, which means it integrates well with underlying applications you already have. Its open API allows you to customise it to your applications, and it comes out of the box ready to integrate with Google Apps. It is designed for teams, companies and organisations that want a flexible way to communicate and organise projects. Podio claims it is used by over 500,000 organisations.

It runs on apps, which can be built by users with no IT prowess. Premade apps can be chosen from the 700 in the Podio App Market. These apps function like tasks, so they are re-usable. These workflow into ‘workspaces’ which can be shared with other users. Podio allows users to share documents, reports, calendars. The task management tool is for assigning chunks of a project to other employees, with set deadlines and reminders.

Podio also features a small customer relationship management (CRM) function making it perfect for a startup or small team that does not already have this capability.This lets users  manage interactions with customers and track sales opportunities throughout the pipeline. 

Key features

  • Customisable project management for teams
  • IM and video calls
  • Document sharing with employees and clients
  • Email integration
  • Lightweight CRM and sales tracking
  • Calendar with Google and Microsoft Exchange integration
  • Automated progress reporting and calculations
  • Customer support from Podio 24/7
  • File-sharing works with DropBox, and Google Apps
  • Open API for developers

Specification

Works on web browsers, iPhone/iPad and Android and integrates with DropBox, Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange amongst others. It is supported in Asia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, Germany, India, Japan, Latin America, Middle-East and Africa, United Kingdom, United States

Pricing

Podio Lite, is free for teams with up to five employees. If you need more user licenses, Podio charges per head and for each service and for added features, so check which tools you need. Podio Teams is $9 (£4) per employee, per month. The Podio Business plan is available with custom pricing for larger teams

Pros and cons

Pros

You can export historical data from Excel easily

Cons

Users have complained over limited control over what information it can share through Podio’s apps and the inability to edit comments in your workspaces. It appears the app is best for developers, marketing or support team but not for larger sales teams as the CRM capability cannot compete with larger software vendors.

Wrike

Overview 

Wrike provides its users with streaming activity feeds that look and function similarly to Facebook newsfeeds. Activity feeds are populated by the tasks that have been assigned to employees or created by them. Users can filter their feeds to remove extraneous tasks that involve unrelated departments, or they can comment on specific items within their feeds to share their points of view.

Wrike automatically converts project schedules into interactive Gantt charts. As new milestones are added and tasks are rescheduled, users can adjust dependencies to ensure their timelines stay on track. Team notifications are automatically sent out whenever adjustments to a Gantt chart are made.

Key features

  • Live dashboard project overview
  • File sharing and editing
  • Real-time activity stream
  • Progress reports
  • Discussions
  • Branded email notifications
  • Automate recurring tasks and projects
  • Gantt chart
  • Custom calendars that integrate with Outlook, Google and iCalendar
  • Time management

Specification

Works on web browsers, iPhone/iPad and Android. Integrates with DropBox, Zendesk, Jive, Google Apps and calendar integration with Outlook and iCalendar.

Pricing

The tool is free for up to five users for unlimited projects and all the features. Professional model starts at $49 per month for over five users and $99 (£65) for over 15 users per year.   

Pros and cons

Pros

Good for bringing new employees on board as it is easy to use and has training features.

Cons

Wrike email extension does not work with Outlook for Mac. Not as much control over entire project for a manager, for example a manager cannot create hours for other people’s tasks, they can only edit hours for a task in the time tracking function.

Asana

Overview

Self-labelled ‘teamwork without email’, Asana lets you sign up using your Google account, which integrates apps, existing documents and your email for alerts and reminders throughout a project’s length.

It has similarities to Evernote, but is free for up to fifteen users. It is best for someone who really wants to customise a tool to get the most out of it, and has an understanding of how to adjust features to suit your team’s needs. Built in HTML5 its interface is very engaging, interactive and fun to use.

Users can use up to three dashboards, which show the progress of the project, for free. 

Key features

  • Multiple workspaces
  • Activity feed
  • Email integration with automatic updates or reminders
  • Set project permissions
  • See teammates' tasks and priorities
  • Time and goal tracking
  • Create custom views and calendars
  • Follow tasks and add followers
  • Discussion/comments
  • Add assignees to tasks
  • Document attachments to tasks

Specification

iPhone, Android, HTML5 mobile site

The tool is free for up to fifteen users. Then it costs $50 (around £25), $100 (£50) for thirty users and $300 (£150) for over fifty.

Pros and cons

Pros

Helps to eliminate internal email and communicate entirely through the Asana tool. You can use "emojis" in comments and discussions - if that is something your team would go for.

Cons

You cannot set deadlines for projects and the Android app is not as mature as the iOS version.

Get in touch at [email protected] or at @margimurphy if you have any project management tool suggestions

Image credit: iStock/alvarez

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