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.
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.
The Digital Project Manager is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.
Height is the all-in-one project management tool that can be used by startups to accommodate workflows on a team-by-team basis and includes unlimited members, guests, and tasks in its free plan.
Height offers different ways to visualize your data, like Gantt charts, spreadsheet, calendar, and kanban boards. Another nice feature is real-time chat per task, which ensures that all conversation about work happens in context, is searchable, and only notifies the people for whom the info is relevant.
Its robust offering includes a command menu from which you can customize keyboard shortcuts for almost anything you can think of, macOS and Windows apps, and SOC 2 Type II compliance for data protection.
Integrations include Notion, Slack, Discord, GitHub, GitLab, Sentry, Zendesk, Figma, Slab, Fivetran, and many more through Zapier.
Height's pricing starts at $6.99/user/month and comes with a free 30-day trial. One last thing, guest accounts are free in all paid plans.
ClickUp is a project management software that sits at the top of many lists. Full of features and with an incredible free version, this tool has what all startups need: great functionality at a low or non-existent price
Collaborative docs will help you create your one pager, investor documents, and partner agreements. Whiteboards can help you brainstorm ideas on a new product. Their in-app chat will keep your comms fresh and without needing to buy another software or relying on instant messaging platforms.
Bonus: If you need more than the 100MB storage limit on the free version, you can get the small team plan and even negotiate the price by letting them know how much you are willing to pay per user.
ClickUp offers native integrations with Slack, G Suite, Dropbox, and many more tools, as well as over 1,000+ integrations through Zapier.
ClickUp is free with limited storage for an unlimited number of users. Paid plans start at $5/user/month and offer a free-trial.
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 $6/user/month and comes with a free 14-day trial. They offer a free plan for up to 2 users.
ESPMI is a project portfolio management software solution that helps startups manage big data projects by integrating all data sources into one centralized location. The software uses AI and machine learning algorithms to predict future trends, identify issues early on, and recommend solutions.
The portfolio management feature provides users with a complete view of their portfolio, including asset allocation, performance, and risk exposure. It allows users to customize their portfolio view, set up watchlists, and receive real-time alerts when changes occur. The resource management feature provides a centralized location for users to view and manage physical, human, and financial resources. Users can see available resources and track and allocate them accordingly. This feature is also responsible for displaying resource utilization metrics so that users can identify areas that may adjustment.
The software helps businesses manage risk by identifying potential problems early and taking corrective action to prevent them from becoming bigger issues. It does this by continually monitoring usage data and flagging any anomalies that could indicate a problem. If there is a sudden spike in the usage of a particular resource, the software will automatically send an alert so that the user can investigate and take action if necessary. The software can also help startups assess their exposure to risk and make informed decisions about how best to mitigate it.
A free trial is available so startups can try it out before committing to a paid subscription.
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.
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.
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.
Asana is a popular project and task management tool. It has a free plan for up to 15 users that contains much Asana has to offer, although you miss out on some of the more advanced features. However, this entry level free plan is a great place for startups to jump in.
You can create unlimited projects and tasks and then assign them to up to 15 employees. It’s easy to assign due dates to each task so everyone knows when work needs to be done. Moving tasks around is easy thanks to the simple drag and drop interface.
You can create task dependencies so the right people are notified when work needs to be done. And managers can get an overview of projects in the relevant dashboard, as well as see work in both calendar and list views.
Asana also excels due to its integrations. You can integrate with over 100 different apps including Microsoft Teams, Slack, and most G Suite products. If you need more functionality, pricing for paid plans starts at $10.99 per user per month.
Asana is free to use for up to 15 collaborators.
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 $7/user/month and includes a 14-day free trial.
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.
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:
30-day free trial
|From $8.50/user/month||Visit Website|
Free plan available
14-day free trial
|From $10/user/month||Visit Website|
14-day free trial
|Pricing upon request||Visit Website|
14-day free trial
|From $29/user/month||Visit Website|
Free plan is available (limited to 10 boards)
|From $6/user/month||Visit Website|
14 days free trial
|Free version + pro starts at $1.49/user/month||Visit Website|
|From $10.99/user/month||Visit Website|
14-day free trial
|From $7/user/month||Visit Website|
30-day free trial
|From $11/user/month (billed annually)||Visit Website|
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.
- Asana – Best for easy user adoption
- Notion – Best for engineering teams
- Kerika – Best for task boards and whiteboards
- Odoo – Best open source project management software
Just realized that you need a different type of tool? Check out these other reviews:
- Time tracking software to help track time and easily manage timesheets and invoices.
- Resource scheduling software to help you allocate equipment, rooms, staff, and other resources.
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.
Looking for another type of project management tool? Start with this list of tools.