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10 Best Project Management Software For Small Business

By 01/01/2020 No Comments

Quickly compare the best project management software for small teams with overviews, pricing, free trial, and evaluation criteria to consider.

If you are a project manager for a small team, you have probably thought to yourself at least once: “Are these docs and spreadsheets really the best project management software for small creative teams?”

The right software or combination of software can make your workflow more organized, more efficient, and more informed. However, as a small team, you’re probably trying to avoid software that costs a lot, takes a specialization to learn, or weighs your team down with a bunch of complex features you don’t need.

In this post, I’ll talk about how to navigate managing a small team with the right apps and tools as well as outline some of the best, lightweight small business project management software.

10 Best Project Management Software For Small Business

Here’s our pick of the best project management software for small business in 2020.

Looking for more? Check out our main article on best project management software.

MS Project Common Questions

What is Microsoft Project?

What is Microsoft Project?

Microsoft Project is a project management tool used by different types of users, with varying levels of access. The software provides tables, views, filters, fields, calendars, and a database for doing things like:

  • Developing project plans
  • Assigning resources
  • Tracking time & progress
  • Creating Gantt charts
  • Creating & managing budgets
  • Balancing workloads
  • Scheduling tasks & resources
  • Creating graphical reports
  • Storing project data in a shared database

Is Microsoft Project useful?

Is Microsoft Project useful?

For a lot of agencies, yes. In many cases, the default project management tool for creating project plans is still Microsoft Project, and it provides a lot of useful tools. For starters,  Microsoft Project is not just a fuzzy old tool that Microsoft doesn’t really care about—they’re introducing some really smart integrations with Power BI, Internet of Things, bots and machine learning that are awesome. In fact, your best choice might be to buy MS Project.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Project?

What are the benefits of Microsoft Project?

Here are some of the main benefits that MS Project can provide:

  • Deploy resources as efficiently and effectively as possible, reducing downtime and increasing utilization.
  • Provide a big picture view of organizational capacity to prevent overbooking and support hiring decisions.
  • Forecast revenue by providing reports on upcoming projects and planned resource deployment.

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How much does Microsoft Project cost?

How much does Microsoft Project cost?

It’s simple and affordable to subscribe to an Office 365 version of Microsoft Project for just $30/month.

In fact, now you can pick up a copy of Microsoft Project on Amazon for less than $600.

There’s also been an interesting shift in the Microsoft Project alternative world with pricing that it’s worth being aware of. The cloud-based, online Microsoft Project alternatives are now almost all charging by the user— rather than by the number of projects—which is making common Projects alternatives on average cost about $180/user/year; much more expensive than they used to be. They’re also nearly all transitioning from being simple Gantt chart tools to trying to include project, task and resource management tools. In short, making your choice of an MS Project alternative is becoming more complex. Microsoft project costs $9 per user per month for the cloud-based, pay-as-you-go version.

Is Microsoft Project easy to use?

Is Microsoft Project easy to use?

Yes and no. Microsoft Project is used by many large organizations, and MPP files are still an industry standard. However, for many of the digital projects that we manage, Microsoft Project management does far more than we ever need it for. It’s got stacks of features that most people never use, hasn’t really changed that much in 30 years, and doesn’t necessarily do much to streamline processes. MS Project is still useful, but there are reasons why some agencies are looking for more lean and collaborative Microsoft Project alternatives.

Is Microsoft Project free?

Is Microsoft Project free?

No, Microsoft Project is not free as a stand-alone solution. It is included in the Office for Windows Suite, so users who already pay for Office for Windows can use Projects for free.

Is Microsoft Project the best project management software?

Is Microsoft Project the best project management software?

It depends on what you need to use it for. MPP files are the still the industry standard, and Microsoft Project is a secure, trusted legacy system. For complex, enterprise level project planning, Microsoft Project should be at the top of your list. However, there are alternatives to MS Project that have better support for collaboration and are rated as being much easier to learn and use—many of which are in the list below.

Just realized that you need a different type of tool? Check out these other reviews:

Project Management Software for Small Business Comparison Criteria

What are we looking for when we select the best project management software for small teams for review? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:

  1. User Interface (UI): Is the user interface easy to navigate, lightweight, and fast to load and update?
  2. Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training?
  3. Features & Functionality: 
    1. Flexible Alerts – Can users customize what alerts they receive, where they receive them (in app, email, SMS, etc.), and when they receive them (activating a night mode, etc.)?
    2. Asset Storage – Is there room within the software to house logo images, text files like meetings minutes, marketing assets, and so on? 
    3. Collaboration/Communication – Are there simple chat, direct messages, mentions, and file sharing features?
    4. Knowledge Base Is there space within the app to log and address common issues, FAQs, onboarding and training materials, and wiki entries for the benefit of the whole team?
  4. Integrations: Does the software connect with other popular tools that might come in handy for small teams, like Google and Microsoft products?
  5. Value for $: Is the price affordable for small businesses and small creative teams? Does it offer scalability options in the case of team expansion?

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Overviews Of The Best Project Management Software For Small Business

Here’s a brief description of each of the best small business management software that are featured on this top 10 list.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $9.80/user/month and has a freemium version for up to 5 users

1. Wrike – Small business project management tool that excels in easy workflow visualization with drag-and-drop dashboards and charts.

  • freemium version
  • 30 days free trial. No credit card required.
  • From $9/user/month (starting from 5 users)

2. Teamwork – Easy to use project management software designed to keep multiple projects moving forward from one central workspace.

  • freemium version
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $24.95/month

3. TeamGantt – Planning software for small business with easy-to-use Gantt chart tools for advance scheduling and quick wireframing.

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $17/month for 2 users

4. Monday.com – Cloud-based work OS, where teams create workflow apps in minutes to run their processes, projects, and everyday work.

  • freemium version
  • From $9.99/user/month

5. Trello – Web-based Kanban-style list-making application with chat and file storage to bolster collaboration across small remote teams.

  • 10 days free trial
  • From $18 for 6 users

6. Zoho Projects – Cloud-based project management for small teams that keeps all users aware of any critical tasks and their dependencies.

  • 15 days free trial
  • From $9.56/user/month

7. Paymo – Project management tools designed for small and medium businesses for industries from creative agencies to law firms.

  • freemium version
  • 30 days free trial
  • From $99/month unlimited users

8. Basecamp – Project management tool that contains all the tools needed for teams to work together, from to-do lists to group chats.

  • freemium version
  • Free 30 day trial
  • From $10.99/user/month

9. Asana – Free small business management software with different to-do list styles and a pleasant, colorful interface that’s welcoming to new users.

  • freemium version
  • 30 days free trial
  • From $8/user/month

10. Notion – All-in-one digital workspace designed to replace the need for multiple tools with over 30 different types of content to add in-app.

What Do You Think About This List of Best Software to Run a Small Business?

Have you tried out any of the project management software for small teams listed above? What tools do you rely on for project management for small business? Let us know in the comments below.

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of thedigitalprojectmanager.com. I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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