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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.