Quickly compare the best project management software for startups with pricing, main use case, and evaluation criteria to consider.
In this post, I’ll speak to the specific tools useful for any startup project manager. Startup project management requires that you keep your finger on the pulse of an organization that’s not really established yet—roles shift, products change often from MVP to final version as you work to more agile/scrum methodologies, and your org has to be ready to scale at any moment.
Startups are different from small businesses, as team members are often working across many areas of the business and rely on transparency and quick access to updates happening anywhere in the organization in real-time.
Project management for startup companies tends to need speed, reliability, flexibility, and interconnectivity with other useful apps. Startup projects don’t have time to waste and tend to need software that can keep up with them. Here’s our pick of the best project management software for startups in 2021.
Startup Project Management Software Comparison Criteria
What are we looking for when we select project management software for startups for review? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Is the interface modern, simple, and easy to understand and navigate?
- Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training to reduce the learning curve?
- Integrations: Does it connect with software you most likely already use, like Slack, G Suite, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Dropbox, JIRA, Evernote, Excel, Salesforce, Proofhub, and so on? If it doesn’t have file sharing built-in, you’ll definitely want to make sure it integrates with a file management tool to keep all of your file versions for different projects in a central location. Software development teams will probably want a pre-built integration with Jira.
- Value for $: Is the price accessible for small teams and startups? Does it offer a free plan to start, or any free trials or freemium subscriptions?
Key Features Small Business Task Management Tools
Here are some of the features I look for when evaluating a project management system for startups and small businesses.
- Streamlined work management features: Most startups don’t have a lot of resources to dedicate to training and onboarding, so the tool must offer simplified “get-up-and-go” project planning with a manageable learning curve.
- Team collaboration software and file-sharing: Communication and distribution of limited (but expanding) assets are critical to getting any startup off its feet.
- Real-time updates between team members: Things are moving fast and changing often so it’s imperative that different team members are getting the most current information as soon as possible.
- Roadmap with automated follow-ups: Not only will your startup squad need a crystal clear roadmap for where they are going but you will want some way to ping team leaders if a project or task requires follow up or course correction.
- Collaboration tool that can span different projects: Startups are juggling many projects at once, from social media upkeep to product development to hiring; you’ll need an app that unifies collaboration for all branches in a central location.
- Scrum boards for backlog visibility: This helps busy teams visualize what needs to be done for each sprint and put a pin in items that are lower priorities. It also helps startup PMs keep track of great ideas for their product roadmap and future vision.
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Overviews Of The Best Project Management Software For Startups
Here’s a brief description of each of the best project management tools for startup companies.
monday.com may seem like the most popular project management software that players in the big leagues use today. Though that is mostly true, monday.com is also one of the most helpful tools startup teams should consider implementing early on so that they can eventually join the bigger players. As a bonus, monday.com is easy to set up and we know how important it is to stay on track on all of your projects as you grow.
monday.com knows how important collaboration is for creative teams so it lets you connect in a variety of different ways without ever leaving the platform: commenting, file attachment, @-tagging, “liking” posts, and assigning tasks with point-and-click ease. You can also build team-specific dashboards and project boards so that everyone can easily see what is being worked on.
monday.com integrates with the tools you already know and love, making the transition for your startup team hassle free. Integrations include project management apps like Slack, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform and many more, accessible through a paid plan with Zapier.
monday.com costs from $10/user/month and they offer a free forever option for a maximum of 2 seats and limited features.
Hubstaff Tasks is a project management software for startups with multiple task tracking and collaboration features. Its interface is based on the Kanban methodology; it lets you organize tasks in different project stages, which are represented by columns. Each task can be categorized using color-coded labels. One of its notable features is custom workflows. These let you automate assigning tasks to team members at different project stages and moving them forward with one click.
You can create checklists within each task and track them from the project view using progress bars. Files can also be attached to task cards, but the free plan only allows up to 100 MB of storage per user. Switching to the sprints view displays all your assigned tasks, organized by sprint. You can move tasks to current or future sprints or to the backlog with a drag-and-drop mechanism similar to Kanban.
Hubstaff Tasks integrates with Active Collab, Asana, Breeze, ClickUp, GitHub, GitLab, Insightly, JIRA, LiquidPlanner, Mavenlink, Paymo, PivotalTracker, Podio, Redbooth, Redmine, Teamwork Projects, Trello, Unfuddle, Wrike, Zoho Projects, Slack, Zendesk, Salesforce, QuickBooks, and other apps. You can boost your integration options with a paid plan through Zapier, unlocking hundreds of other possible connections.
Hubstaff Tasks is free for up to 5 users and 10 projects. The premium plan starts at $5/user/month.
Forecast is a project management software for startups that unites your projects, resources, and financials in one AI-powered platform. Project managers can leverage Forecast’s workflow automation capabilities to create smart schedules, estimate timeframes and budgets, and populate timesheets instantly. Forecast is currently used in over 40 countries by an assortment of agencies, consulting companies, SMBs, and enterprises.
PMs can control the workflow by building out detailed task lists and flagging clear priorities. Task cards allow every team member to easily comment, share files, and register time spent. Everything related to the specific task appears in one place, including dependencies and subtasks. You can put together projects for any type of work: fixed price, time and material, or retainer.
Forecast’s AI learns from previous work and suggests the number of hours you normally register on similar tasks to help you log time faster. You can monitor time registrations from a team perspective and notify each member if they forget to enter something in. Time tracking utilization on a company-wide level is calculated for you for easy alerts, estimates, and reporting.
Forecast integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, iCloud Calendar, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Outlook, Harvest, Trello, Asana, GitLab, Github, and dozens more using a paid plan through Zapier. Higher-tier subscriptions include native integrations with Timelog, Xero, QuickBooks Online, JIRA, Azure DevOps, Salesforce, Okta, OneLogin, and Azure Active Directory.
Forecast cost from $29/user/month with a minimum of 10 users and offers a 14-day free trial.
Kissflow Project is a collaborative project management software that gives users the ability to keep track of progress and see everything at a glance. Make use of Kanban, list, and matrix views to gain insight on your projects in the best way that works for you and your small team.
What makes Kissflow Project great for startups is their easy to use customizable form builder that comes with more than 25 field types that you can simply drag and drop into place. You can use forms to standardize and optimize task or content requests so that all necessary information gets collected in one go. This is great for small teams who don’t have time for a lot of back-and-forth.
Kissflow integrations include native Microsoft and Google Workspace integrations, and the platform offers a REST API and webhooks.
Kissflow Project costs from $7/user/month and they offer a 14-day free trial.
Freedcamp is a project management software that comes with something that most startups today consider as the industry standard: a robust mobile app that’s available on iOS and Android. This means that startups without an office or with limited available computers can access project management data on their personal smartphone device or tablet.
Freedcamp lets users save passwords, create invoices, back up and edit files—all this on top of the project templates, CRM features, and white labeling capabilities you would expect from a solid project management tool. Freedcamp also has calendars, discussion boards, milestones, a team/process wiki builder, issue tracking, and a time tracker too.
Freedcamp integrates with thousands of solutions through Zapier (which requires a separate paid plan of its own).
Freedcamp is free to use with some feature limitations. Their paid plans cost from $1.49/user/month, which you can try through their 14-day free trial.
Trello is a project management solution that is most known for its Kanban boards. It offers startup teams a comprehensive tool that can be quickly set up and understood with its intuitive drag-and-drop interface for customizing boards and a no-code workflow automation builder. Their free plan lets you run 250 automated command runs per month, which is noteworthy because many PM tools limit automations to paid subscription plans. Startups take note!
Trello is great for startup teams thanks to a feature-packed free plan that Kanban board cheerleaders in particular will appreciate. You get unlimited cards, unlimited members, up to 10 boards per workspace, a list of free integrations with other PM tools (Google Drive, Slack, etc.), unlimited activity logs, mobile app access, and 2-factor authentication for log-ins.
Trello integrates with Confluence, Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and other third-party apps you typically find in a modern tech stack.
Trello is free to use. Paid plans cost from $5/user/month and come with a 14-day free trial.
Wrike is a project management solution that lets users customize workflows, set timelines by creating Gantt charts, prioritize important tasks with a pin feature, collaborate with proofing and approving features, and track time within the platform.
Wrike has a free plan for unlimited users…and that includes at least 20 external collaborators! Collaborators are a user type in Wrike that can be assigned to contractors or stakeholders that may not be a part of your core team. They will have access to the “My To-do” tab and the Wrike inbox, plus they can create tasks, folders, projects, and spaces. As an account owner, you’ll be able to limit what they can and cannot see.
Wrike offers 400+ pre-built native integrations, including integrations with the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.
Wrike is free to use for unlimited users with some feature restrictions. Paid plans cost from $9.80/user/month with a 14-day free trial. Plans come with free collaborator seats at 20 collaborator invites or 15% of your license count, whichever is greater.
- freemium version
- 30 day free trial. No credit card required.
- From $10/user/month (starting from 5 users)
Teamwork is a project management software that lets users manage multiple products across their lifecycle without it being complicated to use. But that doesn’t mean it’s a simple tool. It comes with advanced features built to scale with your organization as you grow.
Teamwork offers a variety of ways for users to view their data, collaborate on it, and iterate. Take advantage of project and task management features like templates, time tracking & invoicing, custom fields, custom workflows, workload resource management, as well as utilization reports.
Teamwork integrates with Slack, Xero, Hubspot, Google Drive, Dropbox, QuickBooks, and Zapier.
Teamwork costs from $10/user/month which you can try free for 30 days. Teamwork offers a free forever plan for individuals and small teams with access to limited features.
TeamGantt is a project management tool that offers the most comprehensive Gantt chart building tool. They promise users a simple, easy-to-use, online Gantt chart maker for planning, scheduling, and managing projects. Simply drag and drop tasks according to start and end dates, link dependencies, and flag milestones.
TeamGantt lets you view all of your projects in one screen so you can easily see where things may come in conflict with each other. Your team can also see workloads and team availability to facilitate management of resources. Planned and actual timeline views allow you to gain even more insight on where estimations went wrong so that you can better allocate resources in the future.
TeamGantt integrates with Trello, Basecamp 2, Dropbox, Slack, and Zapier.
TeamGantt costs from $24.95/user/month. TeamGantt offers a free forever plan for 3 people with limited use of features.
Basecamp is a project management software that startup creative and technical teams can leverage for real-time chat, to-do lists, file storage, and documents/calendars. All for unlimited users on any plan level. Not to mention, the Basecamp team wrote a book on remote work which sort of makes them an authority on online project management.
Basecamp has two features that make stand-ups easier: “campfires” (AKA quick real-time group chats) and automatic check-ins (pre-scheduled Q&As). The campfires are a great way to meet with targeted team members for conversations, brainstorming, and file sharing. Automated check-ins can replace or enhance the stand-up process, asking things like: What are you working on today? What is impacting your work? Are there any roadblocks you want to address?
Basecamp integrates with tools for software development, time tracking, invoicing, accounting, reporting, charts, planning, and so much more.
Basecamp costs from $99/month. Basecamp also comes in a free but limited version.
The Best Project Management Software For Startups Summary Chart
Other Project Management Software For Startups Options
Here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list. If you need additional suggestions for handy project management software for startups, check these out.
What Do You Think About This Startup Management Software?
Have you tried out any of the above tools for startup companies? What do you think are the best project management tools for startups and small businesses? Is there any project management software for entrepreneurs that you would recommend be added to this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.