There are a lot of investments to be made when starting up a business – but buying the best project management software for startups?
Surely this is a luxury and something for when the business is established and the projects much larger? It might seem that most of what you do can be managed in standard productivity tools such as word processors and spreadsheets.
However, you need a tool that can keep your team on the same page and ensure communication, delegation and follow-up are an essential part of your daily practice.
Therefore, a decent project management software is not a luxury but an essential.
Here are some of the best project management software for startups, to help guide you in your choice.
As a startup you are going to be looking for something is simple and easy to implement, and this is what Basecamp offers more than any other app on the market.
The ultimate aim of Basecamp is to gather the information you store on different platforms in one place.
You may have documents, or emails, or direct messages – all scattered across your computer. The idea is that you use this platform instead and you don’t have to worry where the information is – you can just say “It’s in Basecamp.”
Well, that’s the sales pitch – here are some details about the platform.
You get a Basecamp Home Screen. It gives you an idea of what is going on across the whole business. You design dedicated areas for different teams and then places where teams work together.
Within these camps, you can then organise the projects that each team in participating in.
Inside each of the camps, you set up you get the same tools: to do lists, a message board, a schedule, relevant docs and files, campfire chap (instant messaging) and automatic check-ins.
As you can see, this should replace communication tools such as Slack, email, productivity software, file storage platforms, planning software and your calendar.
The best things about Basecamp is the simple interface that is both intuitive and stylish.
The best thing is that you can set up automated notifications that prompt your team when a deadline is due, and it lets everyone know when something is overdue – so, it manages the accountability for you!
OK – maybe not the most crucial detail but when you visit the site to find out about ProofHub, you are greeted by Bot, James Bot – a chat window for asking questions. This sort of detail tickles us… pretty pointless to project management… but it tickles us.
Proofhub is a little more complicated than Basecamp, but it has the additional benefit of helping you collaborate with clients, as well as with team members – which means you can probably replace your CRM and your distinct project management tool with this one software.
Like Basecamp, ProofHub works on the idea of a centralised area for all your projects and all your teams.
It also has some of the similar tools such as discussion topics, files and document management, group chat, time tracking, etc.
However, ProofHub uses the Gantt chart to act as a visual overview of the project, where tasks are assigned and tracked, and everyone is aware of what needs to be done, by whom and who is dependent what to be able to begin or continue working.
There are also some pretty advanced reporting tools that allow you to track project and individual performance.
The best feature is the customisable access, allowing different stakeholders different views of the project. This will enable you to give the client the view of the project that you are happy for them to see, for instance.
Read our ProofHub review to find out more details.
There are two significant facts in Trello’s favour.
First, Trello is free.
Second, it is simple to use. It uses what are called Kanban boards. On these boards you create cards, and on cards, you develop lists.
The cards represent the workflow/ sales funnel/ completion schedule. In short, you should have one card for each step in the process towards completion of your project.
Each task or professional or client that moves through the process gets its list. You can move lists from card to card as they move through the workflow/ sales funnel/ completion schedule by drag and dropping them.
It is that simple – and helps you visualise the workflow on one board.
Trello also allows you to produce checklists, set due dates, receive reminders and updates – plus it integrates with Slack and Google Docs, helping you to collaborate efficiently with your team.
There are a whole lot of advanced features that you can buy in to – including stickers – but the platform works well enough in its free form and should be simple enough for the whole team to use.
Wrike is a cloud-based collaboration and project management software with users that range from Airbnb, TFI Fridays and L’Oreal.
When you create a project, you can set user access from the start. This allows specific team members to see certain parts of the dashboard you are building.
Planning is done through an interactive Gantt chart, with resource allocation and templates.
Once the project is set up and planned, then it is possible to collaborate and communicate inside the software, as well as tagging images and videos, as well as providing specific feedback to team members.
One of the better features of Write is the chance to build interactive reports.
This means that when a project manager needs to present progress on the project to stakeholders, the software provides all the details required to do this efficiently. You can also set up regular notifications.
Smartsheet is an online collaboration tool. It helps you manage the project, the team’s tasks, the sales pipeline, and more.
It is accessible from any device and uses the features of a spreadsheet to help you visualise the timeline of your project.
Each row in the spreadsheet becomes a task, which is then set a date for a completion, a person responsible and any potential dependencies.
You can attach documents to each row and where necessary automate movement from one task to another.
This platform allows you to view this information as a Gantt chart, a timeline of activity from beginning to end of the project, or as Kanban cards or just as a simple spreadsheet.
As this platform is accessible from anywhere and able for use by multiple users, it is particularly useful for teams who work remotely.
There is also a feature that allows for online discussions and collaboration on shared documents, with inbuilt version saving and tracking.
This is not as simple to use as some of the other PM platforms, but it does offer some of the more advanced features you will need when you start to scale-up your projects or the number of projects you will be monitoring.
There is a free version of the software that covers many of the basic features – however, if you want some of the cool reporting tools and budgeting features – then you are going to have to pay monthly or make a one-time payment to get the package you want.
Podio promises that anything you want your team to see can be put into Podio – and there is nothing else to it to cause distractions or confusion.
Each project has one centralised place – with the files, conversation, comments, the status of project – all on this one sheet.
What is particularly handy is that the software integrates with most of the file-sharing services, customer support products and marketing tools that you might also be using. This means you bring these into your centralised screen for your project.
The software is built on the principle that transparency is crucial to a great project team.
Therefore, you will only be putting items on here that you want the whole team to see – but then you invite the team to the project – so you assume you want them to know when you do this.
If you struggle with the idea that peers need to recognise what others do and how well they work, then this is not the platform for you. It might be better to go for one of those sites that allows you to designate users.
The key for a startup is simplicity.
There are some fancy PM software platforms on the market – with Gannt charts and automation of processes.
However, to begin with, it might be that what you want is a central place where you store files and track communication about a project – or just an overview – where you can dip in and clearly see what is happening across your small company.
This means the essential features you need is a simple interface, integration with other standard packages used by businesses and communication tools that clearly organise threads on different projects.
All of these platforms are excellent – but it is about starting where you feel comfortable.
Once you invest in some of the best project management software for your startup, check our guide to CRM software to make sure your customers stay satisfied as well.