Any manager taking care of his projects and ensuring they are executed on time could be an arduous task. However, technology is always there to the rescue. A project management tool makes the monitoring, planning, and execution of each project a simple affair.
However, you cannot trust just any tool for such confidential work, can you? You have to choose your project management tool carefully, minimizing any scope of errors. Most of these tools offer a variety of features like data analysis, project tracking and resourcing, and multiple types of views. Having one at hand is critical to achieving a smooth business workflow and improving communication between team members.
Having said that, every company must realize the potential of having a proper tool in place. Here we are going to tell you how you can choose a PM tool and suggest you the best ones available.
Table of Contents
What is a project management tool?
We will explain the purpose of a project management tool in the most basic manner possible. It helps team plan, manages and optimizes all the resources available to them. Most of the tools available these days handle at least these essential tasks for you:
- Task Tracking and assigning-This is the most important feature they have where you can assign tasks and track their progress until completion.
- Parent and child projects-The project management tools will have a parent and child project. This implies the main project and a sub-project which is assigned under the same.
- Collaboration-The ability to collaborate makes it easy to discuss changes with other team members and provide suggestions for the same.
- Document sharing-If you want to complete the project and task, you have to share documents all the time.
You would like to know why having project management tools in place is so important. Firstly they keep the entire team organized, and the manager can ensure that work is executed as per schedule. Secondly, they give you a clear idea of the progress of each campaign, task, or project at any stage it is in. Lastly, proper communication between teams is necessary for any project to work smoothly, and this feature comes with these tools.
How to choose a project management tool?
There are thousands of tools for project management in the market. For any manager choosing one that suits their requirements can be a daunting exercise. If you have never worked or done this before, you should be prepared for some extra load. Fortunately, the internet has loads of data available, and that can make your research extensive.
Here are some steps you must follow so that you select the best tool without any mistakes.
Define your project management requirements
This is the first step towards the selection. You will have to first identify the problems that your team is meeting while executing each project. Some common pain points can be:
- Lack of streamlined communication between the departments
- No organization in the execution of projects
- Uneven allotment of workload between the team members.
- Time wasting in organizing things during the meetings
When you go through different project management tools, you have to see which one of them solves all these problems. You could also mark the features you want as high, medium, or low priority to find out which tool is closest to your requirements. Take suggestions from your team members as in the end they have to deal with the final product.
Research the different choices available
You have now defined your needs. Now go ahead and find out the recommendations which match up to these requirements. You could ask your colleagues or talk to some other project managers in the industry. Compare the feature list and match it with the price to see which is the closest to your budget.
It is worthwhile spending a little time researching all the choices. You can check software review websites to see what tools are recommended by other project managers. This will probably simplify the effort required from you.
Test out the tool
Nearly all pm tools in the market provide a free trial to help you decide. Before you start the same, create a team that can test the efficacy of the tool. This team should consist of people from different functions and levels to get a broader opinion.
Instead of just playing with features, attempt to test a proper project from start to finish. By doing so, you will get a fair idea of any snags or hurdles you might face. It is also essential to test their customer service as you will occasionally deal with them in the future. Request for a demo so that their team explains each and every aspect of the software. You may check their help center to see how proactive they are in responding to your requests.
Take feedback from the team
Now you have tested the software; it is time you ask your team for feedback on the same. Ask them if the software addresses all the pain points you had discussed before. You will also have to enquire about the status of the tool in handling external parties’ communication.
There are other departments also who will use the same tool to collaborate with yours. Taking their feedback, as well as that, is a crucial feature of any project management tool.
Check the price factor
Here you will not only analyze the price per user but keep in mind the time it will take to implement the tool. Compare this with the cost of working in the manner you are working at present. Will the new tool bring about any change in the same.
Apart from that, weigh the membership plans too. A project management tool comes in monthly, yearly, or quarterly subscriptions. Find out what is the optimum strategy for your company as per the present workflow.
Purchase and implement the tool
Once you have purchased the tool, you will have to figure out an implementation plan. Teams are generally resistant to changes, and it will take some time for them to get used to it. Key things you have to keep note of are:
- Timeline- When do you plan to start rolling the implementation? Will it be a one-time job, or would you like to space it out?
- Training- Does your team require any prior training? If yes, who will provide the training and how?
- Integrations- Every tool comes with its own set of integrations. Who will set up these integrations for you, and when?
Best project management tools
After all the discussions on the choice, we will now share with you some prominent options available. Remember, that this list is not based on ranking and we have only picked the tools which are extremely adept at their job.
Monday.com has a straightforward visual interface that makes it simple for any user to understand its working. Some essential features that the platform provides are time tracking, collaboration, resource and project management, and reporting and analysis.
A user working on Monday.com can upload and attach files to cards and make comments. The dashboard collects data from different project dashboards hence making it simple to track the progress. You can track hours, timelines and even raise invoices through the tool.
With a price of $17 per month for two users, Monday.com remains a cost-effective project management tool, considered the best for workflow automation. Monday.com can integrate with other tools as well, like Google Drive, Gmail, Slack, Dropbox, etc.
Trello is based in Kanban and was launched in 2011. Trello is relatively easy to use, and its simple view makes it easy for a user to master it. The tool uses boards, lists, and cards to remain organized. Users can collaborate with each other, check the work and leave comments on the same.
However, Trello does not have any reporting and time tracking facility. Therefore its use becomes limited to only suitable for small teams or groups. Their basic plan is free to use. However, if you pick their paid plan, you will get integrations, automation, priority support, etc.
Asana is a SaaS project management tool with a prime focus on collaboration. It provides workflow facilities to help automate recurring tasks. There are different task fields, and the tool supports custom forms and fields. A unique feature of Asana is that you can invite unlimited guests to use the tool.
There are a lot of options to improve workflow, productivity, and collaboration, along with having many integrations though you may not need some of these at all times. This makes the tool perfect for large-sized businesses but not for freelancers.
Asana offers a free plan for 15 users. The premium plan they have comes at a pricing of $10.99/month/user and offers features like portfolios, approvals, workload, and advanced integrations.
Wrike’s software includes a collection of the best project management tools that you can customize as per your need. The tool allows the users to switch between the Kanban boards, drag and drop Gantt charts, and traditional workload views.
You also get the facility of task lists, subtasks, schedules, shared workflows, collaboration, real-time communication, etc. If you need advanced help, there are performance reporting tools, resource management, and others to help you out.
Wrike costs around $9.80 per month, which is not an expensive deal. The user gets the facility to toggle between home screen and timesheets, dashboards, calendars, reports, and activity stream for notifications. The software has more than 400 integrations, including Google, Dropbox, and Microsoft.
Zoho projects help businesses track the progress of their projects, collaborate, run monitoring reports, etc. The tool comes with features like Gantt charts and the facility to bill hours on more than one project at a time. Zoho Project has a very impressive collection of communication tools which includes real-time chat and forum pages.
Zoho offers multiple subscription plans to choose from:
- Forever free version with just the basic features
- Standard plan at $3 supporting ten users.
- Express plan at $4 and 50 users
- Premium plan starting from $5 and supports 100 users at a time—features like task automation, budgeting, and resource allocation.
- Enterprise plan at $6 with no limit on users. Custom roles, global Gantt charts, etc. The pricing is per user.
ProofHub provides its users a centralized workspace to regulate its task lists, workflows, Gantt charts, calendars, and documents. It is easy to use ProofHub and keep track of what your team members are doing and how. Not only that, collaboration with clients as well as internal teams is a breeze.
However, this tool focuses on a simplistic approach, and therefore the integrations it offers are quite a few. This makes it useful for freelancers and small businesses, to begin with. ProofHub does not maintain a cap on the number of users. Its Essential plan comes at the cost of $50 per month, and the Ultimate Control plan is at $99 per month.
For its users, Airtable puts together the best features of spreadsheets and databases. It is simple for the user to customize this tool and is suitable for any business regardless of its size. But the tool does not have any significant reporting features, which could be problematic for some of the users.
You may store the information in the database and use it later on for project planning and task management. Users love the options of data organization that this tool provides them. With the software in place, you get multiple views like Kanban, grid, list, and calendar.
Airtable has a free plan which provides certain essential features like multiple views, collaboration, and rich field types. However, for companies with high data storage needs, their Pro plan starts at $10 per month.
Another tool focussing on collaboration Clarizen is highly flexible in implementation. The tool, however, is perfect for any mid to enterprise-sized businesses. This tool, however, is only available as a system-based app. The lack of a mobile app can limit the usefulness of the tool.
Users love its reporting features and the fact that you can track your resource use. But again, the tool does not have a to-do list and time tracking feature, which can be a limitation. The learning curve in the case of this tool is quite steep as it has definite ways to manage the workflow.
Clarizen is a perfect tool for enterprise-level managers, IT organizations, and professional teams that need a flexible software-based tool. The pricing of the Clarizen tool is not available publicly; you have to request for the same in case you are interested.
With powerful features in the offering, ClickUp remains an optimum choice as a project management tool. Users can use the tool to schedule tasks, plan the projects and manage the resources in any centralized workspace. The task management features offered include subtasks, checklists, and task templates. Along with you get the ability to filter and sort out all the information available,
ClickUp offers the facility to create, edit and share Wikis and documents. Users may comment on the documents and assign new tasks to their team members, besides chatting with them to solve any problems.
Its reporting features include the ability to create dashboards and six built-in report types to help in team reporting. The ClickUp tool offers integrations with Dropbox, GSuite, Slack, and a lot of other tools. Its free plan is quite helpful though the paid one with extra benefits is available at $5 per month.
A tool with an edge, Nutcache has loads of communication and collaboration software project tools to offer. You can use the Gantt chart feature to plan, track and organize all the tasks visually utilizing the drag and drop facility.
Nutcache allows you to use custom workflows, prioritize tasks, divide work and assign it to more than one person at a time and define the budget. You can even set a budget tracking on the basis of an hour or amount and set KPI’s so that you do not exceed the budget.
The pricing of Nutcache is pretty reasonable, and its monthly plan starts from $6 per user. This is the Pro plan and requires at least five users for implementation.
FunctionFox was created by creative professionals. You can use it to create project schedules in detail, track the progress of work through Gantt charts and manage the resources for optimum allocation. Since FunctionFox is entirely web-based, you can use it from anywhere as long as you have a safe network in place.
The tool comes with a project scheduling feature that allows you to allocate different tasks to team members. You can even set milestones, schedule project meetings, and issue action assignments. Plus, the easy tutorials offered with the platform make it simple for you to work on the same.
FunctionFox also has mobile apps for all platforms if you have to access them while on the go. The pricing for its premium plan starts at $50 per month. This plan includes Project Scheduling tools that are not available in the regular plan.
If you need a comprehensive platform that offers all the project management benefits, then Scoro is the ideal choice. The tool allows you to add new projects along with sub-tasks and deadlines. There is a real-time KPI dashboard, and the facility to have a shared team calendar and meeting schedule.
The Scoro tool also comes with time tracking and billing features. You can check detailed reports on the progress of the project as well as the financial aspect involved. There are pre-set templates in case you have to do quoting and invoicing as part of the project.
Scoro comes with a 14 day free trial in case you want to check before implementation. The premium package is for $26 per user/month. Scoro is a detailed tool; you would not need any other tool to handle your work.
If you already have the Microsoft Suite at your disposal, then you can choose Microsoft teams for your project management work. The tool allows you to communicate, collaborate, chat and meet without any hang-ups.
The chat feature is pervasive, with features like GIFs, stickers, and images to make your communication easy. You can collaborate with teams of 2 to 10,000 at one go. Also, integrations with many other apps are possible, thus streamlining the work. Microsoft Teams has a free trial post which you have to pay $5 per feature per month.
Team Gantt is one of the online software management tools, and it works in your browser so that you can use it for any OS. The user of the tool can plan and manage their projects using the Gantt charts and invite all their team members and co-workers to view and work on the same.
Using the Team Gantt platform, the users can see the update of each project on one document, thus making it simple to keep track of. What’s more, you can share them with the external parties as well. You may also connect the documents and conversations to the related task or milestone.
Team Gantt can integrate with multiple other tools like Slack, Trello, Google Calendar, and Outlook. The tool remains free for up to 3 users and one project. A premium subscription is priced at $24.95 per month.
Project management is a highly essential aspect of every organization’s work. This is irrespective of its size and type. The choice of the perfect project management tool makes it simple for your projects to get executed without any hiccups.
Apart from that, the team members know how to reach out to each other in case any help is required. With such extensive tools available in the market, the project manager feels spoilt for choice. It is always better to go through our guide and decide what you expect out of this tool.
Once all your research work on that is over, you have to shortlist from the tools above to pick a few which match each of your needs. Your final decision will rest on which tool balances and meets all the aspects and stays within your budget.