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What is the Best Team Collaboration Tool: Microsoft Project, Trello, or Jira?

Category: B2B News

Team collaboration software solutions have changed the way companies tackle their projects and daily tasks by streamlining and optimizing operations. With tools that help project managers, entrepreneurs, and other professionals get complete visibility over their workload and schedule, these platforms are surely great additions to any company’s collection of business systems. The only question now is “what is the best team collaboration app for you?”

As you browse for a collaboration tool for your company, you should consider some of the top solutions available on the market: Microsoft Project, Trello, and Jira. These three products are known for their user-friendly interfaces, comprehensive features, and flexible pricing plans. To help you understand which one is best suited for your operations, we will be comparing their core team collaboration features.

When taking on a project of any scale, the team needs to be clearly informed of their tasks and goals right from the beginning. Throughout the endeavor, proactive collaboration is key to accomplishing projects as smoothly as possible. In fact, 97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team negatively affects overall output.

In relation, a Stanford study from a few years ago showed that the mere perception of working collectively on a task greatly enhances performance among teams. Participants of the survey who were primed to act collaboratively stuck at their task 64% longer than their solitary peers, whilst also reporting higher engagement levels, lower fatigue levels, and a higher success rate. What’s more, this impact persisted for several weeks.

However, manually tackling all the tasks associated with collaborations can be a handful. As you can see on the table provided, virtual teams are having trouble with managing tasks, scheduling meetings, and sifting through long email threads because of ineffective communication and poor workflow planning. These are the kinds of problems that team collaboration software such as Microsoft Project, Trello, and Jira aim to address.

Source: https://www.xait.com

With these team collaboration tools at your disposal, you can effortlessly streamline the way you and your team works using intuitive dashboards, robust task management tools, top-of-the-line scheduling options, as well as other innovative collaborative solutions. To help you gauge which one of these software solutions are a better fit for your operations, we will be comparing them side by side according to their functionalities. Of course, there are plenty of other good platforms available on the market so be sure not to limit yourself to choosing from only these three. You can start by taking a look at our list of top 20 online collaboration software tools.

Overview of Microsoft Project, Jira and Trello

Microsoft Project, Trello, and Jira offer similar quality functionalities that will keep your workplace more productive on a daily basis. However, each of these platforms has their own strengths and weaknesses. This is why it is important to carefully assess what your prospective software solution can and can’t do. By doing so, you can get the most value out of your money and make sure you won’t encounter any inconveniences that might affect your work negatively.

Microsoft Project

Primarily a tool for project portfolio management, Microsoft Project consists of three main modules: project management, portfolio management, and resource management. These aim to help companies get a better grasp of their overall operations by providing them with comprehensive features that can tackle all the hurdles associated with team collaboration. .  

Microsoft Project features include standard scheduling tools, integrated planning, task prioritization, and real-time resource visibility. The software is also equipped with collaborative workspaces where each member of your team can get status updates and facilitate conversations. Moreover, they have out-of-the-box reports that can easily be shared with your teams across devices.

Deployed as either a cloud-based or on-premise tool, this Microsoft Project is very well integrated with MS office productivity applications which you might already be using for your operations. However it might not be a good standalone tool for jobsite collaboration because it doesn’t work as seamlessly with third-party integrations.

The vendor offers plans that are priced according to your deployment preference. Cloud-based solutions cost $7/user/month to $55/user/month depending on the number of features you will need for your operations. For the on-premise options, the vendor has different licensing plans that cost $589.99 to $1159.99. They also have a quote-based option for larger companies that need more advanced features.

Trello

Leading collaboration application Trello is an easy-to-use platform that utilizes kanban boards for planning projects, monitoring team activities, and collaborating on operations. It serves as a mobile-ready, cloud-based system that stores and organizes comprehensive information about your endeavors. With this, you can keep things organized and remain up-to-speed on your tasks at all times.

Trello also supports in-platform conversations to allow team members to discuss projects and preserve the information on those discussions for future reference. Moreover, the software has great archiving options that makes it easy to pull old files for new projects. It even has drag-and-drop functionality and in-line editing options that makes it ideal for users who are don’t have any programming expertise. On top of that, the platform is protected using SSL encryption and other security measures to make sure that your company data is safe from prying eyes.

In case these features are not enough for you, Trello can also support a number of power-ups for calendars, widgets, and developer API to help you extend the capabilities of the platform. The only possible downside to this software is that while this is a simple and easily-navigable team collaboration tool, it is not capable of replacing full fledged project management tools. It offers no dashboard through which you can monitor productivity and it can be very difficult to use for large-scale business endeavors.

The vendor offers a free plan which is great for startups and small businesses with limited spending capacities. There is also a Business Class edition that costs $9.99/user/month and an Enterprise package that costs $20.83/user/month. These are priced according to how advanced the features in the set are as well as the types of security options it can support.

Jira

Jira is a team collaboration tool designed to help users capture, assign, and set priorities to their work. Often favored by IT teams and application development professionals for project management, this platform offers an intuitive interface that allows them to get their job done as effectively as possible. It is also great for agile teams who need to plan sprints on a regular basis and require real-time visibility of tasks. Notable Jira benefits include optimized workflows, faster project execution, and better information transparency.

Designed to meet the needs of different industries, It is equipped with highly customizable features such as dashboards, search and filtering, security as well as defect management. On top of its configurable interface, Jira also has a rich toolkit for developers, a dedicated query language, and API capabilities. This makes it even more ideal for companies who want complete flexibility over their system.

For pricing, Jira offers cloud-based packages for companies with up to 10 users and enterprises with up to 100 users. These cost $10/month and $7/user/month respectively. The self-hosted version, on the other hand, has a Server package that has a $10 one-time payment for 10 users and a Data Center package that costs $12000 per year for 500 users.

Comparison of Core Team Collaboration Features

One of the best ways to find out if a team collaboration software will work for your operations is by carefully assessing its core features. To help you get a clearer understanding of what Microsoft Project, Trello, and Jira can do, we have compared them based on the most important features that team collaboration applications should have. Please take note that the functionalities mentioned below are not the only ones you should look for in this type of platform. Check out our article on the different features of collaboration software to get a more comprehensive explanation of these functionalities.

1. Workflow Automation

Workflow automation is a tool that allows users to map out and program their team goals and tasks to reduce repetitive back-office responsibilities. Among the three products, only Jira offers this feature as part of its interface. The platform makes use of automation triggers that users may program according to their unique requirements, so that developers can focus on their coding task and prevent themselves from getting sidetracked due to administrative work. By simply identifying the points when the platform should send out notifications, Jira can easily keep their teammates and stakeholders up-to-date in real-time as soon as developers reach a certain progress with their work. This makes it a great option for agile teams who want a team collaboration tool that can easily adapt to their needs.

As for Microsoft Project and Trello, while these two don’t have native workflow automation features, they seamlessly blend with other applications that can provide you with this function. On one hand, Microsoft Project has a GANTT chart option that you and your team members can access so that you get complete visibility over your workflow. However, this does not automate it. If you want to use it for extensive workflow planning and automation, you may integrate it with SharePoint designer workflow, Nintex workflow, as well as Microsoft flow. With these, you can simply set up a checklist of actions for certain phases of your project and automate when to forward your project information or when to notify the other team members.

On the other hand, Trello simply gives you an overview of your tasks and who is working on what at the moment. It cannot tackle workflow automation on its own. Luckily, they have an option for a Butler Power-Up that serves as an assistant that you can program to react to the actions happening on your board. All you have to do is set parameters that it can follow whenever there are movements on the board. What makes this great is that you can create these rules in plain English. There is absolutely no need for computer programming knowledge at all, making it great for companies without in-house technical experts.

Creating automation rules on Jira.

2. Task Management

Task management features are what allow you to delegate responsibilities, track work progress, and monitor team performance in a unified hub. When it comes to this capability, all three products offer robust solutions that can fit the different needs of different companies in different industries.

Microsoft Project has task creation options that will let users and their teams define the activities involved in their operations and how they should be assigned to different members. Using this, it is easier to prioritize tasks, eliminate surprises, and focus on the most important matters first.

Jira offers a task management scheme that is similar to Microsoft Project in the sense that you can easily define tasks and assign them however you wish. This platform can even let you set due dates and reminders for easier tracking. What makes this more unique however is that it offers task history and reporting, allowing you to carefully assess your progress well after projects have been accomplished. Moreover, subtasks may be created for larger responsibilities that need to be broken down.

Among the three, Trello probably has the most visual and easiest approach to this function being kanban-based. It uses boards, lists, and cards to help you keep track of your team. Boards will allow you to compile the different activities associated with a single project while lists will help you categorize your team goals and responsibilities. Cards are then used to create specific tasks. These can be moved between lists as you progress through a project. To help you get a more comprehensive look at your tasks, you may attach images and files to the card, assign members to it, add descriptions, label them, and add deadlines to them. Another nifty thing about this is that you and other team members may easily leave notes and comments on each card. With this, giving out instructions for specific tasks is easier than ever.

3. Internal Communication System

Communication systems such as group chats, video chats, and phone conferencing are great ways to improve team collaboration. However, this is probably the one thing that none of these products provide as part of their base platform. Although this is the case, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to improve the way your team communicates when you invest in any of these software solutions.

Communication systems such as group chats, video chats, and phone conferencing are great ways to improve team collaboration. However, this is probably the one thing that none of these products provide as part of their base platform. Although this is the case, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to improve the way your team communicates when you invest in any of these software solutions.

Microsoft Project may not offer a built-in communication solution but it has the capability to centralize status reporting using its task management and workflow automation features. This makes it easier for you and your teammates to keep each other in-the-know about your progress. If you want a more proactive communication system that facilitates real-time conversations, you may easily integrate Microsoft Project with Skype.

In the case of Trello, the closest to an internal communication system it offers is its comment feature. This lets users leave notes on specific cards. These may be additional instructions, clarifications on their goals, or other information that can help in accomplishing the specific task they are commenting on. For a better communication feature, you may opt to use power-ups such as Slack for group chats, Board Meeting for video chats, or Workplace by Facebook for a more integrated communication hub.

As for Jira, users can get real-time visibility on who is working on what using real-time notifications. These may be in the form of emails or event updates. Like Trello and Microsoft Project, Jira also supports third-party integrations like HipChat for teams that require chat software for real-time communication.

With both Project and Skype owned by Microsoft, integration is seamless between apps.

4. Calendar and Scheduling

Effective team collaboration relies heavily on efficient planning. To do this, you need calendar and scheduling tools in order to make sure that you and your team are right on track with your tasks.

With Microsoft Project, you can get access to a shared team calendar that ensures all of your team members are on the same page at all times. This is great for planning meetings and events and makes synchronizing work schedules more hassle-free than ever. The platform is also equipped with a work scheduling tool that allows users to gain complete visibility of their entire process. With this, finding out how certain changes to your project will impact your output is easier.

As for Trello and Jira, neither products offer built-in calendar options. However, Trello can accommodate custom due dates for each card and list on their boards and can even be organized according to how you want to see your schedule. Other than that, you will have to use power-ups such as Google Calendar, Zapier, and Planyway if you want a full fledged calendar and scheduling tool. The same scheme goes for Jira.

5. File Sharing

No matter what type of project you and your team are working on, there is a good chance that it involves plenty of paperwork. In order to keep all of these documents organized, your team collaboration tool needs file sharing options.

As expected from a leading software solution, Microsoft Project offers robust file sharing options for its users. This allows you to upload, share, and archive any relevant documentation so you can go about your tasks without having to waste time sifting through physical filing systems or large online databases.

Closely rivaling Microsoft Project is Trello with its easy-to-use attachment feature. With this, you can include different types of files into cards within your boards. Be it images, videos, or documents, you may add as many files as you want to any card, making it easier to consolidate all documents related to specific tasks. The only downside to this file sharing feature is that the platform has a file upload limit per attachment depending on the subscription plan you have.

Of the three products, only Jira fell short in this aspect of team collaboration. As it is mostly created for project tracking, the platform does not offer a full-fledged file sharing system. The most you will be able to do is add links to your external file sharing system via URLs so that your team members may access the documents you want them to see. As a solution to that, you may opt to integrate the platform with native or third-party file sharing applications that are available on the Atlassian marketplace.

6. Mobile Optimization

Today’s fast-paced business landscape requires companies to be flexible in tackling different projects. This is why many teams often work outside of the office, hence, some of your people will not always have access to office computers. Laptops are always an option, but they can be difficult to carry everywhere, especially when you travel often and for short spans of time. Faced with this issue, many companies prefer mobile-ready platforms.

If your business functions this way, Trello would be a boon for you. Trello has a native application that you can download on Google Play and the App Store. All features that the desktop program has are present in the mobile application, making it optimized for people who work on the go. You and your team members can list down and delegate tasks, track your progress, and much more.

On the other hand, Microsoft Project is accessible on mobile devices via any browser. People who work on the go can easily use this application to organize different aspects of their project, such as budgeting and progress tracking.

Finally, JIRA chooses the mobile or desktop interface based on your device. While the interface is flexible, this platform has limited access to its features when using mobile devices. It is designed for viewing and interacting with issues on the go. If you need full access to JIRA, users can always switch to the desktop interface via the mobile menu.

Trello as seen on iOS.

7. Easy-to-Use Dashboard

Dashboards are created to help you gain visibility over your team’s activities. With this feature, you can easily track who is doing what and find out if you and your team are on schedule. Some may even include reports on performance, which may come in handy for teams who are particularly concerned about measuring their productivity.

For teams looking for a simple and easy-to-navigate dashboard, Microsoft Project is a good pick. Offering a familiar interface similar to other MS productivity tools, this can give you an overview of the most important details of your project. You may choose to add graphs, charts, data presentations, and other visuals depending on how you prefer digesting your team data. It even has filtering options like the roll-up view which gives you a more concise layout of your tasks.

If you want complete flexibility over your dashboard, you might want to opt for Jira. It has an intuitive dashboard that can be configured according to your needs. Just add gadgets for the different requirements you have and choose a layout that suits the needs of your operations, and you’re good to go. The only issue you might encounter here is that some programming knowledge will be required in order to modify your platform to your heart’s content.

Lastly, Trello offers a bird’s eye view of your tasks using boards. However, this platform does not have an integrated dashboard that displays the different aspects of your operations in one window. So, if you need real-time reports and progress statuses, this might not be the option for you.

Conclusion

When it comes to software for companies, there is no catchall solution that will accommodate the needs of all sizes and types of businesses. Microsoft Project, Trello, and Jira are all equally capable of meeting different team collaboration requirements. However, these three have their own pros and cons. Microsoft Project may be more suited for small projects, Trello might be more ideal for non-tech-savvy users, and Jira may be better for IT professionals. At the end of the day, knowing what is the best team collaboration app for your business lies in understanding what your operations require. To help you out, you can check out these tips on choosing a good collaboration software vendor

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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