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Top 6 Project Management Software Tools for Small Businesses

Harry Lees
December 3, 2021
Productivity

Top 6 Project Management Software Tools for Small Businesses

Odds are that each department in your organization uses some sort of project management, workforce collaboration, project portfolio management, task management, or issue tracking software. Unlike department-specific technology, however, project management software is intuitive and flexible enough to be used by individuals across functions and project types. As companies grow, centralized PM tools become crucial for eliminating redundancies.

However, finding the PM tool that fits your needs isn’t always easy. Some products are better suited for certain use cases than others, and it’s likely that your team members are already committed to using the tools they’re familiar with. Because of this, most companies end up purchasing multiple project management tools instead of just one. In a recent TrustRadius survey, 58% of 200 end-users reported that they use at least two project management tools

Not all businesses can afford to purchase 2-3 different tools– especially small businesses operating on a tight budget. Combined with the reality of a crowded market (there are 230 project management products listed on TrustRadius alone!), finding the perfect PM software can be a struggle. 

To help you cut through the noise and figure out which product would suit your needs best, we’ve compiled a list below of the top 6 project management software tools for small businesses:

  1. Teamwork Projects
  2. Airtable 
  3. Monday.com
  4. Asana
  5. Basecamp
  6. Trello 

Best Project Management Software for Small Businesses

The products included in this list are some of the most popular and highest performing project management tools among small business users. To guarantee only high quality products made it onto our list, each product must have met these 4 inclusion criteria: 

  • Products must have Project Management Software as their primary category  
  • Products must have at least 50 reviews
  • Products must be ‘customer verified’ (indicating that at least 10 reviews were published within the past year)
  • At least 40% of reviewers of the product must be from small businesses (defined as 1-50 employees)

Without further ado, here are  the best 6 PM products for small businesses: 

#1 Teamwork Projects  

Teamwork Projects TRScore, 8.8 out of 10

Pros

  • Ease of creating task lists with subtasks 
  • Ability to attach ‘milestones’ to tasks to view overall project progress
  • Great ease of use and time management features

Cons

  • Certain features can feel overwhelming or seem messy (e.g. tagging, Kanban view) 
  • Notification settings are difficult to set to the desired frequency 

56% of Teamwork Projects users on TrustRadius are from small businesses. 

Teamwork Projects is a project management software design to help facilitate internal collaboration and communication with clients. Teamwork Projects offers a free version of the software for up to 5 users, after which the plans are paid. It allows users to visualize their projects and tasks multiple ways, including a kanban view, project dashboard, to-do lists, Gantt charts, and a calendar view.

Users have access to a wide range of planning, collaboration, organizational, and reporting features. These include advanced user privacy and permissions, messaging, ability to create subtasks and attach ‘milestones’ to tasks, file storage and version control, time logging per task, mobile applications, and the ability to organize projects and files using tags and filters. 

“Our entire organization uses TeamWork, and I highly rely on it every single day. We use it to organize clients as well as projects within each client. It helps us track the progress, know what the next steps are, keep communication organized, and track time for billing purposes… Teamwork has a “milestone” feature so that you can see the larger picture and the core steps to take to complete the project.”

Verified User | Team Lead in Marketing | Marketing and Advertising Company (11-50 employees)

#2 Airtable

Airtable TRScore, 8.7 out of 10

Pros

  • Multiple ways to visualize data and collaborate 
  • Intuitive and user-friendly interface for all types of users

Cons

  • Formatting limitations, such as conditional formatting 
  • Learning curve for first time users 

62% of Airtable reviewers on TrustRadius are from small businesses. 

Airtable is a highly customizable project management solution built on a spreadsheet Framework. This allows users to link records across project tabs within the same workspace. Users can use the spreadsheet view as a project database, attaching files and sorting columns and rows by things like project due date, contributor, owner, status, or priority level.

Airtable offers users a wide range of flexibility in terms of different ways to visualize and organize projects, including grid, kanban, calendar, and gallery views. On higher pricing tiers, users also have access to Airtable ‘blocks’ that provide additional functionality, such as mapping/geocoding, time tracking, an org chart builder, color coding, and the ability to create pivot tables.

“We liked Airtable’s approach to organizing data and information and its rich set of views and number of templates. It does collaboration facilitation very well. Airtable also offers excellent support, solid security features, and great third party integration. Finally, we felt it was relatively straightforward to use, once you get up to speed on it.” 

Verified User | C-Level Executive in Corporate | Computer Software Company (11-50 employees)

#3 Monday.com   

Monday.com TRScore, 8.4 out of 10

Pros

  • Easy to use and has a simple workflow
  • Ability to organize projects and tasks using different views (e.g. Kanban, timeline) 

Cons

  • Businesses can only add users in increments of 5 or 10 
  • Less well-suited for large or complex projects

54% of Monday.com users on TrustRadius are from small businesses. 

Monday.com is a team management software that emphasizes collaboration capabilities andis ideal for small businesses. Features include timeline creation, messaging, checklists, task assignment, project level reporting, an unlimited number of project boards, Kanban view, calendar view, forms customization, Gantt charts, and time tracking capabilities.

Monday also provides users with access to project templates for quick set up, and security features like two-factor authentication, Google authentication, and Single Sign-On (SSO). Monday integrates with other communication and collaboration tools such as Slack, Google Drive, Trello, and Dropbox.

“The marketing department uses Monday.com to manage the projects that we do on a daily basis. We have a lot of different projects involving different teams (Design, web development, data analytics, etc.) and Monday.com helped us to stay organized and up to date. There are also daily tasks that are on personal lists where we have kept tracking our own to-dos.”

Toby M. | Senior Marketing Analyst | Consumer Electronics Company (11-50 employees)

#4 Asana

Asana TRScore, 8.4 out of 10

Pros

  • Ease of collaboration and tracking comment threads
  • Ability to easily create tasks and assign them to others

Cons

  • Notifications could be improved (e.g. lower frequency) 
  • Less well-suited for more complex projects

50% of Asana users on TrustRadius are from small businesses. 

Asana is an online work management solution ideal for personal and team-based project and task management. Is allows users to organize and track projects via multiple different formats, including a list view, project timeline, conversation thread, calendar view, and Kanban board.

One are that this tools shines is in collaboration, rather than just time management and idea posting. The comment tracking, task assignment, and other cooperation-focused features are fantastic. For those who work in some creative aspect with their teams, Asana will really help with teammates getting the most out of each other.

Users also have access to features like the ability to assign tasks, advanced searching, an admin console, a gallery of project templates, and customizable fields to use for project-level reporting. Asana integrates with a wide range of third-party software such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Slack, Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365, and Zapier.

These integrations are a huge selling point. A well-managed small business can easily transition back and forth between conception, production, feedback and review stages of development. This supports a wide array of project management methodologies.

“Because I work with someone hours away, and we typically work opposite schedules, having a software where we can log projects we’re working on, tasks that need completed, posting schedules, etc. was extremely important for the success of our organization. We were looking for an easy to use software that also offered a well put together app, all of which Asana offered.”

Kate K. | Virtual Assistant | Wellness and Fitness Company (1-10 employees)

#5 Basecamp 

Basecamp TRScore, 8 out of 10

Pros

  • Ease of communicating and sharing information with other users 
  • User-friendly and simple to use

Cons

  • Visibility into which tasks are assigned to which person is limited      
  • Not well-suited for managing complex or large projects 

45% of Basecamp reviewers on TrustRadius are from small businesses. 

Basecamp is a project management and team communication software ideal for small and midsize businesses. Notably, it only has two distinct pricing tiers, one of which is free. The paid offering is a $99/month flat-rate plan that can accommodate an unlimited number of users and projects, and has up to 500 GB of storage space.

The personal (free) Basecamp plan allows users to work on 3 projects at a time, has up to 20 users, and includes 1 GB of storage space. If this is too limited for your team, the paid version offers features like to-do lists, message boards, scheduling, document and file storage, ‘hill-charts’, project reporting, client access, and project templates.

This software is going to be fantastic for some users and poorly suited to others, and is less of e generalist than something like AirTable. The structure is a little more rigid and task visibility and structuring is not as flexible as other alternatives. Users have also said the tool is less well suited to complex tasks and large projects, not dissimilarly to Trello. Some mild quality of life improvements, such as assigning a data and team member to a task in one click, are also mentioned as areas the tool can improve. For those considering this tool, it would be a good idea to compare it to others, and see if its specific quirks will suit your use case.

“Basecamp allows us to create individual task lists, schedules, to-dos and upload specific files for each location to help organize our projects. Since Basecamp is an online application, we are able to use the program from anywhere without having to log onto our servers. This has allowed our remote employees to collaborate and manage projects while out in the field, increasing our overall company productivity.”

Karen Z. | Environmental Specialist II | Environmental Services Company (11-50 employees)

#6 Trello  

Trello TRScore, 8.5 out of 10

Pros

  • User-friendly and simple to use 
  • Ability to easily organize and track tasks

Cons

  • Limited use of powers on lower-tier plans
  • Less well-suited for complex projects

45% of Trello users on TrustRadius are from small businesses. 

From Atlassian, Trello is an online task management software built on a Kanban board framework. While project management apps use kanbad as an option, Trello uses it as a foundation for success.

 List columns can be created or added to boards, and cards can be expanded with details like checklists, due dates, labels, file attachments, and a comment thread to show activity history. Cards can also be manually moved between lists, archived or deleted, and copied to create card templates.

This extremely intuitive system is ideal for personal and team-based project management and gives users the ability to customize both boards and cards. 

Trello is well suited for small business owners to manage either individual teams or their entire companies’ handling of multiple projects at a time. It is best to create multiple boards for different type of work. Trello shines when being used as a way to see what has been done and what is where in the production process. It is less well-suited to extremely complex team collaboration.

For a small business project management software, Trello is well-placed to be competitive, with a striking user interface. If Trello is used in larger companies,it is still best used in smaller departments, teams, or individual project types. Kanban is poorly suited to diverse projects with different needs on the same board

Trello offers a number of integrations and ‘power-ups’ that enable specific automations, like the ability to create Gantt charts—which cannot be created in Trello without an integration.

“I believe Trello is the winner across the board because of its ease of use, clear visibility of tasks that need to be done, and the ability to add power-ups. On top of this, the ability to collaborate is unmatched. If you’d like to add someone to a whole board you can, or to just a specific card. And if you’re in charge of a team, you’re able to manage the multiple people on the board or watch a specific card so you get notified when someone updates it.”

Ben C.  | Risk Manager, and Insurance Agent | Insurance Company (11-50 employees)

How to Find the Right Project Management Tool For Your Needs  

Looking at the list of software above, you might think that these tools are virtually indistinguishable. They all seem to have similar features and a somewhat-daunting level of complexity. In truth, the best tools on the market differ in small but significant ways that you might only notice when using the software yourself. Given that most project management tools offer a free trial or free version, you might already be considering trying out a few to see which one feels right. That’s certainly one way to go about finding a new PM solution, but not the best way. 

We’re willing to bet that 58% of project management professionals use more than one tool because many of them didn’t take the time to find the best possible match. To avoid being part of this statistic, take some time to assess your current needs and prioritize the features that are most crucial to achieving your business objectives. For example, Trello is adept at task management—especially task assignment, tracking, and workflow. Airtable, on the other hand, is much better suited for teams that need the flexibility to visualize their project workflows in different ways (e.g. Kanban, grid view, calendar, etc). Take note of these small but critical differentiations and use them to narrow down the tools on your shortlist before walking into a free trial. 

Dive into even more project management software reviews here

For newer project management leaders or those looking to up their skills, check out the video below. There you will find tips on how to improve your poject management skills.

About the Author

Harry Lees
I am a proud University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, with a Comprehensive Honors degree in Political Science and Journalism. Go Badgers! A dual-citizen with the U.S and U.K, in my free time I support Liverpool Football Club, obsessively follow politics and do extremely nerdy things with my friends.

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