Working with a remote team is all the rage now, not only for established companies, but also for small startups, as well as individuals who are working on their own projects.
If you’re working with a team and/or on multiple projects, then a project management tool would be best to help you organize daily tasks and manage everything seamlessly. Not only will this boost your productivity, it’ll also help you keep a record of your and your team’s work for the employer or the client.
Before we proceed, I would like you to know that I’m not going to write “kanban board” anywhere below, because kanban means board in Japanese, and saying kanban board is like saying board board. Alright, that might be too pedantic of me, so here we go!
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I may be biased to ClickUp when it comes to managing medium to large scale (and ongoing) projects because I’ve been using it actively for 3 different startups and have referred it to several others. But I’ll do my best to be balanced in my views here.
ClickUp is a project management tool with a wide range of features. It has all of the features of a typical project management tools in the market, as well as features that are only unique to them.
For example, if you are a small team, or perhaps just an individual with a lot of projects, using ClickUp will provide you with all of the things that you need, from keeping track of tasks, deadlines, leads, and the like. But where it actually shines bright is its versatility.
Here are the things you can do with it (at least what I’ve done with it) aside from adding lists and kanban for tasks:
- Workloads – visually see everyone’s workload, assign work, and see if they are underutilized or overworked.
- Customer support center – a built-in ticketing systems with features like Freshdesk or Zendesk etc.
- Company Wiki – ClickUp’s built-in document feature, so you don’t have to use tools like Notion or Google Docs for note-taking purposes.
- Goals and Milestones – a unique feature that allows you to set goals like they are folders, set the numbers, and see which goals are being hit, which ones need to be retargeted, and the like.
And of course it also has a lot of automation recipes and if you are an advanced user, you can boost its superpowers using Zapier or Integromat too.
Monday is another great pick for your project management needs. Teams who deal with content, creatives, software, manufacturing, etc. can benefit from this greatly. I used it for almost a year for two brands in the nutrition and food niche and it has always worked fine. It helped boost team efficiency, visibility, and accountability between teams and departments.
Though at first glance Monday looks quite like ClickUp, however, its features are way different and suitable for both intermediate to advanced users. But even beginners can create automations easily with its built-in automations. For example, you can automate creation of tasks or assignment transfers if a status is changed from X to Y – you get the idea.
One particular feature I really like is mirroring items between different boards, which is something not many PM tools have. But in any case, give this one a shot!
If you are a huge fan of spreadsheets, then you need to give Airtable a shot. At first glance, it looks daunting, even for spreadsheet enthusiasts. It might even look like a database to some. But in reality, it’s a powerful tool that can be used for project managementamong other functions.
With Airtable, you can build different views:
- Kanban – just drag and drop cards from one column to another.
- Table – like a regular spreadsheet but with more features.
- Calendar – perfect for teams who are always on tight schedules, like content creation teams.
- Gallery – focused on the visuals, this is perfect for creative teams.
Integrating it with Zapier or Integromat will help make things easier too, along with other apps like Slack, Gmail, and other tools that are crucial to remote teams.
Asana is still one of my go-to project management tools for managing different clients. It is another powerful tool that any type of team from content and web design and development to photography and ecommerce can greatly benefit from.
Using Asana is pretty straightforward – it has two main views: Board and List, and you can switch between the two. For the tasks that you create, you can set dependencies – if a task isn’t completed, the next dependent task can’t start – so it is easy to spot the bottleneck.
One of the reasons why I still use Asana is because you can literally create a new organization in just under 10 seconds and you can create dozens upon dozens of organizations as you want for free, and invite up to 15 free members too.
Technically PipeDrive is a sales management tool, a CRM, where you can visualize and monitor all of your customers’ journey – from prospect to lead to customer (and then repeat customer). But a lot of people are also using PipeDrive as a project management tool.
PipeDrive is really simple to use and you can integrate it with other tools as well. For example, if you would like to contact people in your pipeline, you can simply connect your mailbox to PipeDrive so you can have the conversation within the CRM.
For context, I used PipeDrive for a construction company in the US and a design agency in the UK. Initially, I was under the impression that using it as a project management tool might not be the best of ideas but the tool is so versatile that you can easily use it for managing your projects.
For example, it uses Pipelines and Stages as its main keywords. So you can use Pipeline for Project while Stage as the Status of your project. And yes, Lead is to Task. Easy, right?
Trello is a straightforward project management tool that a lot of people just can’t leave behind, even if there are already newer tools with more robust features. And there’s a reason for that, of course!
Trello is perfect for people who want to increase team productivity. And the reason why this is the best feature for Trello is because it’s so…clean. There are no unnecessary features, no clunky features that will make you want to read the knowledge base, and the like. It is very intuitive and simple too.
Drag cards across different columns, or use the table view, update a task’s deadline by simply dragging it across the calendar — things like that, very well-thought out little things that can make your life easier.
There are the other views that you can use within Trello including timeline, table, dashboard, and calendar.
For the most part of its grandfathered users, back when it was just a kanban, many of these users still use Trello for just the cards – including me!
7. Toggl Plan
Toggl Plan is a project management tool that just captures the eyes. It has a very aesthetic feel to it, and to be honest that is the one thing that many tools don’t have, which I think is a shame because having a good UI can help in being in the “flow”.
Anyway, for Toggl Plan, it is focused on three main things.
- Project Planning – where you can create tasks and drag them along the timeline, etc.
- Workload Management – since one of Toggl’s main products is time tracking, it is natural to have a feature that tracks the workload of your team. In this case, I believe the combination of task management and time tracking really plays well with the tool. You can easily see if someone is getting overworked or needs some more tasks!
- Task Management – create, edit, assign tasks to your team members, and have each task time tracked.
Honestly, if you are a small remote team and looking for ways to fully utilize your team and make sure that you are paying them correctly, Toggle Plan is probably the best tool that you can use. Give it a shot with their free trial!
Basecamp is a classic project management tool and I’ve added it to the list because of how widely it is being used even today. It’s a simple tool that teams working on software development and content creation etc. can benefit from.
It also has a nifty tab for all activities within the organization, so you can know at a glance who is working on what.
One thing I like about Basecamp (and I am sure that many will agree to this) is that its pricing structure is very simple. Unlike other tools that charge you per user, Basecamp allows you to just pay a flat rate no matter how many users you have.
Bonus: A few more…
ActiveCollab helps collaborators through its time saving and easy-to-use features. Project leaders can set milestones for the team, add team members, assign tasks and get notified via e-mail for updates on the project. Also when replying or posting a comment, you don’t need to actually log in the system, you can reply and post comments via e-mail.
With ActiveCollab, team leaders can provide real-time updates to their contractors/clients by giving them access to the system itself. I’ve personally used this and I’ve seen that it is pretty flexible on giving users permission on what features to use.
File sharing, time tracking, invoicing, project management, and notifications, all in one place: in your web server.
Assembla has a ticketing system where teams in remote places are given tasks via tickets. I’ve used this and personally, I find it a little confusing at first but after spending some time with it, I get exactly how it works. It is like one of those online forums where people talk about things, only here, the project leader is the one who controls most of the game.
There are built-in wiki to help new users navigate their way through, and Assembla encourages its users to actually read and follow instructions.
If you’re a wiki user then Confluence will be easy for you to use. Although it is not your usual wiki, it still incorporates many similar features like content creation for all users, intelligent search, discussion and many more. File sharing is made via drag and drop. Confluence is, unlike other project management software, more focused on documentation and information sharing. For big projects, proper documentation is definitely the key to a more organized execution of things.
Like WordPress, there are also several plugins that users can install for the system, each having their own purpose. And as people say, the best feature is its ability to integrate with Microsoft Office. That, in itself, says a lot.
Kapost is a publishing management software perfect for bloggers and writers in collaboration. It is a virtual news room where users can present a concept and have it approved by an editor. There are three types of users here, the editors, contributors, and subscribers. Editors can approve, assign, and reject ideas to contributors.
Kapost also has a built-in feature for payments per post, although I haven’t personally tried it, I think it is a very cool feature especially when working with a very diverse team on an output-based payment.
The thing about Kapost is that it makes its users focus more on the concepts, increasing the quality of content. It’s like a real news room where people brainstorm together.
Time Doctor had me at dramatically reducing wasted time as in the world we are living now, time can make or break an entire company.
Its main features include an optional screenshot monitoring for remote employees (which is a little invasive, in my opinion, but will do the job), automatic generation of daily reports, keeping track of what websites and applications are used, and many other features that track every possible action of a user on his computer. I must say, if you want to be strict with every penny you pay for, Time Doctor is what you’re looking for.
Bonus: Hire an Operations Specialist
As I mentioned above a few times, these tools are the ones that I’ve personally used, and a few of them I always have recommended to my clients (and set up and built automations for).
So, in case you are a business owner who wants to better manage their team, feel free to reach out to me at Shouting Pixel so I can help you setup your sparkling new project management tool, or help you with your operational needs!
I sincerely hope that my review of these tools I have personally used can help you in making a decision. One thing I am sure of is that if you pick any of these and just keep on using them, your productivity will shoot to the roof.
What I recommend is to take time, use all of these tools’ free trial, get a feel of how it works, discover the pros and cons for yourself, and then finally make a decision. Decide on one with the intention of using it for several years to come.