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One key thing that successful companies do is track and plan every single aspect of their business.
This includes everything from marketing to sales to the entire business strategy. They set S.M.A.R.T. (simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals, break down the goals into projects, and the projects into smaller tasks and subtasks.
After that, they strategically assign tasks to the team and track progress. They then use the project data they get from the entire process to set better future goals and assess the time they will take.
In the past, executing tasks such as these took a while, as you mainly did it through spreadsheets. But if you are still using spreadsheets to plan out your project, you are losing out on time as there are several project planning software tools out there. These can help you with everything from planning out your goals and tasks to tracking your progress.
If you try to look for the perfect tool online, it can take a while as there are hundreds of them to wade through. This is why I have researched the best project planning tools out there and listed their specialties below to make it easy for you to pick your favorite.
- Project Manager
- Project Insight
1. Project Manager
A complete project management software with planning features
Source: Project Manager
As the name suggests, Project Manager is a project management software. But they also have some of the best project planning software features. You get started here by creating a task list. You can either create the list from scratch or import an MSP file.
After that, you can write a task description and add tags. This description will make it easy for your team to understand the task, and the tags will make it easy to find the tasks. You can then invite team members, add their availability, and assign tasks.
It makes it easy for you to monitor your progress with easy to understand graphs. Use them to modify the projects to increase productivity and to plan better future projects.
And to make it easy for you to visualize the project timelines, Project Manager offers a Gantt chart view. There’s also a kanban board view for task updates.
Pricing: Starts at $15 per user/month and goes up to $25 per user/month.
Does Project Manager offer a free trial? Yes, 30-day free trial available.
One of the best project planning tools for freelancers
Businesses with several employees — that’s the target audience for most project planning software. The pricing plans and features don’t suit individual users. So, if you are a freelancer like me or have a small team, you might prefer using Plutio.
Plutio has all the necessary project planning features. These include creating projects and tasks, setting start and end times, assigning tasks, and communication features.
You can also use it to send professional proposals and for time-tracking. This can come in handy whether you want to track how your team performs or if you charge by the hour.
Plutio can also be used to send professional invoices to your clients after the project ends. You can receive payments via PayPal, Stripe, or bank account.
These are just a handful of Plutio’s key features. It has various other ones, such as forms and surveys, chart widgets, calendars, contracts, comments and groups for client and team collaboration, etc.
If you get Plutio, you can cancel the other software you might be using for invoicing and accounting. This will save you some money.
Pricing: Starts with a Pro plan that costs $15 per month and goes up to a Team plan that costs $30 per month. The Team plan costs $360 annually. But you can get it for $199 on Appsumo.
Does Plutio offer a free trial? Yes, a 14 day trial is available.
A mind mapping tool that doubles as project planning software
Are you a visual thinker? If you like to picture things visually, you will like MindMeister. It’s a very user-friendly mind mapping tool. What I like about MindMeister is that it is online. Unlike most of the mind mapping tools out there that you need to download.
It has several customizable mind map templates, themes, and layouts for creating beautiful mind maps. You can upload background images, too.
You can also share mind maps with team members. They can either view them or make edits. It has some basic project planning features that let you assign tasks, set due dates, and track progress. It directly integrates with MeisterTask. This is a project management tool that can help you get the most out of your project plan mind maps.
Pricing: It has a Basic plan that lets you create up to three mind maps. To create unlimited mind maps, you will need to upgrade to the Personal plan, which costs $2.49 per month. Their most expensive plan is the Business plan, which costs $6.29 per month. It has many more features.
Does MindMeister offer a free trial? Yes, free plan available.
One of the most popular project planning tools
Do you manage large teams and have a larger budget for project planning software? Then you should check out Monday.com. You can use it to manage up to 200+ users. It also has smaller plans for up to five uses.
This tool is best for businesses that want to go all in. It has a very intuitive drag and drop interface that makes it easy to plan projects and manage a team.
To organize projects, it offers a board-based feature like most project planning tools. But along with this, it also offers whiteboards. Your entire team can collaborate on these boards. It even integrates with Zoom to help you communicate via video conferencing.
It also has automation workflows that can help automate some tasks and reduce the amount of time you put into managing teams.
Pricing: The basic plan starts at $49 per month. This includes 5 users. Their largest plan is the enterprise plan, which has more features and higher limits. You will need to contact them for the price. If you find it expensive, you can check out Clickup and Wrike.
Does Monday.com offer a free trial? Yes, a 14 day trial is available for the pro plan.
A visual Asana and Trello alternative
Milanote is the project planning tool for creative projects. It’s perfect for marketers, designers, agencies, and creative directors.
Your creative team can get started with a project with the brainstorming tool. It provides a drag and drop infinite virtual canvas. Here you can add notes, images, videos, and tasks.
It has various other tools like the mood board, whiteboard, mindmaps, storyboards, product roadmaps, etc. These can help you organize all the mise en place before you begin the project.
After you have all the information, you can use the project management tool to plan out the project, assign tasks, and begin executing it with your team.
The boards for your project plan are also very visual. You can upload your photos here, or you can import images from Unsplash — Milanote directly integrates with it.
Pricing: It has a free plan which lets you create unlimited boards. But It has some restrictions such as the number of files you can upload. For unlimited usage, you will need to upgrade to the paid plan. It costs $12.50 per user per month.
Does Milanote offer a free trial? Yes, free plan available.
Helps project managers brainstorm better ideas
Ideanote is the software you use in the early stage of planning a project or task. It’s a very advanced tool for collecting ideas from your teams.
You get started by picking one of their 100+ idea-collection templates to create a mission. You can share the mission with your staff, either with a link or via email. They can then share their innovative ideas.
People can also comment, rate, and assign ideas. This will make it easy for you and your team to brainstorm and pick the best ideas.
You can also monitor activity to measure your team’s engagement during the idea generation process. This will help you identify the top innovators and movers at the company.
Their team is regularly adding new features. You can even submit ideas to their roadmap.
Pricing: The pricing for Ideanote starts at $249 per month and goes up to $2899 per month. But you can get a lifetime deal for just $59 on Appsumo. There are also lifetime deals for bigger plans.
Does Ideanote offer a free trial? Yes, a 7-day free trial is available.
7. Project Insight
One of the best project management software with free project planning features
Source: Project Insight
Just like the other tools, Project Insight is a project planning software that lets you create projects and tasks and invite team members. It also has collaboration tools that can help you communicate better.
But one place where it standouts is integrations. It integrates with other tools such as Trello, Slack, Quickbooks, Salesforce, Zendesk, etc. This makes it easy for you to view all your activity in one place and use project data to develop a better project execution strategy.
Pricing: The project planning subscription is free to use. You can invite unlimited members too. Their paid plans start at $35 per user/month.
Does Project Insight offer a free trial? Yes, free trial available.
Agile project management solution
Hansoft is an agile enterprise-level project planning tool. You can use it to manage 10,000+ users.
It lets you combine multiple planning methodologies under one platform. The different methodologies available are kanban, scrum, and Gantt charts. You can switch between these viewing options depending on the project and team preferences. There are also waterfall and agile method hybrids.
You can track the progress of your project using easy to understand graphs.
These are just a few features of this sophisticated tool. This is not the best tool for freelancers and small teams. But it is perfect for large businesses looking to scale projects.
Pricing: Starts with a free plan which allows up to 5 users. You will need to contact them for details about the larger plans.
Does Hansoft offer a free trial? Yes, free plan available
A visually appealing task management tool
Airtable is a very visually pleasing tool that makes it easy to organize and plan your work.
It has several templates that simplify creating and managing plans. You can find templates for projects such as creating a content calendar, launching a product, user feedback, etc.
You can page through categories and find the most relevant templates.
Another feature you have to check out is blocks. It helps you create better workflows for your team. Blocks also contain visualizing and formatting tools that can help you build better projects and track insights.
There are also partner blocks. These are integrations with popular tools such as Loom, Typeform, and Pexels.
Pricing: It starts with a free plan. Their lowest paid plan is a $10 plan. You get higher limits with this. But it doesn’t include blocks. To use blocks, you will need to upgrade to a bigger plan.
Does Airtable offer a free trial? Yes, free plan available.
One of the best project management software for digital agencies
TeamDeck is a resource management tool for software houses and digital agencies. You can use it to plan projects, assign, and measure performance. It has a simple calendar view.
You can add your team members’ details, such as availability and expertise, to the dashboard. This makes it easy to see who is available and assign tasks to the right people. It can also help you plan future projects and check if you can take on more clients.
The performance tool also lets you track data in real-time. You can use it to charge clients the right amount if you are billing by the hour.
Some other essential features you might want to check out are its leave management solution, time off approval workflow, ability to share insights, and more.
Pricing: It only has one plan that costs $3.99 per team member/month.
Does Team Deck offer a free trial? Yes, 7-day free trial available.
A project planning tool with free task management features
Are you interested in a more intuitive, AI-powered project planning tool? Then Hibox might be right for you. Just like the other tools, you can use it to create tasks, assign tasks, set due dates, and track progress.
Your employees can also communicate with you through video chat through the dashboard. There’s also a built-in group video chat feature to help you communicate. And there’s no need to download any software. You directly do it online. You can also share your screens.
Along with all of this, you get an AI assistant. This bot will assess your activity and make suggestions such as tasks you need to create and the right people to assign.
Pricing: It has a basic free plan for basic task management. For adding the integrations and for video conferencing, you will need to upgrade to the next plan, which costs $4 per user/month. It also has a $8 per user/month plan for enterprises.
Does Hibox offer a free trial? Yes, all sign-ups have a 14-day trial of the Pro plan.
An ideal solution for project managers
Hive is a project planning tool with multiple view styles. These include calendar, kanban, and Gantt charts. The main benefit of this is that different teams will prefer different view styles. So, you can create projects with different views for different teams.
Along with this, it has other features such as automated workflows, summary views, action templates, forms, time tracking, etc. It simplifies complex project management and planning tasks.
And just like other project management tools, it has communication and analytics features.
It integrates with other tools like Jira, Google Drive, Slack, and Dropbox that help you share information and boost your productivity.
Pricing: It has a $16 per user/month plan, but you have to pay extra for some of the add ons. It also has an enterprise plan for large organizations.
Does Hive offer a free trial? Yes, free trial available.
Go get yourself a project planning software
Which of the above project planning software did you like most?
As you can see above, there is a lot of excellent Saas project planning software out there. Picking one can be a hard task as it not only needs to work now but also years from now when you scale your business. So, choose meticulously. Maybe you can try out a few before you pick one.
Also, check out the AppSumo store. You can find some excellent project planning and management tools here for a fraction of the price.