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Why I Love Basecamp (And 4 Other Project Management Tools You Should Look Into)

Good project management tools are essential to running any kind of business. We live in a time, however, where companies providing them are a dime a dozen. Because the variety of apps, sites, and communication tools is only getting larger, its important to understand which services stand above the rest.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the project management tool my team and I use, which is Basecamp. Basecamp is the project management service that we use in our office, and it’s a fantastic choice for managing all kinds of businesses.

However, it’s far from the only good option. I’m also going to talk about the pros and cons of a variety of other excellent project management tools, so you can decide for yourself which one best fits your needs.

1. Basecamp

As I mentioned before, we use Basecamp in our office, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Essentially, the guiding ideas behind Basecamp are simplicity and comprehensiveness. By putting everything in one place, Basecamp makes it easy to manage every aspect of your projects.

The core feature of Basecamp is your project page. You can access this through an app or a web browser (pretty much any web browser, at that). The project page contains to-do lists, message boards, calendars, file storage (!), and an in-app chat system called “Campfire.” Best of all, everything is synced with your calendar and email, so you’ll never miss an update.

Finally, Basecamp’s pricing model is excellent. As of writing, the service costs a flat $99 every month, and doesn’t scale up based on the number of people in your company. This makes Basecamp an incredibly competitive option for mid-sized businesses based on price alone. I love the fact that I can add on additional users without having to worry about paying more.

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to use. While there are video tutorials included with your subscription, Basecamp is so intuitive that you’re unlikely to need them.
  • Basecamp syncs to your calendar, your email, and other apps near-effortlessly.
  • Competitive, easy to understand pricing. It’s just $99 per month, no matter what.

Cons

  • Because it focuses so much on simplicity, Basecamp lacks many of the premium features of other project management tools. Teams used to integrated time tracking, for example, may want to look for another service.
  • Ultimately, Basecamp is optimized for medium-scale company projects. Companies that need to manage a massive number of projects are likely to find the service unwieldy.
  • Unlike many of the other options on this list, Basecamp doesn’t offer a free version. Managers of very small projects might want to look for a free option, like the base version of Asana.

2. Slack

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Slack is the other big name in project management, and with good reason. While other project management tools try to be everything at once, Slack stays true to its roots as a dedicated messaging app. This focus makes it one of the best choices for companies fed up by the inefficiency of traditional email.

Essentially, slack works by having a single, centralized hub where all messages between teams are visible. From there, you can easily opt-in or out of various conversations (“Slack channels”). This means that each team has control over what degree of involvement they want. Thus, you have perfect transparency between teams, while avoiding the annoyance of constant status updates. There are also tools for searching, organizing, and archiving channel communication built directly into the system.

Slack’s pricing plan is more complicated than Basecamp’s, but it also gives the customer more control over their experience. Essentially, there are a number of different monthly packages with various prices, all billed on a per user basis. There’s even a free option, although that’s really intended more for individual users.

Pros

  • Using Slack channels is faster and more intuitive than just about any other mode of communication.
  • Slack works on Mac, PC, iOS, Android, and most other platforms. Because the app is intuitive (it feels almost exactly like texting), you’ll be able to manage your teams at a moment’s notice.
  • Slack makes it incredibly simple to share files with other users. Its robust search functions also make it easy to look for important messages and files that you otherwise might have missed.

Cons

  • Slack is a dedicated communication app. While its developers have added dozens of other features since its creation, it still lacks the versatility of other project management tools.
  • Since Slack’s creation, many other apps have integrated Slack-like features. While they might not have as many premium features, the basic concept of robust, cross-project messaging is no longer unique to Slack.
  • Slack’s pricing plans are flexible, but they can get very expensive. This is especially true if you have a business with many employees.

3. Wrike

Wrike is another all-in-one option for managing projects. A slightly newer company, Wrike has been gaining major traction in the last few years. While Basecamp sells itself on its simplicity, Wrike focuses on customizability. With hundreds of options and plug-ins, Wrike is easily the most flexible tool on this list.

Wrike’s primary interface is a customizable dashboard, accessible through almost any browser. Through this dashboard, you can access just about any feature you can dream of—time tracking, workflow, and file sharing are all possible. There’s also a built-in messaging client with features similar to Slack.

That being said, Wrike’s analytics are really what makes it stand out from the crowd. Unless you disable the feature, Wrike will gather data on your team’s work. Then, it presents that data to you through detailed, easy-to-understand charts and graphs. This puts you in control, allowing you to make informed management decisions more easily than ever before.

In terms of pricing, Wrike offers a number of different plans based on the presence of premium features and the number of potential users. These run the gamut in terms of cost, with the basic Wrike Professional package clocking in at a highly competitive $9.80 per user per month. However, Wrike’s free plan is surprisingly packed with features, making it a great option for managers who want to try before they buy.

Pros

  • Unrivaled versatility. You can get Wrike to do almost anything with the right plan and a little know-how.
  • Wrike offers some of the best (and best-looking) usage metrics among all project management tools.
  • Amazing for Marketers. Wrike offers a specialized “Wrike for Marketers” plan that, while a bit pricey, has a huge number of specialized features for managing marketing projects and workflow.

Cons

  • Learning Curve. Out of all the project management tools on this list, Wrike is probably the hardest to start out with. Fortunately, Wrike offers fantastic, 24/7 customer service and detailed videos to walk you through the basics.
  • While Wrike is an incredibly versatile software, there are still a few things it can’t do. In particular, Wrike lacks any form of invoicing feature as of right now.
  • Those premium features get expensive quickly. For example, the aforementioned Wrike for Marketers plan is currently $34.60 per user per month. Yikes.

4. Scoro

The newest software on this list, Scoro is an integrated workflow, invoicing, and billing app. Scoro aims to provide a more cohesive project management tool than something like Paymo, while also integrating financial features. Overall, it succeeds—and is a great option for companies who frequently bill externally.

In terms of project management, Scoro offers an experience similar to Basecamp or Wrike. The interface is tab-based, and customizable to a large degree. The individual tools themselves are all of excellent quality, never seeming tacked-on. In particular, Scoro’s ability to set different schedules and workloads by user is top-notch, easily rivaling bigger project management tools.

Where Scoro really shines, however, is in its financial suite. In addition to an incredibly robust invoicing and billing interface, Scoro also allows users to measure costs and estimate profits. This information is all delivered through easy-to-read charts and graphs, which nevertheless contain tons of great information. Best of all, all of these features can be automated, allowing you to focus on management.

When it comes to price, it’s important to remember that Scoro effectively provides two services in a single package. Thus, it’s not surprising that it’s more expensive than the other options on this list. Even so, customizable payment packages offer a great degree of flexibility. Among these, the basic package is a steal at $22 per user per month, in addition to onboarding fees.

Pros

  • Integrated, automated financial tools. Scoro is optimized to handle financial data and tasks, and it does so very well. If you’ve ever wished Basecamp or Wrike had invoicing built-in, Scoro is for you.
  • Solid project management tools. While the project management suite isn’t Scoro’s focus, it nevertheless offers excellent workflow and scheduling technology.
  • Great tutorial tools. In addition to the direct help that comes with onboarding, Scoro offers an interactive tutorial space in which you can simulate a variety of transactions.

Cons

  • Scoro is not for everyone. If your business only works in-house, there are a lot of features you’ll never use. In that case, Scoro might not be worth the price tag.
  • No Slack-like Chat. Surprisingly, Scoro doesn’t currently offer many communication and collaboration tools in its suite. For anything larger than a very small team, you’ll probably want a Slack subscription on top of Scoro.
  • Scoro’s ultimate subscription is the most expensive option on this list, at a monthly fee of $55 per user per month. This is in addition to onboarding, which can cost anywhere from $899 to $3,399. On the plus side, the basic package is still packed full of great features, and will serve nicely for most businesses.

5. Asana

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Scoro and Wrike are both imminently scalable, and can handle large projects exceptionally well. What if that’s not what you want, though? Fortunately, Asana presents an attractive, easy-to-use, and inexpensive option for smaller teams.

Another web-based tool, Asana works by synchronizing with your company’s shared email domain. From there, it allows you to parcel out tasks to different team members, giving them their own fully customizable space to work in. At the same time, the system remains fully transparent, so nobody is ever in the dark about what they’re supposed to be doing.

Asana’s main selling point, however, is its interface. Simply put, Asana is fun and intuitive to use, requiring almost no training. It also provides great visual tools for communicating how close a project is to completion.

Best of all, Asana offers an excellent, three-tiered payment model. The base version is one of the best free project management tools out there, as it includes searchable chat and a robust dashboard. Past that, the premium version is an affordable $9.99 per user per month, and includes a number of upgraded features. Finally, there’s a customizable enterprise plan for larger businesses.

Pros

  • Beautiful user interface. It really can’t be overstated how clean and intuitive Asana is. It’s also easy to use, feeling very much like a contemporary web browser.
  • While not quite as robust as Wrike, Asana’s customization tools are also much easier to use. It also allows users to easily customize their own workspaces without help from an administrator.
  • Budget friendly. Even at its most expensive, Asana remains significantly cheaper than most other project management tools. They even offer a discount for smaller teams interested in the premium features!

Cons

  • Asana is meant for small companies. Because assignments can only be given to individuals, rather than groups, the software doesn’t scale to larger companies.
  • As you might expect, Asana lacks many of the premium features of other project management tools. Scheduling tools, while better than Basecamp, are fairly limited.
  • Some users might find Asana’s cutesy interface unprofessional.

Conclusion

All of the project management tools on this list are great in their respective niches. The trick is figuring out which one suits your business the best. Fortunately, most of these services offer free trials or free versions, allowing you to try them out at no cost to your company.

As a final piece of advice, remember that project management tools are constantly being created and innovated upon. Even if you’re happy with what you’ve got, you can benefit from trying new tools as they enter the market. The perfect software for your company is out there waiting—don’t be afraid to look for it.

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