New tools to improve performance
on February 28, 2022 (last modified on December 13, 2022) • 22 minute read
Project management tools help teams and businesses organize their workloads so that projects are progressing according to plan. They facilitate team collaboration and provide a clear overview of all activities relating to a task, campaign, or project.
But finding the best project management tool for your business can be daunting, there are at least a dozen options to choose from! It doesn’t help that many project management tools have similar features and purposes which leave you feeling like Fred in Portlandia.
To help you choose the best project management software for yourself and/or your team(s), we asked 25+ experts to share tools they use and recommend.
In this article, we explore:
Let’s dive in!
A project management tool is a software or platform that assists individuals or teams in organizing and managing their tasks and projects efficiently. The best project management tools make it easier for teams to plan projects, collaborate, allocate resources, assign tasks, track progress and deliver projects on time.
Project management tools keep teams organized through task management features like Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and project dashboards. They also help team members communicate through collaboration features like chats, document sharing, and real-time updates.
Although many project management solutions have wide-reaching features, one tool might not fulfill all your needs or fix every issue. For example, John Donnachie of ClydeBank Media cannot “recommend Trello enough for creative projects and project tracking.” However, outside of creative projects, Donnachie observed that “Trello’s limits start to show.”
In cases like this, teams tend to use more than one project management tool to satisfy their project needs. Sagapixel’s Frank Olivo does this. “For web design projects, Monday.com has met all of our needs, but it fell short in managing our SEO operations,” Olivo says. “For SEO project management, we’re using a homebrew project management system built-in Google Sheets.”
When it comes to choosing project management tools, a good rule of thumb is to choose the least number of tools to meet your business needs. This will help you keep track of the tools you use and the kinds of projects you use them for.
However, even if you do choose tools that offer the broadest set of features you need to execute and deliver a project, you might still need more than one tool to plan and monitor all your projects. This is because most tools lack certain features needed to execute certain projects.
In fact, our study shows that 96.7% of companies use between 1-2 project management tools, while 3.3% of businesses use between 3-5 tools.
It makes sense that such a large percentage of businesses use more than one project management tool. This is likely because most businesses handle more than one project at a time.
According to our survey, 27% of companies handle between one to five projects at once, while another 27% handle about 11-25 projects at once. On the extreme end, 3% of companies handle between 76-100 projects at once.
According to our research, 33% of companies say that the most important feature of a project management tool is its ability to handle complex projects. 27% of companies think that a project management tool is great for predicting incoming problems, while 8% of them say that the ability of a project management tool to track budgets and billable hours is its most important feature.
Project management is all about juggling: resources, expectations, people, data, and much more. And as a project manager, you not only have to know where your projects are at any given moment, but you also have to be aware of where they’re going and where they need to be in the future. To do that using a project management system, you need an actionable dashboard that allows you to monitor metrics like:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our project managers, who have put together great plug-and-play Databox templates showing the most important KPIs for tracking your team’s performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in management reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your project management tool with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
“Every business is unique and has its own needs,” Vinpit’s Miranda Yan advises. “A project management software that works for one company might not be as suitable for another.”
And that’s right: Before you choose a project management tool, you should consider your personal goals and business needs, and ensure that your pick(s) can adequately satisfy and accomplish those goals and needs.
Many project management software have similar features but no two tools are exactly the same. However, there are certain features that you should definitely look out for while choosing a project management tool:
Related: 10 Marketing KPIs You Should Share With Your Team
Now let’s take a look at which project management tools our community of experts recommends.
Trello is a leading project management solution with in-built collaboration tools that make it easy for teams to work well together. If you’re looking for simplicity, Trello is one of the most user-friendly project task management software out there.
This sentiment is shared by Kinsta’s Sam Gooch who says, “While lots of project management tools have been popping up in recent years, I still find Trello is the simplest solution out there. Its intuitive features make it easy for anyone to work with and its flexible nature opens up a world of possibilities for managing projects and workflows.”
Gooch’s statement is seconded by Mark Bromhall of Surf Gear Lab. “We like it for its simplicity which means you spend the least amount of time conducting effective project management. It’s also excellent for collaborating within a team,” Bromhall says.
Many team workers love that Trello is a Kanban-style tool. Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging loves that Trello uses boards, lists, and cards to help teams tackle projects. “In this way, your information stays organized and categorized,” Wald explains. “Team members can show workflow such as tasks that need completing, tasks in the process of being completed, and tasks already completed. Team members can share links, images, emails, and text by inviting each other to access the boards.”
Asana is a collaboration and task management software that helps teams organize and manage all their tasks and strategic initiatives. Asana provides team members with visualizations that help them create and assign tasks to the right individuals, and track progress as work is being done.
Andrew Ruditser of Maxburst speaks in Asana’s favor. “One of the top project management tools to use in 2021 is Asana. Our team uses Asana to help organize, track, and manage all of our projects and their duties with our entire team.
Whether we need to assign a job to one of our developers or look back on items that have been done to a project, it’s all remains in our Asana account keeping our team extremely organized and on track by having the ability to assign a project to a certain date, upload files, attach links, etc.”
Ruditser also loves that Asana can easily integrate with Slack. “Our team uses Slack to communicate throughout the day, so it is extremely helpful that our chat system easily connects to Asana to receive task updates directly to our own private channel,” Ruditser explains. “This will help you stay on top of all your assignments. You can also easily update these tasks from slack itself, which will save you time going back and forth between applications.”
John Stevenson of My GRE Exam Preparation also believes that Asana “is indeed, a cutting-edge method of collaboration.” Stevenson goes on to say that “teams can use Asana to keep track of all tasks, collaborate on them with other team members, exchange related files, and more.
Because many firms have turned to remote work, it is now more useful than ever. It allows you to spend less time in meetings, producing status emails and actually working on the tasks at hand.”
Natasha Rei of Explainerd shares Stevenson’s opinion that Asana is extremely useful for remote workers. “Since we are on a remote working term at the moment, using a project management tool like Asana helps us a lot in communicating with other members in a short time,” Rei explains. “We can effectively collaborate, set deadlines, make a monthly plan, delegate tasks as well as report the current project with this tool. With Asana, we can monitor projects simultaneously and make internal communication smoother.
There are quite a number of Asana features that experts love. Milkwhale’s Andre Oentoro’s favorite thing about Asana is that “it allows you to create subtasks and break big tasks into small ones, making them easier to do.”
Andrew Kolodgie of The House Guys loves Asana’s calendar format and the mobile app. “The calendar format is our favorite, as it shows what there is to do in a day– we like seeing our schedule of tasks for the week and month along with due dates,” Kolodgie admits. “From being able to tag tasks based on priority to set tasks to repeat certain days of the week, it’s easy to keep track of all the “to do’s” with little effort. Asana also has an app, which makes tracking and updating tasks away from home simple.”
ClickUp is a cloud-based task management platform that helps teams assign tasks, collaborate on documents, and manage projects for clients. With ClickUp, teams can streamline workflows, organize tasks, create schedules, track time, and generate customizable reports.
“ClickUp helps our agency organize content, assign tasks, and set deadlines,” says Charles Musselwhite of Musselwhite Marketing. “The utility it provides is especially beneficial to remote teams like ours… Our modest team manages a massive remote partnership team of more than 400 people with our ClickUp app! ClickUp allows us to invite customers, clients, and outer circle partners to communicate and contribute via guest accounts.”
In addition to the powerful automations offered by ClickUp, Musselwhite also likes that ClickUp “allows us to host a visual representation of progress such as a task list on a web page that all team members can view and the project lead can update. This eliminates clutter in everyone’s inboxes and provides every team member with a more concrete representation of the work that needs to be done.”
Monday.com is a web-based project management solution that simplifies communication and collaboration between team members. Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Services believes that Monday is “the best project management tool for our needs. The learning curve is easy so our new team members can acclimate to the tool quickly. It’s user-friendly and we can easily create new projects, tasks and see the progress of those projects.”
Monday’s sleek user interface also adds to its appeal. “Monday offers some of the best workflow automation software on the market, with a sharp, easy-to-use UI and highly customized spreadsheets to help teams log and track their tasks,” says Sander Tamm of E-student. “They have several layouts available, but the Kanban offers the richest experience. If you collaborate with a medium to large-sized team and need up-to-date active task statuses Monday is your tool.”
Aufray also loves that “we can share our project management boards with our clients so they can also interact with us and see what we’re working on and when we can deliver the projects. As mentioned above, because this project management tool is intuitive, it’s also easy for clients to understand the platform.”
GanttPRO is a project management solution that uses Gantt Charts to help team members become more productive and efficient in managing their workloads, from the conceptualization phase to the actualization and delivery phases. GanttPRO is designed with the objective of improving communication and collaboration, simplifying workflows, and monitoring the progress of projects.
“The best project management tool I use to monitor the productivity of our writers is GanttPRO,” says Lisa Wunmi, Editor at Mom Baby Heart. “It is a tool that shows the status of work done – what was done, by whom, and when. With it, you can create, schedule & assign tasks. You can also set deadlines and get a chart timeline that shows deliverables, dates & assignees. It has really helped with project & time management for my team and me.”
Mattress Nerd’s Charlotte Spence loves GanttPRO’s pricing system. “This software offers easy project templates to get you started ASAP, pricing under $10 per user per month, and simple UI featuring Gantt charts and board views,” Spence observes.
GanttPRO also enables team members to share Gantt charts amongst themselves and clients during presentations, business plans, or reports.
Teamwork is a team management software that enables team members to develop intelligent workflows and track and deliver projects on time.
This software has a very simple, yet robust layout that users like CRAFTD’s Dan Potter appreciate. “The layout is surprisingly simplified in comparison to the complex interfaces and designs of other project management software,” Potter explains. “As a collaborative tool, it helps us integrate all our resources and valuable data into one system, without all the complexities found in other project management software. The automation assists in streamlining our tasks and incorporating our data into one software which has turned some of our less savvy tech team members into fully capable and productive members of our back end.”
Teamwork offers Gantt charts, task management, milestones, and instant comprehensive reports, but the feature Jen Bergren of Remotish loves most is time tracking.
“For teams or companies that need to track task time against certain projects, especially if you want team members to track ALL of their time, I recommend using Teamwork as a project management system,” Bergren says. “The other systems I’ve tried do not have as robust native time tracking features. Teamwork’s reporting for time and utilization is improving, and they just received a new round of funding so more improvements should be coming soon!”
For agencies that have goals for billable and nonbillable time, Bergren says that “ there is an easy checkbox for the team to use when logging their time, along with several different ways to track time-based on someone’s preferred method. The other features are nice as well, for tracking progress and budget on projects, templates for tasks, and more.”
Airtable is a project management software that helps teams organize their information workloads and projects in any way that they choose to. Brandyn Schwalm of The Local House Buyers thinks that Airtable “combines the best features of spreadsheets and databases, and it’s entirely flexible.”
Many users love the versatility and flexibility of data organization that is made possible with Airtable’s databases and spreadsheets. “I like the versatility of how it’s possible to organize data – there is a range of different views, including grid, calendar, Kanban, gallery, and form… Airtable is easy to use for anyone who is used to working in Excel or Google sheets,” Schwalm continues.
Alexandra Nima of The Sophisticated Geek agrees with Schwalm: “Airtable gives you the opportunity to plan and structure and calculate all imaginable tasks, as you would in Excel or similar tools, with options to show the results in grid, kanban, Gantt or calendar view.”
To illustrate just how great Airtable is, Nima says to “imagine a supercharged, colorful excel meets Trello, with the option to integrate most Apps or software via API (IFTTT or Zapier or the like).”
Nifty is a cloud-based project management solution that prides itself in being the easiest to use workflow solution on the market as well as the simplest solution for you to implement and begin working on with a team. Nifty is feature-rich and is structured for users at every level like managers, team members, and guests.
Nifty allows for teams to create milestones, manage tasks, collaborate with one another, create docs, and for file management making it the truly all-in-one workflow platform that can serve as a suitable solution to replace the bulk of your software. Nifty also has custom fields and time tracking so users can get very granular and specific on a more micro level.
Nifty has a managerial suite as well. On the top left-hand corner of the platform, there is a workloads module where you can see what each team member is working on and when the tasks were completed. You can also view milestones created throughout different portfolios and projects with the overview module making this tool a truly all-in-one simple workflow software.
Jira is an agile project management software that is typically used by software development teams to plan, build, track and release products. This system streamlines the development process from the conceptualization phase through to the actualization phase.
Biking Know How’s Rohan Kadam says, “I use Jira to build effective project prototypes. Jira has some amazing features that allow me and my team to communicate my plans, and broadcast and share project roadmaps with my team’s everyday tasks.”
Apart from the intuitive communication and collaboration features, Kadam also likes that Jira “allows me to make a single cohesive view on all user stories. Jira allows me to generate key reports for all the sprint tasks.”
Jira enables teams to plan their work flexibly thanks to its support for Kanban, Scrum, and Scrumban organizing systems. Furthermore, Jira has visual, data-supported reports that provide teams with vital and actionable insights about their agile process.
Related: How Taos Transitioned from Manual Reporting to Agile Marketing & Saved 10 Hours Every Week
Using Google Sheets for project and task management is a wise choice for professionals and team members who want to conduct basic data analysis, create open-source data sets and work through complicated math-related problems.
Google Sheets offers basic templates, Gantt charts, regular charts, conditional formatting, sharing, and real-time collaboration functionalities that help team members work on projects smoothly.
However, one of the most unique functions in Google Sheets is the IMPORTRANGE function. “The IMPORTRANGE function in Google Sheets allows you to connect different spreadsheets, allowing for functionality that no other project management solution has,” says Sagapixel’s Frank Olivo. “For example, we’re on an hourly model with our clients and this function allows us to track fulfillment for all of our accounts from one centralized dashboard.
It also allows us to keep a monthly record of everything we’ve done and keep track of the time spent on each deliverable. This provides us data that helps us to predict how much we can get accomplished for a new client given their budget.”
Speaking on employee utilization, Olivo says that the IMPORTRANGE function in Google Sheets is “set up to track each of our employees’ billable hours, allowing us to see who is productive and profitable for the agency and help any team members that aren’t hitting their numbers. Each employee has his or her own timesheet that aggregates all of the hours worked across all of our accounts, which also pulls into a dashboard that management sees.”
Related: 13 Ideas on How to Use Google Sheets In Your Business
Microsoft Project is a flexible tool that helps teams and businesses to organize their projects, manage project portfolio investment and deliver results to clients successfully. This software provides businesses with a powerful way to effectively manage a wide variety of and empower their office teams.
CocoFinder’s Harriet Chan says that “many experienced project managers prefer this tool as it has been around for years and is ideal for tackling anything from small to large projects or initiatives. It gives you the power of making project management simple by allowing you to be organized, focused, and in charge.”
Speaking in favor of Microsoft Project, Chan continues, “Users will be awed by the details it offers for each task and resource. It also makes reporting powerful using its pre-built and customizable reports, and if there is a need, you can export it to MS Powerpoint for those unavoidable management summaries.
Even better, Microsoft has dropped its tiered naming convention, which includes Essentials, Professional, and Premium, this year, 2021. It is replaced with Project Plan 1, Project Plan 3, and Project Plan 5, but other features remain unchanged.”
Hive is a web-based project management solution that allows teams to create and assign tasks, track project status, and collaborate with team members effectively. Hive offers a myriad of features that include task management automation, chat, and file sharing.
Artem Minaev of FirstSiteGuide believes that Hive is “the best project management tool for cloud collaboration, Gantt charts, and an unlimited number of subtasks.
Real-time updates from any location make collaboration a breeze during the pandemic lockdowns and as we continue to with hybrid work. I can move tasks through Hive’s project stages as I effectively communicate and collaborate with the team.”
Hive offers three dashboards that provide teams with actionable insights into project productivity. These dashboards summarize team productivity, identifying ineffectual areas and allowing team managers to find ways to correct them.
Wrike is a comprehensive project management software that helps teams and agencies simplify project planning, track projects, and collaborate easily with each other and with clients. Madeline Hudson of Aquarium Store Depot lists Wrike’s major features, “You can do pretty much anything and everything you need to do. You can generate automated reports, plan and track projects and collaborate in real-time.
Wrike offers strategic planning & smarter execution, better resource & client management, and easy integration. Wrike is flexible and easy to use, allowing you to do more, faster. Plus with everyone working in Wrike, it has proven to result in an up to 90% reduction in emails.”
Wrike also offers Gantt charts, task management, real-time news feeds, and more, all of which help to improve the speed (and efficiency) at which projects are executed.
nTask is a project management platform that helps individuals and team members plan, track and collaborate on projects more efficiently. Through nTask, teams can monitor their budget, allocate resources, assign responsibilities and identify milestones to guide project execution.
“We use nTask to plan tasks, meetings, and projects for our team and track time spent on our projects. I like this versatile tool because it has an intuitive design and is easy to use. It comes with an extensive list of task management and project management features and can be used for team collaboration,” says Tom Myers of Your Trusted Home Buyer.
Highlighting nTask’s powerful features, Myers continues, “The platform combines necessary work management modules, such as to-do lists, task management, interactive Gantt charts, Kanban boards, timesheets, issue management, risk management, and meeting management.
One of the best features of this tool is the meeting planner, which gives users the ability to create and share an agenda, write out key discussion points, sync recurring meetings, add follow-up actions and decisions. It helps us make online meetings more productive.”
A project management tool selected with your business needs in mind is critical to helping team members become more efficient and productive.
When choosing a project management tool, make sure to align the features with your team’s process. You should involve your team members during the evaluation process so that you can consider their input in your selection process. This will ensure that your tool of choice can fulfill the needs of different departments. It will also make transition and implementation a much smoother process.
You should also work with leaders and high-ups in your company to make sure that the project management tool you choose has the features and ability to adequately support the business’ expected growth.
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