Handling projects as a small business owner can often take a lot of time and effort, but having an effective project management tool at your fingertips can do a lot of good.

However this is no mean feat, especially if you're looking for free software in order to keep costs down. 

Below is our pick of the best free options out there, some are open source, while others offer both free and paid versions. 

You can also check out our list of some of the best remote desktop software.

Paymo


Paymo is task and project management software that comes in both free or paid-for versions. The free one is billed as ideal for freelancers, and offers to-do lists, Kanban boards, meta Kanban and time tracking features. 

Only one user is allowed per package, so if your team needs to share a common project, you'll have to consider one of the paid options. The package specialised for small offices is $8.95/ £6.86 per user, a month.

The software offers an attractive and simple interface for monitoring tasks and workflows, as well as the ability to assign work tasks to various employees.  

TeamGantt


TeamGantt is project planning tool that offers competitively priced packages, or a free option that lets your team work on one project at a time.

If your team needs to work across multiple projects simultaneously, you'll have to consider the paid options, or look elsewhere. 

The project planning software claims to be intuitive and aesthetically pleasing, offering a place to gather everything relevant to a particular project - such as conversations, files, milestones - and keep tabs on the progress of individual activities as well as the work of different staff members.  

nTask Manager


nTask Manager is a project management software platform that offers planning and time tracking for business teams to handle task management.

Its features include Gantt charts, risk management, budgets and other services for smart task management while providing users with the opportunity to spend less time organising tasks and more time on completing them.

nTask Manager is best suited for startups and small businesses, developers and students.

The platform is free for up to 10 members per five workspaces, and pricing is $2.99/ £2.29 per user, per month for unlimited team members.

Agantty


Agantty offers a free project management tool for an unlimited amount of projects.

Using a Gantt chart, users are able to dedicate tasks to specific team members to provide a clear overview of tasks. It also has a drag-and-drop feature to organise tasks in order of priority.

Agantty provides time tracking and project planning for startups and small businesses free of charge.

Zoho Sprints


Zoho Sprints provides a planning and tracking platform for agile teams which includes a timesheet, dashboard and reports feed.

The platform allows users to create new sprints and backlog items using its drag-and-drop feature. This means organisations are able to prioritise tasks in order of importance, with access to the board which lists the stages tasks are at in real-time.

Users can also schedule meetings and track report analytics on the same platform.

Zoho Sprints is free for up to five users and pricing starts from £8.33/ $10.87 a month for 12 users. 

Wrike


Wrike is a very popular project management and collaboration tool, and its free version is one of the most comprehensive on the market. 

Aimed at small businesses, Wrike offers solid project management for up to five users, with paid-for enterprise versions available and lots of add-ons able to be tagged on to your free plan also.

Wrike's real-time activity stream might be its biggest selling point. Providing an easy way to collaborate on group projects and keep track of task changes and discussions.

Wrike also integrates with common third-party storage applications such as Box and Dropbox, and provides a private messaging service and extensive privacy settings for projects. 

It is free for up to five users, then pricing starts from $9.80/ £7.51 per user, a month for more users.

Trello

Trello

Trello uses a project-management system developed by a former Toyota vice president, Taiichi Ohno.

Every task is represented as a card, which allows you to create a visual representation of what is happening with a project.

You'll also get access to unlimited boards, cards, members, checklists and attachments on its free plan.

And it is surprisingly effective, if you can live with only 10MB of storage. 

Orchard Collaboration


Orchard Collaboration is a free and open source project collaboration suite comes as part of its Orchard CMS, bringing workflows, project management, content management and ticketing management together.

Its project management features are totally customisable and offer different levels of authorisation to projects, making collaborating with customers and internal teams easy. 

You'll also be able to build individual project dashboards and create planning milestones, not to mention, host sub-sections of your projects and activity streams for all. This tool is perfect if you want an open source software that feels like a seamless project planning suite. 

Hubbion


Hubbion is a free task management and collaboration tool. Aimed at predominantly small to medium-sized business, it offers features for delivering standardised projects without the need for extortionate investments.

It is 100 percent open source with all features and functionalities available for free. These include a quick-view dashboard, task planner, unlimited collaboration and more.

Workep


Workep is a project management app that is developed for Google's G-Suite users, working in sync with Google apps such as Sheets, Calendar, Docs and others.

It is available for free of charge as long as users have an active Google account. The number of users are limited, but for more user access pricing starts at $9.99/ £7.66 per user, a month.

The features include instant search, automated graphs, task tracking and more.

Users of Workep are also given the option to integrate Google Drive files into different projects, sync all schedules and events with Google calendar and collaborate with other members using Google Hangouts.

KanbanFlow


KanbanFlow is a lean project management tool which measures performance and gives users a full view of how their projects are progressing.

It offers a free version which includes powerful features such as customised workflow, WIP limits, subtasks, swimlanes, filter and more.

KanbanFlow also offers rest-based API to enable users to connect the system to third party providers from a range of technical platforms easily.

Taiga


Taiga is open source and, some may argue, designed for agile software developers. Depending on your businesses field, it could be right up your alley. 

This project management tool enables users to create one private project with three members and unlimited public projects.

In addition, users can set tasks, add third-party integrations, add social media management and add Wiki pages for reference.

Freedcamp


A more traditional type of project-management tool, Freedcamp is great for scaling up a business. It works perfectly well as a free tool for when you are starting a business and costs very little to build on, with multiple paid-for bolt ons enabling new features as you go.

It offers good admin tools, fleet management, and customer relationship management. Great for collaborating with colleagues and clients. 

MeisterTask


We are grateful to blog.capterra.com for pointing us in the direction of MeisterTask.

Free and full-featured, it plays nicely with online storage systems, other project managers and mobile apps.

See also: best smartphones for business.

Evernote

Evernote

Available for web, Android, Windows and iOS, Evernote provides integrated apps, task tracking, blog publication and public and private 'notes' formatted into a presentation.

Evernote only allows its users to upload 60 MB of data each month, but it is a great supplement to other free project management programmes. Plus there are larger storage plans available starting at £4.99/ $6.51 a month.

Bitrix24


Ideal for small businesses, Bitrix24 remains free forever, so long as you don't exceed 12 users.

Other great small- or home office features include the ability to communicate across multiple locations, and free cloud storage for your projects. 

Redmine


Redmine can support numerous projects and is highly customisable. What's more, it offers feeds and notification system, issue tracking, time tracking and forums to discuss projects.

It's not the most attractive user interface but is highly capable at managing large projects.