Clicky

The Best Project Management Software of 2016

Under the supervision of business consultant and project management expert Ryan Draving, our research team spent 60 hours reviewing 30 of the most popular project management software solutions across 33 key features to rank the 10 best for 2016. The top three project management applications for 2016 were 5pm, Celoxis, and Wrike.

 

Overview of Research

Along with our expert, Ryan Draving, our research team spent 60 hours researching and narrowing down over 125 product management software applications to a final group of 30, and then used key insights from that research to evaluate each one across 33 key features selected for their importance to project managers at businesses of all sizes.

ryan
Ryan Draving

Marketing Consultant

Ryan Draving is a successful entrepreneur, CEO, and marketing consultant with a 20-year history of growing businesses and increasing sales.

We determined the final ranking using a weighted methodology consisting of our 33 key features divided into five core metrics: Project Management (30%), Collaboration and Notifications (25%), Ease of Use (20%), Customer Experience and Support (15%), and Cost (10%).

Sort/filter by price, core metric scores, sub-metric scores, and more

The Best Project Management Software of 2016

Overall Rank
Software
Rating
i
10
Load More
Filter by Software Info
Name
Sort by
Sort by..
Showing through of Software
No software found
X
Overall Rank
Overall Rank
Software
Software
Core Metrics
Rating
Rating
Project Management
Project Management
Traditional Project Management
Traditional Project Management
Agile Project Management
Agile Project Management
Task Management
Task Management
Issue Tracking
Issue Tracking
Financial Management
Financial Management
Collaboration and Notifications
Collaboration and Notifications
Create Teams
Create Teams
Document Management
Document Management
Instant Messaging
Instant Messaging
Social Collaboration
Social Collaboration
Wiki
Wiki
Custom Notifications
Custom Notifications
Email Integration
Email Integration
Notification Groups
Notification Groups
SMS Notifications
SMS Notifications
Ease of Use
Ease of Use
Mobile Platforms
Mobile Platforms
API Access
API Access
Third-Party Integrations
Third-Party Integrations
External Users
External Users
Individual or Role-Based Permissions
Individual or Role-Based Permissions
Reporting and Dashboards
Reporting and Dashboards
Customization
Customization
Customer Experience and Support
Customer Experience and Support
Average Customer Review Score (out of 5)
Average Customer Review Score (out of 5)
Support
Support
Learning Tools
Learning Tools
Cost
Cost
Monthly Price - Basic
Monthly Price - Basic
Monthly Price - Premium
Monthly Price - Premium
Number of Users - Basic
Number of Users - Basic
Number of Users - Premium
Number of Users - Premium
Number of Active Projects - Basic
Number of Active Projects - Basic
Number of Active Projects - Premium
Number of Active Projects - Premium
Storage - Basic
Storage - Basic
Storage - Premium
Storage - Premium
Free Trial Length
Free Trial Length
Commentary
Editor's Award
Editor's Award
Software
a X
Comparing 0 Software
Sort by..
Select Software..
Software
Customize the weight of each core metric:

Use this panel to adjust each core metric's weight and then click "Apply Custom Weights" to generate your own personalized ranking.

Note: If you do not select a new weight for a metric, the personalized ranking will automatically use the original weight. This is also the same as selecting X for that metric

  • x 0 1 2 3 4 5
  • x 0 1 2 3 4 5
  • x 0 1 2 3 4 5
  • x 0 1 2 3 4 5
  • x 0 1 2 3 4 5
  • All core metrics can not be 0 !
Showing through of Software
No software found
Type in a software’s name to see if it made our rankings:
#1

Tax Software

Methodology

Our expert

Our research was guided by Ryan Draving, an expert in project management, sales, and marketing. As the CEO of Referable.com and a partner at Muhlenhaupt & Co, Ryan has consulted both Fortune 500 companies and Silicon Valley startups on how to manage projects, accelerate their business growth, and increase sales.

How we selected our test group

When it comes to software applications, the term “project management” can have a very broad definition. There are over 450 project management applications on the market today, and the disparity between their features can be extreme. Some are nothing more than simple calendar applications with customizable to-do lists, while others are all-inclusive tools that manage every aspect of a project, such as scheduling, collaboration, resource allocation, budget and invoicing, and documentation.

To compile the best ranking, we wanted to focus only on products that offered the widest range of the features most valuable to project managers with teams of all sizes, at business in any industry. Before we could do that, we needed to find out what those valuable features were.

We started by compiling a list of the most requested and highest rated features in thousands of customer reviews from popular software sites such as G2 Crowd and Capterra. We grouped those features together and assembled our core metrics. Software that did not address at least one feature in each core metric was eliminated from consideration.

We then used a combination of consumer and professional reviews (sourced from the previously-mentioned sites along with CNET, PC Magazine, PC World, and Consumer Reports) as well as advertised number of the total customers and users of each, to narrow the list to the top companies.

This left us with the following 30 project management software solutions to rank:

  • 5pm
  • Asana
  • Assembla
  • Basecamp
  • Celoxis
  • Clarizen
  • Daptiv PPM
  • Easy Projects
  • EPM Live
  • Freedcamp
  • Huddle
  • iMeet Central
  • Intervals
  • Jira
  • LiquidPlanner
  • Mavenlink
  • Microsoft Project
  • Planbox
  • Podio
  • ProjectManager.com
  • ProofHub
  • Redbooth
  • Sciforma
  • Smartsheet
  • Teamwork Projects
  • Trello
  • VersionOne
  • Workfront
  • Wrike
  • Zoho Projects

How we selected which data to use in our methodology

Guided by our expert, our research team decided on 33 key features to grade each software by. These features were selected from his professional experience, praises or complaints from aggregated customer reviews, and trends found in our initial research of hundreds of available programs.

Related features where then grouped together as sub-metrics in what became our five weighted core metrics.

Here is the breakdown:

Metric 1: Project Management (30% of final score)

  • Traditional project management features
  • Agile project management features
  • Task management features
  • Issue tracking
  • Financial management features

Metric 2: Collaboration and Notifications (25% of final score)

  • Create teams
  • Document management
  • Instant messaging
  • Social collaboration
  • Wikis
  • Custom notifications
  • Email integration
  • Notification groups
  • SMS notifications

Metric 3: Ease of Use (20% of final score)

  • Mobile platforms
  • API access
  • Third-party integrations
  • External users
  • Individual or role-based permissions
  • Reporting and dashboards
  • Customization

Metric 4: Customer experience and support (15% of final score)

  • Average customer review score
  • Support
  • Learning Tools

Metric 5: Cost (10% of final score)

  • Monthly price – basic
  • Monthly price – premium
  • Number of users – basic
  • Number of users – premium
  • Number of active projects – basic
  • Number of active projects – premium
  • Storage – basic
  • Storage – premium
  • Free trial length

With the exception of customer reviews, all information was sourced directly from each product website.

How we scored our methodology

After grouping the sub-metrics into their core metrics, we assigned each a score of 1-10 for every software reviewed. The final core metric score was averaged from the sub-metric totals.

For example, our #1 overall software, 5pm, ranked 3rd in Collaboration and Notifications with a score of 8.2. That core metric is made up of nine sub-metrics.

Here’s how 5pm scored for each:

  • Create teams or groups: 10/10
  • Document management: 10/10
  • Instant messaging: 10/10
  • Social collaboration platform: 10/10
  • Wikis: 10/10
  • Custom notifications: 10/10
  • Email integration: 10/10
  • Notification groups: 2/10
  • SMS notifications: 2/10

Once the sub-metrics were averaged, we took each software’s core metric scores, applied the weights (as described in the earlier breakdown), and calculated a final ranking.

Understanding Project Management Software Features

Which features matter and why?

1. Project Management back to metric

Very Important

30.00% of our methodology score

Project management software has grown to include much more than its namesake features. However, they are still the most important, and the ones at the core of each software. Without the scheduling, progress tracking, budgeting, and resource management features, many project management applications become little more than messaging and file-sharing software.

But as project management software as a whole has grown, so have those core features within it. We started by reviewing each application based on its inclusion of traditional project management features such as calendars, interactive charts, project templates, and scheduling. We then turned our focus toward its agile management capabilities, which are the more flexible and interactive features necessary for managing projects with an adaptive (or changing) life cycle. These features include scrum methodology, card views, and burndown charts, among others.

The best applications allow users to manage every aspect of a project, from start to finish. Therefore, we also gave special consideration to programs that included additional financial management features – such as the ability to create budgets, manage expenses, and create invoices – without having to rely on separate software.

Highest Scoring Software in Project Management
Previous
|
Next
Load More

2. Collaboration and Notifications back to metric

Very Important

25.00% of our methodology score

Above all else, a project’s success is dependent on the team assigned to it. The most valuable resource that can be managed by any program is the people doing the physical work required to complete a task. Without them, project management software becomes irrelevant. It would simply be a way to set up a schedule for a project that will never be finished, with milestones that will never be reached. Therefore, our second most important metric is the one that focuses on the team.

This metric ranks each software based on the features that allow multiple team members to collaborate with each other. These include the ability to create team groups, manage and share documents, and communicate through instant messaging, social media, web conferencing, etc.

This metric also examines the scope of a software’s notifications. The better programs allow a manager to create a custom set of rules for each user so that they are immediately notified when a task is completed, or if it requires their attention. And the highest ranked ones have a variety of channels for delivering those notifications, either through email, in-program pings, or even mobile text messages.

Highest Scoring Software in Collaboration and Notifications
Previous
|
Next
Load More

3. Ease of Use back to metric

Important

20.00% of our methodology score

As much as programs are designed to simplify tasks, introducing a new software into the work space can also be disruptive. Besides the potential headache of learning a new set of rules and procedures, new software can conflict with the use of established programs, either causing a breakdown in workflow, or possibly necessitating new, compatible software in other areas.

Therefore, this metric examines the adaptability and accessibility of a program. Software with API access can be adapted to work seamlessly with existing office systems, while third-party applications connect to popular apps and programs right out of the box. Customization options allow you to change the user interface, add custom fields and labels, or even incorporate company logos.

We also measured the ease in which different users can access the program, and make changes if need be. Many programs allow for a manager to set separate permissions for each user, or group of users, based on their role in the project. Some also include separate permissions that allow a client to access the project, but also controls what they see versus what the internal users see. And with our society’s ever-increasing dependence on portable technology, one key to determining a program’s accessibility is whether or not it has a mobile interface. The higher-rated programs included fully-integrated mobile apps, allowing for collaboration, notifications, and document sharing anytime, anywhere.

Highest Scoring Software in Ease of Use
Previous
|
Next
Load More

4. Customer Experience and Support back to metric

Somewhat Important

15.00% of our methodology score

The first step in purchasing any product should be researching whether or not it has the features you need. Unfortunately, feature lists don’t always paint a complete picture. Software glitches, server downtime (for web solutions), and misleading advertising can be the difference between a great product on paper but a poor one in practice. The best way to avoid those potential problems is to read reviews from customers actively using a software. This metric compiles the average score from thousands of customer reviews for each program. The user scores were sourced from popular review sites G2 Crowd, Capterra, and Software Advice. While a favorable review doesn’t guarantee that a program will be right for your business, it can quickly point out if it’s the wrong one.

And because implementing a new program also involves some level of initial training, this metric reviews the amount and type of learning materials provided by each software company. We also measure the accessibility of customer support, with special attention paid the companies which offer live assistance.

Highest Scoring Software in Customer Experience and Support
Previous
|
Next
Load More

5. Cost back to metric

Somewhat Important

10.00% of our methodology score

Cost is obviously an important factor in making any purchase decision. However, there are enough variables involved that it become difficult to objectively rank project management programs against each other on price alone. Oftentimes, you get what you pay for. Programs with few features cost less. Those with more features tend to be more expensive. A majority of programs also tend to offer tiered plans, each offering more users, active projects, features, or storage space than the preceding one. However, we still wanted to include cost as a metric, so we assigned it the least amount of weight in order to avoid those potential pitfalls.

We did compile all of the monthly cost information (where available) for the basic tier plans and the premium, along with those variable factors: users, projects, and storage. But as previously mentioned, a product could look perfect for your business on paper, but not be a good fit in practice. Therefore, we gave priority to programs that had the longest (if any) free trial periods, which would allow ample time to implement, use, and review a software before making a costly commitment to it.

Important caveats and notes: A handful of the companies on our list did offer a free version of their program, which isn’t always reflected in our base tier pricing. Free versions of programs are often limited to a small number of users, usually with a limited amount of features. In some cases, they are little more than extended free trials where the valuable features are unlocked once a paid tier plan is purchased. We reviewed each free offering on a case-by-case basis. In some of them, the features were so limited that they didn’t meet our initial threshold of only including programs that satisfied a category in each core metric. In those cases, rather than completely eliminating the program from consideration, we ignored the free version and started our review with the lowest-priced, basic plan.

Highest Scoring Software in Cost
Previous
|
Next
Load More

Editor's Awards

5pm has all the features necessary to compete with the top names in project management, superior collaboration tools, and the best customer service and support.

Founded in 2007, 5pm is still a relative newcomer when compared to the many industry-leading programs that launched in the late 90s and early 2000s and have dominated the market share ever since. Perhaps that is why it doesn’t show up in the top spots of most rankings. Very often those rankings rely mostly on active users and total customer reviews to compile their scores. A longer product history usually translates to more users, which in turn accounts for a greater number of consumer reviews. That system makes it hard for other programs to break through. However, a quick look at 5pm’s features reveals that it deserves to be included in those top spots.

As a traditional project management software, it more than holds its own against those typically top-rated brands. It has all of the interactive charts, project templates, scheduling tools, a task management functions that project managers in every industry rate as their highest priorities. The only area where it lacks is agile project management, in which it only includes card views. However, card views alone are enough to make it stand out against many competitors who have yet to incorporate any of the newer agile features into their programs.

5pm also outscored all competitors in our customer experience and support metric. A wide range of valuable learning tools make training a team to use the program simple. 24/7 email, phone, and live chat support means any problems are addressed quickly.

And while 5pm did have less customer review scores than those older, more widely-used programs, the ones it did receive were stellar.

5pm scored well above-average across most metrics, however it did rank only slightly above-average in our cost metric. However, it bests many of its competitors in that it offers true month-to-month plans. Many companies advertise a monthly rate, but a quick scan of the fine print reveals that the price is only valid with a multi-year contract. So, 5pm becomes a better financial investment when you factor in the fact that it’s one a company won’t be stuck with should the software not prove to be a good fit.

That said, a well-rounded suite of features, stellar customer service and reviews, and a non-prohibitive cost make 5pm the best choice for project management software in 2016.

Drawbacks:

  • Limited agile and financial management features

Ranking Results:

  • Project Management – 7.6/10
  • Collaboration and Notification – 8.2/10
  • Ease of Use – 7.8/10
  • Customer Service and Support – 9.8/10
  • Cost – 6/10



While it only has a slightly above-average range of management features, its wide range of supporting tools make Wrike the most collaborative project software available.

Our first runner-up finished a hundredth of a point behind our best overall.

Wrike is missing some of the agile management features offered by its top competitors, such as burndown charts and card views. However, it does include scrum methodology and the ability to manage a product backlog, two features that are among the highest rated. And while it also doesn’t have the issue tracking and financial management features that a software of its price probably should, it has a more-than-adequate suite of traditional management tools that make it a very solid program choice for any business.

Where it really shines is in the ways teams can work together with those tools. Wrike earned perfect marks in our collaboration and notifications metric. Their software incorporates communication at every level, instant messaging, social media collaboration, wikis, email integration, and even SMS text messaging. No program allows you more ways to work together than Wrike.

Drawbacks:

  • Limited agile project management features
  • No issue history tracking
  • No budget or expenses management

Testing Results:

  • Project Management – 6.2/10
  • Collaboration and Notification – 10/10
  • Ease of Use – 9.4/10
  • Customer Service and Support – 7.4/10
  • Cost – 6/10



Celoxis has an above average range of management tools and excellent accessibility that makes it easy to integrate into any business.

Celoxis is, above all else, a traditional project management program. It includes a comprehensive list of tradition tools: calendars, interactive charts, project templates and portfolio management, and scheduling functions. It has a wide range of task and financial management features. Unfortunately, it is completely lacking any of the agile project management features that are becoming increasingly popular in the marketplace. There are no burndown charts, card views, or scrum methodology, making it a questionable choice for those large, adaptive projects with multiple teams and fluid deadlines.

However, what it does, it does well. And because it ranked the highest in our ease of use metric, Celoxis is all but guaranteed to integrate perfectly into any existing work environment. It includes open API access, third-party application integration, and a customized user interface. And with the most mobile platform options available, teams can access its features at any time.

Drawbacks:

  • No agile management features
  • Low cost rating

Ranking Results:

  • Project Management – 7.6/10
  • Collaboration and Notification – 7.4/10
  • Ease of Use – 9.8/10
  • Customer Service and Support – 8.2/10
  • Cost – 5.8/10



For those teams with the budget for it, Smartsheet has the widest range of the most popular project management features.

While no software earned a perfect score in our project management metric by including every popular feature, Smartsheet came the closest. It is one of the few programs that doesn’t top-load its management features in one category. Smartsheet includes the most features spread throughout each of the traditional, project, task, and financial management sub-metrics. If those features are your only concern, Smartsheet is the most well-rounded software available.

Smartsheet does fall short of its competitors in collaboration/notification features and price. It does include a variety of collaboration tools and custom notifications; however, at a higher price per user (and number of active projects), you’d expect the application to include the extra features that it doesn’t.

Still, coming in fourth overall in our rankings, Smartsheet is a great project management software option for any team.

Drawbacks:

  • Limited number of active projects for basic plan
  • Potentially cost-prohibitive premium plans

Testing Results:

  • Project Management – 8.8/10
  • Collaboration and Notification – 6.4/10
  • Ease of Use – 9.4/10
  • Customer Service and Support – 7.4/10
  • Cost – 6.4/10



Asana

Asana is a great value for those looking for the most basic project management software.

Again, the old adage rings true: you get what you pay for. Asana ranked the highest in our cost metric with base plans that are free for the first fifteen users. After that, their premium tier costs only $8.33 per user, per month. Each tier includes an unlimited number of active projects and unlimited storage. However, the include features for both tiers are very limited, compared to their competitors.

That isn’t to say that Asana couldn’t be a very effective project management solution for any number of businesses. Though their features are light in comparison, they do include all of the basics of a well-rounded software. Asana has the traditional calendars and interactive Gantt charts in the project management category, as well as adequate communication and collaboration tools. They only really fall short in the areas of agile management, document management, and notifications. So, those with larger teams working on complex, adaptive projects, may find the software lacking. However, for smaller teams, or those still testing the waters of project management applications, Asana is a good choice for the cost.

Drawbacks:

  • Very limited agile project management features
  • No issue history tracking
  • No document management

Testing Results:

  • Project Management – 4.2/10
  • Collaboration and Notification – 6.4/10
  • Ease of Use – 6.6/10
  • Customer Service and Support – 7.4/10
  • Cost – 8.8/10

Last Updated on May 13, 2016

We strive to create accurate rankings guides. To learn more about our process read our About. If you see any issues or errors with our data or writing, please Contact Us

Get the Rankings Badge

Embed our badge to show everyone you made our rankings. For additional badge requests, please Contact Us.