This is a guest post from Natasha Murashev, a former FBI agent turned Googler who is now learning Ruby on Rails and working on her own startup.
If you’re working in a startup, chances are the only project managements tool you have around is your whiteboard. The whiteboard is great for brainstorming ideas, but as your company continues to grow and you bring on more and more people, you might want to upgrade to a more formal web-based project managment tool.
At first, project management tools may sound intimidating, especially if you’ve ever worked in a corporation that has official project managers who are trained to use the insanely feature-rich Microsoft Projects, but luckily, there are more than a few tools out there that are much cheaper and easier to use.
Here is a list of 5 project management tools that will help you organize your team and substantially increase your team’s productivity.
Asana was started by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz whose vision is to fix how people collaborate on projects and work in teams. Asana is incredibly simple and intuitive to use and has a really nice three-window interface, so you can see your projects, tasks, and individual task details all on the same page. The best part about Asana is that it’s free for a group of up to 30 people, so you won’t have to break the bank to use this high-quality product.
Basecamp was started by the 37signals, a group of developers and designers who build their own simple feature-free project management tool after not being satisfied with the available options out there for their agency. They’ve decided to release Basecamp to the public, and it was an instant success (37signals is no longer an agency as they make more than enough money from their tools to support themselves). The key-word in there is “feature free” project management tool. If you’re looking for something that has a lot of specific features, Basecamp is not for you. 37signals is notorious for not listening to their customers when it comes to adding features. They like keeping their product as minimalist as possible and easy to use. Basecamp pricing ranges from free to $149/month based on the number of projects, and storage your team needs.
3) Zoho Projects
Zoho Projects has all the features you’ll ever need, including bug tracking, wikis, chat, document collaboration, time tracking, and a lot more. However, one of the things I personally like about Zoho Projects is that they make it really easy to hide these features if you don’t need them. For example, if you have a marketing project, you can get rid of the bug-tracking and wiki tab. So if your company is just starting out, but you plan to grow a lot in the future, Zoho Projects is a great tool to use, since you can hide the features you don’t need at first, and grow into them in the future versus Basecamp, which is great to use in the beginning, but you’re likely to outgrow it in the future. Zoho Projects pricing ranges from $20/month to much higher depending on which features and add-ons your team needs.
4) Pivotal Tracker
Pivotal Tracker is a project management tool created by development agency Pivotal Labs, who needed a custom tool for their agile software development technique. If you have more than a few developers at your startup and already practice agile software development, Pivotal Tracker might make your life a lot easier. Pivotal Tracker pricing starts at $7/month and goes up to $50/month based on the number of users, projects, and storage your team needs.
Unfuddle combines the simple project management features of Basecamp with the very technical Git and Subversion hosting. If you have several developers working on the same project, git helps you keep track of the changes each developer makes and merge these changes into the main project while having a backup of the last version of code. Unfuddle pricing ranges from free to $99/month depending on how many users, projects, and storage your team needs.
As you can see, we are lucky enough to be living in an age where there are project management tools available for your team’s specific needs for both features and pricing. Only a few years ago, the only available option out there was Microsoft Projects. The above five are tools that I have used or heard good things about from other startups, but there are countless others, so let me know if you need help deciding on the right tool for your team.