7 Popular Project Management Tools for Small Businesses Doing Mighty Things Erin Posey Some small business owners believe that only large corporations need to use sophisticated tools to help manage projects. This might be because many activities conducted in smaller companies are of short duration and only conducted by a single person or a very small team. However, it might be fairer to say that many companies have grown large and prosperous because they do employ the right tools to manage all of their business activities. What is a Project That Needs Management? Sean Maserang, of the University of Missouri, points out that almost every business activity should be considered a project that needs management. If you are sitting down with an agency to discuss marketing strategies for small business or getting your accountant to prepare a tax report, it’s still a project. The right tools can make management simpler and more seamless. Because many of these tools are now delivered online, prices are often very friendly for small-business budgets. 7 Project Management Tools to Try Consider these seven popular tools for your own small business: Basecamp: This software works well for smaller teams of people. It includes tools for both project managers and team members to help schedule meetings, set due dates, and communicate. The monthly rate is based upon the number of projects, but the company allows unlimited users. When discussing small business project management software, Basecamp often gets mentioned first. The software also comes with online messaging. Slack: Slack is an app for teams that helps them organize projects by bringing communication all in one place, sharing and commenting on files, and integrating with other apps to get more stuff done in less time. TeamGantt: The Gantt Chart helps you track deadlines and milestones. If you are a visual person and would enjoy a nice interface and plenty of useful charting functions, TeamGantt might be a great choice. It’s also fairly easy to use and affordable. The highlight of this software is the slick interface. Trello: This software usually gets a vote for small companies because it is fairly easy to setup and use. The main interface functions almost like a whiteboard. There is a limited, free option to test out, and monthly fees are very inexpensive. Asana: The design of this project management software resembles a computer’s file management system. This company also offers a free option, but you can’t set permission levels with this option. The paid option is more expensive than the other tools listed above. Evernote: Evernote is my fave when it comes to saving things I love or find interesting. But it also has some features that make it flexible for project management, too. It’s simple to create notes and categorize everything in project-specific notebooks. You can even scan in paper docs to make keeping track of project documents a cinch. Google Drive: If you’re just dipping your toe into project management, Google Drive is a simple way to share documents, co-edit documents, see revision history, and let team members leave & resolve comments. Drive offers a plethora of business tools including documents, spreadsheets, and presentation slides. Plus, it’s free. How to Select the Right Tool for Your Own Company Determine Your Needs You wouldn’t want to take the kids to soccer practice or do the grocery shopping in a Ferrari. Nor would you want to sign up for the Mario Andretti racing experience in a mini van. The right tool for the job makes all the difference. If you need to track several people and multiple tasks, an app like Basecamp might suit your needs, but if you just need a way to stay organized, an app like Evernote might do the trick. Often, it can be a challenge to get your team members to adopt new technology or new processes. So give them a Ferrari when they need to be fast and nimble, and give them the mini van when they need room to manage for the long haul. Choosing the app that fits your goals will help avoid frustration, making user adoption much simpler. Take a Test Drive Most of the software companies that produce these tools offer some sort of free trial. If they don’t, monthly rates are usually low enough to justify paying them for a month or two for a test. Also, the companies will offer demos. The best option is to test a handful of them with your own projects in order to find the tool that works the best for you and your team. Project management tools can help the busy small business owner delegate tasks and monitor progress – without micromanaging their team. These tools can also help employees take ownership of projects and the role in completing a project successfully. And now, a time out for a project management rap: Happy Planning!