Essential Project Management Tools for Business Owners

September 2015

Whether you are managing multiple clients, selling a variety of products or just trying to keep your employees on the same page, there are more tools available than ever before that can take some of the stress out of project management.

From comprehensive cloud-based platforms to task-tracking apps for particular sectors or industries, the choices have exploded in recent years. However, these expanding options have introduced the challenge of trying to figure out what works best for specific project needs. Here are a couple of things to consider.

Go to the Cloud

Online programs offer particular advantages, including allowing team members to access the project via smartphone, laptop or other device wherever they can access the Internet. Status updates made on a cloud-based platform can replace lengthy email chains, and the document storage options of these solutions can be used instead of an internal server. Below are some inexpensive cloud-based options.

Basecamp, one of the most popular project management programs, comes with a variety of features to simplify communication between project team members. In addition to offering a fairly comprehensive approach, Basecamp lays out all comments, deadlines and other key information on one convenient overview page.

JIRA provides a platform that sets out a space for each sub-project, providing access to only those individuals who need to engage in chats and view automated project updates.

Asana allows for easy tracking of daily tasks, as well as long-term management of projects.

“As a social media marketing company, we have different tasks on a monthly basis for a number of different clients; each client has a different roster of services with us,” says Lysa Miller, founder of Ladybugz Interactive Agency. “Asana allow us to easily manage and complete the tasks, schedule time to review accounts and manage multiple employees.”

Trello is a highly visual project management platform that uses a digital sticky-note strategy to help users organize projects. The platform can also be used to streamline tasks in a way that eliminates inefficiencies, bottlenecks and other challenges.

“We have a team of more than two dozen book reviewers located across the globe who write for our educational site Simply Charly,” says Charles Carlini, owner of multimedia company Carlini Group . “We post their assignments on Trello, set deadlines for their submissions and provide them with their final drafts for review, all within Trello.”

Business owners have a number of similar services to consider, including Podio, Teamwork and

Add-Ons and Apps

If you generally are satisfied with your company’s approach to managing its projects but just need a tool or two that can help streamline communications or simplify updates between team members, here are some add-ons to aid in a wide range of project management priorities.

Mixmax is a Gmail add-on that allows you to set up a meeting instantly, offering convenient email templates, tracking and scheduling—all within Gmail.

Deskaway works well for companies in retail or manufacturing sectors where team members’ schedules are a top concern. It allows tracking of timesheets and a group calendar, and also includes a status update feature.

Slack serves as a messaging tool for teams that allows groups to converse, share files and stay connected using mobile apps. It keeps members’ inboxes clear and can integrate with more than 80 apps.

Solo is a handy task manager that works well for businesses juggling a variety of projects for different clients, allowing you to put all your projects into one place, upload files and create detailed profiles of your clients.

Smartsheet organizes projects and tracks due dates using a spreadsheet interface, date columns and check boxes.

Projectplace enables team members and project managers to plan, communicate and share documents in one interface, with instant project status updates. It recently released Dashboard, a feature that offers clear visualization of how a project is progressing in relation to the overall plan.

Project Management Tools for Specific Industries

Fishbowl offers a solution that works well for managing inventory across multiple warehouses and integrates with QuickBooks to allow for greater efficiency in keeping inventory levels only as high as needed.

GuestPoint is ideal for the hospitality industry, allowing small and medium-sized hotels to manage bookings (from reservation to checkout), as well as accounting, housekeeping and other tasks around the property.


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