Which Project Management Software is the Right Fit for Your Distributed Team?

Jul 14, 2016

Remember how it used to take a dozen Excel spreadsheets, an endless thread of emails, a stack of charts, and a sea of sticky notes to keep a development team running smoothly?

Luckily, those days are over, and there’s no shortage of project management tools that help you organize tasks and milestones, manage resources, and keep each and every team member on the same page even if they’re thousands of miles away from each other.

With such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to project management software, the hardest part is figuring out which tool is going to be the best one for your project. While you’ll probably need to spend some time working with at least a few of these tools to understand which is the best fit, you might want to narrow down your choices first.

There’s probably just one right solution to this problem, and that is to try as many as you can and see what works best for you. However, you might want to narrow down your choices first.

To help you out, we created this overview of the thirteen most popular project management tools, including videos explaining how each of them works and details on pricing. The tools are ranked in order of how many searches they get on Google. Happy hunting!

1. Atlassian JIRA

JIRA Software, “the world’s #1 software development tool used by agile teams,” is also the choice of the majority of our clients. It features customizable scrum and kanban boards, convenient out-of-the-box reports and real-time portfolio planning. It also allows you to create custom filters with JIRA Query Language to quickly find what you need, connect with Bitbucket and GitHub, install 1,000 add-ons, and integrate with the other tools your team is already using with a robust set of APIs. JIRA is definitely an all-in-one solution, but it can be somewhat overwhelming for new users.

Used by: Spotify, Tesla, eBay, Cisco.

Pricing: from $10/month.

2. Active Collab

Active Collab is a powerful yet user friendly tool that keeps all of your work in one place. The tool includes task management, team collaboration, time tracking, and invoicing features, plus many more that are still in the works. Active Collab runs in the cloud, but you can also install it on your own server for a one-time fee.

Used by: BBC, Cisco, Adobe, Apple.

Pricing: from $25/month.

3. Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects includes an easy-to-use project planning dashboard, gantt charts, a project coordinator, a time tracker, a bug tracker, and a host of other handy tools. It allows you to share documents and collaborate with employees, clients, vendors, and consultants easily. Zoho Projects also offers a rich, integrated experience for Google Apps users. The tool is extremely easy to navigate, although some users have commented that its interface could use a little work.

Used by: Intel, McKinsey & Company, IKEA, Vodafone.

Pricing: one project – free, multiple projects – from $25/month.

4. Smartsheet

Smartsheet is just like the classic Excel spreadsheets we all know and love except, you know, smarter. It enables you to structure rows, attach documents, add notifications, view spreadsheets as calendars or gantt charts, get input from collaborators, create reports, and a lot more besides. It’s the perfect software to try if you’re used to working with Excel and want to move to a more advanced project management tool. That being said, Smartsheet’s core concept gives the platform obvious limitations: the whole thing is pretty much based on spreadsheets, so compared to other project management tools it doesn’t have the most sophisticated UI.

Used by: SONY Music, Colliers, Hilton, Netflix.

Pricing: from $10/month.

5. Atlassian Confluence

JIRA and Confluence, both created by Atlassian, are a match made in heaven. While the former allows you to manage projects and track issues, the latter stores all of your project documents, product requirements, roadmaps, meeting notes, and knowledge base articles in one centralized location everyone can access. The UI is as simple as it gets, and page creation works just the way it does in any desktop text editor you’re familiar with.

Used by: NASA, Audi, Docker, GoPro.

Pricing: from $10/month.

6. Wrike

Task creating, project planning, collaborating, report making, customizing, integrating — you name it, Wrike does it. What makes it truly great, though, is the amount of visibility it creates across all departments involved in the project planning process, no matter what methodology they’re using.

Used by: PayPal, Hootsuite, HTC, Procurify.

Pricing: up to 5 users – free, 5+ users – from $9.80/user/month.

7. Huddle

Huddle helps you manage documents, tasks, and teams in one easy-to-navigate online platform. Keep everyone up to speed with the latest document versions, manage permissions, and use a unique time-stamped audit trail to see who’s accessing your files.

Used by: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, KIA, Deloitte, Panasonic, City University London.

Pricing: from $20/user/month.

8. dapulse

dapulse is a visually-pleasing, dashboard-based project management tool that allows you to achieve a great level of transparency within your project. With customizable labels and advanced filters, you always know who’s working on what. The best thing about dapulse is that its own development team is pretty small and, therefore, very responsive to user needs. In fact, dapulse’s Facebook group is an excellent community where you can suggest and discuss potential features and keep track of new release notes.

Used by: WeWork, Uber, Fiverr, Discovery Channel.

Pricing: from $25/month.

9. Mavenlink

It may take a little time to learn your way around this platform, but once you do, you’ll get a powerful, cloud-based tool that combines project planning, resource management, accounting, business intelligence, and team collaboration. In 2015, Gartner recognized Mavenlink as a Cool Vendor.

Used by: Coca Cola Credit Union, Elevated Third, Vizio, Cornerstone.

Pricing: from $19/month.

10. Clarizen

This complex cloud-based project management software features solutions for project portfolio management, project planning, document and resource management, as well as rich internal and external collaboration. While many other tools offer the same functionality, Clarizen stands out of the pack by fully meeting a company’s need for custom workflows and fields to support unique processes.

Used by: Equifax, Boston Scientific, Sodexo.

Pricing: from $45/user/month.

11. LiquidPlanner

LiquidPlanner is project management software with “the world’s only predictive planning technology”. What it means is that once you set project priorities, LiquidPlanner schedules them automatically and predicts the most likely completion dates. And its reporting is head and shoulders above most of the other project management tools we feature in this overview.

Used by: LinkedIn, inDinero, Sumo Logic.

Pricing: from $29/user/month.

12. Meisterplan

Meisterplan has an intuitive UI for easy project portfolio management – you just drag and drop resources, goals, timelines, and dependencies, and instantly see the impact your changes have on the project. Meisterplan also works great for resource allocation and finance management.

Used by: Siemens, Citrix, BNP Paribas Group.

Pricing: from $99/month.

13. TeamGantt

As you probably guessed from the name, TeamGantt is a project management tool based on gantt charts. It’s incredibly easy to use and requires zero training. Drag and drop tasks, assign resources, manage workloads, and add documents in just minutes.

Used by: Expedia, Twitter, Sony.

Pricing: from $29/month.

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