Whether you are a one-person show or running a large startup with multiple teams, project management is important. Good project management can ultimately mean the difference between joining the 10% of startups that succeed or the 90% that fail. There is no right or wrong tool when it comes to project management, but rather a right or wrong fit for your business and its needs. In this post, we’ll look at eight online project management tools you can use to increase your team’s productivity and communication.
Things to Consider
Before we jump into the tools themselves, there are a few things you need to consider before you choose a project management tool. These are the things you’ll want to keep in mind when you are reading through the upcoming list.
- Scalability. Sure, you may only have just yourself or a few employees to manage now. But what about a year from now? Five years from now? If you choose a tool that only works well with five people, and you need to manage 50 down the road, you’ll end up having to migrate all of your data to a new platform.
- Ease of Use. You can’t manage your projects productively if you spend most of your time just trying to manage the project management software itself. If you and your team don’t like using something, it will never be useful to your business.
- Accessibility. Are you only using this tool for yourself? Will your employees need access to it? Will freelancers or contractors outside of your office need access to it? Will clients need access to it? Will people need access to it on their desktop? On mobile? These are all things to keep in mind when looking at a project management tool’s permissions, user pricing, and ap options.
- Client Familiarity. For some businesses, a project management tool needs to be somewhat compatible with what their clients are used to. If a majority of your clients are using Basecamp, that might be a good choice to ensure ultimately efficiency. Or, if your clients use a variety of project management tools (Trello, Basecamp, Slack, etc.), you may want to choose one that has integration opportunities with multiple project management tools through third-party services like Zapier.
Before you commit to any tool, take advantage of free accounts or free trial periods to see if they are the best project management software for your business.
8 Popular Project Management Tools
With the above things in mind, here are some great project management tools with a variety of features to choose from.
Basecamp offers everything you need in terms of project management: to-do lists for task assignment and management, message boards, chat rooms, project check-ins, calendar-view scheduling, a place to upload documents and files, and the ability to toggle features on or off based on your specific needs.
Pricing for Basecamp is simple. You can start with a free account to play around with Basecamp’s features for one project.
From there, you can choose a $29 per month plan for businesses using Basecamp for their own internal projects or $79 per month for businesses using Basecamp for client project management. The $79 plan includes a client management feature that allows clients to see what you want them to, but nothing else. Neither have any additional per-user costs or fees.
There is also an enterprise level plan for $3,000 per year that includes 1TB of storage, a personal account manager, guaranteed uptime, and the ability to pay by check with NET 30 invoicing.
Zapier offers Basecamp integrations so that you can automate tasks between Basecamp and other project management tools, your CRM, and other business applications. For users on the go, Basecamp has a mobile-optimized browser interface so users can login and get the information they need. They also have apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android users.
If you are already using accounting software like FreshBooks and you just need project management in the form of time tracking, you will be happy to know that it is built in to their platform. FreshBooks allows you create projects and tasks. You can then have your employees, freelancers, or contractors login and enter their time for billing purposes. Your clients will also be able to view time entries if you allow them to.
To access the time tracking feature, you will need the $39.95 plan for up to 250 clients and 1 staff member or the $79.95 plan for unlimited clients and up to 5 staff members. So while this isn’t a very scalable solution, it can help for simple project time tracking for 1–5 employees.
Zapier offers FreshBooks integrations so that you can automate tasks between FreshBooks and other project management tools, your CRM, and other business applications. FreshBooks has a mobile-optimized browser interface and apps for iOS and Android users that includes access to the time tracking feature.
For software programmers and coding projects, there is GitHub. GitHub offers project management features specifically designed for collaboration with people who manage code. Their features include issue tracking, collaborative code review, team management with different levels of access (read, read-write, and admin), syntax highlighting, and access to their public repositories.
Pricing for GitHub is based on the number of private repositories you will need to manage with unlimited collaborators. You can start by trying out their features with a free account and unlimited public repositories, then choose personal plans starting from $7 per month for five private repositories to $50 per month for fifty private repositories.
For businesses that need team organization and permission administration, you can choose organizational plans starting from $25 per month for ten private repositories to $200 per month for 125 private repositories. For those who want a GitHub environment on your own server, you will need an enterprise plan that starts at $2,500 per year.
Zapier offers GitHub integrations so that you can automate tasks between GitHub and other project management tools, your CRM, and other business applications. GitHub has a mobile-optimized browser interface so you can access repositories, issues, pull requests, blogs, and more without having to download an app.
If project management means file management and collaboration on documents, spreadsheets, and slides, then Google Drive is the solution. Google Drive is cloud storage combined with cloud-based software that rivals Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Powerpoint. It also offers the ability to create Forms (surveys with answers stored in a Google Sheet) and Drawings (flow charts).
You can upload most file types for others to download or view, edit, or comment on documents, spreadsheets, slides, forms, and drawings. Some businesses use Google Sheets for simple project management purposes, such as managing editorial calendars.
Pricing for Google Drive is based on the storage you use. You get 15 GB of free storage, then pricing starts from $1.99 per month for 100 GB to $299.99 per month for 30 TB. You can also explore Google Apps for Work, which adds in additional features for organizations using Gmail, Google Drive, and other Google tools for business starting at $5 per user per month.
Zapier offers Google Drive integrations so that you can automate tasks between Google Drive and other project management tools, your CRM, and other business applications. Google Drive has mobile apps for the Drive itself along with individual apps for Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.
Podio is a project management tool that describes itself as an open-plan online office. It allows you to keep your project content and conversations in one place with at-a-glance views and detailed drilldowns. You can have meetings via chat, audio, or video. And you can manage your projects with classic tasks, recurring tasks, and calendars.
Podio offers a free option for limited features for up to five employees that you can use to try their software. Then you can choose pricing plans that start from $9 per month per employee to $24 per month per employee, depending on the features you need. Unlimited storage, e-document signing, and priority support comes with the enterprise level pricing, which is unlisted on the site.
Zapier offers Podio integrations so that you can automate tasks between Podio and other project management tools, your CRM, and other business applications. For users on the go, Podio has mobile apps so that you can always access your workspaces.
Redbooth is a project management and collaboration tool that allows teams to work together effectively internally and with clients. Their software includes task management, video conferencing, team business chat, the ability to turn chat messages into tasks, built-in accountability reporting, project view workspaces, and much more.
Pricing for Redbooth is $5 — $15 per user per month (billed annually), based on the features you need for your project management. You can try Redbooth for thirty days for free to see if it is a good fit for your business. A private cloud-based version of their software on your own servers for highly-regulated industries is also available for an unlisted price.
Zapier offers Redbooth integrations so that you can automate tasks between Redbooth and other project management tools, your CRM, and other business applications. Redbooth has mobile apps so that you can always access your projects, tasks, and team.
If you need less project management features, but more communication options, then check out Slack. This tool allows you to communicate with your team through the use of file sharing on private channels for your organization and direct messaging between individuals.
Small teams and those who want to give the tool a try can use it for free. Pricing for premium features, such as an unlimited searchable archive, usage statistics, guest access, and two-factor authentication is $8 per user per month. Premium support and uptime guarantees are included in plans for $15 per user per month. Enterprise level plans are expected to be introduced in 2016.
Zapier offers Slack integrations so that you can automate tasks between Slack and other project management tools, your CRM, and other business applications. Slack has mobile apps so that you can always access your projects, tasks, and team.
Trello is a project management tool that allows you to organize projects using lists and cards within boards. Cards can be moved from one list to the next to mark completion of specific processes, such as an editorial calendar where an article goes from draft submission to editorial review.
Within each card, you can create specific checklist items, add member assignments, set due dates, share files, and communicate with others working on the same task or project.
Trello is free for unlimited members, boards, cards, checklists, etc. Pricing for additional features, such as larger file attachments, priority support, and premium integrations is from $8.33 to $20.83 per user per month.
Zapier offers Trello integrations so that you can automate tasks between Trello and other project management tools, your CRM, and other business applications. Trello has mobile apps so that you can add and update cards, lists, and boards.
Honorable Mention: Knock Knock Pads
For those of you shaking your heads because you prefer to write things down and need less of a project management tool and more of a to-do list, Knock Knock pads should do. You can get the This Week Pad to write down your tasks for each day of the week, plus tasks you want to complete next week. Or you can get the Random Notes Pad that gives you pages with a blank space block, grid block, dots block, and lined block to outline your task or project notes as you see fit.
This should only be an option for those who work alone at a dedicated desk and rarely (if ever) need to refer back to previous project notes. You may also want to use a backup method of keeping track of things, such as taking a snapshot of each page of the notepad or using another of the above-mentioned project management tools.
As you can see, there are lots of great project management tools that allow you to organize your work, your team, and your communications in a variety of ways at affordable prices. We’ve shared some of the best project management tools be sure to check out each one to see which one fits your business now and will scale with your business as it grows.