Managing projects in a small business setting is misleading simple. Sure, there are fewer people involved and fewer processes to navigate. But big businesses often have a dedicated plan manager for marketing, another for sales, and different for product development. The small business project manager, on the other hand, oversees multiple departments and likely puton lots of other hats.
What makes best project management software for your small business?
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Despite all the hype about popular project methodologies (Scrum, Lean, Agile—you name it), there’s no real one-size-fits-all solution. Every team is different: workflows, Resources, and the working day demands differ greatly from one company to the next. So how did we pick the best small business project management software?
I started by Assured that each app met some basic criteria I felt were indispensable.
- Collaboration for teams and/or clients. Successful projects don’t happen in a whirlpool. All apps that made the list offer some level of in-app collaboration, like built-in chat or file sharing, or a trusted integration with a tool like Slack.
- Integration possibilities. Your project management workflowsare at the heart of your company, so all of the apps need to integrate with the other apps in your tech stack.
- Customizable views.While there are a number of capable tools focused on Agile and Scrum methodologies, I didn’t consider those for this list because your project management app should work for every team in your business. That means customizable views and support for multiple project management methodologies.
- Pure project management apps. There are many software options that include project or task management as a small subset of features, but for this article, I only considered apps that were primarily focused on project management.
- Robust team roles and permissions. The more people you involve in a project, the more important it is to set customizable project permissions. Some people may simply need view-only access, while others need full admin rights.
In addition to those dealbreakers, I asked myself a number of questions while testing the apps:
- Is there an active development team behind the software, keeping it up to date and bug-free?
- Is the interface intuitive, or do you need to spend a significant amount of time reading through tutorials just to utilize basic features?
- Does the app offer some flexibility so that you can create your own project management methodology, or does it try to force you into an inflexible flow?
For each app, I went through the signup and onboarding process, created a project, chose a methodology (Gantt, Kanban, Scrum, etc.), and created a new task, including adding a due date, attaching files and links, assigning the task, and more.
After the first round of testing, I eliminated any apps that weren’t user-friendly or couldn’t be used across a small organization. Then I went back in and spent some more time in the top apps: toggling between view options and project management methodologies, adding a new user to the app and editing permissions, toggling between additional settings like filtering for my own tasks versus all tasks and more deeply customizing views (e.g., changing the Kanban column labels), and testing out any unique features.
The seven apps below are the result of all that testing.
The best project management software for small teams
More than just a project management tool, ClickUp is a cloud-based productivity tool ideal for closely-knit teams, large organizations, and even individuals. The platform allows you to plan, schedule, and oversee projects from start to completion.
ClickUp lets you track the progress of a project, as you can create and manage a project and its objectives through the Goals feature. In addition, you can break down a goal into smaller units called Targets to enable you to measure the progress of a task better.
ClickUp is also easy to use, as it is highly customizable, allowing you to display project preferences to suit your personal needs. It comes in three feature categories to ensure you do not feel overloaded by its bells and whistles.
It also contains up to 15 different data visualization formats to help you view your project, timeline, and team structure, to enable you to analyze data efficiently. Setting statuses, viewing workloads and project schedules, and commenting on a task with co-workers are some of the top features to use in ClickUp.
ClickUp also integrates with over 1,000 other productivity software such as Slack, Zoom, Email, and Microsoft Teams. This helps to concentrate your different work tools into one location, enhancing your experience and boosting your productivity levels.
Jira is a tool optimized for managing the process of software development and related tasks like issue tracking. It lets you combine general project management with agile functionality, supporting frameworks such as Kanban and Scrum.
To this end, it allows you to manage software development tasks such as designing project reports, tracking bugs, and organizing backlogs efficiently to prevent undue delay. Jira supports over 3,000 apps and integrations and lets you view repositories and see development statuses. This ensures that production operations are as efficient as possible.
Jira contains scrum boards to help your team divide large projects into smaller, workable parts. Through its project roadmap feature, you can create development lifecycles to share tasks between different workers and monitor their long-term progress with big-picture visualization.
This tool also has campaign management, project road mapping, tracking, and timeline management to help you manage your project effectively in the short and long term. However, this software currently does not offer important features such as budget tracking and resource management.
This project management software is considered to be one of the best in the market as it lets you plan projects, coordinate tasks, and manage deadlines. Although feature-rich, it has an easy-to-use interface, easily customizable to suit your project or personal preferences.
Asana allows you to view your projects in diverse forms. This ensures that no piece of information relating to the development of your project is lost due to inadequate data visualization. In addition, Asana works on mobile platforms, allowing you to keep up with your tasks while on the go.
Asana has industry-leading functionality, such as a workflow builder, to help you manage your team through automated processes and task management. This is in addition to its to-do list feature, which lets you manage your tasks more effectively. You can also create digital Kanban boards to visualize the progress of your team members in real-time.
Project planning and tracking is the main thrust of Asana, and it delivers flawlessly on this functionality. You can also track the expenditure of your budget resources, helping you to manage your assets properly.
What’s more, while assigning tasks, Asana allows you to set priority levels. This way, your teammates pay more attention to high-priority tasks before moving on to the other scheduled tasks.
Zoho Projects is a leading cloud-based collaboration and project management software that lets you precisely organize and execute your projects. It’s ideal for organizations of all sizes and supports mobile and PC web views to ensure that you can monitor a project, set and share tasks, and communicate with workers on the go.
Zoho Projects integrates seamlessly with other applications and other Zoho tools, including Zoho Analytics, which gives you access to various reports. It also lets you access a central reporting dashboard to keep track of your business’ workflow by monitoring the track schedule of your teammates. This tool is also equipped with time management features.
In addition to standard project management functionality, Zoho allows you to chat with other team members and customize your interface using Zoho’s well-developed configuration options. It also lets you post your work status. You can also customize Gantt charts by editing business milestones to your preference. This helps you visualize the flow of a project.
In addition, Zoho allows you to create project templates, milestones, and task lists for yourself and your team members. Through its Blueprint Feature, you can also set up workflows to automate recurring tasks, such as setting event reminders or task scheduling.
Proofhub is a leading project management software developed for teams. You can manage files, create workflows, and allocate tasks, subtasks, and projects to team members.
With Proofhub, you can also categorize tasks and projects with different labels. It lets you view the history of a task to monitor the changes made by team members throughout a project. In addition to being available on your PC, you can also access it through your mobile phone.
The tool can also handle collaboration and communication between your teammates efficiently. You can send one-to-one messages, connect with the whole team in one go, create discussion topics, and even add events and milestones to your projects.
Proofhub also allows you to set daily agendas to ensure that you and your team are not distracted by other tasks. Finally, if you want to get the most out of Proofhub, you may want to look into its best features for project management.
Start Managing Your Projects Efficiently
As a boss or team leader, the odds are that, at some point, you have struggled with meeting deadlines or getting your team to work as effectively as you want them to. Luckily, you do not have to go through these hoops anymore. Regardless of your organization’s size or structure, there are efficient project management tools suited to its needs.
These tools will help with your task and project management and assist you with related duties like budget tracking. This helps to bolster efficiency and improve communication with your teammates. Take advantage of these tools, and watch your team tackle productivity challenges every day.