Best small business apps for planning and productivity

Last reviewed 15 April 2024 by Fiona Prior.

Closeup of a man holding a green pen pointing at his iPad

Project management software can help your small business improve planning, collaboration and delivery of results. These apps and tools make it easier than ever to ditch the pen and go digital. Here is our selection of the best free and paid-for small business apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets that can help you with planning and managing your business more efficiently and effectively

Best apps for project management and planning in the UK

With so many project management apps on the market it can be difficult to know which will be best for your business. Much will depend on what your business does and how you do it, where your current inefficiencies lie, the size of your team and your budget. There are free and paid-for versions of most apps. See our top project management apps below.

**Note Prices/fees correct on 15/04/2024 (special offers may apply)

Best for small teams | Free plan and trials available, from £8 per user per month | Good balance of features and pricing

Best for mid-sized companies

Smartsheet | Free plan for one user, paid plans from £5 per user per month | Easy to use, even for beginners with a familiar spreadsheet-like interface

Best free package

Asana | Free plan for up to 10 users, paid plans from £9.49 per user per month | Strong free tool for managing teams and remote work

Best for marketing and CRM

HubSpot | Free plan | Plan, create, and launch your marketing projects in one place

Find out more about:

A simple, visual and customisable project management and planning tool that lets you manage all your team's work in one place. Quickly and easily see what everyone in your team is working on and manage to-do lists, tasks, and projects across your business.Pricing and features hit the sweet spot for smaller teams, but larger businesses with more complex project management requirements may want to look elsewhere.


Best for small teams:

Free plan and free trials available, then a basic package starting from £8 per user per month | Good balance of features and pricing

Key benefits:

  • full team management platform
  • quick start with easy set-up, ready-made template library and good range of integrations available
  • lower cost than more fully-featured competitors


  • lacks more powerful project management capabilities
  • lower-priced ‘Pro’ package excludes the timetracking feature


  • Free 14-day trial
  • Free basic plan for up to two members
  • £8 - £17 per user per month

Read about how can help you manage your team and projects.


Smartsheet is an award-winning project management software package that can integrate with a host of enterprise systems and apps. Smartsheet brings your people and processes together, delivering real-time insights that allow you to deliver successful outcomes, faster. Smartsheet will appeal to spreadsheet enthusiasts, while it also offers powerful features at a competitive price. Visualise your projects with Gantt charts and automate routine, manual tasks, leaving your people free to focus on the work that matters.

Best for mid-sized companies

Smartsheet | Free plan for one user, paid plans from £5 per user per month | Easy to use, even for beginners with a familiar spreadsheet-like interface

Key benefits:

  • ability to go beyond project management to creating a platform for running your business
  • wide range of customised templates for different activities and industries
  • powerful automation tools


  • over-powered for many smaller businesses
  • may need to invest in training to make the most of sophisticated functionality


  • Free package for a single user
  • £5 - £19 per user per month

Find out more about Smartsheet project management tools for small to medium businesses.


A flexible work management tool, the free version could be worth trying out if you don’t need fully-featured project management capabilities.

Best free package:

Free plan for up to 10 users, paid plans from £9.49 per user per month | Strong free tool for managing teams and remote work

Key benefits:

  • solid collaboration tool and task management, ideal for remote teams
  • free plan can be a good entry-level route into this kind of software


  • lacks full project management functionality
  • paid plans a little more expensive than some other tools


  • free plan limited to 10 users and core functionality
  • paid plans £9.49 - £20.99 per user per month, discount for annual subscription

Find out more about how Asana helps you manage your team’s work, projects and tasks online.


Spend less time planning and more time marketing with this free online tool that brings together your teams, tools and data.

Best for marketing and CRM:

Free plan | Plan, create, and launch your marketing projects in one place

Key benefits:

  • you can start generating and emailing new leads for free
  • HubSpot offers a range of integrated tools for managing sales, customer service, content and commerce that makes managing marketing and sales much simpler with one single platform
  • scalable


  • prices can mount as you scale


  • free package available for up to five seats
  • marketing hub starter £14 per person per month

Discover more about HubSpot.


Visualise project progress, share files, and manage resources, all in one place. Wrike's* project management software helps you avoid delays, collaborate across teams, and seamlessly execute your projects. A powerful alternative to Microsoft Project, Wrike is most appealing for larger businesses.

Key benefits:

  • free version offers extensive task management functionality
  • paid plans include powerful task request and resource management features


  • powerful features and customisability make this a little complex for many smaller businesses
  • most integrations with other apps are a premium add-on


  • free version offers effective task management
  • $9.80 - $24.80 per user per month for project management

Read more about versatile and robust project management software from Wrike.


teamwork offers all the project management essentials you need. teamwork is easy-to-use, flexible, and feature-rich. It also integrates with a host of tools including Slack, HubSpot and Zapier. Individuals and small teams (up to five people) can use the software for free. There are also paid-for options for businesses managing more complex projects or with larger teams.

Key benefits:

  • easy-to-use
  • flexible and feature-rich
  • integrates with a host of tools


  • functionality on the free version is limited
  • costs are higher if you opt to pay monthly


  • free version for up to five users offers basic project and task management
  • £9.99 - £19.99 per user per month (billed annually)

Read more about teamwork


Whether you like seeing your data in boards, charts, or lists, ClickUp has the view for you. Empowering small businesses with low costs, strong customer support, and a forward-thinking approach, it's project management done right. This classy, collaborative project management tool saves you time and energy, while helping your business scale.

Key benefits:

  • low costs
  • strong customer support
  • ready-made templates or create your own
  • 100% money back guarantee


  • team sharing is only available with paid options
  • guests get full access (no permissions) with the free version


  • Free for individual use
  • $7 - $12 per user per month for plans for small and medium-sized firms

Find out more about ClickUp.

Microsoft Project

Integration with the Microsoft 365 family of software and powerful features make this a market leader – but it’s not the simplest option for smaller businesses.

Key benefits:

  • easy integration with Microsoft Teams for collaboration and Microsoft 365, OneDrive and SharePoint software
  • lower-cost, entry level package will be enough for many smaller businesses


  • need to invest in training to get started and make the most of the software
  • difficult to integrate with non-Microsoft tools
  • no free option and not as competitively priced as most competitors


  • £4.90 - £18.10 per user per month

Find out more about Microsoft Project.


Trello aims to make project management fun and flexible, by organising projects into the boards, lists and cards. It’s a simple and intuitive system that offers a great deal of control and visibility for business owners. Free for individuals and small teams. Trello does lack the full project management capabilities of more powerful competitors.

Key benefits:

  • easy to use tool for organising tasks within a team
  • free starter plan could be enough for small businesses with simple requirements


  • lacks full project management functionality such as costing, resource management and advanced reporting
  • paid plan allowing added integrations / ‘Power-ups’ needed to deliver more powerful collaboration functionality


  • free starter package with limited functionality
  • $5 - $17.50 per user per month

Visit the Trello website.



Another spreadsheet-related tool, Airtable could be a simpler alternative to Smartsheet for smaller businesses.

Key benefits:

  • quick start with relatively easy learning curve
  • strong for collaboration, particularly marketing projects
  • bold visual design and useful visualisation tools to help track progress


  • lacks full project management planning and reporting functionality


  • free package offering reasonable core functionality
  • $20 - $45 per user per month when billed annually

Learn more about Airtable workspaces and apps.


Visually appealing and easy to use, adding the optional MindMeister makes this a strong choice for creative teams.

Key benefits:

  • clear focus on core functionality makes this one of the easier packages to get started with
  • integrations offer the flexibility to build on additional tools if you need them
  • optional MindMeister tool for brainstorming ideas


  • visual design may not appeal to everyone
  • pricing is a little aggressive given the lack of full project management functionality


  • Free basic package for managing up to three projects
  • £10 - £22 per user per month

Find out more about MeisterTask task management for teams.

What do project management apps and software do?

Project management apps and software helps you plan and control a project, for example:

  • Identifying what tasks are involved
  • scheduling the people and other resources needed
  • managing timetables and budgets
  • tracking and reporting progress

The kind of project management software your business needs depends on how large and complex your projects are. A sole trader, for example, might need little more than a to-do list to keep track of the jobs that need to be tackled, a calendar to manage deadlines and an activity log. Larger businesses, with long-term projects involving many people, will want much more advanced options.

So before looking for project management software, it's worth thinking about what sort of projects you take on and what would enable you to manage projects more effectively. You should also think about your existing IT systems and tools, and how project management will fit with these.

For example, key parts of project management can include controlling project documentation and improving communication and collaboration between project team members. Do you want an integrated package that includes these, or will you want the software to link in with your existing systems?

Project management software can have a fairly steep learning curve, particularly if you choose one of the more sophisticated packages aimed at larger businesses. Most small businesses should be able to find a low-cost or no-cost package that hits the right balance between features and ease of use.

Other project planning tools


Slack is a popular business planning app for managing digital teams and is free for small teams. It brings everything related to a project or team together in one place and gives you the ability to share files. There's also an app store where you can add a number of additional integrations. Slack also offers a free trial for paid plans.


Whether it's planning a work project or a family event, ntask helps you stay organised and meet deadlines. See all your tasks and team tasks in a range of views and improve visibility and communication so that your tasks are completed successfully. Free version available.


Quickly visualise processes, teams and systems with intelligent diagrams that help you simplify complex ideas. Lucidchart brings your plans to life with a common visual language that makes it easy to involve the right people at the right time.

Jira project management

If you need a more comprehensive and traditional project management solution, Jira is a workflow-based system that allows you to visualise your project – from creation to delivery. It’s backed up by some serious processing power, with customisable dashboards and performance management metrics.


Keep track of the time spent – and resource invested – in your projects. Toggl can be synced across devices, giving you a breakdown of time spent on projects and for customers. It’s particularly useful at crunching the numbers on complex projects, giving you a realistic time estimate for budgeting or billing.

Best communication apps

Staying in touch is crucial especially when teams are working remotely, on the road or at home. It also plays a vital role in ensuring staff feel part of a team, reducing the feelings of isolation that could develop while working remotely for long periods. As a business owner, communication apps can help you stay in communication and in control.


Reduce email with this popular online business communication tool. You can create channels for conversations, focusing on specific topics or projects. It can integrate with existing cloud programmes, like GDrive, DropBox and Asana to securely share documents.


Owned by Facebook and beloved by teenagers, WhatsApp offers high-levels of encryption which makes it a secure platform for business communication. It’s less sophisticated than Slack but perfect for group chats about work (and leisure).

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams allows your team to chat, meet, call and collaborate in one place. You can also hold conference calls or video calls with external guests. It’s become indispensable to businesses during lockdown and is likely to stay that way as the ways we work change for good.

An upgraded version of Microsoft Teams is also available as part of Microsoft 365.


Flock is a sophisticated communication tool that includes some innovative tools to improve workflow and collaboration. As well as text chats, video conferences and voice calls, you can create To-do lists, write notes and collaborate on documents.

Zoom (free)

This popular video conferencing platform enables users to share content like presentations and documents while on calls. As well as voice and video, you can use text chat at the same time to collaborate. It works on desktop, laptop, tablet and phone. There are questions about its security, so use it wisely and protect essential information.

Best file sharing apps

It’s essential that your staff have access to the files they need to complete their work, but they must be safe and secure while doing so. 

Google Drive

It’s simple to store, share and access files with Google Drive which is part of the Google Workspace suite (which includes collaboration tools like Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs and Sheets). Drive integrates with and complements your team’s existing technology. Collaborate with and edit Microsoft Office files without the need to convert file formats. Available with 2-step verification and detailed document controls, it’s a robust system for small businesses. Personal accounts are free to use and business accounts start from just £5 per user per month.


A simple drag and drop storage system, DropBox allows you to store all types of document, synchronising across devices when there’s a network connection. As well as storage, DropBox business has expanded its services, offering a smarter workspace for communication and collaboration. Prices start from just £7.99 per month for an individual user.


This nifty tool enables you to seamlessly transfer information, zapping data between common platforms like Gmail, DropBox and Slack. It allows you to create workflows, intelligently sharing files immediately with the staff that need them. There is a free plan for up to 100 tasks per month. Paid plans start at £23.97 per month.

Creative collaboration apps

Working remotely shouldn’t inhibit inspiration. Creative collaboration across networks is entirely possible, as these tools demonstrate.

Google Workspace

Google Doc and Google Sheets are the big hitters in the Google Workspace. They can be used to create and collaborate on text documents and spreadsheets, with various users able to log in to provide real-time document changes and edits. Personal accounts are free to use and business accounts start from just £5 per user per month.


What started as a simple online DTP tool is now a powerful platform for creative design and communication. Multiple users can edit documents, with a suite of pre-built templates making elegant design simple. Canva is free for individuals and plans for teams start at £10 per person (minimum two users).


If you need to create sales presentations or proposals, Xtensio allows you to collaborate with your sales team to create appealing and effective one-pagers and landing pages. This user-friendly platform can help you create compelling sales documents with minimal effort. Free for your first folio. Premium features can be unlocked from $7 per user per month (paid annually).

Best apps for to-do lists

Google Tasks

Get things done with Google's plain but popular system for managing, capturing and editing your tasks. It integrates with Gmail and can be synchronised across all your devices. Free Apple and Android apps.

Microsoft To Do

Never lose track of tasks, organise notes and improve productivity with this reliable cloud-based to-do-list app. Use the Task Manager to share lists with colleagues and colour-coded lists to distribute tasks. It’s one of the best free online planners around, from a brand that you can trust.


You can prioritise, set reminders, collaborate with others and plan the best way to tackle tasks with this highly popular to-do-list app. Free for up to 80 projects with up to five people per project. Pro plans start from $4 per month (billed annually).


Omnifocus records and organises all your to-dos and syncs them so you can get an up-to-date state of play wherever you are. A business planning app powerhouse that's available for iPhone and iPad. Paid plans from $9.99 per month.

Best business apps for organising your thoughts


Organise your mind with this intuitive mind-mapping tool. Capture ideas and store them in the cloud, or forward to friends and colleagues when inspiration hits.

Further questions on business planning apps

How can I download the business planning apps featured here?

The apps in our round-up can be downloaded to an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. You can either click the links above or search in the App Store or Google Play store for the app you want to download.

How much do business planning apps cost?

Many of the business apps in our round up are free, but in some cases, you may need to pay a small fee to download the app or pay a monthly subscription. Costs can vary, but nothing here is going to break the bank.

If you already have an existing account with a provider such as Microsoft Office 365, for example, then in most cases you won’t be charged an additional fee to download and use the app.

NOTE: It's worth checking up-to-date information on pricing and features for individual project management software packages before making your choice. Ease of use and visual appeal are key features to get employees using the software, so it’s worth taking advantage of free trials to get a hands-on feel.

The pricing details in this guide do not include VAT, any introductory discounts or free trials, or the more expensive ‘enterprise’ plans for large businesses.

Will my information synchronise across multiple devices?

Yes. The seamless, and almost instantaneous, sharing of data across platforms is one of the best reasons to use mobile business apps.

If you share the same log in across multiple devices, then your data should be accessible across all platforms. Apps such as Dropbox are designed to share files across devices. Most apps in our test only function with access to a network connection (through your mobile phone provider or a WiFi network) and will automatically update the data held in the cloud without you needing to do a thing.

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