We present you a compilation and review of the best project planning software options available today so that you can try them for free and apply them to your projects.
List of software to plan projects
Below we show you different online project planning programs so that you can easily compare them . By selecting on each logo you can access more information, and request a free trial if you wish.
Free trial link
Save time, hit deadlines, and deliver within budget using TeamGantt. Only pay for the users who plan and manage projects. The rest of the team can manage their tasks and collaborate for free
Proworkflow is a planning and collaboration tool that allows you to keep your projects and teams under control and coordinated.
Types of project planning programs
There are many programs for project planning, so many that sometimes it is difficult to decide on one. For this, it is important to know its main characteristics to allow you to select the best tool based on your requirements
Online or offline.
Traditionally you had to install a program on your computer, and it could only be used from it. Today the situation has changed and there are programs to create the schedule that can be used 100% online, even from smartphones, and options that still require installation on a computer.
If you want mobility and flexibility of use, you should use an online planning program, if not, traditional programs usually offer better performance.
Free or paid.
Although most of the options available on the market have a cost, usually based on the number of users or the desired features, there are also free project planning programs.
These are usually based on Open Source , and although they are a good option, they usually have limited features.
There are different ways of planning projects, such as: traditional or cascade methodologies (the one learned in the PMP certification), Critical Chain or AGILE. So, the planning tool that you choose should be in accordance with the methodology that you usually use in your projects. As you will see there are programs for the different options.
Multi-project or single-project
Do you want to manage a single project or the entire portfolio? This is a question that you should ask yourself when choosing a planning tool, since different characteristics are required in each case.
Aspects such as the possibility of balancing resources, integrating the status of various projects, and carrying out strategic planning are important when you want to manage project portfolios.
Advantages of a project planning program
More and more companies tend to work on projects, and they are under greater pressure to achieve their goals.
This makes it necessary to implement or improve the tools available to the project manager, specifically those that allow to improve and manage the schedule of activities. The main advantages that we can get from its use are:
They facilitate project planning and reduce the efforts devoted to this activity.
In a more or less automatic way, depending on the program, it is possible to insert tasks and adjust the schedule according to the changes introduced. This facilitates and reduces the time for each adjustment and reduces errors.
Additionally, many planning programs highlight the critical path of the project, thus showing those tasks that determine its minimum duration and focus the efforts on those task that really matter to achieve the final date.
Integrate the different planning.
The most complete programs allow you to assign costs and resources to the schedule, so the same tool allows you to calculate the cost baseline and the resource schedule to verify that the project planning is feasible. Some programs, such as Microsoft Project, go further and automatically balance the resources, which avoids having a planning that requires more resources than we have assigned.
Show the effect of delays and changes in the project and forecasting.
The most complete programs have the ability to save a baseline to be used as a reference throughout the project, in this way we can see how the changes that occur during execution affect what was initially planned.
This ability is also useful for analyzing changes before approving them or studying different execution alternatives, since it allows us to forecast their effect on the project.
Improve the accuracy of schedules.
This ability to unite the different schedules and perform some calculations of basic parameters, such as the critical path or the resource schedule, allow us to have schedules that are more adjusted to reality and project constrains.
This can be used to define a feasible way of executing the project within its constraints, or to show that the project is not feasible.
Although this article talks about task planning software , many of these functions can also be found in comprehensive management programs. The difference between the two groups is small and centered on the greater ability of the latter to monitor and control the project.
Beyond the scope of the project itself, more sophisticated planning programs can also work with programs and portfolios . This allows for better coordination between projects that are related or share resources in a multi-project environment, obviously at the cost of a higher price.
Limitations of planning programs
Although programs to create project schedules have many advantages and greatly facilitate the task of the project manager, they also have some limitations that we cannot ignore:
Need for training.
To a greater or lesser extent, depending on their complexity, all programs to make schedules require some learning to be used, especially those that are more complete and have greater capabilities.
A planning program is not equivalent to a project management methodology.
Planning programs serve to facilitate the application of a certain methodology, but they do not replace it, therefore the fact of having a program does not imply that we know how to manage projects .
A planning tools requires continuous efforts
If we want to use the planning program during the monitoring and control phase, we must gradually adjust it with the changes that occur in the project.
This is pretty obvious, but it wouldn’t be the first time that the “official” schedule of the project doesn’t look like reality, and therefore it is useless.
Planning tools not only generate beautiful graphs, but also useful business information
When it comes to planning complex projects, you need quick insights into them so you can instantly assess their overall status and address potential bottlenecks and delays early.
Instead of having spreadsheets full of numbers, planning software give you the essential data in a more understandable and practical way, and also allow you to make instant changes to the project schedule.
Now many project planning tools offer these functions, but before making a decision it is important to assess its real value to the company. A good planning tool is not just a mere source for scheduling your monthly presentations; In addition, it must provide a new perspective from which to analyze project data and improve overall management.
Let’s look at the essential planning tools you should have in your project planning software that will ensure your project runs smoothly.
The Gantt chart makes it much easier to create, view, and update your entire project schedule. Gantt chart is not only an information tool that the team reviews from time to time, but also an interactive tool that allows you to manage the project.
Some of the planning software allow to keep the entire team informed with the up-to-date GANTT chart. Team members are automatically notified of new due dates with no extra work on your part. In addition, you can grant access to the schedule to clients, partners or other interested parties in a very simple way
When using GANTT charts, some important software’s features are:
Make sure your Gantt chart supports drag and drop and automatically takes weekends into account; These are features that will save you hours of updating your schedule.
Possibility to include the dependencies of tasks and milestones. If the start or finish dates of some tasks depend on others, this will ensure that they move together. Milestones are important project events (for example, publication date, conferences, etc.) that are tied to certain dates and will always stay at the same point on the timeline.
Behind every project there are people, so you should keep in mind that balancing the workload is a bit more complicated than drawing workflow diagrams. Some of the team members may be overworked, while others have holes in their schedule. The workload chart helps you work around it and get the most out of available resources.
Any book on business administration will tell you that micromanaging is a mistake. However, controlling a number of fundamental tasks is unavoidable. It is too dangerous to leave them outside the direct control of the project manager. What you can do is minimize time and work.
A dashboard gives you central control over critical tasks across all projects so new or late assignments don’t go unnoticed.
Not only do you have to understand what’s going on, but you also have to be able to explain it to your boss, clients or shareholders quickly and clearly. For this reason, reporting probably consumes most of a project manager’s time.
Interactive reports will not only free you from this routine, but also provide you with information in the form of easy-to-view graphs, allow you to divide project information based on personal needs, as well as search for information that was previously inaccessible or unavailable.
As you can see, project planning tools not only make life easier for the project manager, but also ensure that everyone from executives to team members have instant access to real project data. This way the team will work more synchronized and unwanted risks are avoided.
Note: this page does not directly distribute the programs presented, it only provides advertising. For any question related to the software presented, contact the distribution company directly.