Jira is an amazing piece of workflow-management software that allows companies like Zillow, eBay, and Spotify to keep their software and website development on-track and focused. It is incredibly great, not only with managing development and projects but also with its documentation and help desk tools that allow you and your employees to stay on track.
Now, Jira can be a very helpful tool in your workplace, but its pricing can really bust your budget depending on the circumstances. If you have a team of 10 or fewer people, it is only $10 a month, which is fair and affordable. However, you may start having issues if your team has more then 10 people on it, as pricing shoots up to $7 a month per one user. This means that a team of 15 people will cost a staggering $105 a month.
To take it a step further, if you had a team with 100 members, Jira would cost your business $700 a month. You also have to factor in add-ons you might purchase through the Jira platform as well, as those can also cost upwards of $5 a month per each member on your team. So, what's the solution to this if you have a large team who needs workflow management software?
Well, luckily, there are much more affordable, and in some cases, free alternatives to Jira that can perform the same functions without the heavy costs. So let's explore these options together and hopefully, you can find the perfect solution for your work without breaking the budget.
Trello has been a viable and free alternative to Jira for a while now with a minimalist design and an easy-to-use interface. It also gives you lots of freedom in how you want to manage your lists, files, comments, and organization. This freedom comes from both its simplicity and its DIY-design. We're saying “DIY-design” here because Trello leaves a lot of the organization and management systems in your hands, although it does give you the tools to do so. For example, it features drag-and-drop organization, so you don't need a ton of technical knowledge to build a simple project management page.
It also features commenting, file uploading and integrations with other apps like Harvest, which helps with time-tracking and invoicing. Trello simply re-organizes your work-space into separate boards that each have individual lists and individual cards. You can completely redesign these as you wish by putting any files, text, images and/or basically anything else that you would need in there, but it does give you a simple starting point that in some cases, may be all you need to get your workflow on track.
Because of its simplicity and a large amount of freedom, this makes it a strong Jira alternative, as you could theoretically design your Trello space into something that does everything that Jira does without paying a dime. It does offer some paid plans and it was acquired by Atlassian (The company that made Jira) recently, but there have been no plans or changes to its base pricing, so it's still free to use for anybody. It does offer those aforementioned paid plans and they integrate with Jira and other Atlassian products, but those won't be mentioned as we are exclusively focusing on free alternatives to Jira.
A Quick Overview of Trello's Features
Here is a bullet list of all of Trello's free features for your convenience:
- Allows unlimited members, workplace boards, lists/checklists, attachments, cards, and boards. You don't have to worry about having too many people on your team.
- One free add-on called a “Power-Up”. This add-on can be anything from integration with SurveyMonkey to a simple calendar
- Trello can be used with Dropbox, Drive, and Box, so you can easily share collaborative files and instructions
- It lets you add any file from your computer or any cloud-based storage service
- Easily implemented checklists and due dates to keep your team on track
- Trello has a calendar view that shows all due-dates and projects
- It sends notifications through email and allows your team members to reply to comments through their emails
How to Determine If Trello Will Work With Your Team
Trello heavily focuses on transferring or developing a workplace management system that's already in place and/or has plans to be implemented/improved because of its DIY attitude. Because of this, it's strongly recommended to use it if you already have systems in place and/or plan to have systems that manage projects on your team, whether these plans be online or offline.
You can still use it if you don't have any workflow methodology though, as it is very flexible and incredibly simple. It is a pretty strong Jira alternative in general, so you definitely should consider it if you want to manage your projects better and include more collaboration in your work-place methodology. If you think Trello is right for your workplace, you can check it out here.
Remember The Milk
Despite its simple name, Remember The Milk or RTM, can be an effective tool if you plan to manage individual or small projects in an effective, and more importantly, free, manner. It was designed for personal use to remember simple things, hence the name, but you can find success with it in a business environment. It gives itself the title of a “smart to-do app” and that is honestly the best way to describe it, as it comes with tons of smart features to manage tasks and stay focused.
Again, RTM was designed to remember and manage personal matters, such as shopping lists, reminders to pick up people from the airport, reminders for important events and more. However, it's incredibly professional, and “smart”, the design allows it to easily be integrated into a more professional workflow management platform as well. Some of the features that make it so great include keyboard shortcuts for quick design and management, sub-tasks and lists of tasks, as well as drag-and-drop tools to make setting up their lists is simple.
The only real downfall to RTM is that you can only share your lists with two other people on their free plan, so it's only really good for personal and small projects that don't involve many people, but it is a viable solution if you do have a small team that you need to give some direction or if you just need something for yourself to help manage your own tasks, whether they be personal or professional.
The Professional-Level Features That RTM Offers
- Can be accessed on the web or through desktop and mobile apps
- Integration with popular apps like Twitter, Evernote, Google Calendar and Gmail
- You can add tasks through your email or Twitter account, as well as with Siri if you have an Apple device. You can also spend less time typing out tasks with RTM's Smart Add feature that predicts what you're typing and automatically creates categories for the specific time and place where the task may be performed
- You can delegate tasks to yourself or others
- The aforementioned feature that allows you to share lists and tasks with two other users on their free plan
- A focus on a simple drag and drop design
- You can color tasks to organize them as well as prioritize them
- Notifications sent through text, email or Twitter that remind you about tasks
- Lots of customization with hundreds of free themes
Should You Choose RTM to Manage Your Team's Workflow?
RTM offers a large amount of professional-quality modules for what's supposed to be a personal to-do app. However, it can only really be recommended as a free Jira alternative if you only plan to use it on a small or individual level, as it can only support three people at the max with its free version. You could also find use with it on both personal and professional levels, meaning you can easily find “double” the use of it.
In the end, though, it can only be recommended as a free work-flow management tool to small teams or a cheap one for large teams. We are trying to focus on free alternatives here, but its Pro plan that lets you have unlimited members is only $39.99 a year, so it is an incredibly affordable option if you are willing to spend some cash. If RTM sounds like it could work for your team, you should check it out here.
PivotalTracker is actually the closest thing you can get to Jira while not spending any money. It presents you with boards, tasks, and projects, but it focuses on organizing these by having you and/or your team create “stories.” These “stories” are focused on asking questions about features you plan to integrate and having you and your team answer them. An example of this would be an inquiry about a feature that you think visitors would want on a website. Another example would be a question asking when you think a deadline for a task should be.
Overall, the “stories” feature from PivotalTracker focuses on the on-going conversation between you and your team to determine what you need to develop, how fast you plan to develop it and what road-blocks you and your team might run into along the way. This makes it an excellent tool if you want your work-place to be focused on teamwork and collaboration.
Another key part of PivotalTracker is that it steps away from traditional timelines. Instead of having a simple “start-date” and “due date”, PivotalTracker will automatically calculate how long it believes it will take your team to complete certain projects, giving an honest view of you and your team's productivity in the workplace. Its interface also has a highly structured design, so you don't have to worry too much about designing it yourself. At the same time though, it also features some flexibility in its presentation to allow you to change things up if you need to.
However, PivotalTracker suffers the same pitfall that RTM does, as its free plan is only available to small teams of three people and can only feature two projects, so this is another option that's focused on small teams. You could upgrade to one of their paid plans, but they aren't very affordable so we can't really recommend them, but they are cheaper than Jira's plans since they don't charge per user. Overall though, PivotalTracker can be a good, free alternative to Jira if you have a small team and you want an honest look at their productivity.
The Features of PivotalTracker
- You can easily create teams, add outside viewers to observe projects and start tasks within projects
- PivotalTracker provides you with a timeline that's realistic for your team
- You can arrange projects side-by-side and move/copy tasks from one project to the next
- PivotalTracker designs visual graphs that measure your team's general health and productivity
- You can integrate it with other websites like Slack, Zendesk, and Github
- The “stories” feature allows you to build lists and projects fast and in a collaborative fashion
- If you have a small team that plans to grow, their pricing is designed with scalability in mind. This means you won't have to pay anything while your team is still small but can easily grow to a full plan with multiple members if you ever choose to purchase one of PivotalTracker's premium plans
- Its layout is heavily structured, so you won't have to do as much work setting it up. It also still has some flexibility if you want to have it fit a certain niche. ,
Is PivotalTracker Right for Your Team?
PivotalTracker has a large focus on honesty and realism, as it provides accurate predictions based on your team's productivity to give estimated deadlines and structure a project's timeline better. It also has a heavy focus on collaboration with your team, as it constantly asks you questions on what you and your team think the project will need when you think you can complete what it needs and how you will do so. This basically lets it set-up projects for you in a simple meeting or two, meaning your team can focus on getting to work ASAP instead of setting up the software. It's also very similar to Jira in terms of design, so that makes it an excellent, free Jira alternative on its own.
PivotalTracker does come with its limitations though. Its free plan only lets you have three members working with it and two projects, so you can't use it in a corporate or large business environment. It is still great for small teams though and it can provide a free starting point in managing your workflow. Its focus on collaboration and teamwork is also great, so if you have a small, tight-knit team that works at their best when they're together, this is probably the best choice out there.
Todoist is a workflow management tool that focuses on the GTD or Getting Things Done, methodology. Every task can easily be delegated, postponed, scheduled and moved with their simple design that focuses on getting your team out of the planning process and into active development. Their GTD philosophy goes even further than that though, as it also has apps available for just about every device out there, letting your team get things done anytime and anywhere.
Todoist can also organize individual tasks into projects, while also letting you add sub-tasks, recurring tasks, sub-projects, comments, reminders, and collaboration on tasks. We think the most impressive feature though is the fact it tracks the productivity of members on your team through “karma”. This lets you see at a glance who is working the hardest on your team and who may be slacking, so you can easily identify what parts of your teamwork and don't work. Overall, Todoist is a great and simple tool for getting things done, and that alone makes it a great Jira alternative.
The Features That Todoist Offers
- Easy access with any mobile or desktop platform
- You can easily have team members collaborate on shared tasks
- You can add sub-projects, sub-tasks and recurring tasks
- Todoist's GTD philosophy helps you get out of the planning phase and into development ASAP
- Task prioritizing allows you to direct your team's focus
An Overview of Todoist's Free Plan and Features – Will it work for your team?
Todoist's free plan lets you have up to 80 active projects with five members of your team active on each project. This means it might be a good alternative to Jira for corporate workflow management instead of small teams, as you could theoretically have 400 members added to Todoist's platform. However, its free version lacks some basic features like file attachments that are only available in their premium plan, which is something that is included for free with the other Jira alternatives we mentioned.
On the other hand, though, their premium plan only costs $3 a month or $36 annually, so it's significantly cheaper than Jira and it's a decent budget option. Overall though, Todoist is a good choice if you plan for your team to focus on a GTD philosophy, as it's entire design is focused on thoroughly planning projects quickly so your team can get right into development.
Choosing the Right Free Jira Alternative for Your Team(s) and Workplace
All of the alternatives to Jira that we mentioned have some pros and some cons and you should choose the one that's best for you as there isn't one tool that's perfect or significantly better than the rest. It truly comes down to your team's needs and size. If you're just trying to manage a small team's workflow, you might choose RTM or PivotTracker. If you have a large team or multiple teams, maybe Todoist or Trello is the best choice. So just choose whatever works for you and be sure to do your own research on whichever platform you're considering