Software for project planning accounts for, carefully plans, and meticulously times every piece of a complex project. These programs support various project planning needs so teams can spend more time on the project they’re working on. Understanding and aligning project requirements with software features will help in choosing the best option. This article will highlight the top options for project planning and help you determine which software is right for your team.

What is project planning software?

Project planning software is a digital tool crucial for managing complex projects. It breaks them down and provides a comprehensive project plan. It streamlines project planning and execution through task creation, assignments, and reporting capabilities. Project planning software also increases efficiency and ensures effective communication and accountability. Many companies offer free project planning software, allowing teams to improve their workflow at no extra cost.

Project planning software provides a centralized platform for simplifying tasks, resource planning, setting deadlines, facilitating team collaboration, and monitoring progress. It organizes, manages, and tracks various aspects throughout the project life cycle. It empowers project managers and teams to stay on track and make data-driven decisions that lead to successful project completion.

How is project planning software useful?

Project planning software offers several advantages that enhance project success, such as building a foundation for more effective team meetings. This is only one benefit businesses can receive from incorporating project planning software.

Other key benefits include:

  • Improved collaboration: Dedicated software for project planning provides a central hub for communication and collaboration, eliminating silos and supporting teamwork.
  • Increased efficiency: Software automation streamlines repetitive tasks, enabling teams to focus on more strategic activities. Task dependencies facilitate a logical flow with minimal delays.
  • Better resource allocation: Project planning software allows managers to visualize resource allocation across tasks and projects. This enables efficient planning while identifying potential bottlenecks and triggering proactive adjustments.
  • Improved project visibility: Through a centralized platform, stakeholders and team members gain real-time insights into project progress, deadlines, and potential roadblocks. This 360-degree view fosters transparency, facilitates informed decision-making, and enables course correction when necessary.

Implementing project planning software creates structure, enhances collaboration, and increases efficiency. This improves the likelihood that teams can complete their projects with the desired outcomes on time.

What to look for in project planning software

Choosing the right project planning software means identifying must-haves that align with the team’s goals, resources, and budget. 

Below are key features to look for in project planning software:

  • Task management: Create, assign, prioritize, and track tasks with clear deadlines and dependencies.
  • Communication tools: Facilitate smooth communication and collaboration through chat, document commenting, and real-time updates.
  • Schedules and deadlines: A Gantt chart and automatic reminders or notifications help set timelines with visualized project progress.
  • Reports and analytics: Gain project insights through data visualization and reports.
  • Flexibility and customization: Ensure the software supports customized workflows, views, and dashboards.
  • Integrations: Identify compatible integrations to enhance efficiency and streamline workflows.
  • Security and access control: Select software with robust security features and user access controls. These are critical for data privacy and confidentiality.

Confluence is a connected workspace that offers valuable features for planning and collaborating on projects, especially when integrated with tools such as Jira. Confluence collects relevant context around the project scope, such as goals, rationale, decisions, and history, which helps align teammates and stakeholders.

Confluence features include:

  • Flexible documentation: Confluence supports comprehensive project documentation using text, images, code, tables, and more. This promotes clear communication and knowledge sharing.
  • Structured planning elements: These comprise project calendars that showcase timelines in table formats. They’re helpful for time-based actions and provide a visual project flow.
  • Collaborative editing: Multi-user editing enables real-time collaboration by allowing team members to edit documents simultaneously.
  • Version control: Page history reveals tracked changes and revisions within project documents. This is essential for full transparency and creating a simple way to revert to prior versions.
  • Templates: Confluence templates simplify collaboration through product releases, marketing, and other strategic planning initiatives. 
  • Integration potential: Confluence integrates seamlessly with Atlassian tools such as Jira, fostering a unified project management ecosystem. Third-party integrations can further connect project workflows and centralize data.

9 free project planning software programs

Here are some of the best project planning software tools that assist with every aspect of project management

1. Confluence: Best for project planning and collaboration

Confluence is a comprehensive project planning software solution featuring a centralized, connected workspace. This eliminates the challenges of scattered emails, disconnected documents, and misaligned goals. Teams can create, edit, and share project plans within the platform. 

Many companies suffer from a lack of organization, slowing down business operations and causing confusion between teams. With a project planning tool like Confluence, team leaders can have peace of mind knowing every team member is in lock-step, working toward the same goals.

This unified approach keeps everyone on the same page throughout the project life cycle, making it ideal for collaboration and knowledge sharing. It also empowers teams from across the business to work together. Teams can get started quickly with Confluence’s project plan template.

2. Confluence whiteboards: Best for collaborative brainstorming

Confluence whiteboards are free-form visual spaces for teams to generate ideas. Directly embedded within a Confluence workspace, they’re perfect for collaborative brainstorming. Team members can use sticky notes, drawings, images, and text to capture thoughts and concepts. 

Everyone involved can see the contributions in real-time. This sparks discussion and enables ideas to develop rapidly in a shared visual format.

3. Jira: Best for project management and task tracking

Jira is ideal for Agile project management, making it an excellent choice for Agile software development teams and business teams alike. It breaks projects into manageable tasks, creating detailed assignments and tracking. Visual tools like Kanban and Scrum boards offer real-time progress tracking. This enables teams to identify bottlenecks and adjust. 

This free project management software is also an excellent tool for measuring bandwidth across teams. By getting a clear picture of the workflow through visual tools like a Kanban board, team leaders can determine who on their team may be overworked, and whether or not to pull back. 

Bug tracking with Jira allows teams to track issues while boosting productivity through streamlined processes and reduced administrative overhead. It achieves this by providing customizable workflows, real-time reporting, and automation tools. 

4. Jira Product Discovery: Best for prioritization and road mapping

Jira Product Discovery provides a focused environment for strategic product management by streamlining ideation, assisting with prioritization, and creating roadmaps. It enables product managers to collect and organize insights from customers, stakeholders, and data analytics. It then consolidates those data points into one central location. The tool’s flexible prioritization frameworks empower teams to score and rank ideas based on objective criteria.

5. Hubstaff: Best for time tracking and team management

Hubstaff is a reliable tool for time tracking and team management. Employees can accurately and efficiently track time allocated to specific projects through desktop and mobile apps. The tool provides automated timesheets, detailed reports, and real-time project dashboard insights. This helps track project progress and evaluate resource allocation. 

6. MeisterTask: Best for automations

MeisterTask’s unlimited automation significantly streamlines project planning by automating repetitive tasks and workflows. Users can configure rules that trigger actions such as assigning tasks, updating due dates, sending notifications, and moving tasks between project sections based on conditions. Automating these actions saves time, reduces errors, and invites the team to focus on more strategic needs.

7. Zoom: Best for video conferencing

Zoom is a powerful platform with exceptional video and audio to support large-scale meetings. It’s a viable solution for connecting face-to-face virtually, fostering collaboration and communication across locations. Zoom has interactive features such as screen sharing, breakout rooms, real-time chat, and reactions, making meetings more engaging and productive.

8. Slack: Best for real-time communication

Slack is a real-time communication and messaging tool that offers private and public channels for focused discussions. Direct messages make it easy to communicate 1:1, while threaded conversations and file sharing keep everyone informed. Slack offers seamless integration with complementary tools and services, including Confluence.

9. Loom: Best for async communication

Loom is a leader in asynchronous videoconferencing for recording and sharing short videos with others. It is simple and has features such as screen sharing, annotations, and captions. These aspects make it ideal for explaining complex concepts, providing feedback, and fostering engagement without requiring real-time scheduling.

Elevate project planning with Confluence

Confluence is a robust project planning and collaboration platform for creating a unified workspace. Its ability to centralize documentation, foster real-time collaboration, and integrate seamlessly with other project management tools, such as Jira, makes Confluence a valuable project planning tool. 

With templates that can outline a project plan, provide a project poster, and launch a project kickoff, Confluence is a great free project planning software tool for launching new projects or organizing existing projects. 

Try Confluence to experience this powerful project planning solution.

9 best free project planning software for teams