Jira: 7 alternatives competing with the Atlassian tool

Jira Software is one of the most popular solutions for managing and planning projects and boasts more than 65,000 users worldwide. Online companies such as Spotify, eBay, and Airbnb use the web application from Atlassian. Jira is primarily involved in the development of software, providing the ideal platform to plan, perfect, and release powerful applications from the get-go. In addition, the tool can be extended at any time with over 3,000 add-ons and is compatible with hundreds of other third-party developer tools.

Due to the complexity and the hefty price tag, it might be worth considering an alternative to Jira. In this guide, we introduce you to some interesting project management alternatives.

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What are the Jira alternatives?

Jira can quickly become very costly if more than ten users require access. For highly scalable projects, you need to use the relatively expensive Enterprise edition, which offers a corresponding performance-orientated option. Often further costs are incurred for various extensions, which can then put you over budget. Searching for a free alternative to Jira can be worthwhile for smaller companies because it’s unlikely that you will be able to make use of all the functions that Jira offers. Some of the Jira alternatives listed here are from the open source sector in addition to other paid programs.

ClickUp

About half a year after its founding, the San Diego-based company ClickUp released its Jira alternative of the same name in September 2017. The software is available exclusively as a web app, which stands out due to its high range of functions. In principle, this makes ClickUp a good choice for any type of project management, but it can also quickly overwhelm inexperienced users. However, if you allow enough time to get familiar with it, you will find all the necessary tools to optimally manage your team’s work in the extensive, customisable boards, workspaces, and lists.

With ClickUp you can manage any number of workspaces – except with the free basic version, which is limited to five workspaces. It’s up to you how many users you integrate into a space and how many tasks are listed and processed in all plans. For each workspace, you can individually define which apps and board elements you need and invite team members via email address, deciding how much access each should have. Additionally, there are over 50 available native integrations of third-party programs such as Zapier or Google Drive to ensure an optimal workflow.

Here’s an overview of further features of this impressive alternative to Jira:

  • Mind mapping
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Unlimited cloud storage (free version: 100 MB)
  • Docs and Wikis
  • Email client integration
  • Chats
  • Time and goal tracking
  • Desktop recording (screenshot and video)

ClickUp can basically be used as a free alternative to Jira because no payments are required for the basic edition. All you need is a ClickUp account, which you receive by entering a valid email address. However, the version has some key limitations in terms of app integration, security, and feature set that makes purchasing a paid plan essential for larger projects. For example, the Enterprise edition comes with exclusive features like two-factor authentication, prioritised support, and white-labelling option.

 

Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Unlimited memory in the paid plans ✘ Lots of familiarisation time required
✔ Workspaces can be designed as desired  

Sprintly

After its founding in 2011, Sprintly, a company based in Portland, released its web-based solution for project planning. In contrast to Jira, Sprintly is just available as a web app. The tool’s biggest plus is its clear dashboard that provides a detailed overview of all the projects currently being worked on. For example, the team’s tasks are organised according to their status so that each worker can see which steps are in the planning stage, in progress, or have already been completed. Other plus points include the first-class search and filter engines, as well as auto complete.

Just like with Jira, the functionality of Sprintly can be extended by integrating third-party applications and add-ons. The integration platform, Zapier, and the online service GitHub are supported among others. The project management tool proves to be very useful for practically everything you might need in this context, for example, by making suggestions for formulations. Other features include:

  • Activity logs and productivity analyses in real time
  • API for integrating external services and ad metrics
  • Seamless linking with chat environments such as Slack, Campfire, and HipChat
  • Simplified keyword shortcuts
  • Tickets can be created via email

Sprintly is a fee-based alternative to Jira, being offered in various price classes from “Startup” to “Enterprise”. Depending on the package you choose, up to 75 subscribers have full access to all functions and features. In addition, the individual plans include storage space (between 5 GB and 350 GB). Regardless of your subscription, you can manage an unlimited number of projects at the same time.

Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Clear dashboard ✘ Limited storage space
✔ Creating tickets possible by email  

Redmine

A free alternative to Jira is the open-source tool, Redmine, released for the first time in 2006 under the GPLv2 license. It is written in Ruby and is based on the framework Ruby on Rails, meaning it is independent of the platform or database used. In addition, Redmine supports 49 different languages including German, English, Spanish, Italian, and French. You need a suitable hosting environment and a database (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite) to use this project management program. You also have to make sure that the correct version of Ruby is installed.

Although using the original software is free and you only have to pay for the hosting, Redmine is a complete tool for planning and developing projects. You can specify the individual tasks and progress down to the smallest detail for different projects at the same time. Thanks to the excellent rights administration, you can individually determine how much access a worker has to a project e.g., by allowing them to leave comments but not modify any of the content. The open-source tool also includes the following features:

  • Flexible ticket system, which can be adapted to the desired workflow (separately for each user role)
  • Automatically or manually create Gantt charts and schedules e.g., based on the tickets created
  • Wiki and forum in the simplified text language (per project)
  • Has its own repository as well as access to various version management systems such as CVS, Subversion, Mercurial, Barzaar, and Git
  • News and notification system

These standard features make Redmine a first-class Jira alternative for smaller projects. Using plugins from its own plugin directory, you can extend the functional radius of the software so that you can carry out more complex development processes. For example, you can use the extension to optimise the ticket system, add a chat, or connect Redmine to many third-party programs. In addition, the project management program’s design can be adapted to your preferences using themes.

Advantages Disadvantages
✔ License-free and free of charge ✘ Workflow isn’t configurable
✔ Expandability (plugins, themes) ✘ Complex, time-consuming setup
✔ High compatibility  
Tip

The company, Easy Software, offers a supported version of Redmine, which contains an enhanced array of resources, customer support, and a hosting solution (optional). This fee-based offer can be tried out free for one month thanks to the demo version.

Stackfield

German-based Stackfield GmbH has launched a Jira alternative called Stackfield, that places emphasis on security and data protection. This means that the program makes regular backups to avoid having any data lost. In addition, it is possible to protect access to the tool with two-factor authentication. All data spaces are encrypted by a combination of AES and RSA algorithms (AES-256 and RSA-2048) and encoding takes place in the browser, meaning that all relevant information that is transmitted to the server is encrypted.

With Stackfield, you can also manage several projects simultaneously with Jira. To do this, you can create team profiles including the allocation of specific roles and rights for participating users (administrator, member, guest) and data rooms. The configuration doesn’t take long thanks to the intuitive user interface that can be customised at any time. You will quickly become accustomed to the project platform because all functions and settings are easily accessible and appealing. You also have access to the following features:

  • Group chat for exchanging messages and files in real-time for each data room
  • Presentation of the task situation in the dashboard
  • Seamless linking of individual tasks, files, and comments
  • Version history for tasks, documents, etc.
  • Chronological, filterable activity logs
  • Audio and video telephony

With its versatility and comprehensive security structures, Stackfield is undoubtedly one of the best alternatives to Jira when it comes to managing sensitive projects. In this way, you benefit from the opportunities provided in the areas of product development and research as well as in the PR sector or in corporate consulting. Developing complex projects is also possible thanks to a suitable API for third-party applications. Customers can choose from four different tariffs, which can be cancelled monthly and have different restrictions regarding the storage space (from 10 GB onwards) and the number of users (from 5 to more than 100). Each package includes support via mail and phone as well as a personal support channel. With the on-premises version, hosting on your own server is also possible.

Advantages Disadvantages
✔ High security standards ✘ To ensure maximum security, the number of external integrations is limited.
✔ Flexible roles and rights system  
✔ Hosting on own server possible  

Kanbanize

According to some statements, the “leading” Kanban platform Kanbanize is a great Jira alternative especially when it comes to software and product development and project and IT service management. The Bulgarian development company Businessmap Ltd. has been active in the industry since 2008, which is clearly reflected in the highly flexible software. Even complex workflows can be visualised and automated with Kanbanize within minutes thanks to the user-friendly boards and integrated business rules for processes, dependencies, and interactions. You can choose between the cross-platform web application or the native apps for iOS and Android.

The price for the fee-based alternative to Jira depends on how many rules (between 0 and 90) you need for the automation of your workflows and how many users (from 15 to 500+) should be able to access the Kanbanize projects created. How exactly you activate the individual workspaces for individual users later is entirely up to you – thanks to extensive user and role management. Here you can also individually determine whether a participant is required to use two-factor authentication or not, if you have booked this option with your package. Apart from the great options for user management, Kanbanize is characterised by the following features:

  • Timeline with real-time update option
  • Linking of tasks between different projects
  • Business rule system for maximum degree of automation
  • Workflow analysis (optionally available)
  • Email integration
  • Time recording

To provide the best possible platform for managing diverse projects, the Kanbanize team offers the possibility to integrate third-party tools. You can thus connect the Jira alternative with Trello, Zapier, Google Drive, GitHub, Subversion, and Bitbucket as well as others. Alternatively, thanks to the released REST API, you can also control your Kanbanize platform remotely to add additional functionality or further integrations on your own. All data is stored on servers in the US by default. However, on request you can have your account and all project data transferred to European data centres.

Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Access via API possible ✘ Lots of familiarisation time required
✔ Simple process automation through “business” rules ✘ Comparatively low number of standard integrations
✔ Apps available for iOS and Android  

OpenProject

OpenProject GmbH (in cooperation with the OpenProject Foundation (OPF)), has been responsible for the project management tool, OpenProject since 2012. The German company was able to optimise and develop the free alternative to Jira (in the Community edition) by working together with a wide-ranging community. The current desktop version of the software, which is available for the Linux distributions CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, and Suse, can be downloaded from the website and installed on the server. Alternatively, OpenProject GmbH also offers variants with additional functions and professional support in the form of the fee-based “Enterprise Cloud” (hosting included) and “Enterprise on premises”.

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The clear user interface of this Jira alternative means that all kinds of projects can be managed simultaneously. Thanks to the modular structure of the open-source application, you can select which functions are required for your project. The default installation of OpenProject includes the following modules:

  • Work packages
  • Timelines
  • News
  • Wiki
  • Forums
  • Calendar
  • Time tracking
  • Documents
  • Meetings
  • Budgets
  • Cost reports
  • Backlogs
  • Activities

It’s not just its functional range that puts OpenProject on the same level as fee-based alternatives like Jira: in just a few steps, you can create user profiles or entire user groups and assign them specific roles and rights. You can either access the predefined types or develop your own system. The same applies to the individual work steps as well as the complete workflow, where the project management application also assigns values that you can adapt to your own requirements if required. In the general system configuration, it is also possible to define basic settings such as the maximum file size, the preferred protocol (HTTP, HTTPS) or login parameters (password length, allowed characters, automatic blocking with incorrect password input, etc.).

Advantages Disadvantages
✔ First-class configuration options ✘ Lots of familiarisation time required
✔ License-free and free of charge  
✔ Modular construction  

Hive

After more than a year of development, the New York-based company Hive released its software solution for efficiently managing projects in October 2016. To this end, the tool for “productive teams” gives its users free rein on how they want to present a project. So you can choose between a Gantt chart, a calendar view, a Kanban board, or alternatively work in tables the classic way. But you don’t have to commit to just one because it is possible to switch between the different views at any time. You can manage and access projects that you have created with the Jira alternative either via the browser (web app) or with the native desktop and mobile apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

Hive also provides various tools for optimal coordination of information, data, and processes. Customisable forms, group chats, and a direct messaging feature help teams communicate. Pre-built and customisable Hive templates allow you to duplicate recurring tasks and projects with just a few clicks. Thanks to an easy-to-use system for reviewing tasks including an approval function, feedback loops can also be easily established, which noticeably improve your workflow. Here are more features of the fee-based Jira alternative (14-day trial):

  • Customisable dashboard
  • Monitoring of processes using Hive Analytics
  • Automation through freely definable buttons and triggers
  • Integration of personal email inbox (Gmail, Outlook)
  • Comment function

As is typical for the industry, Hive also offers the possibility to expand the functionality of the project management platform. It’s possible to integrate over 1,000 suitable tools such as Google Drive, Salesforce, GitHub, and iCal. Those who have the necessary know-how can also access and expand the Jira alternative themselves via the REST API provided by the developer.

 

Advantages Disadvantages
✔ Access via API possible ✘Mobile app has significantly reduced functionality compared to desktop.
✔ Over 1,000 integrations available for third-party tools  
✔ Native desktop and mobile apps (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)  

The Jira alternatives in comparison

  Redmine ClickUp Sprintly Redmine StackfieldKanbanize OpenProject Hive
Released 2017 2011 2006 2013 2008 2012 2016
Open source no no yes no no yes no
Monthly costs from $5 (£3.70) per user from $2.60 (£2.00) per user no from £1.80 per user from $6.60 (£5.00) per user no from $16.00 (£12.00) per user
Self-hosting possible no no yes yes no yes no
Cloud storage from 100 MB from 5 GB no from 10 GB no no unlimited
API for integrating third-party software yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Mobile app no Sprinter for iOS (official), Sprinter (unofficial; Android) RedminePM (unofficial; iOS, Android) Android, iOS Android, iOS OpenProject Client (unofficial; iOS) Android, iOS
Official plugin-directory no yes yes no yes yes no

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