October 25, 2023

Best Jira Alternatives for Project Management

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At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category. To make our selections, we rely on our extensive research, product information, vendor websites, competitor research and first-hand experience. We then consider what makes a solution best for customer-specific needs. By defining business needs, we can determine the essential features organizations in various sectors require, and select platforms that will cover all bases. Reputable providers known for their ease of use and customer satisfaction are added to our compilation list for further analysis. We then evaluate each solution on the list based on the features they offer, considering the platform’s usability, integration capabilities, customization options, mobile access, and any other relevant functionalities. Price plans, hidden fees, customer reviews, and customer support are also assessed in the selection process. TechnologyAdvice writers will often take advantage of free trials and demos to get a first-hand user experience of available software. Finally, we curate a comprehensive list based on the previously stated factors, ensuring readers have the necessary tools to make an informed decision.

There’s no one right way to manage a project, and no single superior software tool for project management. Take Jira. Jira software is an agile project management tool, and while you can manage all kinds of projects with Jira, the software caters specifically to software development teams. In other words, if you laugh at jokes about APIs, it might be the right app for you. If not…

With Jira, like so many SaaS solutions, interface simplicity and application flexibility are inversely correlated. So, those who don’t have the technical expertise to benefit from all the tweaking and customizing that Jira offers will likely find it a clunky, cumbersome platform.

Luckily, we have some great Jira alternatives you can use instead.

Top Jira Alternatives

Vendor Free Version Lowest Starting price Major Value Prop Try
ClickUp Yes $5.00/user/mo. Ease-of-use Try ClickUp
Asana Yes $10.99/user/mo. Integrations library Try Asana
Monday Yes $9.00/user/mo. Robust free version Try monday.com
Smartsheet Yes $7.00/user/mo. Automations Try Smartsheet
Trello Yes $5.00/user/mo. Intuitive Kanban Try Trello

ClickUp: Best for ease-of-use


Pros

  • Straightforward user interface
  • Easy-to-learn remote collaboration tools
  • Supports integration with a host of popular apps

Cons

  • May be too simplistic or generic for complex, highly specific use cases
  • Teams may have to add other apps to their tech stack to cover every needed function

  • Remote work homebase: ClickUp boasts native functionality for chat, email, virtual whiteboards, task management, and much more, minimizing the need for additional apps for most team members.
  • Budget-friendly: ClickUp offers a free version, multiple subscription tiers, and the option to bill annually, making it easy to fit the tools you need into the budget.
  • Professional-grade project management: With functionality covering nearly every aspect of workflow management, from the project level down to the task level, ClickUp has you covered.
  • Low-complexity customization: With options to curate dashboards, feeds, notifications, templates, nested tasks, and more, even staff with less tech fluency can make the most of ClickUp.

  • Free plan available
  • Unlimited — $9/user/month, or $5/user/month when billed annually
  • Business — $19/user/month, or $12/user/month when billed annually
  • Business Plus — $29/user/month, or $19/user/month when billed annually
  • Enterprise — Call for quote

It doesn’t take much to get the most out of ClickUp—in effort or expense—and that’s the beauty of it. A fully-functioning productivity tool with a deep feature set, ClickUp easily punches above its weight when compared to more visible brands in the PM space. It’s a go-to option for many distributed teams, especially those with tighter budgets. And familiarity with other PM solutions transfer to ClickUp easily, making time-to-value much shorter.

When it comes to project management tools, solutions tend to break into three categories: generalists, specialists, and simplicity-first tools. Jira is very decidedly a specialist solution. In that way, ClickUp is in many ways the anti-Jira.

ClickUp isn’t a massive, end-to-end solution. It’s not the simplest or the most complex. It’s not the cheapest or the most expensive. Instead, ClickUp is a very capable multitool, one that fills a variety of needs with a single app, at an affordable price. 

While other industry leaders may pile on additional features for added “value” that may not be necessary, then charge subscribers for a host of bells and whistles that aren’t broadly applicable, ClickUp keeps things simple while still meeting the need. Native messaging, email, file-sharing, and task management cover a majority of productivity app use cases. And with intuitive yet flexible interface controls, there’s plenty of value for new and experienced users alike.

Asana: Best for integrations


Pros

  • Boasts some of the deepest and advanced features in the market
  • Extensive integration lists help boost efficiency with minimal setup
  • Hassle-free importing and exporting of data

Cons

  • Higher cost than most
  • Advanced features come with steep learning curve
  • Pro users occasionally report hitting functionality “brick walls”

  • The right connections: Asana’s core features are limited to project management, but their deep library of integrations make implementing it into your existing tech stack a breeze.
  • Sharing Is caring: One of the worst problems with bloating tech stacks is the exponential data sprawl. Asana helps cut down on this problem by automating and simplifying the importing and exporting of data.
  • First-class project management: Supercharging workflows is Asana’s bread and butter. While the tool is short on tangential functions, it does PM better than almost any other tool.
  • Newcomer-friendly automation: While not as extensive or comprehensive as some of its competitors, Asana offers a considerable number of useful automation features, the majority of which are intuitive to set up and use.
  • Productivity optimization: Asana enables teams to monitor, manage, and optimize staff productivity, from workload balancing, to reporting and analytics, to progress updates and reminders.

  • Free plan available
  • Premium — $13.49/user/month, or $10.99/user/month billed annually
  • Business — $30.49/user/month, or $24.99/user/month billed annually

Many teams already have established processes that facilitate and support their operations in other domains, but want to add project management to the list of tools in their toolbox. While a comprehensive solution might require the complete overhaul of those processes, and a simpler PM tool might result in redundant labor from lack of interoperability, Asana is different. The platform is designed to be embedded directly into existing processes with minimal disruption, so work speeds up, instead of slowing down.

A standalone project management solution, Asana has built a reputation on its dependability, functionality, and process enhancement. These days, it’s not uncommon for new hires to be asked about their familiarity with Asana specifically, even if just to gauge general familiarity with PM software. There are good reasons for this; organizations across nearly every industry have successfully implemented Asana, and customized it to their unique needs.

It’s not a perfect solution, despite being a major player in the space. Its subscription costs are higher than most, and larger organizations may find it difficult to scale with as a result. Those looking for a comprehensive solution will also find it less flexible than they need it. And some pro users run into difficulty when trying to set up more specialized automations, even when the feature set otherwise supports similar customizations.

Monday: Best free option


Pros

  • Surprisingly comprehensive free version, albeit for just two users
  • Simple, easy-to-learn interface
  • Flexible customization options, supporting multiple industry-specific use cases
  • Native scheduling, timeline views, and Gantt charts

Cons

  • Lower-tier users may find some features restricted that would otherwise be core functionality for other PM tools

  • Mastery of time and workspace: Monday provides ample tools for visualization, visibility, reporting, and management, so you can keep track of all current workloads and objectives.
  • Quick setup: With the simplest interface this side of digital Kanban boards, even if you’ve done everything on paper previously, getting started is quick and easy.
  • Shallow learning curve: Not everyone is a power user, and not every team needs advanced functionality. Monday knows this, and supports the least common denominator of staff tech literacy. 
  • Collaborate with ease: Monday supports collaboration with third-party and external contributors, making it a breeze to leverage contract and freelance labor. 
  • Industry flexibility: Unlike most generalist PM apps, Monday has options for customizing to fit specific industries, helping address a number of non-standard PM needs. 

  • Free — no cost, up to two seats
  • Basic — $9 per seat per month, billed annually, or $12 per seat billed monthly.
  • Standard — $12 per seat per month, billed annually, or $14 per seat billed monthly.
  • Pro — $19 per seat per month, billed annually, or $24 per seat billed monthly.
  • Enterprise — Call for quote

For teams with overburdened staff and over-committed budgets, the last thing they need is another cumbersome, expensive app to add to the tech stack. That’s why we recommend Monday—not every team will find it a solid fit for their needs, but many will, especially for those looking to prioritize ease-of-use, and who are looking for robust-yet-free tools.

In many ways, Monday is more than a standard PM solution. Sure, it does project management. But Monday bills itself as a “work OS,” and offers some rather unique functionality for those who look beyond the basics. In addition to it’s reliable core features, Monday is also modular, providing the basic building blocks for a number of more bespoke implementations, from waterfall project management, to service desk request tracking, to building a contact info database.

Monday also boasts some of the most accessible customer support in the industry (an important factor when discussing SaaS tools, who often play coy with their support staff). This means that teams can start with a more turnkey solution, then get help from the experts at Monday for guidance on how to DIY a more tailored answer to their needs.

Smartsheet: Best for automating multiple projects


Pros

  • Familiarity of spreadsheets with more powerful automation features
  • Minimal cost and setup time
  • Incredibly powerful functionality for teams managing multiple, standardized projects

Cons

  • Struggles to support more complex or diverse multi-project use cases
  • Some common “advanced features” seen in other tools are not included

  • Ubiquitous format: Nearly every office employee in any discipline has used or at least seen a spreadsheet in the past, and SmartSheet puts that familiarity to good use.
  • Easy integration: There are a number of PM-related functions that spreadsheets aren’t the best for, which is why SmartSheet supports integrations with calendars, visualization, and more.
  • Automation powerhouse: One of the best features of a killer spreadsheet tool is the automations—functions, macros, etc.—and SmartSheet enables the use of such functionality on your project management
  • Simplicity at its finest: It’s hard to get any more intuitive than rows and columns. Most other PM tools require learning an entirely new UI, but SmartSheet makes even its familiar interface easy for spreadsheet newcomers.
  • Spreadsheet, but smarter: The two obstacles that hold back most spreadsheet implementations are low literacy from users and the limited capabilities of the tool. In many ways, SmartSheet helps teams overcome these challenges.

  • Free plan available
  • Pro: $7/user/month, billed yearly
  • Business: $25/user/month, billed yearly
  • Enterprise: by quote

Sometimes, what a business needs is increased functionality without having to learn how to use an entirely new tool. That’s why we picked Smartsheet: it’s project management by way of spreadsheet software. By embedding the needed features into a format that’s already familiar, it can easily meet the needs of teams who want to make the most of the skills they already have while also accomplishing new productivity goals.

Smartsheet is a project management tool with a look and feel that may elicit some deja vu from users. The software is built to mimic the interface and functionality of a standard spreadsheet. This makes it less intimidating and easier to learn the ropes of using Smartsheet than it would otherwise be. 
One of the biggest advantages that SmartSheet has over its peers is how it feels like “coming home” to office staff—spreadsheets have been around almost as long as office work itself. And few things are as easy to understand in concept as a table of rows and columns. Add to that the plethora of automation options, and Smartsheet often outshines more flashy brands in this space.

Trello: Best for those who want Jira, but simpler


Pros

  • As simple as sticky notes, as convenient as email
  • Most core features available for free users
  • Simple UI with option for deeper functionality

Cons

  • Not as robust as some of its peers
  • Most integration options require paid subscriptions

  • Kanban-style project management: A large number of technical teams utilize Kanban style workflow management, and while Jira is a more robust platform for this, Trello offers the same core features with reduced complexity and cost.
  • Simple UI: Trello makes the most of its very straightforward interface. If you understand sticky notes and how to click and drag, you can use Trello. 
  • Budget-friendly: The majority of Trello’s features are available to free users. Even for those who upgrade to paid versions, the costs are lower than most.
  • Popular integrations: While free accounts only get access to a single integration “powerup,” the options include Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, Jira, and hundreds more.
  • User-friendly automations: The number and capabilities of Trello automations may be less impressive than other solutions in this list, but it’s hard to beat how easy Trello’s automations are to set up and use.

  • Free plan available
  • Standard — $6/user/month, $5/user/month billed annually
  • Premium — $12.50/user/month, $10/user/month billed annually
  • Enterprise — Sliding scale based on user base

Jira is a compelling option for teams that depend on tools designed with developers, IT, and other technical staff in mind. With so much of their work dependent on a unified, standardized system that the entire team knows intimately, having the right software to enable those processes is a must. Trello is an alternative that offers most of what Jira does, but may be more appealing as an option for teams with limited budget, less spare time for onboarding, or minimal need for developer-specific features.

In many ways Jira’s little cousin, Trello boasts quite a bit of value for its price point—which, for many of its users, happens to be “free.” Owned by the same parent company as Jira, Trello brings to the table a surplus of simplicity and ease-of-use. The platform functions as a digital Kanban board, where users create, modify, and manipulate virtual sticky notes to track projects and progress. 

Trello won’t be robust enough for every team. But with a reliable free version, it can often serve as a starting point or interim project management tool, even for teams that ultimately migrate to something with deeper functionality. Bottom line, if all your team needs is a centralized repository of information and project statuses, Trello might be your go-to solution.

When to use Jira

There are plenty of options in the project management space, and many of them have impressive value propositions (such as the ones listed above). But that doesn’t mean that Jira doesn’t boast worthy offerings of its own. It’s simply a matter of understanding who Jira is built to serve most effectively.

Jira is, first and foremost, a tool for developers and programming staff. The tool can accommodate a number of related use cases, but nearly all of them fall within technical fields. In other words, if your work involves the creation, maintenance, support, and management of digital systems, Jira is worth a look. Otherwise, another solution may be a better fit.

When not to use Jira

As may have been clear from the section above, Jira is tailored to a very narrow niche. Some solutions are generalized, while some are specialists. Jira is a specialist, and those who are unfamiliar with the distinction between “waterfall development” and “agile methodology” will likely find less to love about Jira than those who do. 

If you find that you’re among the former (i.e. those who don’t need a tool that can help them run a development sprint or debug code), the options in the list above might be worth a look. Or, if you don’t see a Jira alternative you like in this article, see our Project Management Software Guide to find even more options.

Featured Partners: Project Management

1 monday.com

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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.

Learn more about monday.com

2 Quickbase

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Big ideas aren’t simple to execute. So we’re here to help you tackle any project, no matter how complex. We’re Quickbase.

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.

Learn more about Quickbase

3 Wrike

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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.

Learn more about Wrike

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