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Comparison of 5 Online Project Management Tools for Startups

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In this article I review my five favorite project management tools for startups.

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At a startup, it’s critical to make sure everyone on the team is making progress to achieve your goals. With this in mind, you need the right project management tools to enable collaboration, communication and planning.

There is no “one size fits all” project management tool. The tool that will work best for you depends on factors like the type of your project, size of your team and budget.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching and testing out options. Here, I review my five favorite project management tools for startups. Read on to find out which one is right for you.

Wrike

wrike dash

Best for: Integrations with other apps

Description: Work management and collaboration platform that streamlines teamwork for enterprises and SMBs. Wrike delivers project management features such as customizable dashboards and reports, simple setup requirements and support to an unlimited number of projects. The platform also integrates with a wide range of applications such as Google Drive, SurveyMonkey, Slack and HubSpot.

What I like about it:

  • You can see all your projects in just one page. Its interface looks like an app, not a site.
  • Wrike’s timeline mode, which is combined with gantt is great
  • Excellent as a communication tool for small teams
  • Reporting tools give project managers a 10,000ft view of what the team is working on

Limitations:

  • Steep learning curve- the flexibility built into Wrike means some considerable thought needs to go into how to structure your project
  • The free version does not include subtasks and cuts off at five users
  • Many features, like time tracking, are not available without an upgrade

Pricing:

  • Free for up to five users
  • $49-99/month for Premium plans

Thinkstr verdict: This is a great project management tool for handling more complex projects requiring a more sophisticated project management tool. 

Asana

asana dash

Best for: Team collaboration

Description: Team members can create tasks, assign them, set deadlines and track progress. It also allows you to include subtasks, followers, attachments, discussions, tags and embed media files. Asana can also integrate with several other platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox. 

What I like about it:

  • Simple, attractive and easy to use platform
  • The app brings team tasks, files and conversations together, which streamlines communications
  • Access controls are available to set different user privileges.
  • Has apps for android and iPhone
  • Very good email integration
  • Awesome list management features
  • A singe story/task/item can have relations to multiple projects and tags

Limitations

  • You can’t assign a task to multiple users
  • Can’t invite outsiders into your lists within your workspace
  • There is no consolidated personal view, it’s always just your tasks within each workspace
  • Sub-tasks are difficult to work with and can easily loose relations when items are moved around

Pricing: Free for the first 15 users. Premium Plan is $10 or less per user.

Thinkstr verdict: Awesome tool for team collaboration at small to midsize companies. What it does not work so well for is more complex projects, such as software development. This is my go-to tool for managing both my own day to day life as well as my business. 

Basecamp

basecamp dash

Best for: Task management for everyday users

Description: Basecamp takes all the email chains in one particular task or topic and strings them together into a discussion or task. Then sends email notifications to your inbox only when a specific task or discussion is relevant to you. You can track projects and tasks via to-do lists, host written discussions and embed media files. 

What I like about it:

  • The interface is simple and straightforward to use.
  • No steep learning curve, making it a good tool for keeping clients in the loop on progress.
  • Makes finding files very easy.
  • Basecamp’s discussion area helps keep all information together and streamline communication within the platform. 

Limitations:

  • The platform has very few unique features (i.e. being able to set priorities on your tasks).
  • No time management tools, Gantt charts, or way to track project milestones.
  • Task management is weak: there is no way to assign task dependencies, list an estimated task duration or assign multiple users to a task.
  • No reporting tools.
  • The layout of the dashboard is not customizable.

Pricing

  • Basecamp 2 starts at $20/month for 10 active projects, 3 GB, and unlimited users
  • Basecamp 3 is $29/month for internal teams, $79 for internal + client

Thinkstr verdict: A user-friendly  project management software for handling simple projects. I’ve used this platform to manage fairly straightforward projects with a small team and to keep clients in the loop- it’s great for that purpose.

Redbooth 

redbooth dash

Best for:  Managing tasks and files while streamlining communication 

Description

Redbooth is a  cloud-based project management tool and collaboration platform that offers features including enterprise messaging, file sharing, search, in-stream task management, video conferencing and voice, centralized into an intuitive virtual workspace

What I like about it

  • Clean, streamlined user interface
  • Integrations with BoxDropbox, and other popular document-management services 
  • Mobile apps for Android and iPhone
  • Basic resource-management tools, such as a workload chart
  • Advanced collaborative resources 
  • Great file management 

Limitations

  • No way to make one task dependent on the completion of another or set up a recurring task schedule
  • Limited number of report types
  • No customization of workflows
  • No ability to set and track budgets 

Thinkstr verdict: An excellent choice for smaller organizations looking for a simple program to organizes tasks and files while streamlining communication among team members

Trello

trello dashboard

Best for: Collaborative brainstorming for small to midsize companies.

Description: Trello reminds me of an online whiteboard with high-tech sticky notes. Trello is a very basic to-do list. This highly visual tool is useful for collaboration with team members and keeping track of projects using kanban-style management. There are very limited options for assigning tasks, but you can tag cards and create alerts and add photos to boards.

What I like about it

  • Intuitive, easy to use interface
  • Clean, visually appealing, simple layout
  • Drag and drop functionality and stickers to enhance boards
  • Easily print your boards to PDF for future reference in physical format
  • You can invite outside members to a board within the organization and create public boards
  • Great apps for iPhone and Android

Limitations

  • Light on features- no real reporting tools, Gantt charts, time-tracking features, or billing
  • Difficult to work with multiple cards or tasks in the UI, like for moving, copy/paste, etc.
  • Difficult to use when there are a lot of projects going on at once

Pricing:

  • Free for up to 10-megabyte card attachments
  • Plans start at $8.33 a month for 250 megabytes of attachments plus additional features

Thinkstr verdict: Trello is a great choice for brainstorming or task management, but it is not ideal for big picture project organization.

Have you tried any of these tools? What did you like or not like about them? Do you have any favorite project management tools for startups that are not included in the article? Let me know in the comments below!


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Soheila Yalpani View All

Soheila is the founder of Thinkstr.co and the Principal of Oppfinn Consulting. As a project manager and consultant, her interests lie at the intersection of innovation and societal impact. On Thinkstr.co, she writes about business, technology, travel and smart cities.

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