The 7 Best Project Management Software for Small Businesses

12/12/2017 08:13 pm ET

Keeping a small business productive and on-task gets more challenging as time goes on. As you continue to scale, your resources get stretched thin and you don’t have nearly as much time to micro-manage. A project management solution could help.

What to Look for in a Project Management Solution

At first glance, the process of looking for a project management solution can be overwhelming and confusing. There are dozens of apps, programs, and software on the market – each claiming to be the best. And while there isn’t necessarily one perfect solution for all, there are certainly ones that fit your situation better.

Here are a few specific factors you should carefully consider:

  • Ease of onboarding/use. The point of project management software is to make things easier on your business – not harder. That’s why it’s important that you take ease of use into account. Specifically, you should think about the process of onboarding and integrating the software into your business. How disruptive will it be? What’s the learning curve? Will it be able to “talk” to the other tools you already have in place?
  • Scalability. Most businesses don’t remain static for very long. Things are always changing and the inevitable ebbs and flows mean your business needs won’t remain the same. Hopefully, you’ll end up growing over time, needing solutions that are scalable. Take this into account when researching your options.
  • User support. No matter how intuitive or smooth a software is, you’re still going to experience occasional bugs and issues. It’s during these moments that you’re going to need exceptional user support. Before making a final decision on any project management tool, be sure you’ve done some research on how responsive and effective their support is.
  • Cost. Finally, you can’t forget about cost. It’s a very practical consideration, but it’s necessary to look at, nonetheless. You should be as flexible with your budget as possible – and contextualize ROI when accounting for the expense – but don’t overlook this aspect.

This is just a starting point. Depending on how big of an investment you’re making in a project management solution, you might spend even more time analyzing your needs and conducting due diligence on various tools and platforms. The important thing is that you’re taking this process seriously and giving it the attention it deserves.

Today’s 7 Best Project Management Solutions

As mentioned, there are a multitude of project management solutions to choose from. Thankfully, we’ve done some of the heavy lifting and identified a few of the best tools, apps, and platforms on the market. As you continue to gather facts and compare options, be sure you’re giving the following seven solutions serious consideration.

If you’re looking for a solution that’s simple, intuitive, and highly practical, Quire is a tool you can get excited about. Designed with small teams in mind, Quire helps your employees stay on task by easily identifying the tasks they need to focus on and blocking out the ones that are irrelevant or less critical.

Wrapped in a user-friendly UI, it lets you break down large goals into small actionable items and further into bite-sized steps. It also tracks progress and shows you what’s due, when it’s due, and which projects are overdue, delayed, or coming down the pipeline.

When looking at other tools, you’ll be hard-pressed to find nearly as much functionality in such a clean, streamlined distraction-free interface. There are some things Quire doesn’t do, but the things it does, it does exceptionally well.

You’re certainly familiar with Basecamp, or at least the name. It’s one of the most popular project management apps on the market and it has a variety of general features that apply to a wide range of businesses and users.

With more than 2.5 million accounts, Basecamp clearly has a solid reputation. There are both free and paid options and non-profits and charities can actually get 10 percent off the professional accounts. Basecamp’s “discussion boards” are one of the top features, which cut down on confusing email chains and consolidate team communication onto a single page.

The main strike against Basecamp is that the $99 monthly fee can be expensive for extremely small businesses that are running a very tight budget. For larger companies, this isn’t a big deal at all.

Even if you’ve never used it before, Trello will seem incredibly familiar and intuitive the first time you log in. Its interface is built on a system of boards, which contain various lists and cards that can be dragged and dropped for a customizable screen. It’s very similar to social media platforms like Pinterest.

Another nice thing about Trello is that you’re able to invite outside members, create closed and private boards, and create a calendar that syncs your tasks across every board you’re subscribed to. The biggest con of Trello is there isn’t a time tracking capability, which can be a deal breaker for some businesses that need this feature.

Asana is a web-based project management software tool that focuses on helping teams facilitate effortless and transparent communication at every stage of the process. Within Asana, each team is given a workspace and within those workspaces are specific tasks. Tasks can be assigned to individual team members with specific deadlines so that everyone is aware of what they should be working on at a given moment. Asana is perfect for breaking large objectives down into bite-size chunks that are more easily digested by individuals.

The greatest part of Asana – aside from the clean interface – is how customizable it is. Every little aspect of the tool can be personalized or tweaked to fit the specific task at hand. One of the biggest detractors is the fact that multiple people can’t be assigned to the same task. This sometimes makes it difficult when lots of people are working on the same task.

Similar to Trello, Active Collab is a platform that features nice organization and visibility. It also allows you to invite other people – such as clients – into a board to collaborate. And unlike Trello, it features both time and expense tracking for easy reference and record keeping.

One of the strikes against Active Collab is that it sometimes feels too busy. While the ability to stay organized on a micro level is easy, it’s often challenging to get a good macro look at things.

If you’re a visual thinker and processor, you’ll love Casual. With this app, you plan tasks by simply drawing them as a flowchart. The platform then organizes them in neat flows that work the same way your brain functions. So, instead of clicking back and forth between different projects, boards, and groupings, everything appears on a single screen; you’re able to spend less time focusing on the big picture and more time executing specific steps.

One of the weaknesses of Casual is that it doesn’t work as well for large teams. While it’s easy on the eyes, there aren’t a ton of advanced features that some of the other software solutions offer at the same price point. Just something to keep in mind.

While most project management software tools try to offer an alternative to email collaboration, Wrike is a platform that simplifies, yet embraces it. Projects can be set up with very little effort and then individual users can be tagged in different aspects of the project. This makes it great for multi-user assignments.

Some people find Wrike to be a little “chunky” in how it’s organized. It’s sometimes challenging to break up tasks and the visual component of the system often feels slightly cluttered.

Give Your Small Biz the Boost it Needs

Project management software is one of those things you probably don’t realize you need until you reach a point of critical mass. But once you finally take the time to invest in the right solution, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

While large organizations spend tens of thousands of dollars on project management tools, you can easily meet your needs at a mere fraction of that cost. Each of the tools highlighted in this article is reputable and highly effective.

The key is for you to determine which one best meets your needs. Take your time and don’t rush the process.

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