We must start with the project management system that really kicked off the do-it-yourself project management trend. In 2004, a company called 37signals started creating online project management systems, primarily for the web design industry. Basecamp has evolved to be one of the most popular web-based project collaboration tools to share files, meet deadlines, assign tasks, centralize feedback and finish what you start.
Basecamp is now integrated with a whole host of other systems, including time tracking software, social networks, mobile phones and invoicing software. All the systems update each other and keep everyone on track. Basecamp has toyed off and on with a free level; but as of early June 2013, its smallest plan gives you 15 projects for $1/day.
A fellow nerd who attended one of my sessions swears by Smartsheet, a simple project management tool for people who love spreadsheets. It’s easy to use and understand, and it works in a linear fashion that makes sense. If you are one of the rare people who can figure out Gantt charts, you might try Tom’s Planner, which starts at $9/month for 20 “project schedules.”
Trello offers an interesting take on project management by organizing your projects into “cards” that lay out like a deck across your screen. You can click on any card to flip it over and see the details, including tasks, collaborators and due dates. And another cool Trello characteristic? It’s 100 percent free.