Best project management software for small businesses

We review the most popular project management tools on the market to help you find the best choice for your small business.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. This article was co-authored by:
0 out of 0
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Software
Best for
Price per user:
When billed annually
Free trial?
Rating (/5)
Verdict

Affordability

Creative tools

Project tracking

Remote working

User friendliness

Organising complex projects

£3.62

£7 (per seat)

£7.10

£9.49

£7.24

£11

4.3

4.1

4

4.0

3.8

3.7

Budget-friendly; for companies needing one app for all their project needs.

A great PM tool for creative, design-based teams

Affordable option that's perfect for SMEs of any size that want to focus on project tracking

Strong focus on collaboration; a great option for small businesses working remotely.

Simple layout; great for businesses with under ten employees

For SMEs willing to pay extra for a sleeker, data-friendly interface.

Project management (PM) software is a crucial resource for SMEs. It works by automating your scheduling, organisation, and planning processes, and giving you more time to focus on the more important aspects of your business. That means the right platform can save you both time and money.

But choosing the best PM tool is a difficult task for small business owners. It’s a competitive market, with lots of different products available. To help you decide, we’ve identified the six top priorities for startups when it comes to project management, and matched them with the best PM software for each category.

If you’re unsure what you’d like from a project management tool, you can use our simple online comparison tool to work it out. First, take a look at our top six choices for project management software in the table below:

Before we get started, we'd like to share with you the most up-to-date deals for project management software…

Our project management software experts are checking around for the best deals all the time, and updating the brands featured below on a weekly basis to make sure we're always offering the most up-to-date pricing information for trusted UK project management brands.

Take a look at what's currently on offer, and feel free to click on the ‘Visit site' buttons to find out more about the brands and deals.

 

How did we choose the best project management software?

Because every company manages projects differently, it's impossible to say for sure which is the best PM tool for your firm.

Dr. Serkan Ceylan is Head of the School of Project Management at Arden University. He told us: “When choosing any project management software, it has to be right for what the business wants to achieve, the team dynamic, and the predominant approach to delivering project outputs. These are important considerations when making such decisions.”

With this in mind, we came up with a list of the top six considerations for UK small business owners. Then, we tested these against the biggest players in the market, and picked out the best PM software options to help you find the right choice for your specific business ambitions, team interaction, and management style.

These are:

  • Remote working
  • Affordability
  • Creativity
  • Complexity
  • User friendliness
  • Project tracking

ClickUp

Best for: Affordability

4.3 out of 5
  • Ease of use
    4
  • Price
    5
  • Integrations
    4

ClickUp sells itself as an all-in-one work platform, and is designed to replace any software you might need when running a business. The platform’s generous freemium plan provides unlimited users, spaces, and tasks, as well as over 50 native integrations with channels including Google Drive, Amazon Alexa, and Vimeo. ClickUp Free members also have access to 20 advanced features – the most of any in this list – including custom views, Gantt charts, and real time collaboration with colleagues. This ample package makes it excellent for budget-conscious SMEs, although some users have reported feeling overwhelmed by the amount that’s on offer.

ClickUp pricing

 ClickUp FreeClickUp UnlimitedClickUp BusinessClickUp Enterprise
ClickUp logo
Price per month (billed annually):Free£3.62 per member£6.51 per memberContact sales
Price per month (billed monthly):Free£6.51 per member£13.74 per memberContact sales
UsersUnlimited - but only 5 spacesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Storage100MBUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Check out further details about ClickUp's pricing plans here

Although we’ve ranked it highest for its freemium plan, ClickUp’s payment plans are also some of the most affordable on the market. Pricing begins at just £6.51 per user when billed monthly (£3.62 billed annually) for ClickUp Unlimited, which unlocks unlimited storage and larger monthly allowances. The next tier is ClickUp Business at £13.74 per user, billed monthly (£6.51 billed annually), which is designed for greater security with multi-office businesses in mind.

For a full breakdown of ClickUp pricing, read our handy guide.

Verdict

ClickUp offers an all-in-one software solution for companies wanting to find one app for all their project needs. Growing companies should invest in ClickUp Unlimited to take full advantage of the app, but the freemium plan is a good place to begin as one of the most generous on the market for features.

monday.com

Best for: Creative tools

4.3 out of 5
  • Ease of use
    4.5
  • Price
    4.5
  • Integrations
    4

Due to its visual appeal and customisable progress tools, monday.com has become a favourite among creative teams. It has lots of customisable elements, including dashboards, which provide key insights such as the status of budgets and projects. The platform also uses colour-coded updates. Red means stuck; Orange means working on it; Green means done. These updates help managers to easily track progress, showing them who might need support, as well as who has the capacity to take on more tasks.

For more information, read our full review of monday.com.

Bella Adams is Head of Operations at Aura Ads, a video marketing agency. According to Adams, “Monday.com meets so many of our needs. We use it to manage monthly workloads, tracking inventory like cameras and mics, and even to schedule our shoots each month – I don’t think we’d survive without it. It’s super user-friendly and there are lots of templates to take advantage of, including content plans for marketing, Gantt charts for project management, and recruitment forms for HR.”

monday.com pricing

 IndividualBasicStandardProEnterprise
monday-com-logo-sumonday-com-logo-sumonday-com-logo-sumonday-com-logo-sumonday-com-logo-su
Price per month (billed annually)Free£7
seat/month
£9
seat/month
£14 seat/monthContact sales
Price per month (billed monthly)Free£12
seat/month
£27
seat/month
£42 seat/monthContact sales
UsersUp to twoMinimum of threeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Storage500MB5GB20GB100GB1000GB

monday.com has a unique pricing model. Instead of charging per user, its payment structure is based on set numbers of seats, with its Basic plan offering £12 per seat, billed monthly (£7 per seat when billed annually). The seat number equates to the size of your team, and increases in the following increments:

3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 100, 200+

That means even if you only have 8 people on your team, you’ll still have to pay for 10 at a cost of £120 per month when billed monthly. The closer you are to the upper limit, the better value your plan will be. This can be beneficial or frustrating depending on your team size.

Verdict

Monday.com is a great PM tool for creative, design-based teams, with plenty of customisable tools and an attractive interface. However, its pricing system could be a pain point for small businesses with fluctuating team sizes. For more information, read our monday.com pricing guide.

Wrike

Best for: Project tracking

4 out of 5
  • Ease of use
    4.5
  • Price
    3.5
  • Integrations
    4

Wrike was founded in 2003, and is the oldest PM software tool in this list. Its lowest paid-for plan has all the essential tools, with good collaboration features including subtask management. However, Wrike is similar to Asana in that you’ll need to purchase a higher tier for anything above-basic, such as customisable views or automations.

Wrike’s impressive Office Timeline integration, which users can download free of charge, helps to turn projects and tasks into Gantt charts and timelines – giving you an excellent visual on your project progress and goals. This makes it a great tool for long-term project tracking, and excellent for work allocation – important for SMEs given they are more likely to be stretched on resources.

Wrike pricing

 FreeProfessionalBusinessEnterprise
Price per month (billed annually)Free£7.10£17.96Contact sales

UsersUnlimitedUp to 200Up to 200Unlimited
Storage2GB5GB50GB100GB

Wrike is the only project management software in this article not to offer a monthly billing option, making purchasing a big commitment for startups. It also does not have a refund policy for cancellation. Prices start at £7.10 per month for the Wrike Professional plan, but for time tracking, report templates, and custom fields, you’ll need to shell out for the Wrike Business plan, which costs £17.96 per user. Both tiers permit a maximum of 200 users, making Wrike great for growing teams.

Verdict

Wrike is perfect for SMEs of any size that want to focus on project tracking. It has excellent work allocation capabilities, and offers unlimited use of Gantt charts for project timelines.

Asana

Best for: Remote working

4 out of 5
  • Ease of use
    4.5
  • Price
    3.5
  • Integrations
    4

Asana is a major player in the PM market, allowing for a simple and easily navigable overview of your projects. It offers a strong set of features including excellent co-working tools. Like a few other platforms on the market such as Meistertask, it offers a chat feature for team messaging, making it easy to collaborate with colleagues remotely. Asana also has integrations with over 100 apps, including Slack – great for SMEs that are working from home.

One drawback is that the lower tiers boast essential features only. Advanced elements like personal time tracking aren’t available, whereas rival ClickUp offers this as a free extension.

Lucy Shrimpton is the founder of The Sleep Nanny, a sleep consultancy business for new parents. According to Shrimpton, Asana is “an excellent tool for organising projects. It’s really intuitive and user friendly, and great for working with remote teams. As my team has grown, I’m making it the absolute hub of my business, where all systems and processes lie.”

Asana pricing:

 Asana BasicAsana PremiumAsana BusinessAsana Enterprise
Price per month (billed annually)Free£9.49£20.99Contact sales
Price per month (billed monthly)Free£11.59£25.69Contact sales
UsersUp to 15UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Storage100MB per fileUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited

In terms of price, Asana sits firmly mid-range on the cost spectrum. The product’s free tier, Asana Basic, showcases a generous menu of essential features including unlimited projects, tasks, and storage. Its lowest payment plan, Asana Premium, costs £11.59 per user, billed monthly (£9.49 when billed annually). Its next tier is Asana Business, which is a significant jump away at £25.69 (£20.99 billed annually) and is designed for larger, mid-market firms.

Verdict

Its lower tiers might lead some companies to miss the more sophisticated features, but unique messaging tools and a strong focus on collaboration mean Asana is a great option for small businesses working remotely.

Trello

Best for: User friendliness

3.8 out of 5
  • Ease of use
    5
  • Price
    3.5
  • Integrations
    3

trello project management software

Trello offers a basic board (representing a workspace), lists, and cards format to organise your projects. Each card comes with an easy-to-edit checklist to mark your progress, using a similar traffic light system to monday.com, as well as a deadline and description for team members to view. Trello is available as a Google Play or iOS app, making it great for small business owners who are constantly on the go and don’t have complex PM needs.

John Ellmore is co-founder of Know Your Money, a financial advice startup which was acquired by NerdWallet in 2020. “Trello supported our early stage growth,” he explains “It gives businesses the flexibility to define their own workflow, but can lack the structure needed for a maturing business.”

Trello pricing

 Trello BasicTrello BusinessTrello Enterprise
Trello logoTrello logoTrello logo
Price per month (billed annually)Free£7.24Contact sales
Price per month (billed monthly)Free£9.05Contact sales
UsersUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
StorageUnlimited (10MB per file)UnlimitedUnlimited

There are three different payment plans available from Trello. Besides a basic, no-cost option, you can also choose between the Business Class plan and the Enterprise plan. Trello’s Business Class plan is the best for small businesses and costs £9.05 per user when billed monthly, and £7.24 if billed annually, making it one of the most affordable of those we’ve reviewed. Its generous allowances include unlimited boards and storage, as well as four different views to give an overview of your projects.

Verdict

Trello’s simpler layout and friendly design make it a great choice for businesses with under ten employees, as something that the whole team can use easily with a gentle learning curve.

Smartsheet

Best for: Organising complex projects

3.7 out of 5
  • Ease of use
    3.5
  • Price
    3
  • Integrations
    4.5

Smartsheet differs from competitors due to its familiar spreadsheet format, which is essentially a collaborative, online version of Microsoft Excel. Like monday.com, Smartsheet has a lot of customisation tools for its spreadsheet cells, including conditional formatting and changeable column types. However, Smartsheet’s were more advanced and less visually appealing, supporting more intelligent reporting tools like Gantt charts and automations. Due to this added sophistication, Smartsheet is not as easy-to-master as other PM solutions on this list, like Trello or Asana.

Smartsheet pricing

 IndividualBusinessEnterprise
Price per month (billed annually)£11£19Contact sales
Price per month (billed monthly)£14£24Contact sales
UsersOneMinimum of threeUnlimited
Storage50GB per user100GB per user125GB per user

Smartsheet does not offer a free plan or trial, and is also very expensive compared to its rivals. Its payment plans are its biggest flaw – small businesses are limited to just the Business plan, priced at £24 per user, billed monthly (£19 billed annually). You’ll get what you pay for with 100GB of storage per user, but this won’t be worth the added expense for most small firms.

Verdict

Smartsheet is the most expensive option on this list, but its unique sheets-based layout means its best for SMEs that deal with large datasets and are willing to pay extra for a sleeker, data-friendly interface.

Price comparison

We analysed the cost of each basic plan in this list of the best PM software for small businesses. It was a fairly close race, with an average price tag of £7.55 per user, billed monthly. Smartsheet was the most expensive given its more complex spreadsheet capabilities, with ClickUp easily offering the best value for money.

Another reason we chose the six software options featured in this guide is that they all (except Smartsheet) have either a freemium payment plan or a free trial period. Small business owners should take advantage of this low-budget option to figure out what you do and don't need from a project management system before purchasing.

Final review

The market for PM software is highly competitive, and it can be difficult to find the best choice for your business’s unique needs. Our ranking has picked out the best tool for the project management priorities of UK SMEs:

ClickUp is the best for affordabilityBudget conscious companies should choose ClickUp as the most affordable and generous platform in terms of cost. We also think its freemium option, ClickUp Free, is the best available on the market, and loaded with tons of essential and advanced features.
monday.com is the best for creative toolsCreative teams in the marketing or design sectors would benefit most from monday.com. Organisation should fuel creativity, not stifle it, and monday.com allows plenty of room for redesigns and pleasing aesthetics.
Wrike is the best for project trackingTime management is probably the most important element of project planning, particularly for small firms that need to make efficient use of resources. If you’re looking for PM software with a focus on project tracking and scheduling, then Wrike is the best option.
Asana is the best for remote workingSurveys indicate that post-COVID-19, WFH is here to stay. If you’re a small business engaging in home or hybrid working, then Asana ranks best for remote collaboration. It has the most intelligent communication tools, and is also good value.
Trello is the best for a gentle learning curveFor teams that are new to project management, or just less familiar with modern software layouts, Trello’s platform ranks as the most user-friendly tool. Its simple interface works for users at all levels.
Smartsheet is the best for organising complex projectsSmartsheet is an intelligent tool that’s both pricey and powerful, and ranks best for complex PM needs. For SMEs dealing with a high volume of data, and willing to spend extra, it’s the go-to.

> For more information based on your specific business requirements, and to compare quotes for PM software, simply use the comparison tool at the top of the page.

Helena is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has previously written for a popular fintech startup covering everything from money-saving tips to cultural reviews.

She is particularly interested in project management software and the films of Peter Jackson.

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