You can't very well run a business without the right management. Businesses survive and thrive so long as they reach their fullest potential by not wasting time and money. But what tools should businesses use if they need proper management?
Project management software is, without question, among the best resources businesses can use to stop missing deadlines and start making the most of their time and investments. Project management software lets businesses track different goals over time, such as monitoring project-based finances. Different project management tools have different capabilities, though, and picking the right project management software for your business can seem complicated.
Let's make the task of choosing the right project management software less daunting. This article lists the six best project management software solutions that small businesses can use to better manage communications, finances, and calendars.
Things to look for in your project management software
Before we dive into our top project management software picks, let's quickly cover what you should keep an eye out for when choosing project management software.
Pricing vs Features
Aim to purchase project management software that offers a good bang for your buck: it needs the right balance between useful features and a competitive cost. Small businesses should choose a project management software solution that offers important things such as integrations, services for training and support, reporting capabilities, and multiple storage options, for example. The best software for your business will balance the typical features you need to effectively manage projects while still making things easy for your users.
Different project management software solutions provide their own mixtures of designs, sets of features, and methodologies that drive project management — these are what drive the costs that you'll end up paying. Specifically, you'll typically see things such as the number of users, integrations, and reporting features drive the cost of a project management software solution.
Prices of project management software solutions can vary pretty widely. Generally, though, you can expect to pay up to $15 per user for simple solutions that are best for teams of one or two; up to $45 per user for more advanced solutions that are best for a couple of teams and departments; and as much as $20,000 per year for project management software solutions aimed at helping entire enterprises.
Your software should give you a strong user interface that lets you easily navigate between features like task-tracking and built-in chat messaging.
Your users need their content visually presented to them in a way that's clean and makes it easy for them to process what they're looking at. This visual hierarchy is essential to strong user interface design: design elements should appear in the order in which users want to look at and process them.
Consider things such as scale, contrast, and size — all of these things grab the attention of a user and help them quickly understand why each element is important. In this way, a strong user interface facilitates smooth user navigation and ultimately improves its user experience.
Syncing with Finances
Remember to also look for project management software that lets you manage your finances and sync with your business bank accounts, with features such as invoice creation and templates for project budgeting.
We also recommend using software that lets you choose a quality template you can reuse for different projects and tasks like event planning, budgeting, and managing social media calendars for your different platforms.
If you own a small business that's just starting out, you feel like it's premature to build out a year-over-year plan for growth. You may be more interested in providing high-quality services to the target audience you've spent so long identifying.
Monday.com has you covered if you find yourself agreeing with the above. This project management software is great at helping you scale your operations over time. As with any great project management software for small businesses, monday.com grows with you.
Like FreshBooks, monday.com does a great job of making it easy for users to navigate between features. Although monday.com has different tiers for its plans, you can choose from more than 200 project templates that help you with your marketing strategy, product launch schedule, and more.
Another big bonus that monday.com offers is a range of automation. Monday.com lets you automate processes such as task creation and assignments, and its automation abilities come with built-in actions and triggers for user-friendliness. You can set up multiple automations in a matter of minutes, thanks to monday.com's intuitive UI.
- Ready-made templates allow for quick starts to projects
- Dashboards and charts display the layout of where projects are
- All team members have access to monday.com
- 24/7 customer support
- ‘Basic’ plan does not offer features like automation and integration
- Several integration issues with softwares like Canvas and ActiveCampaign have been reported by users
FreshBooks claims the top spot on our list for its incredible balance between cost and features that small business owners can't pass up.
FreshBooks is a project management software that's made with business owners in mind. It has all the must-have features like task-tracking, file storage, and inventory and financial management tools. Make each project run more smoothly with file and image sharing, rate and hour-tracking, and a whole lot more.
Improve your process of paying clients and getting paid in turn, too. FreshBooks gives you lots of options for invoice customization and lets you choose a template, add your brand's logo, and adjust fonts and color schemes that make you stand out. Once you've finished a project or milestone, FreshBooks lets you get paid as quickly as possible with credit card payments and recurring invoices.
Business owners who need control over projects that manage different currency types are also in luck. FreshBooks' flexibility lets you process payments using multiple types of currency and even lets you apply discounts to invoices.
You can give FreshBooks a test run by signing up for a free trial before you settle on a pricing plan. FreshBooks plans range from $7.50 to $25.00 per month, although you can opt into plans with yearly rates as well.
- Easy to use for very small businesses
- Excellent customer support
- Invoicing support
- Support for time-tracking and mileage across all plans
- Number of users is limited
- Lowest-tier plan doesn’t offer account access or bank reconciliation
- No quarterly tax estimates
Asana offers a great mixture of functions, user interfaces, and layouts. Business owners can use Asana to cultivate an efficient project management workflow with tools that let them track timelines and use automation for recurring projects.
Better organize your project workflow by assigning team members to project tasks and setting priority levels to ensure everyone stays focused. You'll also get security and reporting tools if you subscribe to Asana's Premium plan, which starts at $11 per user per month, billed annually, although you can first try a 30-day free trial before you make a decision.
Businesses that start with Asana's Premium plan get access to important features such as a workflow builder, unlimited project reporting, unlimited free guests, and much more.
- Asana automates manual tasks via workflow automation
- Real-time reporting available through dashboards, graphs, and charts
- 100+ available integrations
- Free plan is available for up to 15 users
- No built-in time tracking
- Only one user may be assigned to a task at a time
- Exporting limited to CSV and JSON formats
Smartsheet has all the features small business owners need to manage multiple projects concurrently. As its name may imply, Smartsheet includes high-quality spreadsheets to manage your budget overview, but it comes with much more than that: Smartsheet lets you manage invoices, generate reports to summarize project data and automate processes with its flexible project workflows.
Although Smartsheet's user interface takes some getting used to, it's an incredibly powerful project management software solution that's hard to beat when it comes to options for features. The starting price to begin using Smartsheet is $7.00 for its Pro plan, but you can choose to use a 30-day free trial first to experience all the features you'd receive from a paid plan.
- Users can create, edit, and share data visualizations with other users
- Industry-measurement, file sharing options, and office productivity tools
- Easy-to-navigate UI makes Smartsheet simple to pick up for new users
- Relatively expensive with individual plans starting at $14/mo
- No time-tracking functionality included
You may not be on the search for a project management software solution that comes with lots of bells and whistles — you may simply be looking for software that comes with essential features, and that's easy to use.
Teamwork has all of the tools you need to easily create and manage projects: time-tracking, task editing, and the ability to add different user types are the most important abilities Teamwork offers for those with simplicity in mind. Although it may not be the best choice for larger businesses, Teamwork is perfect if you need an intuitive tool that lets you keep project-based tasks organized.
As you begin to populate Teamwork with new tasks and projects, Teamwork automatically fills in your dashboards with project-relevant data. Additionally, all of your dashboards include boxes and graphs that inform you on the current status of different projects, and they let team members know how many tasks are due across each project you're working on — you can even see the number of active tasks that are assigned to different users and the amount of time that's been spent on each tasks.
You can choose between four account types when you sign up with Teamwork: ‘Free Forever' (free); ‘Deliver' ($12.50/mo per user); ‘Grow' ($22.50/mo per user); and ‘Scale' (enterprise plan with custom pricing). Teamwork does grant a free 30-day trial of the ‘Grow' account without requiring that you provide credit card information.
- “Workload” feature lets users view a big picture-style visualization of team capacity
- Collaboration features let users share comments on tasks with clients and internal team members
- Task and subtask-creation tools let users easily structure milestones and projects
- Implementing custom configurations can be time-consuming for new users
6. Zoho Projects
Last but not least on our list is Zoho Projects. Zoho Projects is a project management software solution that focuses on team communication and project collaboration: users get a built-in messenger feature to stay in touch with each other and can use Zoho's page feature to keep up-to-date records for different projects.
Zoho Projects offers all of the core features you'd expect from a project management software solution aimed to help small businesses: it lets users work with dashboards, charts, tasks and milestones, and much more to keep track of everything going on. At the heart of Zoho Projects is a customizable dashboard that users can configure to display whatever is most relevant to what they're working on.
Zoho Projects also focuses on project views and resource management by providing users a kanban-style board view and task list view. Plus, you can access a feature called Resource Utilization (basically a resource management report feature) to let you see which users are assigned to what in order to better delegate tasks across a project.
To top it off, users can attach files to different tasks, projects, and comments and can take advantage of project-tracking tools such as task creators and dashboards. Zoho Projects has a starting price of $4.00, but you can use a free plan for up to three users.
- Customizable dashboard is very user-friendly and easy to navigate
- Resource utilization tool makes it easy to see which tasks are assigned to which users
- Starts with a free plan, which enables you to add up to three users
- Centralized file storage database makes it simple for users to access documents, sheets, and other files and shared resources
- Many users report that the customer support communication is inconsistent, and particularly when reporting bugs or glitches with the software
If you're looking for project management software solutions that are feature-rich and reasonably priced, look no further than the six picks we've outlined above. If we had to pick one option from our list, however, it would be FreshBooks, thanks to its near-perfect balance between costs and features.