Collaborating on projects with a small team (say three to six people) comes with its own set of challenges.
How do you handle sharing important documents, updates with status reports on different tasks and how do you ensure communication? Are docs, spreadsheets and emails really the most effective tools for organizing your workflow? Or are there any solid project management software options out there?
The features you’re looking for
If you’re just working with a few people and looking to organize your projects, you’re probably in the market for tools that enhance efficiency, keeping everyone informed.
You want a program that lets you develop a project plan by tracking everyone’s progress while allowing all members to access it from wherever they are in the world. You’ll want something that helps you stay on schedule plus the ability to track expenses.
Perhaps most importantly, you’re looking for something that allows for seamless communication between team members. According to Captera, 59% of workers say communication is their team’s biggest challenge, followed by accountability. You want to make sure there’s never a breakdown in team communication as this is vital for bringing your project to fruition.
However, since you have a small team, you don’t want to invest hundreds of dollars in advanced software with a steep learning curve with lots of features you don’t need.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with eight suggestions specifically configured for small teams to help you make your life easier.
The best project management software
Zoho Projects is a cloud-based project management software that’s an ideal tool for small teams for several reasons. While there are various paid plans, the free version includes 10 MB of storage, two active projects and it accommodates up to three users. This tool’s features include everything from project planning and Gantt Charts to document management and timesheets.
Asana is another easy-to-use project management tool that’s ideal for small teams. The free version is chock-a-block with useful features, from time tracking to unlimited file storage, projects and activity logs. It offers over 100 free integrations with your favorite apps and you can collaborate with up to 15 different teammates.
A kanban board is a project management tool that allows the members of a team to visualize their work. It uses columns, cards and delivery and commitment points to illustrate the workflow and let everyone know what each member is doing at any given time. It’s especially useful if there are parts of your project that are intangible or invisible; in fact, kanban means “visual signal” in Japanese.
With Trello, your projects are organized across different boards. You can see, just by looking at it, what your team is working on, who’s working on which task, and the progress for a certain task. It also has a free option that allows your team to use up to ten boards with unlimited lists and cards. It’s easy to assign project tasks to your development team, and you can also integrate it seamlessly with popular apps like Slack, Jira, Outlook, Dropbox and Salesforce, among others.
Wrike is a tool that allows you to tailor its extensive set of features to meet your team’s needs, not the other way around. It has a free option for up to 5 users, which allows you to share a to-do list, and the following option, for 5 to 15 people, allows for full project planning and collaboration at an affordable, per person rate. Small businesses, project managers and team members will love this tool’s flexibility and clean interface, and everyone agrees that it’s intuitive and easy to use.
BaseCamp, though more expensive than the other options on the list, has a pricing model that charges for your business as a whole and not based on the number of users. Top features include document sharing, discussion boards, a chat, schedule sharing, to-do lists, and automatic check-ins. Users can see an overview of the project and also access a more detailed view to see where everyone stands.
Another option is Jira, specifically designed for software teams. It comes with Agile, Scrum and Kanban planning boards. One of its distinguishing features is its fully customizable workflows. It can be integrated with an impressive number of apps (900 in total) and it also has detailed reporting tools. There’s a free version with somewhat limited functionality for 10 users. The next tier costs less than $10 per user. Overall this is a great tool for streamlining team and resource management.
LiquidPlanner is a dynamic project management solution that helps teams adapt to change, manage uncertainty, resources and risk. It’s ideal for complex projects and allows users to organize their schedule based on priorities, modify their to-do lists based on how the project’s evolving, plus incorporating their availability on a per week basis.
Finding the right tool
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to project management for small teams. That’s because demands, workflows, and resources are all different. However, the right tool for your team will help you streamline communication, work more efficiently, prioritize properly, and control the workload.
In short, success requires a winning combination of an organized, professional project team and the right project management software.