A project management app for every need
When it comes to project management, every business has its own unique requirements. There’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. Some companies are service based, some product based; some require large amounts of client interaction while others have almost none.
Of the startups that prevail, most have a clear industry niche. The good news for them is that there’s a whole range of cloud project management solutions to suit every need. Research is key to find out which one really suits you – the aim of this article is to make that hard work easier. We’ve lined up seven of the best below. Use the navigation to jump to the category you want, and please let us know what you think in the comments below.
Best for agencies
What they say… Chaos, Organised.
What we say… The best for client-agency relationships
For most companies, the best thing about Basecamp is the fact that it takes project management out of emails and into a really nice looking dashboard where everything important is kept in one place. It keeps all of your team’s to-dos together in a place where key stakeholders – team members, management and clients alike – all have an overview of the progress of the projects they’re involved in.
Unlike its main rivals, it charges on a project basis rather than per user (see prices). This makes it a good entry-level product for startups especially because it has really low pricing to start with.
Best for enterprise teams
What they say… Work from anywhere, anytime, with anyone, on any device
What we say… Perfect for startups where compliance is key
Huddle has been built with an enterprise audience in mind. Its big selling point is security and trust, with notable government agency customers and referees. With this higher protection comes a higher price tag, but for companies where compliance is mandatory it’s a price worth paying.
For the extra money you can customise the entire package to suit your individual needs, something other project management apps don’t offer. You can choose a customer URL, fully branded for you company but still hosted by Huddle. It also allows full salesforce integration with social networks and cms systems like Sharepoint
Like most other software out there it charges per user rather than per project. However the file-size limit on its enterprise package is much higher than rival apps, making it really useful for teams that deal with large numbers of files.
Best for team management and collaboration
What they say… Teamwork without email
What we say… Great for really technical teams
Asana is cloud project management on overdrive. It’s perfect for ‘techy’ teams of all sizes, especially those where an eye for detail and in depth, thorough team or client management is needed. It’s built around tasks rather than projects and power users will really get to grips with tagging, setting and assigning tasks to team members, making the most of the dashboard to move their whole project management system away from email if they wish.
It has a similar functionality to its competitors, but its approach to layout and level of information really does suit more detail-friendly teams. There’s enough on screen at any given time to mean you never need to email again if you don’t want to, saving your team from going anywhere else to manage their time. The app pulls tasks through into existing calendars giving a single view for each team member, notifying them to updates or alerts through ‘pings’ instead of emails.
Best for visualising tasks
What they say… Simple on the surface, with everything you need to get stuff done
What we say… The ultimate list of lists
On the face of it, Trello is a straightforward to-do list, but when you drill down into it you realise it lets you do so much more that just manage tasks from a usability point of view. At the top level you’ve got your list of cards, but these can then be moved tasks around, dragged and dropped, with the option of adding media files too. There’s lots more detail that can be added if needed, including things called ‘powerups’ which let you enable loads of extra features.
All those extra features don’t stop it being a great minimalist resource for teams to visualise lists of tasks a high level. There’s a real need for that sort of project management in many firms and Trello is one of the best for it. It’s drag and drop interface is perfect for quickly moving and managing snippets of to-do’s and as such it comes into its own in smaller teams or projects in fast-paced environments where moving things around quickly easily is really important.
It’s not for everyone and in some ways its interface can seem limiting but it’s all about the user and how they use it, so for that it’s one of the best. It’s also free to use up to a point, something only some of its main competitors offer.
Best for business
What they say… The new way to work together
What we say… Easy project management for any business
SMEs and bigger businesses especially find that their users respond better to familiar tools and software, and there’s nothing more well known than Microsoft. SharePoint Online harnesses the power of Microsoft Office in the cloud, enabling distributed teams to collaborate on documents and projects at work across all devices.
Combined with Office 365, businesses are able to mitigate against poor version control or misinformation, allowing for appropriate access controls to be distributed across multiple documents.
Microsoft OneDrive works as a hard drive in the cloud, offering a familiar interface to users while still protecting them from the hazards of local working. As it’s in the cloud, multiple users and external collaborators can contribute to documents in real time without the need for constant email communication.
Best for internal teams
What they say… Spreadsheet easy
What we say… Good for a gradual transition to the cloud
Smartsheet is perhaps the simplest progression out there from pure spreadsheets to cloud project management. It takes the idea of a traditional spreadsheet and enhances that experience – meaning it’s not a massive step away from traditional spreadsheets. This is a feature which either make it more or less attractive to you depending on your team’s needs or experience working in the cloud.
It’s most suitable for smaller teams where perhaps not every member of the group is solidly ‘tech-literate’. It’s the first step away from the old local way of working, making it a good way of getting the whole team comfortable with the idea of online working that can then be enhanced in a ‘techy’ way.
By removing the pain points that teams who regularly work with spreadsheets will be familiar with, like the version control issue. By taking spreadsheets off local computers through a simple, intuitive interface, it’s useful for internal teams in spreadsheet-heavy environment.
Best for agile software development
What they say… The tracker for teams planning and building great products
What we say… Best for agile software development
With so many software product startups now out there, a list of project management apps wouldn’t be complete without JIRA. It’s a cloud software development programme that lets developers ‘plan, track and work’ as a team in agile ways alongside the popular code repository site BitBucket.
Managing software projects is completely different to other forms of project management. In a ‘dev’ environment, the scope of the to-do’s are much narrower, almost always based on issues around code, bugs or functionality where team input is required. JIRA is really nice visual way of managing that process.
The pure nature of it means that it caters for developers and can be customised to suit individual KPIs – the scope is limitless in theory. It encourages the agile SCRUM software development processes, which almost all cloud software products are now built with. It also encourages the iterative change then release process, and is built to help small teams working towards common, short-sighted goals using GIT version control.
The likelIhood of resources being shared in this environment is really high, so having one central board on JIRA where an entire distributed development team can work together is a real plus.
Most of these project management apps have their own mini app stores where you can customise your package to varying degrees. Key to this are the link ups between other applications, such as time tracking tools, given that good project management and time management often go hand in hand. Almost all of the big players let you do just that.