Home Free Tools & Resources Low (or No) Cost Online Project Management Tools

Low (or No) Cost Online Project Management Tools


While project management alm tools are by no means traditional instructional tools, they are certainly relevant in business curriculums, and other disciplines that teach project management. Of course, readers of this blog that work in administrative functions may also find themselves interested in low cost PM tools (especially in these difficult economic times).

Project Management has been a key aspect of my work as an IT Director for many years, and I know that in the last few years there have been a growing number of web based tools to facilitate this activity. As with so many web based applications, there are a variety of free options (typically providing some type of limits, such as few projects or few users, to remain free, with paid upgrades available to get more extensive functionality). I spent a couple hours researching some of the tools out there, and found just a few truly low cost options. Summary information is provided about each of these offerings below. Taking advantage of the free trials is a nice way to give students hands-on access to true PM tools, and as hosted solutions, they eliminate many of the headaches associated with local installations of software applications.

Basecamp (www.basecamphq.com).
This is a well known online project management tool, with a very large user base. It also offers a 30 day free trial. In business since 2004, there are endless testimonials to the ease-of-use and overall utility of this project management toolset, which also features a wide array of extras and add-ons to compliment its functionality.

Zoho Projects (projects.zoho.com)
This application allows for free use for 1 project for unlimited users, providing 100 MB of disk space. Certainly a good way to get started. The application provides Project Templates, Calendars, Tasks & Milestones, Gannt Charts, Task Dependancies, Time Tracking, and more. Zoho looks like it is positioned to compete with Basecamp and other low cost online project management tools.

VPMi “web based project office” (www.vcsonline.com)
VPMi Express also positions itself to compete with Basecamp “and other simplistic tools” by giving users free timesheets, unlimited document storage, task end dates, and more enhanced functionality. There is a free 30 day trial available. The software looks very functional. There are a bunch of great testimonials on the site, claiming that VCSonline provides great support, acts like a real partner, and provides “exceptional” software.

Anyone teaching PM, or any discipline in which PM is relevant, may find one or more of the above applications helpful to the instructional process. I would love to hear feedback from anyone regarding this topic, and any related experiences you may have had. Thanks!


  1. We use Hitask on our projects and tasks. I think they’re really useful for EdTech too. Thanks for the article.

  2. Hey Kelly,

    Good article, PM tools are really necessary in these difficult economic times.

    Also, if you’re open to suggestions, I think Kpi.com (http://www.kpi.com) would be a great fit – this is a web-based ERP system with tools such as Project Management, CRM, Accounting, HRMS, Payroll, etc. They have a variety useful features and low cost price.

    All the Best,

  3. We have been using Dooster. We got a 30 day free trial and have stuck with it. It’s been good, customer service in particular. We were initially thinking about Basecamp but Dooster seems to offer the same but for a smaller budget.

  4. It is known that many small and mid-sized organization rely on budget. However, at this moment the need for PM tool may appear. If you have this kind of difficulties, I would recommend you to have a look at WorkForceTrack . We chose it, because it includes not only PM, but even CRM, HRMS, Accounting and many other business tools also. Another reason is its affordable price and promised localization

  5. Free solutions have their place. I think it is good that everyone regardless of budget can have access to a PM tool/option. However after looking into costs and capabilities of several of those mentioned above. I opted for Dooster which offered a free 30 day trial and I felt represented good VFM. http://www.dooster.net

  6. Good article.

    I would like to mention Ganttzilla (http://www.ganttzilla.com) also. There is free account without significant restrictions. In comparison with other tools special attention in this tool paid for collaboration around Project Plans and sharing.

  7. Well.. Good Project Management is one of the keys to a projects success. Pretty sure every one of us manage projects in some kind or form. We use Basecamp with our Clients…which takes a fresh, novel approach to project collaboration. Basecamp solves this problem by providing tools tailored to improve the communication between people working together on a project.

  8. I would like to also mention RationalPlan. It is not an online tool but a desktop one. Still it has an affordable price and even a free viewer both for RationalPan products and for MS Project.

  9. Another low cost online project management tool that is very effective is SantexQ. The tool focuses on task and time management and is especially useful for those working with billable hours. Basic accounts are free and Premium accounts are $10/month with no contracts! 🙂

  10. Thanks Michelle – I’ll definitely check DeskAway out – I’ll revisit all these tools over time, and I’ve been keeping a log of tools like this to follow up on.

  11. Nice article! I prefer using a low cost or free tool for project management. I am using DeskAway (http://www.deskaway.com) for managing our projects & collaboration. Basecamp has almost double the price of DeskAway but the service is vice-a-versa. DeskAway provides a much better service and features than Basecamp. Also they keep updating their features to suit their customer needs unlike Basecamp. So it is not worth wasting more than $100 for a cheap service provided by an expensive app if you get the best service for free or at lower cost.

  12. Thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate it.

    I can certainly understand the common perception that no cost or low cost tools are to be avoided, due to concern that they might provide poor support, not be reliable, and so on, but that is certainly not always the case. As for the cost of the offerings of “the rest of the market”, the other online PM sites I came across either did not provide pricing information on their web sites, or were considerably more expensive than these. If other apps are truly comparably priced, I am surprised they don’t make that information readily accessible on their sites.

  13. Although I’ve never heard anything bad about Zoho, I don’t think a lot of Project Managers out there are comfortable going with a free solution. As for the rest, they’re not really low cost, their pricing is at harmony with the rest of the market (which is growing exponentially btw).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here