The purpose of the task management software is not just to manage tasks and projects.
That may feel surprising at first, but it quickly becomes obvious when we remember that the purpose is to advance business goals.
Overlooking that ultimate purpose can lead to a poor fit when choosing. You may get a big basket of features, but find that the software is hard to integrate into business practices.
As we look at apps here, keep in mind that task management must always fit into a business structure, and the processes that every business needs in order to function well – including meetings. It must fit into the way you already do business. It must enhance those processes, make them productive, and be easy and intuitive to use.
That’s why we recommend task management software that centers around meetings, and makes meetings more productive, more innovative, and better at keeping team members informed, organized, and accountable.
Keeping that central purpose in mind will help you to choose task management software that truly fits your company’s structures and functions, instead of just looking for long lists of features and integrations that may or may not help you to advance business goals.
Although when shopping for task management software, there’s a temptation to get more features, more integrations, more flexibility, and more power, these “more” goals can be distractions – even if you’re keeping in mind the most important goal of advancing business goals.
The reason is this: More can sometimes just mean more stuff. And it can end up being like a home overfilled with things that just get in the way. You don’t necessarily need a complex piece of software. You do need software that is intuitive, fits business structures (especially meetings, where all important decisions are discussed and made), and is quickly usable by your team.
It’s just like the truism, often ignored in a FOMO culture: you don’t need a really complicated idea to bring a company forward – you need a simple, powerful idea that your team is really going to use.
So you don’t need the biggest feature dump in the world for task management software. You just need software that your team can really use to move forward on business goals.
Fellow stands out from other task management software programs in that it focuses on meetings. Through the meetings that Fellow helps facilitate, you can determine key action items for your team to tackle later while sharing feedback and notes. And you can do it all while integrating Fellow with your most important apps.
Fellow is a great complement to your project management app (or any of the apps on this list). With both organized task lists and streamlined events for identifying and assigning tasks, your team will swiftly ace all its goals.
Best totally free task management software for personal use
If you’re looking for a personal task management app (not for a team or a business), then Basecamp Personal is a great choice. It’s free, it’s robust, and it’s very powerful for personal projects, freelancers, and even families who are ready to ditch the “kitchen whiteboard” method forever.
The free version includes up to 20 users, but it’s best for personal use. It’s a project management solution that provides all-in-one containment for sharing files, creating documents, real-time chat, and task lists with subtasks.
Especially for families, it’s awesome because it allows you to keep all your business software totally separate – Basecamp Personal replaces the functionality of Google Drive, Slack and any project management software you use for business.
And that’s just mentally healthy, to keep work and personal/family tasks separate like that.
Plus if you need integrations with other apps, Basecamp has plenty of native integrations, and an extraordinary number of integrations via Zapier. (But going with our analysis in this article, especially for personal, freelance, or family use, these are just “what-if” extras. If you need an integration, you have it. But the simple, all-in-one interface is what simplifies Basecamp Personal and makes it a powerful focus and productivity tool.
An excellent task management software for multiple users and complex projects
Asana boasts a color-coded design that includes everything from well-organized productivity tasks to entertaining animations that mark the completion of a task or project. Asana routinely gets kudos for user experience, based on the meaningful and pleasant color codes, organization.
Asana is a fully-fledged project management tool whose features include customizable dashboards, activity feeds, focus mode, email integration, and notifications and reminders, and other workplace management items. Asana’s Subtasks lets users create a hierarchical, this-then-that plan that shows how the tasks in a project have dependency, and help keeps work prioritized and in chronology-dependent order.
One drawback is that Asana famously lacks a real-time chat capability, and that’s surprising because offering an active, real-time chat would finish out Asana, which is promoted as a comprehensive solution. On the other hand, with other immediate chat apps, namely Slack, having such deep penetration, it’s not a deal-breaker, since colleagues and guests are likely already on Slack.
Among the best free apps for task management software
ClickUp is a task management software tool that allows users to create projects, plan and distribute tasks, assist in time management, and organize documents and other resources in a one central interface. Even better, it allows team members, and guests with the right permissions, to communicate and work together in that interface.
Capabilities and features include filters, task lists with subtasks, scheduling of reminders, time tracking integrations, native time tracking, setting of priorities, and easy-to-start templates. You can also sort for tasks and resources, search, reorder, and distribute tasks in ways that your team prefers and finds most useful. Users can even create graphic visualizations including calendars, Gantt charts, and timelines.
ClickUp is flexible and simple in its reporting views. These include custom dashboards, but the most-used are likely to be the six easy built-in report structures for team reporting.
ClickUp also features useful, graphic color-coding for easily visible organization, and various task views including not only lists, calendars, Gantt charts, but also Kanban boards.
Native integrations available in ClickUp include Outlook, Slack, Figma, YouTube, Zoom, Loom, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more. In addition to these, going through Zapier nets well over 1,000+ integrations, so you’re likely to be able to integrate virtually any software your team may desire or need to use.
Is ClickUp’s free plan enough? Most agree it’s extremely useful and powerful. And it includes all the main features. But the best news is that the Unlimited plan (not the Enterprise plan) is likely good enough for most teams, and it’s virtually free at only $5 per month. It frees up limitations such as the 100MB of storage in the Free plan.
Among the best task management systems for scaling teams, small businesses, and enterprises
Teamwork is a task management and project management app that allows agencies, ad hoc teams, and companies to come together quickly, and bring in new team members quickly, in order to collaborate rapidly, with easy availability and transparent accountability.
Features include priority, description, support for additional documents and files, tags, in-context comments on each task, and more. Plus, you can move from a granular view to high level views of talent assignments and work bandwidths in the Workload feature.
Teamwork is more complex and a little less easy to learn and use than some of the other options reviewed here. That means it’s quite powerful, but it will require some super-users on your team to get the most out of it. On the other hand, you’ll find plenty of tutorials, webinars, discussion groups, documentation, and also a support team, to help make learning it easier.
A strong task management tool with excellent templates out of the box
In comparison with Teamwork, Write is a more user-friendly task management software app. Wrike has an easy, quickly-grasped interface. You can navigate clearly between workspaces, folders, and tasks. Views include the home screen, timesheets, dashboards, calendars, reports, and the notifications stream. And don’t worry – even though Wrike is recognized as easy to use, they also have a fully-stocked support center. It offers tutor-mediated training, video training and tutorials, quickstart documents, and an active user base which answers questions and thinks through issues and strategies in discussion groups.
Features include out-of-the-box agile templates, other built-in templates, tasks with subtasks, work schedules, collaborative workflows, calendars, Kanban boards, Gantt charts, ability to share files, and collaboration tools. A feature that helps get teams up to speed faster is specific templates and plans for specific kinds of teams or companies.
Wrike integrations include more than 425 native integrations and thousands more with Zapier.
An excellent spreadsheet-based task management software
Smartsheet has a spreadsheet-like interface, which has gained it a following because it’s so similar to Excel, but is easier to use for task management.
Although it’s easier than Excel, it’s harder to learn than the other task management software reviewed here. It’s best suited for teams who prefer the power and style of databases and spreadsheets over the more graphically designed and visual options.
Features include tasks and subtasks, scheduling, and the ability to assigned resources, automatic alerts and reminders, and status reports. A specialized feature is its Critical Path feature, which displays the tasks you must accomplish on the path to completing a project. Plus, the feature that wins many users over is that you can edit and prepare reports that are exportable to Excel.
Smartsheet native integrations number over 90 apps, including Microsoft and Google apps, Jira, Slack, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Box, Tableau, and many more.
Advantages include easy collaboration, easy customization, and powerful reporting. It also has robust and highly granular data security controls, as well as an extensive capability for creating automations of work – potentially freeing up team members to do more valuable tasks, but also carrying the risks that any automation tools carry, which is that it can end up costing a lot of time and trouble unless you have team members who can create and maintain automations.
A good task management app for complex needs and custom task management
Kintone allows your team to create no-code task management applications. You or a team member tasked with learning Kintone can drag and drop the fields and functions your team may need for task management. These include text fields, date fields, data fields, menus, calculations, and interoperable data from other sources.
You can also add custom notifications, alerts, reminders, and granular permissions. .
Kintone is suited for teams who need highly customized inputs, outputs, reports, and dashboard views.
Kintone is so flexible and powerful (and can seem rather blank straight out of the box), that your team will certainly need one or two fast learners, comfortable with design and creation of no-code apps, in order to make it usable – let alone getting the most good out of it.
That said, Kintone is extremely powerful, and can be just the ticket for teams or businesses who have the expertise to develop no-code apps inside it, and who need highly customized functions and workflows.
Kintone has a library of free native plugins, and has integrations with most major tools such as Slack, Google apps, Salesforce, Dropbox, Tableau, and many more.
We’ve seen in this article that task management software runs the gamut.
The choices include one that is best for businesses and business teams – Hugo, the software that integrates into meetings, making them productive and waypoints along a business journey that advances business goals.
And the choices also include interesting departures, including the two outliers of spreadsheet-based software and personal task-management systems.
What we’ve seen is that task management software integrated with effective meetings is what empowers a company to advance business goals. When team members know what was decided, what is being worked on, and what they’re accountable for, they’re much more engaged, happy, and productive.
A good workflow tool creates clear paths for team members to complete regularly occurring tasks and projects. It allows teams to stay coordinated, eliminate bottlenecks in information or approvals, and avoid cross-communication and confusion.