Free and Paid Microsoft Project Alternatives for 2020

Free and Paid Microsoft Project Alternatives for 2020
Ivan Pavlov
March 30, 2020
Last updated: March 30, 2020

Table of content

What is Microsoft Project Management and Why Would You Want an Alternative?

How Much Does Microsoft Project Cost?

The Top Alternatives to Microsoft Project

  1. Bitrix24

  2. Wrike

  3. Monday.com

  4. Zoho Projects


Millennials represent 35% of the workforce. They are now the largest generation of workers today. In a few years, the first GenZ workers will show up asking for interviews.

What does this mean for you? The software you’ve used for years will be foreign and difficult to learn.

You entered the workforce at a time when Excel and Microsoft Outlook were the project management tools in business. Sifting through complicated drop-down menus was the norm.

You might be comfortable with a software suite like Microsoft Project. Your millennial and GenZ employees won’t. And the easier it is for your team to learn project management software, the more productive they’ll be.

It’s time to look for a Microsoft Project alternative. We’ve picked out the top five so you can avoid wasting time on tiresome research. Scroll on to find out top picks.

What is Microsoft Project Management and Why Would You Want an Alternative?

Microsoft Project is a powerful piece of software. It’s tools empower teams to find the optimal project schedules and the right solutions for workload distribution.

With fully customizable Gantt charts, task tracking, budgeting toolkits, etc, you’ll be able to keep track of progress and deliverables. If you’re an experienced project manager, this software suite will scratch your need for full variety and control.

So, why would you need an alternative? What’s wrong with a powerful project management tool made by one of the biggest tech companies in the world?

Poor user interface is the answer.

If you’ve been a loyal user of Windows and Microsoft’s productivity tools, you’ll understand the frustration. Options and menus hidden deep within drop-down menus. When you think you’ve mastered the software, a new need arises and you’re once again hunting for what you want.

Microsoft Project is no different. Tools and shortcuts are all in a bar at the top. On the left is the spreadsheet with task and resource data. On the right is an interactive visualized schedule.

On top of all this, there is no mobile app. A puzzling choice considering that Microsoft makes tablet PCs. It’s standard practice to convert your software into a mobile app.

How Much Does Microsoft Project Cost?

While you can host your own server from which to run Microsoft Project, that’s not the easiest option. Office360 allows users to add Microsoft Project to their subscription.

The first tier, Project Plan 1, costs $10 per user per month and it does not include a desktop client. You must use your browser to access the software. It lacks a few tools and functions like the ability to assign resources to specific tasks.

The second tier, Project Plan 3 (don’t ask because we don’t know what happened to Plan 2 either), is $30.00 per user per month. With Plan 3, you can download a desktop client. Here you’ll be able to access reporting and timesheet functions.

Project Plan 5 is $55.00 per user per month. This includes project proposals and certain business metrics.

The Top Alternatives to Microsoft Project

Maybe you’re hiring more young workers or maybe you’re just fed up with drop-down menus. Whatever the reason you’re looking for a Microsoft Project alternative, the following will fill your needs.

1. Bitrix24

Bitrix24 as Microsoft project alternative

Microsoft Project pales in comparison to Bitrix24. Granted, Project includes useful tools similar to Bitrix24’s Gantt charts, tracking tools, Kanban visual aids, and tracking tools. It doesn’t match Bitrix24’s sleek design.

When you log in to Bitrix24, you can quickly interface with the tools you need without drowning in drop-down menus. Everything you need sits comfortably in the icon tray on the left or tabulated across the top. You’ll never be siloed into a tool and feel like you need to crawl your way back out to use another.

You’re constantly growing your business. You need a project management suite that grows with you. No other software solution scales this well to your business’ size.

When you first sign on with your small team, you might not need all the CRM tools available. But down the road, you’ll be grateful Bitrix24 allows you to track and balance hundreds or thousands of clients all from one location.

If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of tools available, fear not. As you or your team need a tool, you can utilize Bitrix24’s thorough training videos. Bring your team online through either an organized class time or allow them to learn the tool on their own time.

How Much is Bitrix24?

Are you a small team with less than twelve users? Then Bitrix24 is a free alternative to Microsoft Project. And even if you have a slightly larger team, ask yourself, does everyone need access?

If you answered “yes”, then the Standard version is the version you need. It gives you unlimited access for an unlimited number of users for only $99 a month. That’s right. No matter how many users you want, it’s still $99 a month.

The Standard version allows 100 GB of storage and allows you to use your own logo.

The Standard version does lack some project management features. If you need those features, you can upgrade to the Professional Plan. This includes unlimited storage, meeting and briefing tools, time management tools, records management tools, and the ability to use your own domain name.

2. Wrike

wrike as microsoft project alternative.jpg

If you’re looking for ease of use, Wrike is your project management tool. It’s fairly easy to learn and you can quickly start tracking your work.

There’s a reason Wrike is our number two on this list. It boasts a clean and user-friendly interface. And what’s more, your dashboard is customizable within the software. This allows you to tailor the software experience to your team’s needs.

Widgets add another layer of customizability. These allow you to keep certain features to the forefront including documents, notes, and certain other resources.

If you need a visualization, look at Asana or Slack. Imagine a three-panel interface. A list of projects on the left when you can start what you want for easy access. Once you click on a project, it pops up in the second pane where tasks fold out before you. Lastly, if you click on a task, the third panel displays your task details.

Wrike isn’t all roses and rainbows, however. If you wanted a robust communications piece, look elsewhere. Wrike does not include video, voice, or live chat.

The software relies on a comment-posting system. You can comment on specific tasks or reply to comments and tag other team members.

The Price of Wrike

Wrike does have a free plan option but it’s an unusual package setup compared to other software suites. It’s free for teams of up to five. Sounds small, doesn’t it? But then you notice that an unlimited number of collaborators can sign on.

A collaborator is someone who can view the project, but can’t edit or comment on it. Sounds great, until you realize that Gantt charts aren’t included. Neither is time tracking or dashboard customization (what makes this software a decent alternative). And you’re looking at only 2GB of storage.

If you want to use a Gantt chart, then you’ll have to upgrade to the Professional plan. This will cost you $9.80 per user per month. They allow volume discounts on packages of 5, 10, or 15 users. This plan gives you Gantt charts, time tracking, sub-tasks, and dashboard customization.

The majority of Wrike’s features are available in their business plan. This costs 24.80 per user per month. Some fun features in this plan include report templates, time tracking, task approvals, and Salesforce integration.

3. Monday.com

Monday.com as Microsoft project alternative.png

What do you think when you hear the name “dapulse”? Certainly not collaboration software. That’s why in 2017, Israeli startup dapulse changed their name to Monday.com.

No matter how boring and safe the new name, Monday.com is a decent alternative to Microsoft Project. They’ve branded the software as “not a project management tool” but it can be used as such. They’ve simplified down from what you might expect from most tools and created an easy and streamlined experience.

Like Microsoft Project, the interface is a lot like a spreadsheet. Unlike Project, it’s intuitive and easy to learn. Don’t like using a spreadsheet-like interface? That’s fine. Monday.com includes list views, project maps, or a Kanban board to help give an overview of your projects.

Users can upload and attach files to cards, mention teammates, etc. You can build summary charts of your progress and plans and then export them for others to see.

But if you’re looking for a traditional project management toolset, you won’t find it here. Instead of Gantt charts, you’ll find “timelines.” This is a slightly fancier way to display projects visually.

How Much Does Monday.com Cost?

Sadly, there is no free plan for Monday.com. But the Basic membership isn’t all too expensive at $49 a month for up to ten users (If you want more users, you can pay for more users after ten). You get 5GB of storage with this membership and you’re able to access the visual workflows.

You won’t be able to store activity logs longer than one week with the Basic membership. So, if you need to keep records longer than a week, you should upgrade to the Standard membership.

The Standard membership will cost you $79 per month for up to ten people. If you want the full experience of Monday.com, then you’ll want this membership tier. It includes the timeline’s Gantt chart-like feature you can’t get with the Basic membership.

The Pro membership costs $119 per month for up to ten users. This membership allows integrations with up to 25,000 other platforms. And the biggest advantage of the Pro Membership is that it comes with unlimited storage space. If you work with large multimedia files, go Pro.

4. Zoho Projects

Zoho projects as Microsoft project alternative.jpg

Are you looking for a fairly well-rounded project management experience? Zoho Projects might be your alternative. It has the feel of a Microsoft product and the simplicity of an Etch-A-Sketch.

Zoho Projects features a large array of Gantt chart features. It includes a drag and drop mechanic even a child could learn how to navigate. It allows all four dependencies and includes baseline and critical path features.

It includes vital project management features such as time tracking, task management, and resource utilization. If you want to keep track of milestones, you can do that too by setting time goals. Task management tools include custom statuses and fields, reminders, Kanban boards, and task recurrence.

Need to track resource and employee utilization? This is something unique to Zoho Projects. You can easily figure out who is under-utilized, who is overworked, and who is unavailable through their simple seesaws. 

How Much Does Zoho Projects Cost?

If your team includes five people or less, then you’re in luck. Zoho Projects can be free for you and your team. Unfortunately, you can only manage two projects at once. Otherwise, the free version is a great deal!

For only $25 per month, the Standard plan will give you everything included in the free plan and allow you up to ten members with ten projects. The free plan didn’t include time-tracking, but the Standard plan does.

The Express package is $50 per month and allows unlimited projects for up to 15 people. After 15 people you can pay an extra $4 per month to add users up to 100.

The Premium plan is $100 a month and allows teams of up to 20. This adds the four task dependencies, task rollups, and business hour tracking along with a bunch of other features.

And for $150 a month, you can opt-in to the Enterprise package. That includes 25 users with added users costing $6 per month up to 5000. You can upload files as large as 120 GB, use a custom domain, and more.

Your Employees Will Appreciate a Microsoft Project Alternative like Bitrix24

If you’re looking for a Microsoft Project alternative, then consider Bitrix24. It includes the robust and simple-to-use interface your younger employees will appreciate. The same can’t be said for Microsoft Project where drop-down menus proliferate and silo users into ever deeper pits of frustration.

If you haven’t tried Bitrix24 and delved into its vast project management toolbox, then you’re missing out. It’s simple to download and easy to get started. Jump into Bitrix24 today.


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