the 3 project management tools your startup needs.
Project management tools are crucial for growth. Arguably even more so for startups and undeniably so for everyone during the coronavirus pandemic. Increasing communication and clarity between remote teams whilst simplifying and centralizing workflows is more important than ever. And unfortunately, the likes of email just aren’t built for the collaboration needed in today’s world.
Yet even without the current situation ushering in remote working as the new standard, project management tools continue to be the bridge between chaos and harmony for businesses of all sizes. For startups, their small teams often intensify individual workloads, meaning that at the early stages, project management tools can ensure progress, help manage complexity and stimulate productivity. As a business scales, the same tools can facilitate that growth, acting as a shared knowledge base whilst also tracking the development of numerous projects simultaneously.
Picking the right tool, however, can be tricky. Its diverse functionality must be hidden behind a simple, powerful user experience and it must be scalable. Project management tools are the foundation that potentially all work is conducted on, so that scalability is paramount to it growing with your business. Whilst there are hundreds of tools out there, here are the three we think are the best.
Basecamp is one of the most familiar names in the world of project management tools, and they pitch themselves as “the all-in-one toolkit for working remotely”. They even wrote a book about it. Indeed, they pride themselves on being the one place you and your team need to work effectively.
Basecamp is split into projects, with each being is its own section containing everything – and everyone – related to that project. An advanced to-do list, check-in area, real-time chatroom dubbed the “Campfire”, message board, file storage, and schedule are all part of every project workspace. By doing this, Basecamp is aiming to eliminate the need to have other tools – such as Dropbox and Slack – running alongside. They argue that in centralizing everything, the big picture is easier to see.
Outside of neatly managed project areas, Basecamp allows individuals to see everything they’re involved in whilst managers can use the wider reaching “Basecamp HQ” to keep track of general activity from the business as a whole. As to pricing, it’s $99/month. That’s it. It may seem expensive given that other project management tools do offer free options, but that price never increases and includes unlimited users and unlimited projects.
So, if you’re a startup anticipating rapid growth or a business that already has a sizable team, Basecamp offers a lot. And if you prioritize centralized communication and a user-friendly place for managing projects, Basecamp could be for you.
Asana is another powerhouse of project management tools, founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and now catering for the likes of Airbnb, Sony, Google and even NASA. Even though Asana has similar aspirations as Basecamp – helping companies be more effective and productive– it’s less concerned with being absolutely everything a growing business needs and more with organizing projects, tasks and goals.
And Asana doesn’t focus on communication in the same way that Basecamp does either. Instead, it focuses on providing a structure that enables projects to be planned and carried out efficiently with precision and to their full potential. Its list view allows a concise perspective on all tasks and subtasks that are part of a project, its Kanban view enables accurate tracking of progress and its visual timeline view gives an overview of working towards a deadline. It also has no storage space limit (Basecamp has a limit of 500GB).
And when it comes to pricing, Asana is free for up to teams of fifteen. Granted, the free version is more limited compared to the paid versions – and it doesn’t come with that beautiful timeline – but it still offers a clean, sleek opportunity for small teams to have full control over projects for no cost at all. It’s nothing more than such a team needs but nothing less either.
Once you cross the paid threshold, however, it quickly gets more expensive than other tools such as Basecamp. Yet it remains to be one of the best project management tools for detailed project planning and execution, and combined with being among the easiest to learn, Asana is immensely powerful at what it does.
Notion is much newer to being pegged as a project management tool for companies than Asana and Basecamp, but they still claim to be your “all-in-one workspace”, focusing on four areas; notes and documents, knowledgebase, tasks and projects, and databases. They also recently reached a $2 billion valuation. Its simplistic interface makes it appear basic, but the possibilities with Notion are almost endless.
Apart from what you would expect a project management tool to do, tracking and organizing progress (in much the same way as Asana does), assigning tasks to team members and acting as a knowledge base, Notion also can be used to take meeting notes, create a company wiki – including onboarding pages, values, policies – be a central point for documentation, set simple everyday reminders or even just write a thought down.
Although Notion isn’t as easy as the other two project management tools to use at first (it requires some time and effort to set up), Notion’s diverse use cases and its ability to be tailored to how your business works are where it excels. And with that freedom also comes a capability to scale. As your startup grows, so does Notion, both in its capacity to perform but also in it helping you manage your growth. Being able to embed countless file formats and existing apps inside of Notion is also a bonus.
When it comes to cost, Notion's free version is for unlimited members, but you are limited to 1000 blocks of content which are quickly used. After that, it’s $8 per member, per month. If you’re willing to put in some initial work and want a tool that is can be used for way more than just streamlining projects, Notion may be the right choice.