As online service providers, the nature of our work is that we have multiple different projects going on with multiple different clients at the same time. (Not to mention all of our own stuff!) You need to figure out some way to manage all of this information, but deciding on the best project management app for you can be quite a headache.
Do you just make free accounts on all of them and try them out? That seems pretty overwhelming!
Instead of making you go through all that trouble, I’ve taken the time to look at each project management system from the inside out, and hopefully this post will give you a good idea of the pros, cons, and features of each, so that you can make an easy decision on which is the best project management app for you and your business!
A side note: this blog post does not include an overview of programs like 17Hats or Dubsado, which are client management tools (CRMs) and not project management systems. As an online business owner, you would most likely want to use one of each in collaboration with each other.
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Project Management App
Trello is the best project management app if you consider yourself a highly visual person. Need to see all your projects, tasks, and clients all laid out in front of you? Trello might be a good option for you.
Trello’s main functions are their boards and cards. Individual boards contain stacks of cards, separated and arranged however you see fit.
Each card is like its own separate file that you can: assign to team members, add due dates, create checklist items, add comments on, and even attach files to.
Trello prides itself on having a very functional app that works well across many different platforms (tablets, smartphones, etc.). It even boasts of immediate updates, supplying you with up-to-the minute changes, syncing, and notifications.
You can invite as many people to your board, all for free. Drag and drop people to different cards to divvy up tasks. Everyone sees the same board and the whole picture all at once. If you have a lot of people, or multiple groups of people, you can even separate them into “teams” (such as “work,” “family,” etc.).
In my opinion, the biggest con of Trello is that it does not have any many options or features as other project management softwares, especially when it comes to assigning tasks to your team members. Because of that Trello is best used for very small teams or solo-run businesses.
Trello has a full list of integrations on its site, but some of the more notable ones include: Slack, Google Drive, GitHub, Dropbox, Evernote, Zendesk, Harvest, Twitter, MailChimp, and Survey Monkey.
Trello’s affiliate program does not pay out money, but instead it awards you with a free month of their “Gold” subscription features.
Trello’s free plan is pretty comprehensive, but they do have two other tiers with more features.
Asana, my project management system of choice, is a list-based project management app that utilizes projects and tasks to keep your business running smoothly.
Asana is, in my opinion, the best project management app because it’s so easy to work with team members and see all of your ongoing projects at a glance.
You can chat with others by replying to a notification email, set up subtasks within each task, check things off as you complete them, and create templates of repeatable workflows. It’s super easy to assign due dates, change ownership of a task, and switch tasks between different projects.
The negative side of Asana is that, unlike project management giants like Basecamp and Teamwork, Asana’s many features and unlimited capabilities make it a bit harder to fully learn. I also think that their mobile app could use some work.
Asana has a full list of integrations on its site, but some of the more notable ones include: Dropbox, Slack, a Chrome extension, Google Sheets, Zapier, MailChimp, Evernote, Harvest, Zendesk, and Google Calendar.
No affiliate program currently.
Asana is free for up to 15 team members. Their paid plan is a little bit more advanced, and costs $8.33 per member each month.
Basecamp is the best project management app if you want to integrate both team members and clients into your workflows. Basecamp is the perfect program for those of you who do a lot of similar projects with the same basic steps for multiple different clients, such as web design or sales funnel creation.
Basecamp brings everything your company’s working on under one roof. Organized, centralized, and clear so everyone knows what to do, everyone knows where things stand, and everyone can get what they need without having to ask around all the time.
Inside every HQ, team, and project you’ll find six core tools:
- to-dos for tracking work
- a message board for posting announcements and updates
- a campfire chat room for quick casual chats with the team
- a schedule for posting deadlines and milestones
- a docs & files section for organizing all the assets and notes everyone needs to do their work
- and automatic check-ins to get insights from the team on a regular basis
Instead of wondering what’s going on, Basecamp reports summarize key activity whenever you need it. Know what’s overdue, who’s working on what, everything that happened on a given day, the current status on everything you’ve assigned to other people, and what deadlines are coming up next.
Basecamp allows you to stop having to ask “hey, where’s that file?” Simply grab it yourself from right inside the Basecamp project. Anyone who’s working on a project, or part of a team, has access to the same set of files, so no one has to ask anyone else where anything is. You can organize stuff in folders and even color code files so they stand out.
Their discussion and notifications features make sure that you only see the most relevant information, as you can select which members of each task should see certain messages.
Unlike Asana, Trello and Teamwork, Basecamp also has a desktop application, which can be really useful if you don’t want to be stuck in your browser 24/7. It’s also available on the web, PC, and iOS or Android smartphones.
Basecamp only has a few integrations, but it does work with Zapier, which can help you connect it with many other apps.
Basecamp does not have an affiliate program at this time.
They have a free 30-day trial, and then it is $99 per month. Although seemingly very expensive for a project management system, it might end up being a good deal if you have quite a few team members and/or clients, because Basecamp does not have additional user fees. It’s $99/month whether you are a solopreneur or run a huge team.
Teamwork will help you get organized and get stuff done! It’s interface is very simple to use, and collaborate seamlessly with your team members and clients.
Using Teamwork, your team will know what they have to do, when it must be done and who needs to do it. They’ll know exactly where to look to find and store everything they need. And so will your clients.
Your clients can keep up-to-date with what’s going on without having to bug you, and information is not just stuck in your computer either: using the Android, iPhone, and iPad apps, your team can do their work wherever they are.
Something that is unique to Teamwork is that they also have a help desk software and a chat software along with their project management software. It’s a nice feature to have all of that stuff available on one site with one login!
I also appreciate their “reminders” feature so that you can make sure that you (or your team members) don’t forget about something, as well as being able to assign each task a priority level.
Teamwork even has their own time tracking feature (or you can integrate with your preferred time tracking software), and then you can send invoices based on a project’s tracked time.
Teamwork has a healthy list of integrations, which includes: HubSpot, OneDrive, Dropbox, Zendesk, Xero, Google Calendar, Gmail, Freshbooks, Quickbooks, Harvest, Gmail, and Outlook. Their additional integration with Zapier makes the possibilities endless.
Their affiliate program (also available on their free plan) allows you to make 25% of whatever your referred users pay within the span of one year after signing up.
Teamwork has a free 30-day trial, and then starts at $49 per month (or you can continue with their “free forever” plan that allows you up to 2 projects and 100mb of space). Their paid project management accounts do not include access to their help desk or chat features, which have separate additional pricing.
Freedcamp is new to the project management space. It’s great for organizing projects, teams, and even families.
Although probably not best for medium or large teams who deal with multi-layered projects, I like that it offers you multiple views of your projects and tasks, so that each member can choose how they best want to look at their online workspace.
Freedcamp prides itself on a very comprehensive free forever plan, which includes unlimited users, storage, and projects.
What is unique about Freedcamp is that it allows you to choose whether you want to see your tasks in list-view or their “kanban” visual style. You can also see things in a calendar view, and look at all your files in one spot.
View your to-dos in your “To Do List” and make use of their drag-and-drop feature to add team members, due dates, and priorities to each task.
Similar to Teamwork, they have their own native time tracker that also lets you invoice.
Unlike most other project management systems, their discussions feature is not chat-style, but is instead forum-based. This, to me, would be a negative, as I like being able to chat within a certain task. It does not look like you can do that with Freedcamp. Another missing feature is subtasks, which go a long way to help organize your client projects, as that is only available as a paid add-on.
Another fairly large con is that their iPhone app is very new and, as of right now, they do not offer an Android version.
I could not find a list of integrations for Freedcamp, although I did see that you can connect it at least with Google.
No affiliate program at this time
MeisterTask is an intuitive task management tool with project boards and collaboration features. It keeps you up to date on your teammates’ progress while making sure that you never lose focus of your own to-dos or miss an important deadline. Plus, MeisterTask is more than a simple task management tool: it is a place where all your project-related information is safely stored, yet accessible for all project members at all times.
MeisterTask features a customizable dashboard, integration with a mind-mapping tool, and even has apps for both your smartphones and desktop!
Each task in your dashboard includes an activity stream that traces the task history, which could include: chatting about the details of the job with your team members, uploading files, setting due dates and adding checklist items.
MeisterTask has a list of integrations, the most notable of which include: Zendesk, Slack, GitHub, Zapier, Google Drive, Dropbox, and IFTTT.
A full-service project management and CRM software, Bitrix24 has extensive features and can support very large companies and teams. Its only negative seems to be how all-encompassing it is, as it does not really seem to be set up for small or even medium-sized companies.
Unlike other project management softwares, one of Bitrix’s main features is that it functions just like Facebook, including an activity feed on your dashboard, a “like” button, and an employee photo gallery.
You can add standard workflows to your processes, which allow employees to complete certain often-repeated tasks with ease. One unique feature of Bitrix24 is that you can also assign task “dependencies,” so that different aspects of a task can be altered by the completion or editing of a different task.
Their workload management feature allows you to set time limits, track time spent, and see your upcoming deadlines at a glance.
Ease of employee communication is at the forefront of Bitrix24’s design. Their activity feed allows for employees to see what everyone else is up to, and they can even award badges to other workers. They can communicate with their team members, through instant messaging, group chats, voice calls, video chats and conferences, and screensharing, all from within Bitrix24. Each of those features can be accessed through the fully functional desktop or mobile apps.
On top of everything else, Bitrix24 also functions as a CRM software, with relationship tracking, client management, invoicing, quotes, and forms all included.
Bitrix24 has a list of integrations, the most notable of which include: Gmail, Outlook, MailChimp, and Zapier.
Bitrix24 has a complex partner program that you can apply to join.
Kanbanchi is a free online software tool for task management, project management, and team collaboration. The visual kanban-style board with their simple drag-and-drop interface helps you focus on what matters most – your tasks. Individual users, small teams and large enterprises will find essential features for building a clear workflow.
Kanbanchi is the best project management app if you are looking to integrate seamlessly with Google Apps. You can view due dates in Google Calendar, upload files straight from Drive, and export your data to Google Sheets.
It lets you organize your cards with tags and colors, and sort them however you need to.
More than anything Kanbanchi seems like the perfect answer for people who want a better-designed Trello that is created specifically with project management in mind. The biggest negative to Kanbanchi is that is doesn’t have any smartphone apps as of yet.
Integrates with Google apps.
None at this time.
Kanbanchi is a mostly free software that only has a few paid features that are add-on upgrades. Pricing depends on which add-ons you need.
dapulse is the self-proclaimed antithesis of a project management tool, with minimalistic features and an easy-to-use interface.
With very little explanation of their software on their website, this features section is a bit lacking. They encourage you to sign up for a free trial with almost no information offered about their program.
Without having dived into it personally, it seems to be mostly focused on commenting back and forth vs. having actual “projects” and “tasks.” But, really, who knows?
Yes, all through Zapier.
None at the moment.
LiquidPlanner was designed for software teams, created to handle complex projects as easily as possible.
LiquidPlanner has many of the same features as most other project management softwares, but puts a lot of emphasis on being able to manage your team accordingly and never missing deadlines.
Their biggest unique feature is that it can calculate the uncertainty in every project. It claims to “estimate a realistic range of time to complete tasks, and LiquidPlanner will calculate when you’re most likely to get done. It takes everyone’s availability and priorities into account, then creates a schedule you can trust.”
It is also built specifically for agile or “scrum” project management methodologies, and they offer a free ebook about how to do this correctly.
LiquidPlanner has a full list of integrations, the most notable of which include: Google Drive, Dropbox, and Zapier. They even have API that you can play around with.
They offer 15% of the first yearly invoice for any referrals that purchase paid accounts. You can join the affiliate program without having to purchase the software, too. Start by signing up for a free trial account (no credit card required).
They offer a free trial period (no credit card required), but you will need to upgrade to continue using the project management features.
After digging into all of these programs, trying to find the best project management app out there, I think that I have a good idea of the ones that seem to stand out from the pack.
- Got a big client load and a bunch of team members? Go with Teamwork.
- Just starting out as a solopreneur with few clients and team members? Asana, Trello, or Kanbanchi.
- Want to try something different and cool? LiquidPlanner
- Are you a huge-ass company with hundreds of employees? Bitrix24
- Brand-new blogger or stay-at-home mom? Freedcamp
The funny thing about doing this exercise is that it actually made me re-think my hardcore love of Asana! I’ve come to the conclusion that I might actually need to upgrade at some point and switch to Teamwork. But, I still think that I haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve outgrown it quite yet. So I’m still sticking with Asana! (Plus, it’s free.)