woman using project management tool on laptop

Choosing The Best Project Management Software For Your Team

I’m a simple girl who likes just a few good options to choose from. A wedding invitation asking if I want chicken, meat, or vegetarian … great! The Cheesecake Factory with their book-like menu, on the other hand? That many options to choose from can be a bit overwhelming.

That’s how I felt when looking for the right project management software for my team. With 300+ tools available, how do you know which one to choose?


project management icon

Questions To Ask When Choosing A Project Management System

  • Who will be using the system?
  • How many users are there?
  • What is your budget for a new tool?
  • What are the different views each user will need?
  • What key features are important to you?
  • Do you need to give non-core team members (i.e. clients and freelancers) access?

Even asking yourself these questions can leave you looking at hundreds of possible tools for your team. Here are some of my favorite project management software tools and what sets each of them apart from the crowd.

AirTable Review

While trying to select a project management software for my team, I spent a good amount of time playing around in AirTable. This software often pops up in “Top (Insert Number Here) Project Management Software” articles — and for good reason. While it ultimately wasn’t the tool we chose for our team, it’s powerful and might be a good choice for your organization.

What I Like About It

  • With its highly aesthetic interface, AirTable is beautiful as well as functional.
  • AirTable’s robust template library and functionality means it can be used for multiple purposes. Project and task management, customer relationship management (CRM), even social media calendars can be housed in AirTable.
  • While it has a wide variety of functions, you can use it in a way that matches the scope of your team and projects — it can be simple to start, but it can grow alongside you.

The interface is intuitive, and the system is relatively easy-to-use from the get-go. With the breadth of what it can accomplish, it can be easy to get bogged down in the technology, but ultimately AirTable is really only limited by what you can imagine — and manage.

Asana Review

I’m a big fan of Asana. I’ve personally used this project management software to communicate with a web development partner. Full disclosure — my appreciation for this tool could have something to do with the great partnership I had with this web developer, but that aside, Asana was key to our success.

What I Like About It

  • I love the ease of attaching files to a task and the ability to have a back and forth conversation using the “ask a question or post an update” box for each task.
  • There is a space to enter time estimates for a task. This is especially useful for partnerships where you have a regular allotment of hours for a specific time period.
  • When a task is completed, Asana automatically categorizes it as “Done,” greys out the font, and includes a fun little celebratory animation because, why not?

In the particular partnership in which I used Asana, what helped us most was a clearly defined workflow. I would enter in the specific details for a task, my web development partner would give me a time estimate for completing the task, and then I could gauge if that task fit into our hours allotment for the month.

Monday.com Review

Another tool that caught my eye was monday.com. This software can be used for project management, as well as HR and recruitment, sales and CRM, or marketing. With over 200+ different workflows, your team may find just what they’re looking for.

What I Like About It

  • Monday.com allows you to set up automations to limit the amount of work you have to do yourself. Setting up an automation is as easy as writing a sentence, like: “On this date, send this email.”
  • Regular updates and integrations with other tools continually expand the possibilities for what monday.com is capable of.
  • Clients can submit “project requests” which automatically create new tasks for approval.

With a complex pricing structure, monday.com may give you exactly what you need, or it may create confusion for you and your budget. Depending on what your specific requirements are, this tool may be a good fit for your organization.

SmartSheet Review

This is the tool my team and I use for our day-to-day activities. Smartsheet is essentially a suped-up excel spreadsheet. It’s not the prettiest option out there, but what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in functionality.

What I Like About It

  • One key feature of Smartsheet that made it work for us is the ability to share links to sheets with clients, without them having to create a login.
  • You can attach documents or add comments to a specific task, making it easy to maintain communication and follow conversations.
  • There is a SmartSheet Gmail extension available that turns emails into tasks. If you have trouble keeping track of emails, this is a huge plus.

There is definitely a learning curve with this tool. For this reason, we chose the package that included an implementation manager to ensure we could get off the ground without fumbling around in the dark.

Trello Review

Trello is great for its user-friendly and intuitive design. Back in the day when our company was a purely content marketing agency, we used Trello exclusively. This tool is great for simple projects with smaller teams.

What I Like About It

  • Trello is easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of time upfront to get acquainted with its intuitive interface.
  • The simple card view of tasks organized in columns allows users to see all the team’s tasks by person, by status (i.e., Not Started, In Progress, Completed), or other relevant categories.
  • The straight-forward card design makes its mobile application easy to use.

We continue to use Trello alongside our other project management tools to give us a high-level view of all our clients. This helps our CEO see the full plate of projects we have across the entire team and helps new team members see the full scope of our company’s work.


Comparing Features

 

Mobile Application

 

Live 1:1 Demo

 

Free Trial Available

 

Price Per User

 

Gantt Chart View

AirTable
 
Yes
 
Yes: Live 1:1 demo available
 
Yes: 14 days
 
$20/month
 
Yes
Asana
 
Yes
 
No: Workshops available
 
Yes: 30 days
 
$10.99/month
 
Yes
Monday.com
 
Yes
 
Yes: Live 1:1 demo available
 
Yes: 14 days
 
$16/month
 
Yes
SmartSheet
 
Yes
 
Yes: Live 1:1 demo available
 
Yes: 30 days
 
$25/month*
 
Yes
Trello
 
Yes
 
Yes: On-demand demo
 
Yes: 14 days
 
$10/month
 
Yes

*Not all users need a license


The Bottom Line

I initially felt overwhelmed with all the project management tools out there and wasn’t looking forward to the time and effort it would take to find the “right” one for my team. You may find yourself in the same situation.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Request live demos to see the tool in action, and include your teammates who will actually be using the system.
  • Many systems are free, and those that are paid have trial periods. If you’re interested in trying paid systems that offer free trial periods, block off time on your calendar to really get in there and play around with it.
  • Get down to the core requirements for your team and keep it simple. Don’t get distracted by the bells and whistles that a lot of systems offer but you may not really need.

I’m a big proponent of minimizing “stuff,” and I felt pressure to find the one system that fit all of our needs. But I learned from this experience that it’s not always possible to find the one system that does it all.

Using a few different tools works for us, but figuring out what works best for your organization takes time. There’s no perfect tool, only the perfect tool for your team.

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