Top 5 Project Management Software For Small Business In 2017
Project management solutions aren’t meant only for large organizations. Small businesses can go cloud for scalable options and staggered pricing to enjoy best-in-class project management features. With as much as 97% of companies agreeing that project management is key to business success (according to PricewaterhouseCoopers), having the right software for the project leader is critical even for small companies. Moreover, according to The Access Group, the most important three aspects project managers require in a software are: reliability, ease of use and integration.
In this article, we present the top five project management software for small business that you should consider in 2017. Three of our choices feature enterprise level functions, while the other two are more focused on specific aspects.
Top Solutions For Small Business
- Wrike is the best choice for steadily growing small businesses. Its end-to-end project management features are scalable to match your growth stages.
- Asana, like Wrike, is robust, but its real value is the freemium version. Small businesses with less than 15 employees can greatly benefit from it.
- dapulse is another fully featured project management solution but is less intuitive than Wrike and has no freemium like Asana. However, small businesses with potential to grow fast will like its enterprise functions, making this a nice investment for promising tech startups.
- Basecamp lacks robustness but is our favorite for its rich collaboration features.
- Trello is the best candidate for small companies engaged in kanban management, namely, creatives and design teams.
Let’s find out more about the strengths and weaknesses of each of these project management solutions for small business.
Wrike is an end-to-end project management solution that can easily be scaled for bigger projects. This makes it ideal for growing small businesses or companies that cover myriad project types from the simple to the complex. If you have more than 10 people, Wrike is a very good investment because it can grow along with your operations.
- It grows with you. You can start with its free basic task management, then work your way to its full project planning and collaboration features. As your business grows, you can add more complex modules, such as customized reporting and advanced security. Likewise, you can tap a tailored Wrike version for your marketing and creative teams.
- It’s simple and intuitive. It has clear visualization for both the big picture and details. Its hierarchy and dependencies help you to organize teams with clear tasks and responsibilities.
- Real-time editing ensures teams get the latest information
- Great support. Tech support is pro-active, plus you get plenty of self-help content
- Free trial period is comprehensive that allows you to gauge the app as a whole
- Freemium for up to 5 users (basic task management) is also available
- It doesn’t integrate with some popular solutions like BaseCRM and Xero
- It can use more customization to white label the UI around corporate branding
Like Wrike, Asana is a fully featured project management solution. It works best for small businesses transitioning to more complex projects. However, unlike Wrike, Asana has only two plans: free and premium. Scaling up is based on the number of users with a rate at only $8.33 per member.
The software has the best freemium plan in its category featuring good task management, dashboard, and communication tools available for up to 15 members at no cost. This makes the software a good intro app if you first want to get the feel of a robust project management software before subscribing to one.
- Robust freemium for up to 15 users
- You can see and apply changes to project updates in real time, a must for agile projects
- One of the most complete project management apps for small businesses. You have tasks, projects, conversations and dashboards in one place.
- Teams can visualize goals and track work time
- You can prioritize tasks and get updates in the same place
- Its UI has the intuitiveness and simplicity of the most popular social network (Asana is designed by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz)
- No offline access
- Search can be clanky
- Because Asana is scaled by number of users, you may pay for sophisticated features that are yet unneeded
It’s also fully featured like Wrike and Asana, but it doesn’t have a freemium like those two. Dapulse is targeted at companies of all sizes, including small businesses. It has intuitive pricing plans based on a growing company starting with five users (sorry freelancers).
You start with collaboration features for simple projects, then work your way up with API and integration for customized features. As you hire more employees you can get shared or private boards and activity stats, and should you really grow into a large enterprise, there’s a dedicated enterprise training and advanced security available.
- The big picture complemented with weekly task list enables you to keep a close tab on team progress
- Align goals with deadlines clearly and delegate tasks to teams or members
- Easy to use with clear navigation and on-boarding support
- Highly customizable care of API to match your growth stages
- New features and enhancements regularly added
- No CRM or invoicing; hence you’ll need separate software
- No Gmail integration, a problem if you’re dependent on Google apps
- Setting up auto reminders takes extra steps
- No templates
- No plan for one user (freelance)
If your emphasis is on collaboration and team communication, Basecamp is our recommended collaboration and task management app. It consolidates to-do lists, spreadsheets and documents and streamlines emails and chats for clear communication.
Think of Basecamp as your first step to using project management software. As you get accustomed to its features, you’ll find yourself depending less on separate email threads, cloud storage, chat and calendar apps, and having everything in just one place.
However, you may outgrow it as you need more sophisticated task management, reporting, customization and security features for more complex and specialized projects.
- Visual home screen organizes everything (tasks, statuses, support, teams, notes, etc.) in a centralized place
- Discussion boards make it easy to organize related conversations and follow or back-read the topics
- Color-coded shared folders allow teams and members to easily access similar set of files
- All-in pricing gives you unlimited users and projects
- All-in pricing can also mean you have less flexibility
- No sophisticated reporting
- No tailored features
Trello is ideal for teams using kanban, the scheduling system popularized by the Japanese for just-in-time processes. If your emphasis is on visual task management, you’ll find Trello’s movable boards highly efficient.
This project management software works best for creatives and software development teams, which require agility in project planning and monitoring. Likewise, it is free even for a single individual, so it’s a great fit for freelancers, too.
Mind that Trello is too simple for complex projects that require analytics or customized reporting. In many ways, Trello is a good add-on to project management solutions without boards.
- Drag-and-drop simplicity lets you to move from planning to execution to accomplished with ease
- Good for sharing data related to a task, that is, you can fill the board’s flipside with relevant information
- Movable visual boards make it easy to see the progress of tasks
- Shared calendar lends to team collaboration greater transparency
- Can be upgraded for more features like integrations, team overviews and advanced security
- Too simple for complex projects
- Can’t provide high detailed look at projects
- Can’t view task list by user or due date
Comparison of Key Features
Project management software for small business can vary greatly in terms of features, pricing and positioning, but these solutions generally share four important features:
- Task management
- Collaboration and communication
Let’s see how our top five solutions match against each other in these terms.
This module lets you define tasks, assign them, set deadlines and monitor the progress. Some solutions even let you set priorities or create subtasks for a more detailed approach. Expectedly, our top 3 choices, being robust and fully featured, excel in task management features.
Wrike excels with its Subtasks. The software allows you to break down big tasks into small, easy-to-monitor tasks that you can organize in folders and dependencies.
Asana also excels in task management, but in a different way: it lets you create parallel tasks with descriptions, deadlines and attachments without affecting the main task pipeline. On the other hand, dapulse weekly task list lets you keep a close tab on deadlines.
Overall, Wrike has more intuitive task management featuring its Gantt charts and workload views and its dependencies and hierarchy organization for a quick look at the big picture while an easy access to details. Asana is also excelent, but its lack of Gantt charts proves to be limiting.
Collaboration allows teams to share ideas, best practices and accomplish things more efficiently. At its basic form, project management solutions should have a shared calendar, messaging tool and contact list of internal and external members.
Basecamp is a favorite when it comes to collaboration. Its architecture is so effective that it often reused in other top project management solutions’ collaboration modules. Discussions, notes, messages and attachments are all shared in one place with user permissions.
Trello also excels in collaboration with its use of kanban boards. Leaders can see how much tasks can be added to teams even as current tasks are in progress. But beyond kanban or board-based workflow, Trello may fall short.
As for Wrike, its Activity Stream and @mention lets you to communicate directly with teams and members. We also like how Wrike prevents file duplication even as members can save and share the same file in their folders.
Both Wrike and Asana have excellent real-time editing, which is critical when dealing with urgent issues. Meantime, dapulse’s recognition-based High-Level Overview allows everyone to see who is accomplishing what and how fast. Tasks are greenlit by responsible members and teams often have the tendency to try and finish their tasks first to have the more ‘green’ ones. It’s a competitive spirit that can only work in your favor.
If you just need to pull together your team so the members are in sync with each other, Basecamp is a good tool. But for bigger projects, you’ll definitely want the task management robustness of Wrike, Asana or DaPulse.
Project management solutions should also excel in data archiving, indexing and access. Teams should have quick access to shared files, avoiding the issue of missing documents or mix-ups. All our choices do a great job attaching files and organizing them in folders for easy access.
- Wrike prevents duplication, a handy feature to avoid confusion. It also has intuitive folder system that you can arrange in any way you want the files sorted.
- Basecamp places all your files directly in the thread so everyone can focus on the content being discussed.
- Trello lets you attach files to boards, so relevant files go along with tasks or projects.
- Dapulse and Asana integrate with Google Drive, Pipedrive and Dropbox, making up for their limited documentation features.
This module is essential in all project management solutions. It helps you pinpoint the problem or bottleneck in the pipeline. Trello and Basecamp lack reporting features, but many small businesses have no complex reporting needs so a separate spreadsheet may do while they enjoy these two awesome collaboration apps.
Meanwhile, dapulse has excellent history spreadsheet that aggregates tasks and projects using an algorithm. The report is a bit complex, but it lends to you clear interpretation of the project’s progress. The spreadsheet is updated daily and is compatible with a wide range of productivity apps for exporting.
On the other hand, Wrike has a more visual reporting feature. Its Performance Chart gives you an easy-to-grasp picture of tasks versus deadlines across a timeline. Likewise, its Global Reports give you flexibility to view a report in different ways, such as, by status, assigned tasks, deadlines and completion dates.
If you enjoy crunching numbers and digging deep into them, dapulse is a good choice. For a more visual and clearer reporting though, Wrike’s charts and graphs are spot on.
There you go, that’s our list of top 5 project management solutions for small business dissected to reveal their pros and cons. We hope it will help you see which particular set features will work best for your small business team. Do you have a favorite project management software? Tell us which one works best for you in the comments.Category: B2B News