Once relegated to the desktop and on-premises IT environments, today’s cloud-based project management platforms have emerged as enterprise force multipliers—key enablers for organizations to execute projects at-scale. From small startups to large enterprises, firms of all types stand to benefit from the range of features in leading project management offerings: streamlined project workflows, enhanced collaboration tools, and real-time project data access from anywhere, to name a few.
In this article, we will explore the top cloud project management platforms and highlight their key features, benefits, and use cases.
- Top 10 Cloud Project Management Platforms
- Planview Adaptive Work (formerly Clarizen)
- Zoho Projects
- A History of Project Management Software, From Desktop to Cloud
- Evaluating Cloud Project Management Platforms
- Bottom Line
Top 10 Cloud Project Management Platforms at a Glance
The next section looks at these systems in more detail, but here’s how the cloud project management platforms previously mentioned stack in terms of their key features/benefits and pricing at a glance.
|Monday.com||Core Features, Support||$$|
|Planview Adaptive Work||Core Features||$$$|
|Zoho Projects||Pricing, Core Features||$$|
Top 10 Cloud Project Management Platforms
From solutions geared for software teams to platforms targeting the enterprise, the following are the top 10 cloud project management platforms on the market today.
Launched back in 2008, Asana’s leading cloud-based project management platform has become a favorite among large and small teams alike. The platform is known for its intuitive, user-friendly interface—however, underneath its refined UI is a powerful, comprehensive feature set for effectively managing tasks, projects, and collaborations. Other standout features include tools for project planning, task delegation, and project status monitoring, as well as real-time communication/collaboration features.
Focus on Task Management
Asana places an emphasis on tasks and task management, allowing users to both access individual tasks, as well as view how those tasks dovetail into the overarching project schedule. This focus makes it easier to manage complex projects consisting of various tasks, subtasks, and processes—using its numerous views (e.g., lists, boards, timelines), teams can better visualize the status quo of a project, as well as more effectively track its progress and deadlines.
One of Asana’s strong suits is its integration with other office and business productivity tools/platforms like Google Workspace, Slack, and Salesforce, to name a few. This makes the offering a prime candidate for organizations looking to integrate it into existing workflows and processes.
From the onset, veteran project management vendor 37signals has specialized in project management for small teams; over two decades after its launch, Basecamp is still a leading player in the cloud project management space. The solution is known for its clean and sensible interface as well as its broad set of integrations.
Ease-of-use & Simplicity
Basecamp is mostly known for its straightforward, minimalist UI, and it’s clear that the creative team at 37signals designed it for simplicity. Front-end aside, the platform offers a range of other features like task, project, milestone, and timesheet management, to name a few.
It’s no overstatement to say that Jira dominates the software project management world; even outside of software circles, the leading project management platform has gained significant traction. That said, the tool is primarily aimed at Agile software teams looking to plan, track, and release software products more efficiently. The solution features a customizable workflow, multi-faceted issue tracking system, and other features that help to streamline the management of complex projects.
Designed for Software Teams
Because it was initially designed with software teams in mind, Jira integrates seamlessly with popular code versioning tools like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket, as well as other development and CI/CD tools. And because it was designed to support Agile software development methods, modern software engineering practices such as Scrum and Kanban are fully supported in Jira.
Managing Software Projects
In terms of software project management, Jira offers a full range of features for helping to build high-quality software, faster and with less bugs/errors. Some of these include backlog grooming/management, sprint planning, and release tracking—on top of standard task and project tracking features.
For enterprise and corporate users, a case of the Mondays may no longer be a bad thing. Monday.com’s cloud-based project management solution features all of the compelling attributes you’d expect from a modern web application: a visually appealing UI, intelligently-designed dashboards, and easy-to-use navigation elements on top of a comprehensive project management platform. Users appreciate the platform’s unified workflows and collaborative space for planning, executing, and tracking projects via a single pane of glass. And despite being a “born-in-the-cloud” solution, Monday.com works as both a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application, as well as a local/on-premises Windows/macOS application.
Customizable Interfaces, Automation, & Workflows
Monday.com’s highly adaptable interface allows for customizations per team, so unique workflows for specific needs can be created to visually represent project timelines and progress. Alongside these attributes, the platform offers automation capabilities for streamlining common and repetitive tasks, as well as workflows that incorporate efficiency and collaboration functionality.
Ready-made Templates & Assets
The solution comes with a wealth of pre-built, ready-to-use project management assets: visual boards, over 200 ready-made templates, no-code automations snippets, integration connectors, and more. Small to mid-sized organizations appreciate Monday.com’s tools for quickly improving project management processes and setting up common workflow scenarios.
Notion is a newer solution to emerge in recent years—however, despite its recent entry into the cloud project management space, the platform has amassed a large, dedicated following: at this time of this writing, the platform boasts an astounding 30 million users. Notion users appreciate the platform’s versatility, understated power, and unified interface for organizing products and enhancing productivity.
First-time Notion users will feel immediately comfortable with the platform’s unassuming UI. However, within that unified interface—what the company refers to as its “all-in-one” workspace—users can easily access task management, documentation, collaboration, note-taking, even knowledge base functionality. By streamlining these workflows and features under the same proverbial roof, Notion enables project teams to collaborate and centralize their efforts on the same platform, without the need to switch between different applications.
Customizations & Collaboration
Notion uses a block-based system to help teams carry out their project management processes—organizing tasks, setting deadlines, sharing/managing files, and other functions—via dynamic, visually compelling interfaces. The platform also offers powerful real-time collaboration features and support for simultaneous project contributions/contributors, and leverages common social motifs like comment threads, @mentions, and notifications.
Integrations & Automation
Notion also comes with integrations with a myriad of popular applications like Google Calendar and Slack—and even other project management tools like Trello. As far as automation is concerned, the solution offers a range of features like automatic database updates, scheduled reminders, and a host of others in its automation hub.
Planview Adaptive Work (formerly Clarizen)
Planview Adaptive Work bills itself as a collaborative work management software platform, merging cross-company project management and configurable workflow automation in a unified SaaS application. Larger organizations requiring a highly customizable solution that can enable complex work breakdown structures (WBS)—hierarchical breakdowns of all work products that must be completed by team members—can rely on AdaptiveWork as a competent option. The platform also features strong, integrated collaboration capabilities like presence awareness, team/project members chat, and automatic task/project-connected emails, to name a few.
Reporting, Resources, & Integrations
AdaptiveWork offers robust reporting features that give project managers a comprehensive view of projects, at various detail levels (e.g., resources, costs) and across teams/departments. The platform is also capable of resource management functions like demand lifecycle management for incoming projects, time/staff allocation management, and more. Organizations that use Salesforce.com as their CRM will enjoy a tight integration with AdaptiveWork, bringing together sales and operations for shared project status visibility.
Smartsheet is a cloud-based project management solution geared for business users accustomed to accessing their data on a variety of devices. The application is highly functional, though limited, on mobile devices, and is (of course) fully operational on standard computers. The solution provides task management and content collaboration tools, as well as spreadsheets and dashboards for bolstering office productivity.
Integrations & Special Use Cases
A key feature of Smartsheet are some of its specialized applications—for example, firms in the retail industry use the mobile application’s barcode scanning feature to quickly track items and automatically input them into a spreadsheet. And like other competent solutions, Smartsheet integrates with popular applications, allowing firms to streamline their project management workflows.
For years, Trello’s no-nonsense yet effective Kanban solution has been the project management tooling of choice for teams looking to ramp up quickly with minimal user training. The tool’s visually minimalistic system of boards, lists, and cards for organizing tasks and projects makes it easy to get up to production speed.
Power in Simplicity
Trello’s renowned ease-of-use and low learning curve make it an attractive option for teams looking for a no-nonsense, straightforward project management solution. Of course, Trello’s simplicity may leave some users wanting for more, especially when compared to the advanced features found in other platforms. But for creative teams and independent developers/freelancers, the solution offers an ideal mix of simplicity and cost-effectiveness.
Founded in 2006, Wrike is considered one of the veteran project management players in the lot; over the years, the stalwart platform has managed to stack up an impressive list of industry awards and citations. The solution is known for its user-friendly interface, real-time collaboration tools, automation capabilities, and features for helping manage complex projects more efficiently.
Gantt Charts & Forecasting
Wrike’s take on the trusty Gantt chart provides users with a familiar, yet advanced and uniquely interactive timeline for managing projects. This feature allows project managers to easily visualize project timelines and dependencies, identify potential conflicts and bottlenecks, forecast delivery dates, and manage overall resources more effectively and efficiently for on-time project implementation.
Automation, AI, and Integrations
Wrike offers some impressive AI features like project risk predictions and smart recommendations, branded as their Wrike Work Intelligence™ solution, that allow teams to realize significant time savings by automating previously time-consuming administration tasks. And to extend the solution’s functionality, Wrike offers seamless integrations with popular tools like Salesforce, Adobe Creative Cloud, and a host of other popular applications.
Founded almost three decades ago, SaaS giant Zoho offers a cloud-based project management solution called, appropriately enough, Projects. Not to be confused with Microsoft’s similarly-named offering, Projects is part of a broader suite of Zoho products, to include CRM, Mail, Calendar, and a vast array of others; naturally, the solution is an obvious choice for users of any of the products in Zoho’s vast line of enterprise solutions.
Powerful Collaboration Features
Zoho Projects provides organizations with a rich set of features for team collaboration, from dynamic discussion forums to integrated chat capabilities and other messaging tools. The solution incorporates standard project task management organizational functions and units (e.g., milestones, tasks, subtasks), as well as both list and Kanban views of tasks.
Business Intelligence Features
The Zoho brand has a longstanding footprint in the enterprise space, and its solutions leverage business intelligence and data analytics in order to address the needs of larger organizations. Projects is no exception—the solution is capable of transforming immense volumes of raw data into actionable reports and easy-to-visualize, intuitive dashboards in minutes. Project’s business intelligence and reporting capabilities include the tracking of key business metrics and long-term trends, identifying outliers, and surfacing hidden insights.
A History of Project Management Software, From Desktop to Cloud
Project management software has become an integral component of modern business, making operations and execution more systematic and efficient through the codifying and automation of project management methods. Some of these methods have been in use for almost a hundred years, albeit in analog form. For example, most of the solutions highlighted in this article are capable of generating Gantt charts for project managers to better plan tasks, allocate resources, and track project milestones—the actual charting method was developed by Henry Gantt in the 1910s.
The majority of the PC’s early days were dominated by Microsoft Project on the desktop. With its introduction in 1984, Project’s popularity was primarily driven by its familiar Office Suite interface and a steadily expanding feature set. And despite not making it to our top 10 cloud project management platform list, Microsoft Project Online still lives on to this day, enjoying a sizable market share as part of the Microsoft 365 Suite.
Agile and Web
The early 2000s saw a shift toward web-based project management solutions. These platforms provided online access to project data, enabling remote teams to collaborate efficiently. Web-based tools like Basecamp (launched in 2004) and Asana (launched in 2008) gained wide popularity for their user-friendly interfaces and collaborative features. And as Agile methodologies gained traction in software development, project management software adapted to accommodate iterative and incremental project approaches. Tools like Jira and Trello emerged as popular choices for Agile teams, offering features such as backlog management, sprint planning, and user story tracking.
With the rise of the cloud, SaaS platforms like Wrike, Monday.com, and Smartsheet emerged to offer scalable, flexible solutions with a focus on collaboration, real-time updates, and integration with other business applications. The cloud-based approach allowed seamless access to project data from anywhere, promoting global collaboration and remote work.
Integrations and Ecosystems
Today, modern project management software has become part of a broader technology ecosystem—the so-called corporate “back office.” Integrations with other business tools like CRM systems, financial applications, and communication platforms have become commonplace, allowing firms to streamline data flow, reduce redundancies, and gain a holistic view of project-related information across multiple teams and initiatives.
Modern project management applications have become a fixture of the broader technology ecosystem, and integrations with other business tools—CRM systems, finance software, and communications platforms—are now commonplace. These integrations streamline data flow, reduce redundancies, and provide a holistic view of project-related information to all project managers, team members, and project stakeholders.
Evaluating Cloud Project Management Platforms
Organizations these days have no shortage of project management platforms to choose from. Users can select from myriad options specific to their unique requirements, use cases, and environments. Chiefly, project management software—cloud-based or otherwise (i.e., desktop/on-premises)—should satisfy the baseline requirements for project creation, planning, management, and reporting.
Contemporary cloud project management platforms, including all of the solutions discussed in this article, typically offer the following key features:
- Collaboration—tools that facilitate the communication/sharing of project information amongst team members
- Task Management—features for creating tasks lists and controls for project/item tracking
- Time Tracking—tools for tracking time allocated/in-use/expended for items/tasks, and overall projects
- Scheduling—functionality for assigning due dates, creating forecasts and projections, and managing project deliverables
- Scalability and Localization—built-in support for distributed/international teams and locations
In considering these baseline features, organizations have a variety of options at their disposal—today’s leading cloud project management platforms satisfy a broad spectrum of use cases and organizational requirements. This article focuses on the following key considerations for evaluating a cloud project management solution:
- Core Features—essential project management tools, to include scheduling, task creation/management, and project tracking, to name a few
- Additional Features—features and functionality that enhance and supercharge the tool’s core features, such as AI/ML and social networking
- Integrations—the ability to hook into and leverage third party applications (existing or new) like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, finance applications , file sharing tools, and more
- Pricing—beyond standard consumption models, the option to leverage cloud project management software via different pricing structures
- Vendor Profile—the track record, reputation, and longevity of the vendor
- Support—available documentation, vendor-provided support options, self-support, and more
To evaluate the systems in this buyer’s guide, we researched software and rated them using a rubric based on a wide range of features, integrations, and cost, as well as additional factors including vendor profiles and support options.
The lowest scoring options were dropped from the list. We detailed the remaining systems based on how they scored in the rubric relative to one another.
Cloud project management platforms have revolutionized the way teams collaborate, plan, and execute projects. The flexibility, scalability, and accessibility of these platforms make them an invaluable asset for organizations operating at all sizes, in every industry. Depending on the specific needs and preferences of your team, one of the top cloud project management platforms covered in this article should serve your needs well.
Looking to the not-so-distant future, AI will continue to transform project management through innovative, sometimes startling software features that significantly improve project efficiency, communication, and overall project success. Recent AI/ML advances have already resulted in intelligent project management tools for automating repetitive tasks, predicting project outcomes, and suggesting optimal resource allocations; indeed many of the top 10 cloud project management platforms have already incorporated these capabilities to enhance project managers’ decision-making capabilities and improve project performance.
Additional Project Management Software Options
Wrike’s top-notch workflow management software allows you to easily visualize priorities, boost collaboration, and maintain control of your projects. Bonus: you can move seamlessly between apps, without logging in or out. Wrike has more than 400+ integrations with popular platforms such as Google, Dropbox, Microsoft Office, and many more. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life.
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Quickbase helps customers see, connect and control complex projects that reshape our world. Whether it’s raising a skyscraper or coordinating vaccine rollouts, the no-code software platform allows business users to custom fit solutions to the way they work – using information from across the systems they already have.
monday.com Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.
Smartsheet is an online work execution platform empowering organizations of all sizes to plan, manage, automate, and report on work. Over 80,000 brands rely on Smartsheet for project and work management.
Resource Guru is the fast, flexible way to schedule teams and keep projects on track. Get full visibility of who’s available and who’s overworked, so people and projects succeed in harmony. Assign work, balance workloads, and edit schedules in seconds. Keep your team up-to-date with personal dashboards and daily schedule emails. Analyze utilization rates, clients, and projects for more accurate forecasts and budgets. Trusted by companies including NASA and L’Oreal. Try it free for 30 days!