Finding tools to use for project management for your small business, software development team, or creative agency isn’t easy. The right project management tool for small businesses will give you planning, advanced task management, collaboration, messaging, and time-tracking features. But you would also need additional tools for functions such as design, CRM, or visual planning that can easily integrate into your project management tool for creatives.
Before helping you discover the tools to use for project management, let’s first understand why you need them. It’s estimated that around 54 percent of all organizations that are actively involved in projects fail to successfully monitor their KPIs in real-time. The State of Project Management Report concludes that 12 percent of resources are wasted due to ineffective project management.
Why you need specialized project management tools
It’s clear that a lack of project management tools can derail projects and lead to systemic inefficiencies and redundancies. But choosing a project management tool for small businesses can be tricky. To begin with, you need to know your specific requirements based on the projects you manage and the human resources you have.
Secondly, projects vary in complexity. While some would require just a simple checklist, others require planning, resource allocation, regular follow-ups, setting deadlines, and time-tracking. These tasks require specialized tools for quantification, delegation, and management of personnel, resources, and processes.
Finally, even within organizations, projects can have different objectives, processes, and overall scale. Therefore, when comparing tools for project management for small businesses, it’s important to identify what’s necessary, what can significantly add value, and what’s not needed.
Essential features of project management tools
If you’re looking for a project management tool for creatives or small businesses, in all likelihood, you’re looking for one that’s cloud-based. These are the key features that you should keep in mind when considering these web-based tools.
Along with tracking the progress of projects in real-time, it’s also important to have a viable project estimate based on your team’s current performance. This estimation can take various forms such as EVM, baselines, or budget forecasts.
Every project needs to be completed within a pre-determined budget. It will only happen if you can monitor your expenses and analyze the actual cost against what’s invoiced to the clients and needed to pay your team. You should also be able to forecast your budget and compare the actual and planned costs.
There should be a productive alignment between people’s aptitude and their tasks. A project management tool for creatives, for example, will help avoid under-working or overworking. This will also help boost employee morale.
Enhancing collaboration is one of the primary benefits of a project management tool for small businesses. With collaboration tools like chat, multi-media sharing, forums, and web meetings, teams can instantly share information and remove bottlenecks.
Managing the quality of the project is one of the key concerns for creative teams and those in software development. Quickly tracking issues and resolving them will do away with the need for rushed changes at a later stage.
What you need is a project management tool that’s designed for your sector. Something that works for large sales teams may not work for small businesses or freelancers. Aside from the cost, you may be forced to deal with a complex set of features.
Now that we know the need for project management tools for creatives and software development teams and the features you should look for, these are the top-rated software for their respective functions.
What tool to use for CRM – HoneyBook
Independent professionals and small businesses usually find it difficult to deliver elevated client experiences. That’s until they start using HoneyBook. This project management tool for small businesses has everything you need to make you look professional, sell your services, and manage clients.
It’s an advanced system that helps you manage both your workflow and cash flow in place, allowing you to focus on your care tasks. You can effortlessly find your legal documents, schedules, project details, and emails, which will help you track projects and payments with ease.
Clients can easily choose services, e-sign contracts, and send payments. As a small business or freelancer, you can quickly create and send invoices, which will make sure that you get paid on time. The tool comes with fast, simple, and completely secure payments. With powerful automation, it also saves you time on follow-ups and replies.
HoneyBook also integrates with other tools you may use. This is how you increase efficiency and productivity.
What tool to use for design – Canva
Gone are the days when clients or creative agencies had to start everything from scratch. That way of having to reinvent the wheel for each new project is both inefficient and cumbersome. Canva has reimagined creative workflows. This online graphic design tool lets you create and edit social media posts, videos, posters, presentations, logos, and more.
Once you know the goals of your campaign and the assets you need, you can start by going through the templates. From photo collages to cards to flyers, you can create everything with ease. Choose a design, make the necessary changes, import your images and logo if you need to, and download it as a ready-to-print file or high-quality document.
The platform offers both free and paid subscriptions for both individuals and teams. With Canva, you don’t need an extensive team of designers. You can finish projects faster because you only have to make changes to the main template. Your designs will also have consistency across platforms since you will be using the same template.
Multiple users can access the platform and give their feedback or make changes. This streamlines the design process. What if you want to get your designs printed and shipped? Canva offers that too, which can significantly save you time, money, and effort.
One of the biggest advantages of Canva is that you get ready-made video templates. Now you can share these videos on your social media pages without having to approach a photographer or editor.
What tool to use for visual planning – Kanban
When all stakeholders in a project can easily get an overview of the project and task status, there will be greater collaboration and communication. Kanban is one of the most preferred solutions that teams use for visual planning and real-time sharing of information, notes, and comments.
Using a lean management method, Kanban helps teams visualize work and ensures a seamless flow of work. You can measure and improve any aspect of the task or process to increase productivity and overall efficiency. With smooth time-tracking features, the tool allows you to monitor and plan your project and removes bottlenecks in the process.
Kanban helps even smaller teams utilize the power of agile development. Task tracking and collaboration are easy with reporting, notifications, and team management features. You also get a native mobile app, document sharing, and reporting, which would help medium and large enterprises.
While the tool is mostly aimed at larger organizations, there’s a free plan that even freelancers can use as long as there are only two users. This plan only supports two boards, which should be sufficient for an independent professional looking for a project management tool for free.
What tool to use for client + team communication, messaging, video calling, information + organization, project management – Heycollab
Most project management tools for small business only help you solve a part of the puzzle. Some help you with organization, while others manage communication. Heycollab is designed for enhanced, digital-first collaboration. It takes care of everything from team communication to organization to multimedia messaging.
Heycollab is all you need to simplify your internal communication. You can plan projects and manage resources through calls, tasks, chat, time-tracking, and more. You can include tasks, subtasks, owners, and due dates for greater clarity. The app also allows you to see everything on your board, calendar, list, and timeline.
Team leaders can easily organize collaborative workspaces for every project to create and implement sustainable and highly productive process flows. This also ensures that everything you need is available in one dedicated space. What’s more, Heycollab offers unlimited file storage. You won’t have to use any other software or platform to store your files now.
As a project leader, you can effortlessly assign visibility and give access to team members using pre-built roles. This helps you give both key individuals and guests the right level of access to projects.
As a project management tool for small businesses and creatives, Heycollab’s mission is to empower teams and unleash their productivity. It helps you manage resources and maintain visibility on all aspects of project progression and task completion. Managing visual feedback makes sure that you can keep everyone on track and team members in sync.
Finding the right project management tool for small businesses can unify your team’s efforts, help you better allocate resources, track progress, give access to information, enhance internal and external communication, and significantly improve your collective productivity.