25 Project Management Tools to Boost Your Project Success
Which Project Management tool is best for you and your business?
There’s no better way of improving the chanses of a successful project than by using the right project management tools for your business.
Make no mistake. Your project’s success does not depend on the your project management tool of choice. It solely depends on how you actually manage the project.
Yet, the right project management tools will help put you on the right track towards a succesful (and profitable) project completion.
Before we start having a look at all of the project management tools available, it would be better to actually have a look at criteria you’ll probably want to use to decide which project management tool to go for.
Project Management tool selection criteria
1. Where is the project management tool deployed?
We are in the day and age of SaaS or Cloud based deployment. As the months go by, more and more companies run more and more of their software on SaaS. In fact, SaaS has been growing at a CAGR rate of roughly 8%, and is projected to reach $67B global spend in 2018.
We won’t go into to much details of SaaS benefits, it’s been covered time and time again, but clearly more and more people are adopting SaaS based software services.
Local deployments have simply become the technology of yesterday. Support, maintenance, redundancy, downtime all have much hidden costs when software is based locally, so clearly you should be looking at SaaS based project management tools.
Recommendation: Software as a Service or Cloud-based services are the way of the present + future. Your choice should ideally be a SaaS service.
2. Is it targeted for my specific industry?
When you are expecting to depend on your project management tool for the daily running of your business, you have a bit of a choice to make. Do I go for a generic project management tool or do I choose a tool which caters specifically for the needs of my niche?
Generic project management tools have to make some compromise. It’s in their very nature. You’ll have to work around those missing pieces of functionality in the software.
Then again, they’ve also got some advantages. Due to their wider availability, in all likelihood, they are bound to have a larger base of users, this means they can probably drive down their prices. This is of course, at the expense of value. You really can’t have it all, so you’ll need to keep all of this in mind when making your selection.
For example, with BeeWits, you can take a website checklist and get it right into your project
Recommendation: If you want your choice to perfectly suit your needs, you should go for a service which caters specifically to the needs of your niche.
3. Does the project management tool address my pain points?
Ok, let’s backtrack for a moment.
You don’t really need any project management “tools”. You don’t need features. You don’t need snazzy interfaces. You don’t really any of that and all that comes with the fancy software you’re thinking of getting.
What you really need is something which addresses your pain points.
The problems you and your organization are facing.
Whether these are addressed using a pen and paper, an Excel sheet or one of an array of project management tools available, you first need to make sure whatever you eventually chose is able to solve those pain points.
Now, finding a tool which is able to cater for ALL your problems might be a bit challenging as we said above. That’s unless you actually go for a custom built-tool, which of course is going to be hugely expensive.
The best way to resolve this is to brainstorm all the problems you are facing. The person who then does the selection should make sure the tool addresses the pain points highlighted by the eventual users.
Recommendation: Ensure your choice of project management tool is able to solve most of your current pain points.
4. Will my users actually adopt the PM tool?
When deciding to make an investment in a project management tool, to ensure the actual success of the tool, there is one key question that you’ll need to make sure you know the answer to.
Will my users adopt the tool for their daily use?
Because, if your users reject your investment, your project is dead in the water.
In fact, most of the selection criteria above are actually derived from this. Having said that, there are a few things which will help the adoption of the tool.
Intuitive, Simple User Interface
The days when you needed to invest days or weeks of user training to adopt a new piece of software are long gone. Most successful software today has a very short learning curve.
Modern and familiar usability
Continuing of the simple user interface, when a project management tool adopts functionality from software with which users are already familiar, you can rest assured that the road to adoption is going to be fairly easy.
Free, real usage trial
The real proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is highly recommended that before making a purchase, you actually try the project management tool for a few days, on a real, small project. That way, you can experience first-hand the way the project works.
You’ll also get some real user feedback on whether the tool can solve your pain points. If your test group of users is happy to use the selected software, you’re on the right track to a successful adoption.
Recommendation: Choose software which is easy to use and needs little to no training to start using from Day 1
5. How much will it cost me?
When you’re saving (tens / hundreds of) thousands of dollars, price should not be really an issue. When you’re spending $34 or $50 a month should not make a real difference. When you take everything into consideration, you’ll see that the difference between $34/mo and $50/mo, comes down to less than $200 per year. If you’re charging around the $50/hour mark (you should!) that means you’re only paying the cost of 4 chargeable hours. When all is said and done, this is a neglibable amount.
However, there is one thing that you need to take into consideration.
Does the SaaS project management tool charge on a per account or a per user basis?
If the pricing is a per user basis, you’re going to see your costs spiralling very very quickly.
Luckily, the trend of charging on a per user basis is not so popular anymore. You’ll want to make sure to calculate whether the costs you are paying are on a per user basis or not.
It is of course recommeded that you go for project management tools which charge on a per account basis, with the possiblity of having as many users as you need.
Recommendation: Choose a service which is priced on a per account basis rather a per user basis.
With what we believe the selection criteria out of the way, let’s start with our list of project management tools
1. BeeWits – project management for web designers, digital agencies and other creatives (1)
How are you managing with your web design projects?
If you’re like us – we’re always concerned we might miss that small but crucial step, or that we’re falling behind on our schedule.
BeeWits has helped organize our web design projects with simple tasks lists, and everything which needs to be done in one place. It’s a design checklist which you can update on the go – and watch your progress as it happens.
Generic Project Management Tools
2. Trello – a list of lists
One of the more popular project management tools out there, because it’s particular card based approach. In essence a Trello board is a list of lists. We’ve seen this working particularly well for Editors working with writers. Suggestions for topics move through various stages until they are published.
For tasks which move from one very defined stage to another, Trello is a good fit.
For most people fall into two camps. Lovers of Trello. Or the ones who hate it with a passion.
3. Basecamp – Manage projects, groups and client work
Basecamp, currently on it’s third major revision has also been gaining much popularity in recent years. Although Basecamp has been popular even since version 1, there was a drastic improvement in usability with version 2. The 3rd major version seems to have actually borrowed a bit of Trello’s ideas where cards or boards are used to store the different types of collaboration pieces. Calendars and schedules in one card, tasks in another, Documents and files in their own card whilst discussions have their very own card.
4. Wrike – Project Management – Go beyond traditional task and project management
Wrike is another of the more popular project management tools which we’ve investigated.
Based in San Francisco, CA, they’ve recently been doing quite a lot of aggressive marketing, probably from their $15M funding round in May of 2015.
A nice feature we’ve liked about Wrike is the ability to add a task directly from your inbox by sending an email to Wrike. The contents of the email get added as a task assigned to yourself.
5. SharePoint – Team Collaboration Software tools
SharePoint has been around for a while and it’s been a mature project management tool for quite some time now. Besides actual tasks and project managements, you can actually push the envelope and get the full MS Project stack which integrates really nicely with SharePoint.
Note however that SharePoint is not cloud hosted and will require it to be fully managed in-house. Oh, and it’s licensing is not cheap.
6. Podio – Project Management Software
Podio is another cloud hosted project management software from Citrix which has a number of integrations, including CRM and workflows.
Then again, it’s price tag is quite hefty even for small teams, where the premium version is priced at $24/user/mo
7. Asana – the easiest way for teams to track their work
Here is another tool with a very bold statement.
Asana is definetely different from most other project mangement tools out there. For one, it’s written using it’s own programming language. It’s UI is completely different than anything we’ve seen before. It’s pricing is quite the disruptor – it’s free up to teams of 15 users (backed by VC funding of course), and of course the feature set is limited when you’re paying nothing at all.
It’s thus no fluke, that’s it’s one of the players in the project management industry.
8. ProofHub – Online project management and collaboration software
Project management done primarily via Task Management tools
When we speak about project management tools, it is essential to note, that for many intents and purposes, task management is sufficient to manage a project. You simply have a list of tasks which needs to get done. Once that list of tasks is ready, project is done. Project management, simplified.
For that reason, we’re going to highlight a number of task management tools which can be used for simple project management where there is no complex functionality required except the managing and monitoring of tasks.
These are all very valid tools if your projects are of a personal nature. Maybe you want do some home improving, or want to work on another personal project, those task based project management tools are a perfect, simple fit.
11. Google Keep – Save your thoughts, wherever you are
Keep is a latecomer to the party, but it made up quite well for being late. Using the mobile app to create lists of tasks, which are synced across all of your devices, make this a perfect, simple project management tool for personal projects.
12. Evernote – Capture what’s on your mind
Evernote is the incumbent when it comes to task management. And you can see from the tagline, that’s it’s not a strictly project management tool. Yet, for simple projects where the primary reason you need a “tool” to make sure you don’t forget specific things you’ll need to do, Evernote is a great fit.
13. Any.Do – To-Do list and Task Manager
Again, this is another tool which revolves mainly around task management and task lists and focuses primarily on personal lists and types of projects. It’s a personal favourite of mine, and has saved me from many a projects caught mid-stream.
14. Microsoft OneNote – Digital note-taking app for your devices
Similar to the previous two tools, this is mostly a note-taking app which can adapted and fitted to suit your project management needs.
Note that this is a local install, which differs from most of the tools which we’ve described so far.
Project Management tools that everybody (and anybody) should be using
The below tools are not strictly about project management, but of course they are excellent tools for supplementing your project management arsenal.
15. Slack – a messaging app for teams
Although Slack is not strictly a project management tool, it does bring all your communication together in one place in a neat, friendly interface.
Of course, since good communication is an essential part of good project management, we do believe Slack has it’s place in this list.
16. Dropbox – share your files with anyone
Dropbox has become staple for many end-users, but it’s use in the small business is where it really hits the spot. Whether you’re using DropBox for moving files around from supplier to customer, or whether you’re using as an archive, cloud storage via Dropbox is a no-brainer.
17. Google Drive – Cloud Storage and File Backup
Given that we’ve said that cloud storage is a no-brainer, there’s a perfect tool if your email is powered by Google Apps. Rather than having to integrate with DropBox, Drive is a perfec complimentary tool for anybody who is already using Google Apps for Business.
18. Box – Secure File Sharing, Storage and Collaboration
Box is another cloud storage provider, who might not be as reknown as DropBox or Google Drive. The reason for this is that they do not target personal users primarily and are mostly targeted towards business, so if you’re looking for storage you might want to also check these out.
Niche project management tools
In the introduction to this article we mentioned that there are a bunch of selection criteria which should really factor into your decision towards chosing a project management tool. One of the stronger criteria for your choice of tool should be whether it caters for your specific industry, niche or scenario.
The ones who do are of course going to be a much stronger fit for your needs.
With that said, here are a number niche-specific project managements software services.
BeeWits – task templates for creative and designers
BeeWits was designed with something very specific in mind. We wanted to enable to start a project really really quickly. You know all of those tasks which you have to create each and every time you start a new project. BeeWits wants to rid you of that painful, monotonous task.
So task templates for various types of projects, web design technologies and other process oriented projects are designed as templates.
You then just pick and mix the tasks you need for that project.
19. Huddle – Cloud collaboration for government and the enterprise
When your working in goverment, most of your software, especially when confidential or sensitive data is involved, the software services you’ll use needs to be certified to meet certain compliance criteria.
Huddle is one of those project management tools which is certified for major governments such as the US and UK governments.
Of course, compliance does not come cheap. The entry level service comes at $20/user/month.
20. Tibbr – Project Management or social network for the enterprise?
Given that much of project management is really and truly about collaboration, you’ll find plenty of “social networking” in modern project management tools. So much so, that some companies will actually tout the social networking features over project management.
Tibbr is in fact pitched as the “Social Network for the enterprise”. Yet you’ll find much of the features common with project management software services such as collaboration, task management, and file storage. Yet the emphasis in this tool is on the social networking aspect.
21. Mural – Online brainstorming, synthesis and collaboration
You’ve probably been in hundreds of brain-storming sessions. You’ll have a meeting leader writing ideas on a board, with the rest of the members of the group throwing ideas around, with the best ones “sticking” to the board.
Mural is a visual workspace.
This is exactly what Mural is designed to mimic – a brain storming session. Of course, besides brain storming, this is also collaboration and the same ideas can be used to manage what needs to be done for specific projects.
22. Wiggio – makes it easy to work in groups
Another, not strictly project management, but more about collaboration, this makes it easy for groups to work together. The great thing about it is it’s free. The not so good is that it is quite rudimentary.
23. Notism.io – Share, review and sign-off design & video work
Notism is a collaboration tool, but this one has been developed specifically for design and video work. You can comment, sketch, annotate directly on video and design work, so that everything remains fully visual.
24. Solo – Project Management for freelancers (25)
Solo touts itself as being the wingman for freelancers. It’s simple. It’s elegant. It makes sure that your projects, even as a freelancer, are on track.
25. Flow – simple project management software
Another project management software that prides itself on simplicty. Creatives teams, used to Macs and minimalism tend to get put off by busy interfaces. Flow is the opposite of busy. It’s project management without much bell’s and whistles. There’s actually a downloadable and installable version for Mac if you’re not too much in love with browser based software.
Are you able manage all project interactions in one place?
There’s typically a lot of people involved in a project. You. The client. The devs. The designers. And anybody who has been commissioned to provide bits and pieces of the project.
Keeping them all in sync is a bit of a hassle unless you’ve got the right tool to do so. That’s why we run each project on BeeWits – as a service which can be accessed by all your team members. And your client can get access to the parts you want to show them too.
With BeeWits – everybody logs in to the same project and keeps everybody else updated with what’s going on with their part of the project.
Conclusion – What do you look for in a project management tool?
We’ve started this article on what we believe are the criteria to have in a project management tool. But of course, you probably have your own specific needs. So what do you look for in your project management tools? Share with us in the comments below.