4 Top project management software
Every manager that dabbles in some project works knows how valuable good software can be for the whole project efficiency and success. Therefore we think it is only due diligence to periodically check upon the best that the fray has to offer, as every feature can bring some marginal benefits that will accumulate long term. That is exactly my impression and also inspiration to work on this article. Last year when our small teams under ten switched to Trello, and a bit heavier Jira was let go, I almost heard a collective sigh of relief. Until today the inertia that kept us in the old software for too long is a cautionary tale that early change when really needed is not a radical solution – it is the only sensible one.
Truth about project management software is that they are nearly universally hated by everybody – and the lower the rung of corporate ladder, the harder the interactions with project management software has always seemed to be. Every new innovation is seen with suspicion and worry about new forms of control, annoying “productivity” gimmicks and inevitable slurry of pseudoscientific business lingo to justify the change.
Insofar as many of these concerns are legitimate and managers have their own share of guilt to carry for this less than happy status quo, many of them are surprisingly blind to what an employee had to go through as recent as, let’s say, five years ago. Back in the day of spreadsheets , paper meeting notes and fidget spinners (are they gone yet?), running even a mid-size project was a real hassle. Awareness of project progress was way harder to measure and adjudicate against projections. Lack of clarity about tasks and the ones responsible for them may have helped the employees that were looking not to work, but for the vast majority there were only drawbacks to these makeshift solutions.
It is nice to see that many “friendly” alternatives are coming to the market, and even the big fish are trying their best to make their products more likeable (although they all claim that since… always). Are they doing a good job? Let us analyze my personal favorites out of the most popular project management software to choose from.
In my opinion, the most underrated collaboration app for project management is Podio. Its biggest advantage is the clarity and ease of running multiple separate projects and need to keep track of dozens of ideas. Workflows are neatly organized and Podio does a very good job of showing whose responsibility what is, as well as giving users detailed information on activities and relations through time. Probably my favorite part is the mobile support, and as a user of both Android and iOS I love how identical and effective the mobile versions are between platforms. Free (but limited in functionality) for teams under five, with good set of integrations and a set of downloadable extensions to boost its features, Podio deserves at least a short look.
There is only one reason to dislike Asana and I will get to that. However, Asana is just good, and sometimes even great. Basics – it is quick, it is intuitive, it looks friendly and can be taught in an instant. Features are well balanced, and some of them are a rarity in the current market. A good example of this is the ability to create an infinite (note – I have not actually tried this) number of fully functional subtasks, and that is where even more established Agile competitors are lagging. Something that users praise almost universally is how Asana handles content, and working with any attachments is even more intuitive than in Slack.
So why should you dislike Asana? Its native Mac and PC apps are… well. There are none. Especially for those who do still sometimes go offline, this is can be a big deal. Hopefully this will change soon.
Basecamp can be described as a veteran of project management and collaboration, and it had more than a decade to iron our kinks that upstarts have to learn through dissatisfied users. Basecamp is done with this – it is a robust, stable solution you would expect from software with such reputation. Yes it is expensive, but the value for the money is undeniable, as the only pricing plan at $99 per month is not tied to user count or number of projects – a hundred bucks and that’s it! It is not amazing for project tracking, but at least you can discuss stuff with your team on the best group conversation feature of all apps presented here.
Finally Trello, a neat and simple cloud based solution for all your smaller teams! Boards are easy to use and set up, and there are many ways to enrich the way they look, with to do lists, files and comments. It is very good for people who “think visually”, and by this blatantly unscientific term I just mean those for whom color coding speeds up their work. The most interesting use of Trello I encountered is a friend who uses it as his all-encompassing life-planner – shopping lists, task lists, calendar and notifications work for him fantastically even though there is no project around. This is a testament to the biggest drawback descried in the introduction – Trello is hard to hate, and if you are not watchful, you may even begin to like it. I do!
You ended here? Make sure to join our exclusive group!