Does it seem as if everyone is launching their startups? That’s because there are millions of new startups every year. However, this doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Far from it, in fact. Running a startup is quite tricky and complicated, but luckily, there are plenty of management tools for a start that can make things a bit easier.
Today, we will introduce you to some of the best free project management tools that can help you with tasks and projects, won’t cost you a fortune, and yet offer plenty of useful features and functionality to make your life much more comfortable.
Best Project Management Tools for Startups:
Wrike is a specialized project management and collaboration software that can help companies organize everything they need for a project to be completed on time, on the budget, and with the required quality.
The app has a hierarchy of projects, tasks, and subtasks that allow users to break their large projects into smaller tasks and subtasks that are more easily tracked and managed. Wrike enables users to set deadlines, assign tasks, attach documents and files, and add tasks to multiple project folders.
Wrike doesn’t stop there as it offers time tracking to improve your productivity and gives you detailed reporting, so you are always on top of things. It offers chat to make collaboration much more accessible.
Some criticize Wrike as being a bit too cluttered. If you are not familiar with the software, you can find it challenging to navigate,
Breaking up tasks is difficult, and with so many files and comments, things build up within tasks quite quickly, and you can’t find a good option to break them up.
- Free plan – perfect for teams with 5 users or less
- Professional – costs $9.80/user/month and is limited to 15 users – full project planning and collaboration.
- Businesses – costs $24.80/users/month and is limited to 200 users – adds excellent work management, customization options, and executive reporting.
- Marketers – costs $34.60/user/month and is not limited to many users – custom-made for creative and marketing teams.
- Enterprise – Custom pricing – includes everything you would need for enterprise-level projects.
As you can guess by its name, teamwork is one of the best project management tools focused on making team collaboration more streamlined to the point where it becomes effortless.
Teamwork offers excellent project management features that include time tracking, billing, estimates, milestones, notifications, task board, and more.
It is suitable for businesses of all sizes, whether large or small, and can bring all your workspaces and teams in one place for easier management.
The ability to track time and log billable and non-billable hours handy and users can track and log time on each task individually. Setting task status and adding labels, reminders, and tags is easy, and the ability to import tasks right from excel is super convenient.
Users can also create multiple tasks and link them to milestones and/or the Teamwork Calendar. The Task Board allows users to exchange ideas in chat or comments, and managers can control who gets the notifications.
What makes Teamwork great for Startups is that it’s free for up to five users and the Email integration with Gmail. Teamwork also integrates with Basecamp, Trello, Slack, YouTube, and more.
TeamWork offers a lot of features, but this does affect its usability at times. IT also has a bit of a learning curve and is not as easy to use as possible.
You also can’t import tasks with TeamWork, and you always have to enter them manually.
- Free – Costs nothing – offers up to 5 users, 100MB of file space, and 2 active projects.
- Pro – Costs $10/user/month (billed annually)– offers up to 50 users, 100GB file space, and 300 active projects. Adds Integrations with Slack, Google Drive, Onedrive, and more.
- Premium – Costs $18/user/month (billed annually)– Offers up to 100 users, 250 GB file space, and 600 projects. Adds custom domains, project portfolio, extra integrations, and more features.
- Enterprise – Custom quotes – Offer more security, unlimited projects, a dedicated customer success manager for onboarding and training, and better branding control.
Trello is a popular and free project management software that’s based on the Kanban boards system. The solution offers a simple board system with columns and cards. The idea is elementary: Created tasks are in the form of cards, and the workflow moves from left to right.
You have different boards for different projects, workspaces, teams, businesses, departments, etc. Each board is made up of lists, which are columns. These boards represent projects, stages in the workflow, or different team members.
On the boards, you can find cards. Each card represents the task and shows all the details of this task. In cards, you can add a due date, attach files and documents, exchange comments, mention other team members, add labels, add checklists, and more.
When a team member finishes their task, they can mark the due date complete and move the card from one board to another to mark a workflow step.
Like Wrike, Trello can also get a bit cluttered, mainly if you use many cards on board.
It’s also unfortunate that Trello doesn’t offer any time tracking abilities, which many of its competitors offer. Trello is super easy to use, and the time tracking feature would’ve made it even better.
One more thing missing is that there’s no overview, which can make it difficult for busy managers to get an idea of how everything is working out without spending a lot of time looking into the tasks themselves.
The app is also missing sub-task functionality, and it would’ve been a nice addition and could’ve made organizing the tasks a bit easier.
- Free – costs nothing, free forever, unlimited boards, limited to one powerup, and no files larger than 10MB.
- Business – Costs $9.99/user/month – adds app integrations, team overviews, and security features. Unlimited powerups and files less than 250 MB.
- Enterprise – Costs $20.83/user/month – adds 2-factor authentication, personalized onboarding assistance, and more security features.
Some would argue that Slack isn’t a project management tool, per se. However, Slack allows a project manager to manage a team efficiently, making it a project management system.
Slack integrates with Google Drive and allows users to create, share, access, and standard on files right from their Slack Workspace. You can also search in Slack, but it only read the data you’ve created or shared in the workspace.
Slack also integrates with many popular apps and services, including Trello and Github. Slack is one of the best tools for team collaboration as team members can chat and share files with incredible ease.
You can create multiple threads and chat channels for projects and include all team members working on the same project, and team members can chat directly one-to-one. Slack is excellent for keeping managers up-to-date with everything that’s going on multiple projects at a time and is an ideal solution for remote teams with no central location.
Slack has a bit of a learning curve, but we are glad to evolve and adopt a more straightforward interface. It can also get a bit distracting with all the discussions, reducing your productivity with every notification.
- Free – Costs nothing; search for 10K messages, up to 10 app integrations, and 1-to-1 video calls.
- Standard – costs $6.67/user/month – offers unlimited search and apps, group calls with screen sharing, and shared channels & guest accounts.
- Plus – costs $12.50/user/month – better security features and corporate exports for all messages.
Asana is a task management tool that has recently made a name for itself thanks to its focus on efficiency. The solution allows users to create and manage tasks individually or assign them to projects.
Asana’s Dashboard allows users to create different projects, teams, conversations, and calendars efficiently.
Asana is available on mobile devices, making it easy for managers to follow up on what is going on, making it easy to stay on top of things even if you manage large teams.
Asana offers different modules, such as My Tasks lists, which give users an easy way of managing, assigning, and following up on tasks. Tasks can then be divided into subtasks for a more flexible workflow — Asana’s focus mode to help users focus on more pressing matters and urgent tasks. The solution is a great collaboration tool that allows team members to exchange ideas through comments and files.
Users can also share files and tag team members in tasks. Asana is a great option for startups because you get plenty of features in the free version, including integrations with Slack, Dropbox, MailChimp, and more. Asana offers more than 100 Integrations to choose from, extending the solution’s functionality and giving you many more features.
You can’t have multiple people assigned to the same task with Asana, and it offers no time tracking or estimates functionality.
Another complaint from many users is that the UI tends to get a bit slow with heavy use and an increasing number of documents and tasks.
The app is also heavily text-based, which means that accidentally breaking structure, changing the naming of a task, or even removing it altogether is easy to happen unexpectedly.
- Premium – Costs $9.99/user/month – gives you all the basic features required for a small team.
- Business – Costs $19.99/user/month – adds lock custom fields, onboarding plans, and portfolios – with a promise of an upcoming resource management feature.
- Enterprise – Custom Pricing – Adds Custom branding, Data export & detention, SAML, and other security and control features.
Jira is a commonly used Agile Project management tool designed to help software development teams plan, track, and release software with increased efficiency. Jira supports all agile technologies such as Scrum and Kanban.
The solution focuses on collaboration and clarity to help the software teams produce the best results while staying on track in their time plan and budget.
Jira gives managers the ability to see the bigger picture and measure the project’s progress while still tracking the details.
Users can create custom workflows for different projects, tasks, subtasks, and issues that match the exact way your team works. The flexible dashboards give users the ability to completely personalize how they track projects, create reports, monitor teams, and more.
What makes Jira a powerful tool is the usefulness of the significant number of built-in features offered. You can assign flexible and customizable permissions to any team member efficiently, for example. Jira divides projects into four levels (4 phases) that entail project categories, Issues, Projects, and Sub-tasks.
Jira can get cluttered easily if you have many subtasks for a master task, making the workflow quite tricky to follow. Also, it comes with a learning curve, and some find it difficult to understand and even consider it a complex solution.
- 1-10 Users – costs $10 Flat
- 11- 100 users – costs $7.00/User
- 101-250 users – costs $5.00/User
- For each additional user – up to 5,000 users – costs $1.10/user.
Podio is a favorite cloud-based project management tool founded in 2009 and has quickly claimed its place as one of the best project management software available for small businesses and startups.
Podio is currently used by more than 500,000 teams, businesses, and organizations of all shapes and sizes worldwide, including some industry giants such as Volvo and Sony.
The Workflow hierarchy of Podio is made of Organization, Workspaces, Apps, and Items.
Organizations: The Company’s network that connects all its employees and contains all the Workspaces
Workspaces: Contains a smaller group of employees that are working on a specific project.
Apps: An overview of the work which helps companies organize and track different Items
Items: They can be a project, a meeting, a sales lead, or anything else you need them to be.
Podio integrates with many third-party apps and services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Calendar, and many others to give you extended functionality and more features.
Podio allows for more comfortable and more efficient collaboration and gives your team everything they need to have their daily workflow in one space.
Podio can be confusing for some, and the learning curve may be a bit steep for those with no experience with similar software.
Also, they don’t offer time-tracking functionality.
- Free – Costs Nothing – up to five employees, basic features only
- Basic – Costs $7.20/user/month, basic features + unlimited storage and external users
- Plus – Costs $11.20/user/month, adds light user roles
- Premium – Costs $19.20/user/month – adds advanced workflow orchestration and the ability to upload large files.
Smartsheet is a task management and collaboration platform designed to help startups and small businesses become more productive and efficient. The solution enables businesses to plan, capture, manage, and report on work more smoothly.
Smartsheet is an idea for users who are already familiar with Excel or, preferably, have experience in using Excel to manage their projects. It is considered an upgrade from managing your work with excel, and fortunately, it’s an affordable one.
The solution allows users to instantly share spreadsheets for effective collaboration and share data from the sheets to the Internet. Users can be notified of updates in a project via email. Smartsheet focuses on speed, efficiency, and accountability and works to empower users and help them make better-informed decisions that yield great results more quickly.
Integrations with third-party apps and services such as Onedrive, MS Outlook, Evernote, Google Docs, Salesforce, Office, Jira, and many more make the solution even more useful. Unfortunately, no free plan is available.
Smartsheet lacks a time tracking feature, which makes project planning and task scheduling harder.
The solution’s reporting feature is also complicated and needs some patience to request reports, which is not productive. The user interface could also use some work to make it a bit more modern, as it looks slightly outdated compared with its competitors.
Some would describe it as easy for the learning curve, and some describe it as moderate. Still, it’s definitely not as intuitive as something like Trello, and anyone with prior experience with a similar solution will find it easier to get used to it than someone who has never dealt with a similar one.
- Individual – Costs $14 per month – offers unlimited collaborators, templates, and forms.
- Business – Costs $25/user/month – offers dashboards, charts, analytics, workflow automation, task progress & activity log, custom branding, reports, and more.
ActiveCollab is a powerful project management tool that helps startups and small teams organize and streamline their workflow.
The solution’s flexibility, ease of use, and functions have made it the favorite management software for many government organizations and academic institutions.
The solution is cloud-based, and the synchronization happens in real-time, so you always see the latest updates. You can create and organize tasks easily on one board, assign them due dates, labels, and team members.
Also, you can add reminders to your tasks and share files with your teams. You can view your tasks in Column view, list view, or Gantt-like view. Time tracking can be done with their stopwatch, and you can generate reports for open tasks.
Unfortunately, it lacks sub-tasks and task dependencies, which are quite useful, especially when handling large projects. There is also no issue tracking.
ActiveCollab offers integrations with many third-party solutions such as Google Drive, Slack, Zapier, Asana, and more.
While not a deal-breaker, it’s unfortunate that users can change tags from the projects page instead of going into each project to edit the tags.
ActiveCollab could’ve benefited from a check-in/check-out feature, too.
ActivCollab used to cost $6.25/user/month, and this gave you unlimited projects, tasks, and time records, plus all their other features.
Notice that I said “Used to” because currently, they are in the process of reforming their pricing model. This pricing model will still apply to their already-existing users, and the new pricing model will be applicable soon enough.
They haven’t yet announced their new pricing model, and they just announced that they were changing it in 2019, so come back later when we have the update.
Nifty is a Project Management tool that is gradually rising to the top. The solution provides its users with some useful features that enable smoother collaboration and better efficiency, leading to better project management.
The Kanban board view allows users to categorize the tasks according to their progress (New Tasks, In progress, and Completed). The visual overview will enable managers to see the deadlines and milestones of the tasks at a glance.
Users can filter tasks by user or milestones, and managers can assign team members to each task and control notifications. File storage is available for spreadsheets, code, images, videos, audios, and presentations.
Nifty offers integrations with Google Drive and Google Calendar with integration to Slack currently in the works.
Unfortunately, being a relatively new player in the field means that Nifty is still a work in progress and lacks essential features such as Gantt Charts, an activity dashboard, task priority, and task progress.
Unfortunately, there is no time- or expense-tracking.
Multi-factor authentication is missing, which could level up their security if added. They encrypt their sensitive data at rest, but this could still give users more peace of mind.
- Basic – costs nothing – Offers up to 2 users, 2 active projects, 1 GB Space per member, and unlimited Guests.
- Standard – Costs $8/user/month – offers unlimited team members, projects, and guests. You also get 5GB space per member, live training, and priority support.
- Enterprise – Custom Quotes – offer advanced security and control features.
In all of the solutions, the pricing you see is the pricing you get when you choose to pay annually. This price goes up slightly if you decide to pay monthly, and some solutions don’t have this option at all.
We highly recommend checking out the free trial of any solution you like to get a feel for it and see if it’s a good fit before making a decision. If you do make a decision, you really can save quite a bit of cash if you go for the annual pricing.
We tried to provide you with a quick overview and some of each solution’s essential details here. I hope you found a solution that works for you.