If you’re looking for a project management tool, you probably have noticed that there about a hundred different apps and tools you can choose from. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some look simple, some look complicated. Some are very robust, and some just carry the basics.

To pick the right project management tool, you need to know what you’re looking for and be willing to explore a few options.

There are a myriad of tools out there, but I picked a few of my favorites to share with you and make it a little easier. Instead of diving right into each option, spend a few minutes asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish? (Is it a short term project that has an end, or something that’s on-going, like a weekly sprint?)
  • What project are you trying to manage? (Is it client work? Is it something for your team at work? Are you managing your personal to-do list and projects?)
  • If you’re working with others, how comfortable will they be learning other tools? (If you’re working with people who are tech averse, you’ll need something much simpler than if you’re working with people who are interested in more robust solutions and willing to work with that learning curve.)

Once you’ve given some thought to those criteria, you’re ready to dive right into evaluating options.

Meister Task

This is one of my favorite of all the Project Management tools I evaluated, and for a hot second, I was little tempted to start trying this over Trello! (gasp). After careful consideration, Trello is still my favorite, but here’s a few perks about Meister Task.

Pros

  • Looks sexy – beautiful UI.
  • Lets you have task dependencies – helpful for when you have a lot of tasks that are related to each other and it’s important to know the status of a task that impacts another task.
  • Looks there are a lot of cool features with time tracking, incl exporting a CSV breaking it all down from a whole project – if you’re interested in this level of detail, you can do a lot with it!
  • Set predefined checklists for an entire project that you can re-use – helpful for tasks that are very similar and/or repeated frequently.
  • “My tasks” view which lets you see at a glance all the projects assigned to you – fantastic when you’re working with multiple people and someone just wants to see their piece of the pie.
  • Free to use – no charge for the basic plan, which seems pretty powerful. Of course you can upgrade and get some more robust features, but it doesn’t appear to be much more useful than the free version.
  • You can import projects from Trello and Asana. If you’re already working in one of these tools and looking to move, it’s easy!

Cons

The only real con that I could find is that there aren’t as many integrations as other tools like Trello. So if you’re looking for a project management tool that connect with other programs, this might not be your best bet.

how to pick a project management tool

meister task review

Jira

Jira is SUPER ROBUST. I mean, it’s pretty intense. For both good and bad. If you’re looking for serious project management tool that can do just about anything you’d ever possibly want, or if you have very specific needs for a project management tool, then Jira’s your guy. However, it also includes a pretty steep learning curve. It’s not the most user friendly, and not the prettiest looking. If you’ve got special project management tool needs and people who are willing to spend some time learning a tool, then Jira might be right for you.

Pros

  • Easily toggle between “assigned to me” and all projects. Makes things less overwhelming for someone when there’s a lot of moving parts to a project.
  • Create workflows to define stages a project needs to go through. Easy to help a task figure out where it needs to go next.
  • Seems super robust… if you can actually spend the time to figure everything out. You can do just about anything with this tool.

Cons

  • Doesn’t look as “nice” as other platforms. Not as aesthetically pleasing.
  • No free plan option. (This isn’t necessarily a con, but definitely something to be aware of compared to its other competitors.)
  • Kinda advanced… not the most user friendly! You’ll definitely need to be ready for a bit of a learning curve to get used to the program and get everything set up the way you like.
  • It looks like a lot of work to set up linking/task dependencies. Again, it has a lot of cool features, but not instantly obvious how to use them all.

how to pick a project management tool

jira reviews

Taiga

Taiga is a tool that’s very focused on agile methodologies, like Scrum or Kanban, for Project Management. It incorporates story points and other agile elements, making it easy to organize your projects with an agile focus. It’s not the prettiest looking, but if your focus is on agile, it definitely gets the job done!

Pros

  • Lets you define story points in tasks. It even break it down by the points by department/role so you can easily manage workloads.
  • Easily define a story dependency, and it’s also very obvious when a task is “blocked”. Makes it easy to tell what tasks can be worked on right away and what tasks are waiting on something.
  • Define sprints with their own projects (define a time period and all the projects with it), instead of one board where you move things and then clear them out at end of sprint (which is what a lot of other tools are like).
  • Very Kanban/Scrum friendly. If you’re already operating with these methodologies, you’ll find it easy to implement in this tool.
  • Sprint taskboard shows you views on sprint, stories that are blocked, tasks within each story and those tasks statuses. Great for getting a project’s status at a glance.

Cons

  • While you can say a task is “blocked’ and you can specify the reason, you can’t tie it to another task, so you have to type it out and call if the same thing (It’s more work to put in, and more work if someone else is looking at the board trying to understand what’s happening.)
  • Not very nice looking… kinda low quality interface design.
  • Looks like dependencies are only on story level, for each whole story (can’t really create dependencies within the tasks on the checklist itself).

how to pick a project management tool

taiga reviews

Wrike

Wrike is a good middle of the road project management tool. It’s got plenty of features and is more advanced than some of the other tools, but it’s not so complicated that it would be difficult to learn or start implementing on your team.

Pros

  • Has templates for projects. Great for getting set up for projects and helping you think through all the details.
  • Time tracking built in already. You don’t have to enable plug-ins or extensions- it’s already there.
  • Detailed views with task dependency. Get more detail than just “you can’t start on this task yet”.
  • Set planned durations for tasks. Great for project planning and evaluating timelines and goals.
  • Create “request” forms. You can use this as intake form for project ideas – like if you need other departments or people to give you information and that turns into a project.
  • Lots of views for projects (timeline, board, list, etc.. can even have a view to breakdown how much work is on your team’s plate.)
  • Lots of analytics, for free! Including an entire section on reports that you can generate.
  • Let’s you build out your own workflow with various stages (but not quite as advanced as Jira)
  • You get the same features for “subtasks” as you do actual tasks. You can set dependencies at subtask level. Most tools don’t get this granular!

Cons

  • Little bit of a clunky view, not very clean, but you can find your way around
  • Can be kinda granular and really detailed/in the weeds for anyone who doesn’t need all that detail. If you’re looking for something pretty simple with really basic features, I don’t recommend this.

how to pick a project management tool

wrike reviews

Trello

This is my favorite tool. I’m not saying it’s the best option for everyone and every project, but Trello works for me for personal project management and any type of project I am working on at work. It’s simple, yet robust. It’s not hard to learn and easy to use, which makes it easy to introduce to a team and start using right away. As you want to add more to it, it’s easy to incorporate plugins and extensions to do more advanced things.

Pros

  • Incredibly simple – you can start using it right away as a digital version of a whiteboard with sticky notes. Takes about 3 minutes to learn.
  • Plug-ins take it to the next level. If you’re trying to solve a problem, you can likely find an extension or plug-in that helps, whether it’s task dependencies, summing up story points, integrating with other apps, or alternative organization.
  • Free plan is incredibly useful. If you need more advanced, it’s less than $10/mo per user, which is pretty competitively priced compared to other alternatives.

Cons

  • Does not automatically start with more advanced features and analytics, although you can access a lot of features with plugins
  • Need to pay for a plan to use integrations and power ups.

how to choose a project management tool

trello reviews

So what are you going to choose?

After looking at through the options, what makes the most sense for your team? If you still have questions, or other recommendations, please post in the comments!

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Brittany Joiner

Founder of Project 1440! Just a 25 year old who wants to do the right things and do them well. When I'm not studying productivity, you'll probably find me watching Shark Tank with my husband, doing my CrossFit workout, traveling the world, or reading a non-fiction book.

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