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13 min read

The 6 best Trello alternatives in 2022

These Kanban tools let you manage projects without the chaos.

By Katie Paterson · June 29, 2022
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If you're managing a project that needs something a little more sophisticated than a to-do list app but a little less intense than a full-on project management app, you're looking for a Kanban app.

I've used Kanban apps a lot throughout my career to manage totally different kinds of projects: as a blog manager to run a content calendar, as the head of a marketing department to manage my team, and now as a freelancer to juggle various projects and clients. I even recently made a Kanban board for a bachelorette party I was organizing. Kanban works for everything.

And while I love Trello, there are so many other options out there. So I spent a few weeks testing all the Kanban apps I could get my hands on, and these are the six that give Trello a run for its money—the best Kanban software out there.

The 6 best Trello alternatives  

  • KanbanFlow for simplicity

  • Kanban Tool for built-in time-tracking and managing client projects

  • Workstreams.ai for Kanban within Slack

  • Kanbanchi for Kanban within Google Workspace

  • Microsoft Planner for Kanban within Microsoft Teams

  • Taskworld for adding tasks to multiple Kanban projects at once

What is Kanban board software?

If you're new to Kanban, head over to this article on the Kanban method or this one about how Kanban is different from Scrum and Agile. If you just need a quick refresher, I'll give you that here.

Every Kanban board app is built around three main core features: boards, lists, and cards. 

  • Kanban boards are like digital workspaces. They contain the big picture of your project that you want to visualize, whether you're building a car (Kanban was invented in the 1940s by Toyota!), managing a content plan, or organizing a bachelorette party. 

  • Kanban lists are workflows inside your Kanban board. In their most basic form, Kanban lists would appear on your board as "To do," "Doing," and "Done," but lists are most effective when they reflect the actual stages of your production line. So Kanban for an editorial calendar might include lists for "With editor," "Scheduled," and "Published."

  • Kanban cards are tasks within your Kanban lists. In Kanban apps, cards are moved from one list to another along the production line—generally from left to right—until they're completed. 

What makes a great Kanban tool?

How we evaluate and test apps

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First, let me clarify something: there are a lot of project management apps around that offer Kanban as part of their package, but they're not specifically Kanban tools. So if you already use a project management tool you like and it has Kanban, it's probably not worth switching to a new, dedicated Kanban tool. (Likewise, if you're looking for just Kanban, most project management apps will be too bloated for your needs.) As I was researching Kanban apps for this article, I tested a bunch of project management apps, too, and it became clear pretty quickly that this was the case. 

That's why all the apps included in this guide are purpose-built Kanban tools. If you're looking for a broader range of features, take a look at our list of the best free project management apps instead.

As I was testing apps, I was focused on the following criteria:

  • Affordability. I've focused on apps that are accessible to almost anyone. Either they come with a robust free plan, or their paid plans are affordable on a per-user-per-month basis.

  • Customization. Every team works differently, and projects come in all shapes and sizes, so I've included apps that are customizable to user needs. 

  • Integrations. Like any software, a Kanban app is only going to support your productivity if it can integrate with the other tools you already use. 

  • Ease of use. There are a lot of pretty sophisticated Kanban apps out there, but they cater more heavily to software engineering and product development teams. This can make the UI pretty intimidating for everyone else, so I focused on more "lightweight" Kanban apps that are accessible across industries and teams.

I signed up for each app, created a board for each workspace, and added multiple cards and task lists to each board to see how they compared. I set deadlines for tasks, and over a two-week trial period, kept tabs on notifications that came through by email. After all my testing, I found six apps I'd consider to be the best alternatives to Trello.

But first, Trello.

The gold standard of Kanban software

Trello (Web, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux)

Trello, the gold standard of Kanban software

If you've used a Kanban board before, there's a good chance it was on Trello. Trello is almost synonymous with Kanban, and a decade after its inception, it's still one of the best ways to use Kanban to manage your work.

That's mostly because it's so easy to set up, intuitive to use, and fast. Really fast. Make a new board, and your cursor automatically appears in the first list, ready for you to name it (e.g., "To do"). Tap Enter to jump to the next list, type in its name (e.g., "Doing"), and tap Enter again to jump to the next. 

You can also add a ton of cards at once. Type your cards in a bullet point list in any app, then paste them into a new Trello card: Trello will ask if you'd like to make a new card for each item.

Trello cards look simple on your boards, but they can contain as many details about your tasks as you need. Add checklists, descriptions, and comments with Markdown formatting, customize labels for extra color-coded tags about your tasks, and drag in attachments to keep files for that task together. If you need more features, like time-tracking or video chat, Trello's Power-Ups let you install apps inside Trello that add their own buttons and features to your cards.

Trello is one of the simplest Kanban apps to use, but it still has options that add extra features to make it fit the way you work. Plus, Trello deeply integrates with Zapier (with over 40 triggers and actions), meaning you can do things like automatically create new cards when people fill out a form, when you create a calendar event, when you star an email, and more. 

Create Trello cards from new Typeform responses

Create Trello cards from new Typeform responses
  • Typeform logo
  • Trello logo
Typeform + Trello

Trello price: Free for up to 10 boards per workspace with unlimited users and Power-Ups. From $6/month/user (paid monthly) on a Standard Plan that gives you unlimited boards. 

The best Trello alternative for simplicity

KanbanFlow (Web)

KanbanFlow, our pick for the best Trello alternative for simplicity

KanbanFlow is the most stripped-down Kanban tool I came across while testing. But sometimes, simplicity is exactly what you need. If you're looking for minimal distractions, KanbanFlow is ideal.

Even though it's basic, the tool covers all the necessities of a Kanban app—and does them well. You can add lists and cards as normal and customize your cards so they're color-coded for different types of tasks. You can even add swimlanes to divide your board into sections—perhaps to show multiple people's work on one board, or to set aside tasks that you're waiting to tackle.

The card design is also pretty simple, but it covers all bases in terms of features. You can list subtasks, include Markdown-formatted descriptions, add labels, and set how much time you think the task will take. You can even make recurring cards for the tasks that need to be done every week or month, like in a standard to-do list app.

The time estimate ties into one of KanbanFlow's most interesting features: a built-in Pomodoro timer. Click the timer button in the bottom toolbar, select a card you're working on, and start the timer. KanbanFlow will give you 25 minutes to work on it before reminding you to take a break; then it'll start timing again as you get back to work. 

My favorite thing I discovered while testing KanbanFlow is that you can view and check off subtasks straight from the board—without having to open a card. And when you tick something off a card's checklist, the item grays out rather than disappearing, which helps with visualizing overall progress toward larger tasks. 

KanbanFlow also includes reports on the time you and your team spend on your work, along with filters to sort through your tasks and see exactly what you want in the boards. It's a great tool to get work done and keep things organized without distractions.

To do even more with KanbanFlow, you can connect it to Zapier to open up a whole load of automation options. Zapier can automatically create a card on your KanbanFlow board when you create a calendar event, send Slack messages when new tasks are created or moved, and more—no matter which apps you use for productivity.

KanbanFlow price: Free for unlimited boards and users with core features; $5/month/user Premium plan for attachments, swimlanes, integrations (through Zapier), and more.

Best Trello alternative for built-in time tracking and managing client projects

Kanban Tool (Web, iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux)

Kanban Tool, our pick for the best Trello alternative for built-in time-tracking and managing clients

Kanban Tool is another simplified Trello alternative with a clean interface and minimal distractions. The UI definitely hasn't been updated since at least 2017, but honestly, I'm ok with it. I really like how the color-coding pops off the screen, so you know instantly what types of tasks are currently on your plate. It's a small detail that has a big impact and makes standard color-labeling feel a bit insufficient in comparison. 

But the best thing about Kanban Tool is that it includes a handy feature to let you see where time goes: Analytics. A click away from your board, you can see a breakdown of your cards by type and generate a time report on how much work was logged each day on each card.  

You can also view a cumulative flow to see how your work is progressing toward completion and a detailed changelog with everything your team has done on your project. If you're an agency or freelancer who works on multiple projects for different clients at the same time, you can imagine just how useful this could be.  

Kanban Tool comes with a handful of templates to help you get started, with standard columns for planning projects by time, process, and more. You can customize the board, too, adding any sections and swimlanes your Kanban board needs.  

Within cards, you can choose a customizable color tag (those big, bold colors!), add your details, then click Create and add next to add the next task card. When you're working on a task, drag it to the sidebar on the right, and Kanban Tool will start timing how long you work on it; drag in a new task to switch focus. 

As simple as Kanban Tool looks, it has a ton of powerful tools. You can add custom fields to your cards, name each card color from its settings, or enable Power-Ups for a calendar view, checklist templates, emoji, and more—with every change to your tasks logged back to the same detailed analytics. 

Kanban Tool also integrates Zapier, so you can connect your Kanban to your to-do list, email, team chat app, and more. Here are a few examples to get you started, but it'll work with thousands of different apps. 

Kanban Tool price: Free for 2 boards and users; from $5/month/user Team plan for unlimited boards and attachments. Time-tracking and reporting feature is available on the Enterprise plan at $9/month/user.

Best Trello alternative for Kanban within Slack

Workstreams.ai (Web, iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux)

Workstreams.ai, our pick for the best Trello alternative for Kanban within Slack

If you already use Slack or Microsoft Teams for communicating with your team, Workstreams.ai is worth checking out (though I'd recommend Microsoft Planner for folks deeply embedded in the Microsoft ecosystem).

Rather than creating a Workstreams.ai login, you can sign up using your Slack or Microsoft account, and the integration between your communication channel and your Kanban boards is incredibly tight. So tight, in fact, that you don't even really need to spend much time on Workstreams.ai itself; you can manage your board (called a "taskboard") almost entirely from Slack. 

The taskboards you create in Workstreams.ai use a bot to align tasks with your Slack. You can create cards, create and check off actions, and even generate reports directly from within these channels. Trello's Slack integration does a bit of this, but the integration here feels a lot smoother.

I find that messages left on Kanban cards easily get lost. You might receive an email notification whenever someone tags you on a card, but it's not really an efficient way to communicate about your projects. Workstreams.ai allows you to have a consistent and accessible chat around your workflows. There's a "Task chat" on every card (most other Kanban tools call them "comments"), and when you tag someone, the notification comes through instantly on Slack. 

The board itself looks pretty slick too. The user interface is actually pretty similar to Slack's, so you'll feel right at home managing projects. Lists are called "Worksteps" and cards are called "Tasks," but they contain all the details and fields you would find in Trello or other Trello alternatives. You can also add custom fields to cards, duplicate a card with just one click, and set up recurring tasks. It's everything you'd expect—but it all happens in your team chat app.

Workstreams.ai pricing: Free plan for unlimited tasks and users that includes all core features; $9.99/month/user for the Pro plan that includes Workstep automation, calendar view, and due dates.

Best Trello alternative for Kanban within Google Workspace

Kanbanchi (Web, iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux) 

Kanbanchi, our pick for the best Trello alternative for Kanban within Google Workspace

Kanbanchi isn't a Google product, but it's been specifically designed to work with Google Workspace, and it integrates really tightly with Google Calendar, Google Meet, Google Drive, Gmail, and other Google apps.  

So it's really confusing that the interface design looks exactly like a Microsoft product. It's uncanny: Kanbanchi looks like it could be a Microsoft Teams feature. But design aside, it feels like a product for Google loyalists. For example, you can click an Add to Google Calendar button on any card to copy task due dates to your Google Calendar, so you get notifications from there. It's also easy to attach files to cards straight from Google Drive, and the other way around: you can add your Kanban board to your Drive. And you can create cards for your Kanban board directly through Gmail by emailing a specific address. 

Some more general non-Google-related things I liked about Kanbanchi were the built-in time tracker (click Start working on it, and it'll begin tracking your time) and the fact that you can add custom properties to all cards on a board in bulk with one action. 

If you're already using Trello or Jira for Kanban and thinking about switching, you can import entire boards directly from these apps (or from a CSV), and they'll appear in full on Kanbanchi.  

Kanbanchi price: No free plan; Starter plan is $7.95/month/user. If you want time-tracking and reporting, you'll need a Professional plan at $19.95/month/user.  

Best Trello alternative for Kanban within Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Planner (Web, iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux) 

Microsoft Planner, our pick for the best Trello alternative for Kanban within Microsoft Teams

If you use Microsoft 365 at work, Microsoft's Kanban tool is already available to you for free. It's called Microsoft Planner, and it's a nice, simple tool that functions as a good Trello alternative for teams that use other Microsoft tools like Teams every day.  

Microsoft Planner Kanban boards look like most other Kanban apps on the market, and the fields included on cards are also similar, with descriptions, checklists, labels, and due dates. You can easily upload attachments and assign people to tasks—basically, everything you need in a basic Kanban app.  

What makes it special is that you can add your Planner Kanban board to your Microsoft Teams channel, so it's accessed entirely from Teams. The last company I worked for moved all their process documentation, and the business more generally, over to Teams during the pandemic. The idea that every team's Kanban board can also be accessed directly from that team's channel is hugely appealing to these kinds of organizations.  

Another stand-out feature of Microsoft Planner is the task analytics (called Charts). You've got a really nice visualization of which tasks are in progress, which ones are overdue, and which haven't been started yet.  

Microsoft Planner pricing: Free for all Microsoft users on Business plans. 

Best Trello alternative for adding tasks to multiple Kanban projects at once

Taskworld (Web, iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux)

Taskworld Screenshot

Projects don't happen in a vacuum. If you're working on tasks for one project and there's a bump in the road that causes progress to slow, it's likely it will impact other projects too. Taskworld is built around this kind of scenario. 

It's a straightforward Kanban board with a simple interface that hasn't changed over the years—but it doesn't look dated. I like that the app shrinks your cards down to a single line of text, so you can see as many cards as possible at once. 

The main premise with Taskworld is that you have main tasks that you add subtasks to, and then secondary tasks associated with main tasks, which appear on the board (almost externally to the cards) as little mini-cards below them. You can also convert main cards into subtasks and associate them with the main task they're linked to. 

You can see how Taskworld would be a good Kanban app for managing larger projects with lots of smaller tasks that need to be completed before a main task can be moved to the next stage in the production line. When you complete a task, it drops to the bottom of the task list under the Completed subheader. Some apps make tasks disappear when they're checked off, which can be really unsatisfying, so I like this feature.

Each card includes a number of features to track how work's going. There's a start date and due date, as well as time spent—with a built-in timer to track your work. And then there's that all-important Location field. That's where you can add a card to multiple projects at once. When you need something from another team, just make a card and add it to their board, too, and you'll see updates along with the rest of your cards. 

Taskworld can also help you stay in touch with your team. It has a built-in project chat that's kind of like a dedicated chatroom for the entire project Kanban board. Instead of commenting only on specific tasks, you can have more consistent project-wide conversations. And for a quick way to catch up on what you need to do, there's a Tasks view that shows everything that's assigned to you in one place. 

Taskworld integrates with Zapier, so you can connect it to all the other apps you use. Zapier will do things like automatically send Slack DMs when someone's added as a follower of a task, send Teams messages for completed tasks, and more.

Taskworld price: Free for up to 15 users with unlimited tasks and projects; $5.99/month Premium plan for unlimited users and up to 10 guests; from $8.99/month/user Business plan that gets you up to 1 TB of storage.  

Which Kanban app should you choose?

It's a testament to how well Kanban works that project management tools are all adding Kanban to their packages. That visual trick of having multiple lists and taking your tasks through a workflow instead of only checking them off is enough to make it worth switching from a to-do list app to a Kanban app. 

If you're just starting out with Kanban, Trello is a great place to start—but if you're looking for an alternative to Trello, one of the apps on this list will do the trick. Figure out what it is about Kanban that makes you productive, and then choose the app that leans into that aspect of it most.

This article was originally published in 2017 by Matthew Guay.

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