February 2

Project Management for the Rest of Us

Here’s an excerpt from The Big Book of Apps, which you totally need!

The project management world is a crowded space, but a few companies stand out. These tools are the most recommended by audience members in my sessions, and those guys are way smarter than I am. Like the cloud storage tools, you’ll find many of the same characteristics in the top contenders. In general, here are the features these tools contain:

  • Capability to set up projects with tasks, goals and milestones
  • Collaboration tools for teams
  • Feeds and dashboards for latest activity and status updates
  • Ability to assign tasks to team members
  • Shareable file library
  • Notification system via email or third-party tools
  • Multi-device access to cloud-based data
  • Free or low-cost basic features with upgrades for larger teams and projects

Beyond these common characteristics, you’ll find variety in the look and feel of the most popular tools.

Start with…

Project Management Tool Good for Personal Task Management

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.

Trello organizes all your projects into boards, allowing both personal and shared boards. Your account lets you have as many boards as you want, and you can manage the permissions for each for everything from read-only access to full privileges. You create lists and deadlines for each board, and you can assign tasks to others. It’s easy to reprioritize and assign list items with a quick click and drag.

Trello gets bonus points because it has personality: a sense of playfulness as well as serious business features. You can choose bright, fun backgrounds for your projects, and a “Power-Up” feature (that doesn’t even cost more money) lets your older cards show their age. Plus, the Pirate View is what you need in your life.

Then Try…

Favorite Project Management Tool with Robust Free Version

Spreadsheet-Based Project Management Tool

Asana and Smartsheet are crowd favorites at my sessions. Many teams report that Asana gives small teams everything they need at no cost for up to 15 users. And although Smartsheet isn’t free, its users adore the fact that the system has templates for almost any type of project, and the layout is the familiar spreadsheet format.

NerdHerder Pamela Lewis says, “Smartsheet keeps me on top of all the ‘busy’ things that need to be taken care of so they don’t fall thought the cracks in the parking lot!”

Also Check Out…

Classic Project Management System

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 probably the management services with the most integrations, including social networks, mobile phones and invoicing software. All the systems update each other and keep everyone on track. The company has changed its pricing structure multiple times since I started using it, but it looks like they’ve settled on $99 a month flat rate. One seriously cool benefit of Basecamp is that it’s completely free for teachers and half price for nonprofits.

(Almost) Free Project Management System

Unlimited users. Unlimited projects. Unlimited storage. What’s not to love? Freedcamp gives away much more than many of the other top project management systems in this section. They start charging for integrations with Google Drive, larger file uploads, CRMs, invoices and issue tracking.

Customizable Project Management System

Podio has the most flexibility when it comes to personalizing a tool to organize your business, but I find it the most complicated. You can add all kinds of things, such as events, inventory and projects. The set-up process is a little confusing, and every time I’ve gone to create a project, I give up and just use something else. If you have the patience, it’s a very powerful business and project management tool.



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  • I found AIRTABLE.com and I love it. It is like a spreadsheet on steriods. I plan 1-2 large events every year and use the event template, it set up sheets that link to each other, and everything is shared and updated in real time using the cloud. The free version is fine for my purposes, which makes it even better. Easy to upload documents, assign tasks, share documents and photos.

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