Historically, many companies have relied on Microsoft Project as a resource for project planning on a tight or nonexistent budget. However, this Microsoft tool does not offer a lot of the most advanced project management features that many users have come to expect from their business software. How can smaller companies balance budgetary realities with software requirements?

The project management software field has grown astronomically, even for users that want free and open source options. Whether you’re an individual, a small business or a larger organization that needs a better system for managing project workflows and tasks, these Microsoft Project alternatives are great options for a range of budgets and needs.

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

Jump to:

8 best alternatives to Microsoft Project

Free version available Open source capabilities Mobile app available Gantt charts
monday work management Yes No Yes Yes
ClickUp Yes No Yes Yes
Asana Yes No Yes Yes
ProjectLibre Yes Yes No Yes
GanttProject Yes Yes No Yes
Microsoft Planner No No Yes No
Smartsheet No No Yes Yes
Trello Yes No Yes No

monday work management

The monday work management logo.
Image: monday work management

monday work management is a web-based suite that supports milestone tracking, analytics and workflow automation, which gives it the edge over smaller project management open source apps. A desktop version is also available. monday work management runs on Windows and macOS and supports iOS and Android mobile devices. It also works with Microsoft Teams, Google, Slack, Dropbox, Zoom and Outlook.

monday work management supports many users and projects. As you might expect, it supports Gantt charts as well as kanban and dashboarding. Analytics tools provide real-time data for reporting budgets and costs. Collaboration and communication are easy with team-level support.

The browser-based interface is colorful and fun, as you can see in Figure A . It provides access to everything you need, like customer support, which includes great user documentation and videos.

Figure A

monday offers an exciting interface with many features to track projects.
monday offers an exciting interface with many features to track projects.

monday work management offers five main pricing plans: Free, Basic, Standard, Pro and Enterprise with a 14-day free trial. The full package may be overkill for the average small company, but the project management component of monday is free.


ClickUp logo.
Image: ClickUp

ClickUp is another web-based project management all-in-one package that can run on Windows, macOS, Android or iOS. It integrates with Slack and Zoom, and it can sync your cloud storage, calendars and messaging apps.

Its project management features work as expected, but ClickUp also supports team collaboration, documentation management, whiteboarding and kanban.

The fun interface, shown in Figure B , offers quick access to project management and other components.

Figure B

The colorful interface is easy to use.
The colorful interface is easy to use.

ClickUp offers a basic free plan that’s adequate for users that require simple project management functionality. If you need more, ClickUp provides Unlimited, Business, Business Plus and Enterprise plans, beginning at $5 per month per user. ClickUp supplies 24/7 around-the-clock support.


The Asana logo.
Image: Asana

Asana is a web-based project management offering that runs on Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. It’s easy to learn and use, which is its best advantage. Its simple interface, shown in Figure C , makes it simple for users of all skill levels to move from task to task. Their online documentation and active user community are added bonuses for ease of use.

Figure C

Asana has a simple interface.
Asana has a simple interface.

Asana’s project management features easily integrate with collaboration, charting and reporting. For a small business that needs only project management, this software may be too much, which is why Asana offers a free plan dedicated only to project management.

Its free plan is one of the most robust of the many free project management software options available. Paid plans start at $10.00 per month per user, with specialized pricing options for nonprofits. Its paid plans are best suited to small to medium-sized organizations.


The ProjectLibre logo.
Image: ProjectLibre

ProjectLibre is an open source desktop project management solution that bills itself as the best replacement for MS Project, and with over six million downloads in 193 countries and translations into 29 languages, they may be right.

This software runs on several operating systems, including Windows, Solaris, Linux, BSD and macOS, and it is also compatible with Microsoft Project. A cloud version of ProjectLibre is currently in beta testing.

From the user’s perspective, the product is easy to use and does most of the work for you. The interface hasn’t changed much over the years, as you can see in Figure D . Perhaps most importantly, ProjectLibre has a huge community for user support.

Figure D

The interface is easy to use and stable.
The interface is easy to use and stable.

This program is free and lives up to its marketing hype. Its online user documentation and busy user community are outstanding. Certainly, this software has stayed its course over the years, and it’s that longevity and community support that puts this software over the top.


The GanttProject logo.
Image: GanttProject

GanttProject is open source desktop project management software with an ultimate claim to fame of simplicity. The user interface, shown in Figure E , resembles ProjectLibre and other traditional Gantt-type, grid programs .

Figure E

Create projects and add tasks.
Create projects and add tasks.

GanttProject runs on Windows, macOS and Linux. After downloading, you can be up and running with no additional setup, and the tool also now includes project cost support.

Installation is a bit rudimentary, but it’s stable. GanttProject doesn’t offer a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s great at what it does — project management. It’s also free and offers a large online support community with open source customizability.

Microsoft Planner

The Microsoft Planner logo.
Image: Microsoft

Microsoft Planner is a web-based project planning app. It’s a great little tool and easy to use for simple tracking and collaboration, as you can see in Figure F .

Figure F

The simple kanban board interface is easy to use.
The simple kanban board interface is easy to use.

The tool is also free with a Microsoft 365 business subscription and integrates well with other 365 tools. If you already have 365, start your search here. You may find everything you need.

SEE: Checklist: Microsoft 365 app and services deployments on Macs (TechRepublic Premium)

Microsoft Planner lacks charting capabilities, which is a huge disadvantage, but an extension can help. To learn more, you can read How to create a Gantt chart when your project data is in Microsoft Planner .

Please note that this extension is part of an enterprise-level set of paid extensions. If you’re going to buy the extension suite just for charting, you might want to compare the costs of other packages that include charting first, especially the free ones.