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.
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:
- User Interface (UI): Is the user interface easy to navigate, lightweight, and fast to load and update?
- Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training? What is the learning curve like?
- Integrations: Does the software connect with other popular tools that might come in handy for small teams, like Google and Microsoft products?
- Value for $: Is the price affordable for small businesses and small creative teams? Does it offer scalability options in the case of team expansion?
Best Project Management Software Key Features
- Project plan features such as templates, filters, mobile app use, and task lists
- Team collaboration automation, streamline features, subtasks
- Real-time commenting and notifications between team members
- Invoicing, scheduling, and billing features
- Real-time help desks and customer feedback
- Task management features
- Flexible alerts & notifications
- Digital asset storage
- Team collaboration/communication
- Knowledge base & shared docs
Looking for more? Check out our main article on best project management software.
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monday.com is an easy-to-use project management tool that saves small businesses money in two ways: offering free/affordable entry-level plans and being super user-friendly to cut back on money lost on training and onboarding. They are used by teams at Uber, Adobe, Hulu, and Unilever, so your SMB can feel like its playing in the software big leagues.
monday is flexible and scalable with 5 pricing plans available so that it can grow with you. With their freemium plan, you’ll already have access to unlimited project boards, 200+ free project/task templates, 20+ column types, and their iOS and Android apps. Pay particular attention to the free project template library—here, you’ll find pre-made outlines for editorial calendars, marketing campaign planning, CRM charts, event planning, HR forms, and more. The usefulness of this section for small businesses can not be overstated.
monday.com’s 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. They also have an apps marketplace with free and paid add-ons to boost your functionality. Again, I cannot stress the level of flexibility and scalability with this form.
monday.com costs from $6/user/month and comes with a free 14-day trial. They offer a free plan for up to 2 users.
ClickUp is a project management tool that is one of the top tools on the market and could seem unaffordable for a small business at first glance. As a small business owner myself, I can tell you that is not the case. Plus, ClickUp’s free version might just be enough to get you started.
The tool has features like task management, time tracking, whiteboards, shared documents, dashboards, and communication tools to keep your team aligned. As you can see on the screenshot above, you can use documents to store company information such as brand guidelines and core values.
Note: Their free version has pretty much every feature (with certain limitations). Enough to get you to try it and see if it makes sense to invest.
ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier. These integrations will extend the functionality of the platform.
ClickUp is free with limited storage for an unlimited number of users. Paid plans start at $5/user/month and offer a free trial.
Kintone is a customizable project management software for small businesses that is used by teams from McCormick Distillery (Missouri), A-B Emblem (North Carolina), Michael Callahan & Associates (Virginia), and over 23,000 organizations worldwide. Their unique approach to project and task management lets you build a wide variety of customizable “apps” either from scratch, using templates or from your existing spreadsheets, for data management, business processes, and workflows. Kintone apps can be customized for project management, sales CRM, customer databases, expense reports, shared to-do lists, equipment management, product feedback, and much more.
Kintone lets you build no-code, project management apps for your small business by dragging and dropping elements that you want to see onto the page: rich text fields, date fields, drop-down menus, number fields with built-in calculations, spaces for attachments, user or group selection menus, related data from other apps, tables, and more.
Once you’ve built the app you want, you can use it to more easily manage whatever data and tasks you and your team need to track. And with custom notifications and reminders as well as detailed permissions settings, your project management solution can look and work however you want it to.
With Kintone’s customization features, small businesses are able to manage all of their workflows for every department within one central platform instead of across dozens of tools (CRMs, expense reports, project trackers, and spreadsheets, to name a few). Save time and effort for your team with clear assignments, filtered lists to help prioritize tasks, and automated reminders and handoffs to manage multi-step workflows.
Kintone’s built-in communication features also allow teams to discuss projects directly in the app and in topic or project-based threads. Dedicated “spaces” organize everything your team needs for your project, including task-tracking apps and searchable conversation threads.
There are so many ways to customize Kintone it can be hard to know where to start. Read the starter blog “What Can You Build with Kintone?” or watch Creating an App from Scratch for a quick look at how the drag-and-drop builder works.
Kintone lets you expand its capabilities with both free native plugins built by the Kintone team as well as integrations with other tools like Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, Outlook, Tableau, Dropbox, Salesforce, HubSpot, Eventbrite, WordPress, QuickBooks, MailChimp, and many more through a paid plan with Zapier or via API integrations.
Kintone costs $24/user/month with a minimum requirement of 5 users. They offer a 30-day free trial (no credit card required) and discounted prices for nonprofits and educators. Kintone’s team also offers a free custom app build as part of the free trial process.
Celoxis is a comprehensive and web-based platform that is a great fit for small businesses. It comes with powerful analytical capabilities, interactive Gantt charts, and collaboration features at an affordable price.
Celoxis provides you with a real-time project tracker, resource availability and utilization, timesheets, project finances, risks, issues and dashboards. In addition, you can collaborate with your team through project discussions, @mention comments, file sharing, document version control, and activity streams.
One reason to consider Celoxis is their lack of pricing plans, meaning you get all features of the product all the time! Plus, with its unlimited client and virtual accounts, you can significantly reduce the number of licenses you have to buy.
Celoxis integrates with over 400 business apps, including Google Drive, email and calendar platforms, Jira, Salesforce, Slack, and many more through Zapier. In addition, their API lets you build custom integrations with any other tools you use.
Celoxis is one of the few project manager software programs to be available both in SaaS and on-premise flavors. SaaS costs $22.50/user/month (annually) and on-premise costs $450/user one-time. Both require a minimum 5-user sign-up and come with 30-day free trial.
Zoho Projects is an online project management tool that lets teams plan, track, and collaborate on project work. The tool is scalable for small businesses and mid-size businesses.
Zoho Projects allows users to set up project plans, as well as create and assign ad-hoc tasks across the team. The tool also includes features like flexible work hours, baselines, and critical paths in Gantt charts, team based work allocation, and task reminders. Time tracking and resource utilization features help managers ensure that employees are not over or under worked.
Users can automate task transitions and workflows, track activities and progress by using the advanced reports, and manage budgets with expense management features. Collaboration features include team-wide and individual discussion management, a meeting tab to facilitate virtual meetings, a social feed to interact with and keep track of all your project activities, a forum to discuss ideas and solutions, and a central document management module to manage all information. Mobile applications are also available.
Zoho Projects has several integrations with Zoho apps like Zoho CRM, Zoho Cliq, Zoho Meeting, as well as with other third party apps like Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, Zapier, Zendesk, and ServiceNow.
Zoho Projects offers a free plan as well as a 10-day free trial for paid editions, which start at $4 per user per month.
Asana is an easy-to-use small business management software with different to-do list styles and a pleasant, colorful interface that’s welcoming to new users. It’s a simple project management app for easy automation and current tasks on hand. Made for any project of any size, they also offer a basic free plan with unlimited projects, tasks and messaging. They are used by the likes of SiteMinder, Quora, C40 Cities, Guru, and Finc.
Key features include a workflow builder, timelines, task boards, a calendar view, reporting, goal setting, forms for work requests, automations, and workload management alerts. Some features may be locked to higher level paid plans. The goals feature is particularly useful, as it lets you pick a company- or team goal, quantify it, and then attach it to your workflow and tasks. Asana will then measure completion and report back with any setbacks or wins.
Asana integrates with Microsoft Teams, Adobe Creative Cloud, JIRA Cloud, Salesforce, Tableau, Slack, Clockwise, MS Office 365, Google Calendar, Gmail, Power BI, Outlook, ServiceNow, JotForm, Google Drive, Looker, Vimeo, DropBox, Trello, GitLab, and a growing list of other apps. Plus, a plan with Zapier or Tray.io can let you access other apps to connect with Asana.
Asana is free to use for up to 15 users. Paid plans start at $10.99/user/month (billed annually) and comes with a 30-day free trial.
Wrike is a project and resource management tool with a generous free plan (unlimited users!) that will appeal to small businesses on a tight monthly budget. Upon logging in to your account, you’ll have straightforward access to your inbox, recent and pinned items, your spaces, and the administrative menu bar. Your personalized dashboard lets you add widgets to see the most pertinent information for your workday—items like To-Do Today, My Overdue Tasks, Due: Next 7 Days, and/or Tasks Created by Me.
Wrike lets you snooze inbox notifications to be re-reminded of them later at a more convenient time. Default settings snooze for 3 hours, 1 day, or 1 week but you can use the custom menu option to pick your own date and time. You can also instantly order your task lists by priority, date, status, importance, or alphabetically within a simple dropdown menu. Workspace themes let users easily swap between color schemes.
Businesses of all sizes will appreciate Wrike’s work schedule management feature (business plan and above) lets you group and flag employees according to what a typical weekly schedule looks like for them. Wrike will take this into account when planning your project timeline.
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 with some feature limitations. Paid plans cost from $9.80/user/month and come with a 14-day free trial.
Trusted by over 6,000 businesses and 20,000 agencies, Teamwork provides tons of project management features, as well as offering a free project management system with some feature limitations. Track your team’s workload capacity in the app to avoid bottlenecks based on overloaded scheduling; you can easily drag-and-drop items to re-prioritize or re-assign blocked work.
Teamwork boasts plenty of self-lead training materials, which can be a huge help to SMBs who lack time and resources for 1:1 onboarding of new tools across the company. You can access prerecorded and live webinars, the Teamwork blog, a downloadable software guide, a detailed wiki/resource center, and feature videos.
Teamwork grants you unlimited “client” accounts to best include external stakeholders in your planning and execution processes. You can tailor client access and permissions within the admin menu, so that they can only see and touch items and reports that are relevant to their projects. Clients can add tasks, leave comments, and even log time from their guest account.
Teamwork integrates with Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, Dropbox, Slack, Microsoft Teams, MS Office, Harvest, Quickbooks, Xero, Hubspot, SharePoint, Microsoft Project, SoftSync, and hundreds of others using a paid plan through Zapier.
Teamwork has a free plan for basic task and project management. Paid plans cost from $10/user/month and come with a 30-day free trial.
TeamGantt is a project management platform packed with collaborative tools and useful features such as project plan templates and project planning filters—plus, it’s mobile friendly. They offer a host of project templates to get you started quickly including ones for marketing projects, creative & design projects, event planning, software development, and construction projects.
TeamGantt lets you build a base Gantt chart and then save it as a template so that you can reuse your custom design again and again. Although “Gantt” is in their name, TeamGantt lets you toggle between different project views much like other software in this space: task lists, calendars, and so on.
You can access portfolio views and reports in TeamGantt to track the status everything your comapny is working on all at once. This is great for professinoal services businesses that have to juggle multiple clients with multiple projects. Their standard subscription plan (and above) even comes with unlimited guests account access, so customers can following along with your work without asking for constant status updates.
TeamGantt integrates natively with Slack, Trello, and Dropbox; offers additional API integrations; and connects to hundreds of other apps using a paid Zapier account.
TeamGantt is free for 3 users and 1 project. Paid plans cost from $19.90/month for 1 user.
Trello is perhaps one of the best know Kanban board tools in the project management space (not that there aren’t alternatives popping up regularly) and it offers a free plan that small businesses will love. It can be your primary planning and organization tool or simply complement whatever else you are using on a daily basis.
Key features include unlimited card creation (even on the free plan), no-code automations, activity logs, project templates, mobile device management, unlimited activity logs, and custom backgrounds & stickers (fun!).
Trello boasts a ridiculously easy learning curve at the cost of hosting some of the more advanced features of some of the other project management tools out there. However, for a basic Kanban board structure—with customizable categories and data fields—with unlimited card creation, Trello really can’t be beat.
Trello integrates with more than 200+ apps and tools your team depends on like Slack, Google Drive, Salesforce, Dropbox and more directly into your Trello boards. (Note: Some connections require an additional subscription fee.)
Trello is free to use for unlimited users. Paid plans cost from $5/user/month and unlock additional features. They offer a free trial to test before you buy.
Need expert help selecting the right Project Management Software?
We’ve joined up with the software comparison platform Crozdesk.com to assist you in finding the right software. Crozdesk’s Project Management Software advisors can create a personalized shortlist of software solutions with unbiased recommendations to help you identify the solutions that best suit your business’s needs. Through our partnership you get free access to their bespoke software selection advice, removing both time and hassle from the research process.
It only takes a minute to submit your requirements and they will give you a quick call at no cost or commitment. Based on your needs you’ll receive customized software shortlists listing the best-fitting solutions from their team of software advisors (via phone or email). They can even connect you with your selected vendor choices along with community negotiated discounts. To get started, please complete the form below:
14 days free trial
|From $6/user/month||Visit Website|
|From $5/user/month||Visit Website|
30 days free trial (no credit card required)
|From $24/month/user with a minimum of 5 users||Visit Website|
30 days free trial
|From $22.50/user/month||Visit Website|
10 days free trial. No credit card required
|From $4/user/month, billed annually||Visit Website|
14 days free trial
|From $9.80/user/month and has a freemium version for up to 5 users||Visit Website|
30 days free trial
|From $10.99/user/month||Visit Website|
30 days free trial. No credit card required.
|From $9/user/month (starting from 5 users)||Visit Website|
14 day free trial
|From $24.95/month||Visit Website|
|From $9.99/user/month||Visit Website|
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.
Do you require something a little more robust? Start with our list of project management tools here.
Related List of Tools: 10 Best Free Workflow Software For Small Teams