Whether it's on a small or a large scale, project management can provide some of the biggest challenges in the workplace. Responding to this need, vendors have thrown out a plethora of tools and software suites dedicated to this side of business, but which one should you choose?
Helping you make the decision is Edward Jones of IT and Management training firm Firebrand, who's rounded up a super-seven of the best project management tools currently on the market. In no particular order, here's a run-down of the services you should consider as a project manager:
This cloud-based collaboration and scheduling tool fully integrates with Google Drive. Gantter is designed to help you create, share and edit your schedule and interact with colleagues in real time. There's also a colour coding function to highlight task importance, an ever-expanding offering of 11 languages and a simple web API, which allows you to create both public and private plugins to boost functionality.
Mavenlink (Free and Paid)
Mavenlink currently occupies top position in the Google Apps Marketplace for 'Project Management' tools, boasting a five star rating from over 600 reviews. MavenLink is a multifaceted service, offering highlights such as file sharing, task scheduling, a centralised dashboard and project history. Like most tools worth their salt these days, Mavenlink also offers Google Drive integration. The standard tool is free, however you can choose to opt into Mavenlink Pro, which has a flat rate of $25 (£16) per user on the monthly package, or $19 (£12.20) per user on a yearly plan. The pro features include budgeting, expense and invoice tracking, as well as time tracking for those looking for greater money and time management of their projects.
Collabtive (Free and Paid)
This web-based tool is targeted at freelancers and SMEs. Core functionality includes run-of-the-mill features such as file management, time tracking and the ability to create projects with milestones, task lists and individual task assignments. The tool requires some technical knowledge to install, but once up and running it offers a user-friendly experience with a range of integration and reporting features. The software is free to install, but technophobes and time-savers can pay a one-off fee for the privilege of installation and update at €39 (£33), with options for hosting on a monthly fee ranging from €9-€39 (£7.70 - £33).
Basecamp, launched in 2004, is one of the older tools in the Project Management world but it is by no means dated. Like most services, it offers the usual core requirements: file sharing, to-do lists, calendars, discussions and individual profiles. Projects are set up as individual long copy pages, so everything you need is in a single location, with the ability to flow freely from one project to the next. The only thing that comes free with Basecamp is the two-month long trial, after which prices range from $20 (£12.90) to $150 (£97) per month, depending on the number of projects you wish to manage. Alternatively, you can pay $3,000 (£1,930) to gain unlimited access for a year.
Asana (Free and Paid)
Asana is the creation of former Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and Facebook employee Justin Rosenstein, used for task management and collaboration between teams. The platform allows you to create workspaces so you can split your projects between departments. You can then create individual projects and tasks within these workspaces, after which you can assign tags, individuals and due dates. Asana is built for speed and offers a variety of hot keys to shift between projects and facilitate action, as well as some nifty synchronisation features. Pricing ranges from $50 (£32) per month for 15 members through to $800 (£515) per month for 100 members.
Often described as the most visually appealing of project management tools, Flow is designed for planing and executing projects with teammates. Like an increasing number of tools, it's available across the web, desktop and mobile through a series of apps. The service is available on a paid basis only and comes in at $9.99 (£6.40) a month or $99 (£64) for the year, with a range of savings depending on the size of your team. The tool allows you to create, delegate and share tasks and has a powerful and intuitive search function inbuilt. Flow is all about collaboration rather than individual management, and offers a range of activity feeds, live comments and real-time updates, so you can collaborate with your team remotely. The Flow Concierge service, through which you can assign "simple" tasks to a personal assistant, is another handy function.
Google Docs/Google Drive (Free)
Google Docs (with installable Google Drive) is one of the best team based project management tools out there, and best of all it's free. Anyone with a Gmail account can get instant access to the service, through which you can share documents, presentations, emails, as well as other file extensions. Drive works in real-time, so you can view changes as they happen. It also integrates with many of the aforementioned tools, which is a huge advantage if you're utilising multiple platforms.
Edward Jones works for project management training provider, Firebrand Training. During his time in the IT certification and training industry, Edward has written a range of articles around project management, including features, how-to guides, and news from the sector.