It’s 2020, and that means that there’s no excuse for your team not using some sort of software to manage your projects.
Unless you’re the type of person who still uses a fax machine or carries around a pager (and there’s simply no hope left for you), it’s time to recognize the many benefits of moving your operations onto some kind of project management software.
Why not start with the most basic of needs like a project scheduling software?
What to look for in a great project scheduling software
Planning out your project can be a nightmare when you don’t have the right software with the features you need. That’s why I’ve listed out three distinct features that’ll help you plan, schedule, and execute throughout the project management process.
While it isn’t required that your project scheduling software offer all of these features listed, it’s best that it includes at least one of these functions.
1. Gantt charts
Gantt charts, aka timeline charts, are bar charts that display a project schedule including the time it’ll take to complete each task, which tasks you should prioritize, and some even allow you to create a critical path that shows the quickest route to completion.
These project management timeline charts are the perfect tool for creating a visualized roadmap of your project tasks, unlike task lists which work great as checklists, but not as scheduling tools.
2. Task dependencies
A task dependency shows the relationship between different tasks and which ones you have to complete in order to move onto the next.
The best project scheduling software options allow you to create these task dependencies and map them out using your Gantt timeline charts.
Once you map out these dependencies, you’ll have a clear understanding of what it will take to complete your project.
3. Shared team calendar
Any project scheduling software worth buying must come with a shared team calendar. It must be able to display and create tasks when needed in order to provide a contextualized overview of the project at hand. Every option I’ve listed out in this piece includes a shared team calendar.
Our 8 picks for the best project scheduling software
Each one of these project planning tools that I picked for this list includes at least one of the listed features above and several of them offer all three. Good luck with finding the right software for your team.
This platform seems to dominate nearly every project management software list that I write. monday.com is a highly intuitive project scheduling software that offers its own unique spin on planning, tracking, and execution.
While most of the task entry is done using monday.com’s proprietary board system, all of the planning can be monitored using the timeline feature.
This visually-driven feature allows project managers to see where tasks fall within a schedule, view deadlines, set dependencies for these tasks, and reorganize them by clicking and dragging to other areas of the timeline.
Coupled with one of the best user interfaces and unique presentations of typical project management features, monday.com is definitely one of my favorite project scheduling tools on the market.
As for affordability, monday.com offers a variety of pricing options based on your user base and feature needs that start at $17/month. It isn’t the cheapest option on this list, but considering everything monday.com offers, it is well worth the money in most cases.
When it comes to scheduling project tasks and navigating that schedule, I believe Airtable is a phenomenal software choice, especially if your users are well-versed in spreadsheets.
Airtable takes the stuffy nature of Microsoft Excel and gives it a much-needed facelift in the user interface department by color-coding different sections and functions as well as allowing you to contextualize your project with task images.
That being said, this platform doesn’t just rely on spreadsheets for planning, scheduling, and executing your project.
If you’re looking for other forms of scheduling, all of your project data can be transposed into calendars, kanban boards, and progress charts, making Airtable a great all-around project tracker. These scheduling feature options give project managers the versatile tools they need to plan out their projects in both searchable and visible formats.
Finally, this tool offers competitive pricing that includes a free version and the cheapest priced option starting at $10/month per user. Not a bad price to pay for a unique and creative project scheduling software option.
Mavenlink is a corporate-minded project scheduling software that offers a multitude of features useful for planning, scheduling, executing, and wrapping up any project that you can throw at it.
When it comes to project scheduling, Mavenlink offers multiple different tools, including work breakdown structure support, Gantt charts, workflow planning, task assignment, and even critical path analysis.
Even when you have to go into the nitty-gritty details of your project, Mavenlink delivers when it comes to cost projections, reporting, trend analysis, budget management, and even client invoicing. This platform hits on all of the project management principles you need to cover in order to succeed.
Of course, all of this comes at a cost, and Mavenlink is definitely not cheap in most cases.
While the base option for this platform starts at $19/month, once you add more than five users your bill rises to a staggering $39/month per user. That is a significant price increase, but considering its market and capability, it is well worth the price for enterprise-level users.
TeamGantt offers one of the best timeline functions of any of the options on this list. It’s a simple tool that is easy to navigate and uses a consistent user interface between all of its different task management functions.
What I mean by that is no matter which scheduling feature you choose from, whether it’s Gantt charts, shared calendars, or task lists, you’ll have a clear understanding of where tasks are, how long they’ll last, and which tasks are dependent on others.
Speaking of scheduling, on top of all of that functionality, TeamGantt also had my favorite rendition of the critical path method within its Gantt charts.
While Asana’s rendition of a Gantt chart critical path is visually pleasing and unique, I prefer TeamGantt’s straightforward approach that shows clear links between tasks.
The only place where this software really falls short is in the features department since it is missing any financial management functionality.
Luckily, it is priced around the same as similar competitors such as Jira, Wrike, or Asana, making it a realistic option for smaller businesses.
Wrike is a project scheduling software that does everything that it needs to do in every area in a completely satisfactory manner. “What kind of introduction is that?” is probably what you’re asking yourself right now, but I can’t think of a better way to describe this platform.
It’s a decent all-around project management software that’ll help you plan, schedule, manage, execute, and wrap up your project in a passable manner.
Wrike is not particularly exciting in any way, the user interface is simple, its pricing is average, and it covers all of the bases from task prioritization to budget management.
As for scheduling features, Wrike offers task lists, Gantt timeline charts, and kanban boards that’ll allow me to map out my project from start to finish. Lastly, when it comes to pricing, Wrike opts to compete with the likes of Asana and Airtable with a free option and a starting rate of $9.80/month per user for its most affordable tier.
Asana is extremely popular in the project management space and for good reason. This tool is easy to use, its user interface looks fantastic, and it’s been around for nearly a decade, after launching in 2011.
What makes Asana great for creating your project management plan is the visually appealing approach it takes to creating and managing your project using Gantt charts, planning calendars, and task dependencies.
That being said, Asana is not a comprehensive project management tool, but instead focuses more on execution and collaboration aspects. There aren’t any financial management or reporting features, which puts it behind some of its competition. It’s priced competitively with a free version as well as a base paid price of $9.99/month per user.
Like many of the options in this list, Jira offers many of the standard project scheduling features that you’d expect from a software like this, including kanban boards, task dependencies, and critical path.
On top of all of this, Jira is the king of software onboarding, in my opinion. This platform is perfect for users that will need some instruction on how to get a project started using project management tools.
However, Jira also falls short in the features department when it comes to financial management and Gantt charts, which is especially important when planning certain projects.
Nevertheless, Jira does offer a number of Gantt chart integrations from outside vendors. Additionally, the user interface could use a little work, since you can find many of these same features offered in a prettier package at the same price.
Speaking of price, Jira is pretty reasonable when it comes to their paid options. The two tiers to choose from are the standard package at $10/month for up to 10 users and the premium option for $14/month per user.
It is still a fantastic project tool, making it worthy of this list, but when it comes to planning and scheduling, I’d make sure you only use this for specific project types and uses, like Agile or content management.
In fact, this platform doesn’t even offer any native financial management features or a robust reporting system.
This tool really shines in the simplicity department. It takes no time to learn how to use Trello, making it great for beginners who are new to kanban project management. Anyone can learn how to plan out their project in phases using the board system and shared calendar.
Trello also offers a well-designed user interface to boot if looks are important to you.
As for pricing, their free version provides lots of functionality for an unlimited number of users, while the relatively affordable paid versions offer additional customizations and integrations starting around $9.99/month per user.
Project management software has so much more to offer
Scheduling is an obvious benefit of using project management software, but what about your other needs?
You can manage your project budgets, send invoices to clients, collaborate more efficiently with your team, share relevant documents, standardize processes, and so much more.
This is only a shortlist of the many useful tools out there. Be sure to check out my other reviews here on The Blueprint before making the decision to purchase a new platform for your team.