Running a small business takes a village—a village with fierce organization and collaboration skills. Luckily, there are a ton of great project management tools out there to help you coordinate your team, whether you’re working on a specific project in-house or running your business virtually.
Start with an assessment of what you need your project management tool to do. Most basic PM tools allow you to:
- Predict and budget projects
- Assign tasks to a number of people
- Schedule due dates
- Communicate among project members
- Store and share files
- Collaborate on editing and changing files
- Track project progress
- Keep projects secure by setting access permission
- Access and manage projects from mobile devices or on the road
You also have the option of using an online, cloud-based PM tool or purchasing an on-premise desktop software solution. Both solutions have their pros and cons. Desktop software generally transfers large files faster and has a single, fixed-cost license. Cloud-based solutions are purchased by subscription and allow businesses to connect teams that include remote workers and different schedules. Cloud-based products also allow mobile users to access the project management platform regardless of their location.
Before making a decision ask yourself how large your projects are and how many users will need access. Do you need mobile access and how much are you willing to spend? Then start reading reviews from experts and users. Here are some PM tools to investigate:
- For simple file sharing, Google Drive allows you 15GB of free storage. You can also purchase more storage for a monthly fee. If you’re a Mac user, you can get iCloud storage for free, but only up to 5GB. Then you pay a monthly fee to upgrade to a larger storage plan.
- The number-one online collaboration tool listed at TopTenReviews.com is Clarizen. This Web-based project management tool needs neither IT support nor a server to host it. Accessible from anywhere because it’s hosted in the cloud, Clarizen works across all platforms and includes advanced social media and mobile tools. It can also manage your budget, expenses, and scheduling.
- Cage is a PM tool for creative businesses such as ad agencies, designers and freelancers who need to keep track of the progress of a design. No more emailing drafts back and forth—Cage can help you get faster feedback and see comments all in one place.
- Zoho Projects also has a free option up to 10GB of storage but only allows you to work on one project, so it’s smart to use it on a trial basis to see if you like it before you buy. Like most apps, the more you pay, the more features you can access.
- Basecamp is a popular project management tool that starts at $20 per month and has a 60-day trial period. The plusses are all about simplicity: Basecamp is easy to learn and easy to use. It also allows unlimited users at every level.
- Dropbox for Business can store all your staff’s work files, and anything your team adds to Dropbox will automatically show up on all their computers, phones, tablets and the Dropbox website. Dropbox touts their extensive cloud security features.