Looking to get organized? Project management tools are a great way to keep all your teams on track, and streamline communication throughout your organization. But sorting through all the options out there can be overwhelming – thus defeating the time-saving benefits of project management tools in the first place.
To help, we’ve compiled a concise guide to four of the most popular – Trello, Basecamp, Wrike, and Asana – and what they can mean to your small business:
Best for: Group to-do lists
The basics: You start with a board, and within that board you add lists (like “to do”, “doing,” or “done”), and within those lists you add cards. Each card is essentially a task or a project, and on it you can add copy and images, create checklists, add due dates, assign employees, and more. Cards can move from list to list as projects get completed. An activity panel keeps all members of a board up to date on any changes or updates.
Mobile friendly? Yes – there’s an integrated app for just about any device imaginable.
Offline-capable? Yes – you can use the app while offline and it will sync up when you’re back online.
The catch: If you’re not careful, you can go into card overload. A board can end up looking like a sea of sticky notes: confusing, overwhelming, and completely ineffectual.
The price: Free for the basic package, or you can upgrade to Business Class or Enterprise for additional features, like full integration with other tools (like Evernote, Salesforce, Dropbox, etc.), additional file storage, and more security. Paid plans start at $9.99 per user per month.
Best for: Bringing all company communication to one place.
The basics: Projects and groups are organized into three sections: “HQ” for company-wide communications, “Teams” for sharing and messaging within specific departments (or various interests, like music-lovers), and then “Projects.” A module within any section has a discussion board, a to-do list, a schedule, a document/file drop-off, and other features to keep all collaboration in one place. Users can also compile all their to-dos (across various projects) into one list, offer status updates, and more.
Mobile friendly? Yes, though all devices need to have the same version of the app in order to integrate properly.
The catch: It can be hard to learn and clunky to use, especially for more complex, structured projects.
The price: Free 30-day trial, then $99 USD per month for unlimited users and projects.
Best for: Monitoring productivity and time management.
The basics: Wrike has a lot of similarities with the other systems mentioned: you use folders to organize projects, and then break them down into various tasks, where you can assign employees, add due dates, attach files, and send messages. There are myriad feature options, but one of the more unique ones is that users can track the amount of time spent on a given task. They can start and pause the integrated timer, or manually add in time, and enter it into a team-wide time log.
Mobile friendly? Yes
Offline-capable? Somewhat. There are limited offline capabilities on Android only.
The catch: It can be hard to locate tasks quickly from the main dashboard (plus, the same per-member fee issues of Asana).
The price: Free for up to 5 users, then $9.80 USD per user per month.
Best for: Tracking projects.
The basics: Asana uses a hierarchal structure: teams break down into projects, which in turn break down into tasks. Within this system, users can add projects to various teams, and assign tasks to themselves or others. There’s also a conversation feature, which allows users to communicate within teams, projects, or tasks.
Mobile friendly? Yes.
Offline-capable? Yes – your tasks and updates will go live once you’re back online.
The catch: The per-member fee can add up quickly for growing organizations.
The price: Free for up to 15 users, then $9.99 USD per user per month.