Hey, are you busy? Okay, that was a silly question. Of course you are. It seems like everyone is nowadays.
But, if we’re being honest, it’s fair to say a lot of our “busy” time is spent figuring out what we should be doing, rather than actually doing it.
This goes for individuals as well as teams; CEOs and ground-level employees; startups and enterprise companies.
Luckily, no matter which category you fall under, there are a ton of project management programs and tools available to help you stay focused and productive every time you sit down to get some work done.
Oddly enough, despite the fact that project management tools are proven to increase performance and productivity, 44% of managers and supervisors admit they don’t use project management software of any kind.
Some managers may be concerned that implementing such project management tools might require too much training, which could end up costing the company more time and money than it’s worth.
Others might be content with their current project management solutions, and not even realize there may be a more effective method of handling this management.
Still others might know their current solution isn’t exactly optimal, but might still be weary of entering a trial-and-error period that may or may not lead to improvements within their organization.
Taking all of this into consideration, we’ve put together a list of project management tools that have proven to increase productivity for organizations of a variety of sizes in many different industries.
In this article, we’ll describe the prominent functions and features of six project management tools, and highlight the pros and cons of each.
A quick note before we get started:
While all of the tools on this list are some of the best on the market from an objective standpoint, not all of them will be the best fit for your organization. Read on to determine which project management tool is right for you and your team.
Six Project Management Tools To Get More Done
Basecamp acts as a central hub for your organization, whether your team works on-site, remotely, or a combination of both.
Using Basecamp, project managers can assign individual employees to their respective teams within the organization. They can also create projects (from scratch or via template) and manage in-project task lists, attaching due dates and and designating specific team members to each task.
All employees have access to the Basecamp dashboard(s) they’ve been assigned to. From there, they can view their personal to-do list and schedule, and communicate with other team members via message board or real-time chat (dubbed “Campfires”). Users can upload files from their device or via Google Drive to the dashboard, allowing all other team members quick and easy access to said files.
Basecamp’s To-Do lists make it easy for team members to stay on-task and know when the rest of the team is waiting on them to complete an assignment before moving forward. This also cuts down on the need for managers to touch base with the team after every step of a project is completed, as team members assigned to the next step will automatically be notified once the previous step is marked as complete.
Pros of Basecamp
As mentioned, Basecamp’s interface is intuitive and easy to use. Though it offers a number of features and functions, Basecamp isn’t overwhelming in the slightest – what you see truly is what you get.
In that same vein, there’s no need to use every one of Basecamp’s features; the tool inherently scales to your needs. Similarly, each member of your team may not need to utilize every aspect of Basecamp, either; if a message or to-do list doesn’t apply to a certain team or individual, they won’t need to check-in or otherwise waste time seeing what the update is about.
On the other hand, if you do want all members of your team to stay in the loop at all times, Basecamp automatically sends a “Here’s what you missed” notification to everyone on a daily basis. This gives a rundown of every activity within Basecamp over the past 24 hours – ensuring no one misses any crucial updates that apply to them (or may apply to them in the future).
Cons of Basecamp
One of the main complaints about Basecamp is that organization lies squarely on the project manager’s (and team’s) shoulders. For example, the section for uploading files and documents can easily become a jumbled mess if users don’t create hierarchical folders, and ensure files end up in the right spot.
Also, some of the features and functions may seem a bit redundant or unnecessary. This goes back to the idea that your organization doesn’t need to use all of Basecamp to get good use out of it – but, since the tool is offered at only one flat rate, you might end up be paying for more than what you’re actually getting.
Asana makes it easy for you and your team to track both individual tasks and team-wide projects, ensuring that everyone stays “in the know” at all times.
With Asana, you can create project workflows from scratch, or choose from a number of premade templates. These templates focus on operations common to most organizations regardless of industries, such as meeting agendas, product launches, and event planning.
After creating a project in Asana, you can then break the project down into more specific tasks to be completed by a certain individual or group. You can break down these tasks even further into subtasks, allowing each team member to know what they’re specifically responsible for.
Asana provides both a dashboard and calendar overview, allowing individual employees to keep track of their own responsibilities as well as overall due dates for specific projects. Not only does this help team members stay on task, but it also helps them prepare for when they’ll be needed next.
Along with this, Asana provides users the ability to mark stages of a project to be marked as dependent upon a specific individual or team. This way, team members know what they’re responsible for and when, and helps ensure no one gets too far ahead of the process.
Team members can also communicate directly within project and task screens. This makes it incredibly easy for individuals to know exactly which task a message is referring to (as opposed to relying on email communication, which adds an extra step to the process). By integrating Asana with Slack, Dropbox, or Google Drive, teams can also freely share important documents relating to the task at hand.
Pros of Asana
Asana’s interface is simple and intuitive, allowing organizations to quickly implement it into their overall workflow with little to no downtime.
As alluded to earlier, Asana is useful for a variety of purposes. One reviewer mentioned that he’s used the software for tasks and projects such as employee onboarding, tracking sales leads, and software development management.
Lastly, Asana focuses heavily on the collaborative aspects of project management. Not only are team members able to see what tasks they’re needed for, but they can also discuss these tasks with the group directly within Asana’s dashboard.
Cons of Asana
While some see Asana’s simplistic nature as a positive, others say it actually might be too simplistic. Those who thrive on visualization might do well to look elsewhere for a project management tool.
Another complaint users have is that some parts of Asana aren’t automated. For example, once an entire group of tasks is marked as complete, you’ll also need to mark the entire project as complete, as well. You also will need to assign members to each individual task or subtask, rather than having the system automatically assign said members to each task once you’ve assigned them to the overall project.
Wrike’s dashboard provides a real-time overview of the status of projects and tasks your teams are currently working on.
Additionally, Wrike streamlines the process of reporting progress and notifying essential team members of such. This means you won’t need to waste time and energy checking in with your team members or calling unnecessary meetings just to get status updates.
Wrike also allows you to prioritize tasks and create a customizable hierarchical system to ensure your team knows which tasks to focus on before moving on to another part of the process. Like with Asana, Wrike allows you to mark tasks and subtasks as dependent on a certain individual, ensuring they know the team’s progress is currently on their shoulders.
Wrike implements a Gantt chart to help users visualize a project in terms of completion percentage and time spent on a given step of the process. Through this visualization, you can get a better understanding of how long specific tasks take, allowing you to optimize processes in the future.
Pros of Wrike
Wrike’s robust dashboard provides users with all of the information they could possibly need regarding their team’s progress with a certain project. Wrike’s interface makes it easy to notice hangups in the process – as well as who’s responsible for them – in turn allowing project managers to act quickly to mitigate the issue and keep projects moving forward.
While Wrike’s Gantt chart visualization is a prominent feature of the tool, it also provides options for users to view project progress in list or board form, as well.
Wrike’s users also report that the tool is easy to implement, and is also scalable, as well. For small companies looking for a better time- and resource-management tool to help them grow, Wrike might be just what they need.
Cons of Wrike
Some users report that, because Wrike’s full service is so feature-heavy, it can take a lot of time and energy for a team to fully implement the tool. This may not be a problem for tech-savvy teams, but those looking for a highly-simplified project management tool might want to look elsewhere.
Also, Wrike’s mobile app seems to leave something to be desired – at least for smartphones. Users who complained about Wrike’s “lackluster” mobile app did mention the tablet version works well, though.
Flow is a rather simplistic project management and task tracking tool that allows for easy accessibility and transparency.
With Flow, team leads can easily create task and subtask lists, assign specific team members to certain tasks, add “subscribers” (team members peripherally involved with a task), and tag tasks according to the subject or topic they’re related to.
Managers can also choose to hide certain information from specific individuals, as well. This allows them to invite clients and other outside sources to view some aspects of a project while it’s still in development while hiding other aspects of the process.
Team members then have a few options for viewing and engaging with the project dashboard. The in-depth display provides everything the project creator included in the report, while the “Catch Up” dashboard shows only tasks which an individual team member has been assigned to.
Those who have access to a project can also communicate directly through the project’s dashboard. This makes questions and comments immediately visible to all relevant team members, ensuring everyone remains (quite literally) on the same page at all times.
Like with Wrike, Flow provides a variety of visualization options: list, calendar, and kanban cards. This allows team members to view their workload through a variety of lenses, each focusing on a different aspect (such as time or priority).
Pros of Flow
Across the board, users praise Flow for its simple, intuitive design and interface. While some project management tools may be “too much” for some smaller-sized organizations, Flow makes it easy for teams to hit the ground running – and become more productive in the process.
Flow also allows for easy communication and collaboration, as well. Whether your team works on-site or remotely, Flow is a clear alternative to sending emails and leaving voice messages that may not be received until the end of the workday.
Another positive aspect of Flow stems from its support team. Users report that the people behind Flow are incredibly responsive and helpful, whether via one-on-one communication or through its website forum.
Cons of Flow
Some users have complained that – despite the tagging mechanism – Flow’s search capabilities aren’t exactly up to snuff, and provide unrelated results at times.
More importantly, as we mentioned, Flow is a rather simplistic project management tool that focuses more on documenting what needs to be done than on helping teams discover solutions to become more efficient. For organizations looking to improve their processes, there are definitely more robust options than Flow.
Aha! is a project management tool that helps teams connect the dots within a project from inception to completion.
With Aha!, you start by clearly defining your goals for a specific project, as well as the KPIs and metrics that you’ll assess to determine whether you’ve reached these goals. You’ll then be able to choose from six “roadmap” templates to help you define your best course of action.
Similarly to Wrike, Aha! provides a Gantt chart to help project managers and team members visualize steps and tasks within a process or project. This allows everyone involved to see what needs to be done in progressive terms, rather than simply points on a checklist (though you can also view tasks in list form and kanban form, as well).
Aha!’s dashboard focuses heavily on results and analytics, providing multiple reporting methods regarding project outcomes as they relate to initial goals. The various visual representations of outcome data allow project managers to easily see how certain initiatives affected their team’s ability to reach a specific goal.
One of Aha!’s most unique features is the ability to create an audience-facing portal where customers can share their ideas for product and service improvements. Teams can then collect and manage these suggestions to determine their validity and commonality. If a team takes action regarding a specific suggestion, Aha! automatically sends a message to individuals who made the suggestion, keeping them in the loop throughout the implementation process.
On the manager’s side of this process, Aha! makes it easy for managers to fully flesh out ideas that seem worth digging into, then score these ideas using user-created rubrics to determine overall validity. Then, managers can seamlessly create project roadmaps based on the ideas they’ve determined to be worth pursuing.
Pros of Aha!
Customers show overwhelming praise for Aha! as an all-in-one solution to end-to-end project management. Regarding tools that link high-level strategies to on-the-ground implementation, Aha! is one of the best ones out there.
Another point worth noting is that, despite the fact that it’s an incredibly in-depth tool, Aha! is reportedly very easy to use. Because it’s such a complete tool that doesn’t leave many (if any) features out, users can intuitively determine which functions to use next while using Aha!
And, if you do need assistance of any kind, Aha!’s customer support team is “top notch” and “excellent,” according to reviewers. The ability to reach out to Aha!’s team ensures you’ll be able to use everything the tool has to offer to help your organization achieve their goals.
Cons of Aha!
Because Aha! is an all-in-one project management solution, it may offer too much for managers who simply want to keep their team on task.
However, most reviewers note that, while Aha! does have a bit of a learning curve – and may be intimidating at first – learning how to use it will almost certainly be a boon to your organization.
dapulse is a simple project and task management tool that allows managers to get a bird’s-eye view of their team’s operations while simultaneously connecting with “on-the-ground” employees, as well.
With dapulse, managers can quickly create projects, document tasks within projects, and set deadlines for each. They can then assign a single team member or multiple team members to either an entire project or a specific task within a project.
As with many of the other tools on this list, managers and team members can easily communicate and collaborate with regard to a specific project or task through dapulse’s dashboard. This includes the ability to drag and drop files onto the appropriate project or task page, and to tag individual team members when a certain message or update requires their attention.
dapulse also provides Gantt chart visualization, allowing managers and team members to easily know what needs to be done, and by when.
Pros of dapulse
dapulse’s team makes it abundantly clear that this is a pick-up-and-go tool that requires no training. As it is a relatively simple project management tool that focuses specifically on documenting processes and task progression, teams should easily be able to implement dapulse into their day-to-day operations.
Communications via dapulse are another strong point of the tool. Because dapulse acts as a communications hub for each project and project-related tasks, team members don’t have to leave the dashboard in order to connect with their colleagues or managers. This also eliminates time spent wading through email inboxes and other outside sources of communication to find a specific message.
Cons of dapulse
While users can post messages to each other via dapulse’s dashboard, one of the main user complaints is the tool doesn’t offer real-time chat capabilities. This can make on-the-fly collaboration difficult, or force users off of dapulse’s dashboard in order to speak with other immediately.
Another chief complaint about dapulse is that it’s a rather costly tool for what it offers. dapulse offers four tiers of service (from Basic to Enterprise), and also tailors its pricing based on company size. Even so, the monthly charges may end up costing organization’s more than they originally anticipate.
Whether you need a simple tool to help you track tasks and keep projects moving forward or an all-encompassing project management suite to help your organization improve its overall processes, you’ll likely find just what you’re looking for in one of the project management software tools discussed above.
Your best bet is to first assess your team’s immediate needs, as well as the resources you have on hand at the moment. While you may ultimately be looking for a tool that will help your team make a major pivot in the future, it’s important to recognize that implementing many of these tools efficiently will take time and effort on your end.