Covid-19 has very nearly brought the entire world on the backfoot.
Economies are stumbling, businesses are collapsing.
Organizations that, with strict “work-from-office” policies, would fret upon the idea of “working from home” are left with no other option than working from home.
It’s true that most of the work today requires just the internet and laptop - so there’s no reason why it can’t be efficiently tackled from one’s home.
But there is another ingredient in addition to the laptop and internet that is necessary for successful remote (or non-remote, for that matter) work - communication, and trust.
When in office, project managers can check up on their team members frequently and without any hassle.
They can ask for updates any time they want, know the status of tasks assigned to team members, and even escalate the matter if important.
Simply because it is easy to communicate in person. When working remotely, this becomes a bottleneck.
Frequently emailing or calling makes little sense, and without transparency in terms of the tasks assigned, there can’t be smooth project management. Managing remote employees is thus creating problems for most of the organizations and project managers.
And this is true in general - Covid 19 is just an exclusive incident. Even ideally, companies should have a structured methodology while dealing with remote workers.
Therefore, it becomes essential to seek help from technology.
Because if you still opt for repeatedly updating spreadsheets, drowning in post-its, and participating in weekly update meetings, you’re honestly wasting time and effort.
Project management and collaboration tools help you with a complete overview of your projects at a glance. It’s true that there are far too many project management tools, and it’s only fair that you’ll get confused - especially if you’re managing a remote team for the first time.
And we’re here to help you to curb your confusion.
But before we get in-depth into project management tools, let’s talk a bit about what exactly they are, and what features you should definitely look for in your tool. Knowing that will help you pick the right tool for your needs.
What is a project management tool?
As the name suggests, project management tools are tools for efficient management of projects. These come in especially handy for remote project management, resource allocation, and scheduling.
These platforms support file sharing, chatting, calling, and even third-party integrations so as to make your work as seamless as possible.
What should you look for in a good project management tool?
Do you want to track down deliverables? Or manage resources? Or manage your company finances? There is a lot that these tools can help you do - at the end of the day, it comes down to your requirements.
That said, there are some things you should definitely look for while picking the tool for yourself:
- Ability to create task lists – being able to create task lists for your team members to assign and update tasks, track the status of tasks, and share project-relevant information is not only basic but also essential for any project management tool.
- Power to schedule tasks – the perfect project management tool for you should give you the ability to schedule tasks - either via calendar integration, or Gantt charts, or milestones.
Basically any indicators for knowing where a particular task fits in the project as a whole - and the timeframe required to complete it.
- Capability to share files – another key aspect to smooth project management is being able to manage all the project-related files and documents.
Any hassles with document arrangement can lead to a lot of time being wasted.
- Efficient communication – goes without saying - the project management tool you pick should allow seamless communication.
This can be in the form of text, video, or audio calls. It should also have the facility of creating various communication channels, and adding multiple people to one conversation.
- On-point reporting – this is an important factor that comes into consideration when we talk about the entire team keeping themselves abreast of the progress on the project.
It is also a huge plus for project managers who want to ensure that tasks are being carried out in a timely manner.
All in all, once you migrate your entire team to the project management tool that you deem fit, you’ll notice the following clear advantages:
- Mapping of the entire project before the project begins.
- Scheduling and allocating work efficiently.
- Creating a repository for your team - where all related files are stored, too.
- Managing budget and resources without spending a lot of manual time and effort.
- Ensuring efficiency and transparency in the team.
While there are several open-source tools out there, you should know that most of them are paid - though a few free tools are also available.
Despite this, keep in mind that chances are that no one particular tool can offer you a complete solution. Therefore, companies tend to mix-and-match a couple of tools, again, depending on their needs - you can do the same if needed!
Picking the right tool requires introspection. You should be clear of your goals and expectations from the tool. Since price is also a major motivator, if you’re just starting out, maybe you should explore some of the free tools mentioned in the list below.
If you know the exact purpose for which you’re using the tool, everything becomes easier. After all, different departments in your organization follow different work methodologies.
To keep everyone on the same page, it is important to take all of them in consideration before picking the tool.
In this post, we’ll be talking about the 5 most used project management tools, namely:
We’ll take an in-depth look into all of these tools, discuss their pros and cons, salient features, and pricing models. This will be a long, instructional post, so sit back!
If you’re looking for a tl;dr, here’s a comparison table that gives a brief overview of all the tools - broadly in terms of the key features that one should look for in a project management tool. (We’d still strongly recommend you go ahead and check the entire article. We’ve talked about the tools in depth, and you’ll find yourself much more informed by the end of the article(
|Free Plan||In-Built Time Tracking||Mobile Versions||Report Generation||Live Chat||Portfolio Management|
With that, let’s move ahead towards more information - to help you make an informed decision!
Formerly known as Dapulse, Monday is a well-known project management tool that looks like this when you first sign up:
By adding a new board, you get to assign tasks, add collaborators, and modify the status of tasks as needed.
While you need to purchase the tool to use it, it has pretty decent pricing - and it varies depending on your team size. Here are some of the features of Monday that’ll help you decide whether or not you want to take a subscription.
Features of Monday
Monday uses an intuitive drag-and-drop interface and offers a high level of customization. It can seamlessly manage assignments, tasks, dates, durations, timeframes, and even provide a customizable Gantt Chart for tracking.
On the communication front, you can create alerts, notifications, and more.
- Pulses: On Monday, Pulses are what tasks and projects are known as. They can be anything - a product, a project, a client, a day of the week. You can organize your team’s work any which way you please.
You can add columns to track details relevant to each pulse. You can also assign ownership to the project (pulse) or the sub-task (column).
It is clearly a much more intuitive way to notify employees than the traditional tools offer.
In fact, Monday tries to replicate the behavior of an actual manager — by starting with a work task and assigning different parts to different workers.
- Third-party collaboration: While working with freelancers and other agencies, it is important that your tool provides third-party collaborations.
While many project management tools restrict you from adding outside of your team members, Monday is generous in that sense.
You can add as many third-party agents as you wish.
You can customize their rights and ensure that their access is limited to the projects assigned to them - thereby retaining the security of your organization’s data!
- Simplified communication: Messages are incorporated in projects, and allow you to attach documents, images, videos, GIFs, and @mentions.
You can know the status of your message (whether it is read or not) and follow up as required. You can also create a checklist for your team members without leaving any message. In addition, social media features like “thumbs up” keep messages fun.
The tool allows you to have a one-view look at the status of projects for all your team members, along with the ETA for ongoing/pending tasks.
- Templates: Monday has an outstanding array of pre-built templates that support businesses of all sizes - which is built using insights from multiple customers. These templates are extremely easy to edit using simple drag-and-drop. This gives beginners a good starting point for using the tool.
Like Trello, Monday provides a wide array of customization options for tasks and assignments, including colors and metrics.
These customizations make it easier for businesses that have complex or customized processes. It also helps project managers differentiate between the various arms of a project and keep everything in sync.
- Variety of integrations: Monday seamlessly integrates with many applications including Zapier, Dropbox, and Google Drive.
This provides an instant functionality boost to the platform as you can now access different platforms from one. Built on an open-source framework, Monday also allows developers the freedom to add custom integrations.
What Monday Is Missing
Without a doubt, Monday is feature-rich with a slick interface, but it isn’t really easy to set up. Like other highly-customizable and configurable tools, it can get a bit overwhelming - especially if you’re just starting out with remote project management.
You may want an expert to set it up and provide the required documentation for you to follow. Then, you’ll also need to train your team members on how to best use the tool.
In comparison to the remaining tools on the list, this one is slightly a tough nut to crack - in terms of learning to use the tool. Others are fairly simpler.
The prices of different subscriptions vary depending on your team size and requirements. For more details pricing, please visit - Monday Official Pricing.
Having said that, let’s sum up Monday with some pros and cons.
- Open AI architecture that supports unlimited integration and customization.
- Unending reporting capabilities.
- Ability to add people from outside your team.
- Might get messier while handling complex projects.
- Comparatively difficult to get started with, might need an expert to set it up.
- Free plan not available.
Asana is a work management solution that helps teams organize everything - from daily tasks to strategic initiatives. It offers task-view, custom fields, progression-view, and portfolios that update in real-time, thereby enabling teams to make more informed decisions at every stage.
It can be used to manage any type of project or workflow from marketing campaigns to product launches to work requests.
Asana enables managers to stay on top of their project and ensure that everyone in the team knows the plans, individual roles, and deadlines - so that no work falls through the cracks.
Features of Asana
Before we get to the features, let’s make one thing utterly clear - Asana is not a full-on project management tool, despite the Timeline feature.
That is because it includes neither time tracking nor other tools we’d expect to see in a full-fledged project management tool.
But it is definitely a flexible and elegant tool for managing tasks and workflows; and you can bend it to your will. Let’s look at the features that make Asana one of the best collaboration and productivity apps:
- Seamless project management - Asana lets you organize work into shared projects in both boards and lists. Teams can create tasks with assignees and deadlines within the project.
This way, any task, no matter how big or small, will be tracked within the project’s board and list.
- Efficient, clear communication - You can organize important documents relevant to projects within tasks, projects, and teams - so that discussions are always in context and files stay where they should be.
People from your team can comment on each others’ tasks to know about the status of work. The chat feature allows @mention thereby keeping everyone updated in real-time.
It also allows for starting project discussions to allow the whole team to weigh in and stay updated on progress.
- Easy-to-use templates - Asana allows you to standardize common projects and processes into templates the whole team can use so important steps aren’t missed and work doesn’t fall through the cracks.
It also comes with an in-built array of standard templates for different use cases. By starting new projects from a template, project managers can significantly cut down on their planning time and get to work faster.
- Impressive portfolio management - Managers can monitor the status of all key initiatives and projects in real time with Portfolios
.They can organize projects into portfolios so users can see their status, then dig deeper for more extensive details to proactively address at-risk work, and finally, report updates to stakeholders so everyone knows where important work stands.
- Extensive learning resources: For help and support, Asana offers the following:
- Asana Guide - This is a dedicated knowledge base with step-by-step instructions on how to set up and assign projects and processes in Asana, how to use specific features and forums, and best work management practices to master.
- Asana Academy - This is for you to learn the best ways to use Asana with in-depth online video courses that you can use anytime.
- Asana Together - This is a global community that includes forums where customers actively discuss their problems and solutions. There are also Asana-themed events and meetups, where you can find consulting services like training or support.
- Useful Calendar and Timeline view - The Calendar mode provides you with a clear view of the workflow across the month. It highlights the days that mark deadlines for each task in the project.
Here, you can make changes quickly by dragging/dropping tasks.
This is quite an easy-to-use setup which is straightforward with plenty of options.
The Conversations and Progress tabs allow you to communicate and keep track of the progress - using a color-coded system. This way, you can proactively know of any hiccups that might occur.
What Asana is Missing
Rich exporting functionality.
While Asana offers exporting options, they are limited to only JSON and CSV formats. PDFs and Excel would have been nice additions to the list of supported formats.
Asana is free to use for teams of up to 15 members. If you want extended features, you can choose from one of the three paid plans: Premium, Business, or Enterprise.
Here’s a quick summary of Asana in terms of pros and cons.
- Timelines and calendar views that help you organize and stay on top of your tasks easily.
- Efficient user management which provides transparency in the tasks assigned, and thereby improving resource allocation.
- Easy to use and intuitive dashboard.
- Lots of resources and guides to understand the tool better.
- The tool lacks a desktop application which can create troubles for some teams.
- The lack of G-Suite integration is a negative, too, considering most businesses are on G-Suite today.
- Multiple email notifications for multiple happenings can get confusing for the user.
Trello lets you organize your projects into boards.
In one glance, you can find out what is being worked on, who is working, and what is the status of the tasks assigned.
All your projects, all your tasks, all of your team--organized, accounted for, and easily visible at a glance.
The platform is fairly intuitive, and therefore new users instantly understand the list and card metaphor and can be working on Trello within minutes.
Let’s look at some features of Trello:
- Extremely easy-to-use – Using an online digital whiteboard in the cloud, Trello enables users to stay updated in real-time. It provides a shared perspective of the organization, including goals, projects, workflows, and everything - all in one glance.
The visual interface of boards, lists and cards makes it easy and non-intimidating even for first-time, non-technical users. Users can create boards to represent projects.
Teammates can create as many lists as required to represent different stages, topics, or other groupings.
The cards can be customized to contain work details, due dates, file attachments, checklist, and more. You can also add labels, search for information, use filters, and sort the card list in various ways.
- Simplified task management and project tracking – Trello makes it possible for managers to invite as many collaborators as they want to a single board. As and when teammates complete tasks, they can move the cards to the next list to represent the next stage of work.
Work progress, along with the amount of work done and what still needs to be done, is easily visible for all.
Everyone in the team can communicate in real-time via comments, and can even share files - whether from their system or cloud storage services.
- Cross-platform compatibility, power-ups, email addons, and more - Trello works across devices and platforms, and syncs all information. So, no matter where you’re using it from, you’ll be able to collaborate with your team easily.
Since the acquisition of Butler, automation is now built-in and available to all. It helps teams save time and effort. Moreover, they can avail of Power-Ups or third party integrations they are already using and rely on.
Email integration allows the use of emails to create cards and comments.
Users can also use @mentions and emojis to make communication more interactive. Trello also provides a free, public developer API.
What Trello is Missing
Trello doesn’t allow you to check work in retrospect - thereby leaving little room for iterations. Without an iterative approach, it is difficult for performance of any kind of work to improve.
Unlike Monday but like Asana, Trello offers you a free model with limited features. For more extensive features, you can upgrade to either Business Class or Enterprise.
You can check out their website for official pricing, as well as the list of facilities against each subscription.
Now, let’s look at some pros and cons of the tool.
- Free model is good enough to begin with, plus the subscription costs are also less complex.
- Trello helps you stay on top of your deadlines. Being a visually-extensive board, Trello offers color coding that will help you track which tasks are nearing deadline.
- The tool works across platforms and devices thereby allowing you to stay in touch with your team at all times.
- You need data (internet) to use Trello. So, if you’re travelling or are in airplane mode, you might not be able to access the tool.
- Bigger and complex projects are difficult to handle using only Trello.
- While it allows you to add attachments, there is a 10MB file upload limit for the basic plan.
- Inability to edit comments that you make on a card.
Basecamp is a project management tool to simplify collaboration, file sharing, and project organization.
The tool is so extensive that it can serve as a single source of truth for everything related to your company - from to-do lists to emails, files to discussions, Further, Basecamp is available on Mac, PC, Android, and iOS, ensuring that everyone knows their assignments, teams and deadlines, as well as have access to any required files.
The interface is fairly user-friendly. The first screen that you see is divided into three sections:
- Company HQ: for company-wide announcements and notices.
- Team: for keeping track of specific teams and tasks assigned to them.
- Projects: for staying updated with current projects.
Below that is another section which is specific to the projects you’re in. Once you click to explore one of your projects, Basecamp will offer you a wide array of tools - like chat forums, to-dos, and a timeline of all the activity.
Let’s look at some features of the tool.
Features of Basecamp:
- Ease of use - Usability-wise, Basecamp is one of the easiest tools on this list. Everything is labeled and each project has easily distinguishable boards, to-dos, and all the other features.
Unless you want to include money or outside contractors in your project, you’re good to go!
- Simplified communication – Basecamp offers Message Boards where you can post questions, alert, and any other message you have to anyone involved in your project.
Campfire is another communication-related feature of Basecamp. It is essentially a casual chat room for people involved in a project.
It allows @mentions. Basecamp also allows Pings - wherein you can ping someone personally. These pings can also include attachment. Pings also have an effective search feature to find specific messages quickly.
- Efficient searching and bookmarking – The search feature lets you search through the entire application or a specific project - depending on your requirement. You can go through the ping history, too, for attachments or images.
To save yourself the time of searching, you can even bookmark important items that you might need in the future.
- Seamless task allocation and organization - Basecamp provides to-do lists that can be assigned to team members. The tool automatically follows up with any tasks that are overdue. Users can add notes, comments, or attachment to the to-dos.
Basecamp also offers you the feature to see any upcoming projects, events, or deadlines in the form of Schedules. Everyone related to the project can go through the schedule, set alerts, and sync the schedule with Google Calendar, iCal, or Outlook.
- Automatic check-in questions – Using this feature, you can ask questions about the team’s progress at any point, automatically.
For instance, every Monday at 9 AM, you can ask everyone on your Basecamp, “What is your main agenda for this week?” with a follow-up question Wednesday at 3:30 pm, “Is there any bottleneck that you’re facing so far?”
These questions can be repeated daily, weekly or monthly, to the whole team or a specific person. Users can also comment directly on their individual answers
What Basecamp is Missing
Basecamp is not the ideal tool for you if you wish to work on multiple projects and coordinate between them at one time. It lacks the ability to provide a larger, consolidated view of all the running projects.
Basecamp works fairly well in managing single projects with multiple tasks, but if you want a portfolio-like view, you might have to use integration. Or, you can use another tool in collaboration with Basecamp.
The tool has recently added a free version called Basecamp Personal. Aimed at freelancers, students, families, and personal project owners, this version allows users to create three projects, add twenty users, and use up to 1GB of storage space.
For additional features, you’ll have to go up the ladder of subscription. For that, check out the official pricing here.
Here’s what’s hot and what’s not about Basecamp.
- Simple, flat-rate pricing model with a free plan for beginners to know the tool.
- Simple user interface and easy to navigate menus and options.
- Comprehensive file upload system at fingertips that supports various file types.
- No other form of task tracking except to-do lists, which get very one-dimensional.
- Lack of reporting or automation tools to streamline day-to-day tasks.
- Lacks budget-related tools, so if you’re working with finances, you might not find Basecamp suitable.
A comparatively newer tool, ClickUp is a cloud-based collaboration and management tool that is truly feature-rich.
ClickUp offers all the required features for you to streamline different processes, including design, sales, marketing, development, and more.
Featuring an agile board, ClickUP allows you to monitor every task of your team members in one board.
Task progress, too, can be viewed in the form of percentage. Tasks can easily be marked as “resolved” or “in progress”. Alternatively, users can also customize the “in progress” status.
The software can be seamlessly integrated to Slack and similar apps using Zapier. ClickUp uses Machine Learning capabilities to assist managers and give realistic timeframes for completion of any tasks. It also helps the team stay well ahead of the deadline.
Let’s look at some features of ClickUp in depth.
Features of ClickUp
- Different views for different uses: Most companies tend to use different tools for different internal teams. Engineering teams usually want an agile-based tool, while marketing teams prefer a list-based one. Since most tools offer just one type of view, companies need to use different tools.
But that’s not the case with ClickUp.
ClickUp offers you four views, and also lets you toggle between views on the same project.
Let’s see the views:
- Board View
For easily moving your tasks around. It’s a great option for Kanban enthusiasts!
- List View
For viewing your projects in a GTD-style (getting-things-done) list. It helps you check off tasks and subtasks with ease.
- Box View
For viewing all the tasks each team member is working on. Best suited for project managers wishing to manage their projects smoothly.
- Me View
For everybody! This view shows the tasks and projects assigned ONLY to you, thereby eliminating all the other fluff that clogs your dashboard.
- Gantt Charts - Using Gantt Charts, you can easily track and manage your projects. This gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire progress, thereby putting you in control. It’s perfect for project portfolio management.
ClickUp’s Gantt charts are powered by automation and are therefore super powerful. The Gantt Charts can:
- Readjust your task dependencies when you reschedule items.
- Calculate progress percentage based on tasks completed/total tasks.
- Compare current and expected progress
- Help with workflow management.
- Time tracking - ClickUp offers a native time tracker that is powerful enough to keep your team’s productivity levels at the highest. It functions with just one-click and is easy to use.
Using this data, ClickUp offers reports of total time taken per member on a task, as well as total time taken in the project. This can come in handy during generating invoices.
To add to this, ClickUp also easily integrates with 3rd-party time tracking tools like Harvest and Toggle.
- Easy integrations - ClickUp allows you to embed your MS Excel or Google Docs spreadsheets right into your project space. ClickUp has one of the most exhaustive integration lists out there!
With ClickUp’s public API, you can also add as many custom integrations as you want! As new integrations are added every month, you’ll have no trouble switching to ClickUp.
Some of ClickUp’s current integrations include:
- Google Drive
- Mindmapping: The mindmapping feature of ClickUp allows you to brainstorm strategies for your projects. You can create exhaustive maps to visualize all the possibilities, threats, opportunities. Being a part of a project management tool itself, these mind maps can then be easily implemented.
What ClickUp is Missing
Simplicity. In one word, ClickUp misses simplicity. While having features and customization options is good, too much of it will definitely be overwhelming. And that is precisely what happens in the case of ClickUp.
If you can get the hang of all the features - good for you! Otherwise, it might take some time.
ClickUp offers a feature-rich and generous free version, so if you want to try the tool, you can go ahead with that. Other than that, there is just one pricing plan - to know more about which you can visit the official pricing page.
Let’s talk about some ups and downs of ClickUp.
- Customized and as-per-required views for smoother management.
- Extensive time tracking reports.
- Gantt charts for smoother workflow management.
- A huge list of integrations.
- Feature-rich tool, even in case of the free version.
- Compared to the other tools on the list, ClickUp is fairly new to the market.
- No native language translation features.
- No option or forum to chat internally - neither one-to-one nor in a group.
When you finally move towards implementing an important tool like a project management software, you should be ready for some frustration from your team members.
While it may not be necessary in a work-from-office setup, today’s times demand the use of such a tool.
Having said that, it might take time for a few people to settle in and adopt - but they’ll slowly come to terms with the fact that software is making their life easier, too.
You should be able to explain the need for such a software to your team, and address any questions they have straight-up.
Clear communication is important, as we mentioned in the beginning - and it starts with telling the truth and discussing concerns.
In most cases, the problems your teammates are facing might be genuine. You should step up and address those issues. Doing that will instil a feeling of trust and oneness in your team - which will push them to trusting your decisions.
Listen to your team’s concerns calmly, and consider if their issues are tool-specific. In that case, you can look for alternatives and repeat the process till you arrive at the perfect fit.
In the end, choosing the right project management tool requires thorough introspection and due diligence from your part. A lot of factors (which are mostly variables) go into play, like your team size, expectations from the tool, purpose of using the tool, and so on.
We hope you’d accounted for each of these factors while going through the article. If not, please skim through it again - it’ll only help you make a more informed decision.
We hope this overview has helped you clear some air around project management tools - including the whats, the whys, and the hows. If you have some suggestions or comments, do let us know below!
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