Trello is a project management suite that has proven popular for daily management, time tracking, and even for activities like vacation planning. However, it is an online service, has storage capacities that restrict projects, and its commenting features are a letdown.
Thankfully, a plethora of Trello alternatives have sprung up. Monday and Asana are perhaps two of the best advertised and most widely recognized, but do they warrant attention.
Below are 10 free alternatives to Trello to help you find the best time management software for you.
Taiga is open source. This means that the software itself is free and can be downloaded, installed, and used freely. In fact, you can even access the software programming and make changes or create your own plugins.
If you deploy the software on your own server, you don’t have to pay a cent.
On the other hand, Taiga also has a hosted service whereby they host the software and allow you and your other users to access it. This service is free for personal use and private projects consisting of up to three members, but costs $5 per month, per user, thereafter.
Even the premium account is cheaper than that of Trello.
All versions of the software are intuitive, with a front-end that is easy to use. It is compatible with Scrum principles as well as the Kanban workflow.
Scrum takes large projects and breaks them down into smaller chunks. As each chunk is completed, it is inspected by stakeholders to ensure it has been properly and efficiently completed.
The next stage is then customized according to findings from the last stage. This workflow minimizes waste and optimizes results so that when the full project is delivered, it is the best possible quality.
Taiga’s greatest benefit, its open-source protocol, is also its greatest downfall. To run the open-source software, you will need a local server or machine that you can use as one, and you will have to deal not only with the installation but with all updates, fixes, and any improvements that are required.
Taiga is open-source, has a reasonable, free hosted account available, and it supports Scrum and Kaban workflows. It is best for agile teams with the technological know-how that will be able to keep the software running smoothly and reliably.
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Kanban is another popular workflow method, this time aimed at professionals delivering knowledge work. Knowledge work can include, for example, programming and coding.
The workflow was developed by Toyota in the 1940s and it enables knowledge workers to better visualize their workflow. Users first create a visual workflow of the work to be created.
It was traditional for a Kanban flow to be created using Post-It or sticky notes on a whiteboard because this allowed for quick and easy amendments to be made to the workflow while it was being set up. ClickUp can be considered the digital equivalent of the Post-It notes and the whiteboard and is the embodiment of the Kanban process.
Although Toyota is well-known for its physical manufacturing processes, the Kanban workflow process has been heavily adopted by knowledge workers and stakeholders. ClickUp not only enables the creation of a workflow but it offers free accounts, compared to Trello’s potentially very costly accounts.
The free membership is very generous. It offers access for unlimited members on unlimited tasks, although it is limited to 100MB storage.
Premium accounts cost $5 per month per user and as well as unlimited storage. Paid accounts also include tools like guest logins and permission-based access.
With a free account, you can set up lists of what needs to be done, tasks that will help complete those lists, and the steps that are required to get there. You can make spaces, folders, lists, and tasks private, which offers some permission-based access.
ClickUp offers surprisingly good tools with its forever-free account, and it can be used by unlimited members on unlimited tasks. If you want Kanban cards and other specific Kanban elements, you will need to upgrade, but it is possible to achieve the workflow on the free account.
This is a powerful free alternative to Trello and is best for those that want full features without having to pay a cent.
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Wrike is primarily a premium package, but it does offer a reasonable free plan.
Premium membership of Wrike starts from $9.80 per user per month, which puts it on the expensive end, but for teams of up to five, its task list can prove useful.
A task list may sound boring compared to Gantt charts and Kaban cards, but it stores all the information you and your team need. Create a task, assign one or more team members to work on it, and utilize the messaging system to communicate between stakeholders.
You can also upload files and it works very well for collaboration. All team members can edit a task at the same time and it will update live.
This collaboration means that you can hold discussions with other team members and determine the best way forward. You can plan the workflow for your project and ensure that you are all working from the latest version of the task.
The time tracker tool is very beneficial, especially for client billing. Start the timer as soon as you start on the task and click for completion. Wrike will calculate all of the time spent on different tasks towards a single project.
Reports can be produced that show the time worked on a project and you can use this data to plan future work and tasks. If you find that tasks are being held up at a certain stage, you can find out why and implement changes to optimize performance and ensure timely completion.
Wrike’s free task management is best for small teams that collaborate on assignments because it enables you to determine workflows in collaboration and live.
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Overall, Asana is considered very similar to Trello, with a similar design and a very similar dashboard and workflow design. With the Basic plan, it allows you and 15 teammates to collaborate on projects and you get some generous allowances from your account.
Among the Basic account features, you can use the software to manage unlimited tasks and projects. You also receive unlimited message limits, activity logs, and even file storage.
The free account enables you to view projects in a list, board, or calendar view. The selection of views is important, not least because different team members will have different preferences – a calendar view is ideal for the avid time manager because it shows exactly what is due and when, while the board view is arguably better suited to the Kanban proponent because board and card views are popular in this workflow method.
Free accounts can also integrate their accounts with more than 100 apps. This includes major apps like Microsoft Teams, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Slack.
Slack is a very popular messaging and communication app that is sometimes used as a project management tool. Integration with an Asana account means that team members can receive Slack updates when any changes are made in a user’s Asana account. As well as being effective for communication, this integration can prove a beneficial transition from overusing Slack to using a genuine project management workflow tool like Asana.
There are a lot of good reasons to consider the use of Asana. The unlimited account options are beneficial, and so too is the good range of view options.
Asana’s free account is best for teams of up to 15, however, that want integration with major apps and software tools, of which more than 100 can be used in conjunction with the Asana software.
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Monday.com has gained a lot of exposure and is enjoying a lot of success of late. While its free account only offers access for two members, it does have a few benefits that still mean it is worthy of its place on this list.
The Individual plan offers unlimited boards but only for one or two people. This does allow customization with 20 column types to choose from.
The choice of column type determines the input and display of that column. For example, text columns allow for the addition of a few words of text while a priority column can be used to give a star rating, with 5-star priorities being the most important – a quick visualization that makes it easier for users to determine what needs completing first.
Unfortunately, integrations and automation only start with the Standard pack. Automations are especially useful and work like visual macros, so you can set up a rule dictating that when a task reaches 24 hours before the deadline, a reminder is sent to all team members.
While automation is not included, access to more than 200 templates is included. Readymade templates can be customized, but they are designed to look good and to present relevant information clearly and concisely.
Monday.com also has an apps marketplace, but, again, these are only available to premium users.
The Monday.com project management platform is best for those that are looking for a free account to determine viability. It offers access for limited users but does offer the use of templates, and if you do decide to upgrade, you will receive features like automation, apps, and more.
Airtable is another program that is based on the popular Kanban workflow system. It is billed as being part spreadsheet and part database.
Most people use spreadsheets in some way, and many people try to use spreadsheets to keep tabs on workloads, tasks, and project requirements. Eventually, the limitations of the spreadsheet become evident as cells can not be queried and relationships cannot be properly manipulated.
On the other hand, a database is considered too complex for the average user to be able to establish. Creating individual tables for users, customers, tasks, task types, and more, takes time and expertise, and that’s before you are even able to update and track the actual projects that you work on.
Airtable claims to offer the familiarity of the spreadsheet, so it is easy to use and simple to update. But it combines this with the power of the database so that you can more effectively manage workloads, assign team members, and perform more complex tasks than you could with a simple spreadsheet.
In many ways, this combination of spreadsheet and database is the very epitome of the Kanban workflow and even with Airtable’s free account, you can opt for a Kanban view. The free account also enables grid, calendar, form, and ad gallery views, which is a very good selection and clearly sets the software apart as being a visual workflow tool.
Other features of the free account include an unlimited number of bases, which is Airtable’s name for projects, and 1,200 records per base. Every base can include attachments totaling up to 2GB.
Unfortunately, you don’t get access to apps so no charts or page designer. You do, however, get access to 100 automation runs per month and these can be integrated with external tools like Microsoft Outlook so that you can automatically send reminders or task updates to team members.
Airtable is ideally suited to those teams that prefer the look and feel of a spreadsheet, but need extra power and management features.
Basecamp is a very well-known project management tool that offers collaboration and work streaming. It doesn’t offer Kanban views and it has far fewer tools and applications that can be integrated when compared to the likes of Trello, but it is preferred for its chat and messaging features.
It also offers slightly different pricing to most of the other tools. Rather than paying a fee per user per month, you pay a fee for your organization. This costs $99 per month, which sounds more expensive but works out cheaper for large enterprises and organizations.
The free tool, which is referred to as Basecamp Personal, does not offer the same capacities but is still a powerful and handy tool.
The free account allows for up to three projects. It enables 20 users to collaborate on those projects and it sets aside 1GB of total storage space for use across all projects.
Basecamp works more like a message board and to-do list, so can be seen as simplistic compared to some of the Kanban tools. Where it comes to the forefront is in its messaging and chat features.
One of the major drawbacks of Trello is its poor messaging features. Basecamp offers threaded messaging, alerts users when they receive new messages, and it offers features such as emailed digests to its users.
As a collaborative and chat tool, Basecamp is a very good alternative to Trello, although it struggles as a full workflow alternative. While its premium package is best suited to large enterprises and businesses that have more than 20 members, because of its pricing structure, its free Personal plan is best suited to small teams that require collaboration and chat features.
Jira is owned and managed by Atlassian, the company that owns Trello, having bought the platform for $425m in 2017.
Jira started out as issue tracking software and was targeted specifically and solely at software developers. However, its effectiveness saw it adopted by other, unrelated organizations, and with the launch of the Atlassian marketplace in 2012, this was further magnified.
Today, it is the marketplace that helps Jira stand out from the rest of the crowd still. While other platforms boast of 100 or 200 apps, Jira has more than 3,000 apps.
The marketplace includes the apps that you would expect to see, such as those that improve and enhance the emailing and communication features of the tool. You can also add time management, time logging, and invoicing tools that enable you to track the time spent on a project and then invoice a client for those work hours.
Although Jira is used by all types of businesses and professionals, it is still heavily influenced by the software development world. It has Kanban boards and a Scrum view. It also offers Agile reporting which allows for rapid decision making and project optimization.
The free account allows for 10 users working on a single site, or project. It also includes automation for a single project and gives access to the app marketplace while affording users a choice of Kanban and Scrum while offering Agile reporting.
Jira is an obvious choice for software developers and programmers, but it is also useful for small teams with minimal projects but that require a lot of app integration and expansion.
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KanbanFlow is geared towards businesses that utilize Kanban workflow processes. As such, it offers a Kanban view by default, which may not be to everybody’s tastes but has proven highly effective for streamlined businesses around the world.
Something of a basic tool, KanbanFlow is something of a relief after the more complex tools that are available, and while this does mean that it is lacking some of the more complex features of tools like Trello, it does still have one or two tricks up its sleeve.
First of all, KanbanFlow offers a powerful free account, and its premium account only costs $5 per month per user. These are the only two account options so the options are easy to differentiate.
With a free account, you receive unlimited boards and tasks, subtasks, and filters. You can add recurring tasks and even enjoy some time management features, which are not included as standard in Trello.
Of particular note are the Pomodoro time tracking features.
The Pomodoro technique is said to benefit students, procrastinators, and perfectionists. It requires the user to work in intense 25-minute sessions and to have a short break between each one.
The technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and is named after the tomato-like Pomodoro kitchen timers. The technique requires that the individual:
- Define the task
- Set the 25-minute timer
- Conduct work towards the task
- When the timer rings, finish working and mark one check on a piece of paper
- If there are one to three checks, take a five-minute break and restart from step 2, or continue to step 6.
- If there are four checkmarks, take a 30-minute break.
The KanbanFlow tool is useful for individuals that want time management tools, as well as access to a surprisingly robust individual account.
Sortd is a Gmail app that includes a free account and that lets you turn your Gmail emails into daily workflows to arrange and sort your task list more effectively. While Trello operates as a standalone application, Sortd is only for Gmail users.
The Sortd app is useful for those that arrange most of their projects via email, collaborate on Gmail, and use Google’s suite of communication tools to discuss with other stakeholders. The free account integrates fully into Gmail and offers full task management capabilities.
With three free lists and 20 tasks per list, you can do a good job of managing your workload.
There are limitations to Sortd: not least because it is a Gmail app. Therefore, it only integrates with Gmail and with other Gsuite apps.
The app is ideally suited to those that use email to plan everything and that communicate solely using Gmail. It offers a better and more workflow-orientated method of tracking and organizing emails, and the free account may even prove beneficial for freelancers and some remote workers.
Trello has its pros and cons, and if you dislike or cannot use the software for whatever reason, numerous alternatives can help you organize your time, meet deadlines, and collaborate on projects.
Whether you are a Kanban follower or you utilize Scrum workflows, choose from the list of 10 Trello alternatives above to get the most from your working day.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.