As an online entrepreneur, you have tons of projects and ideas to keep track of, and hopefully, more than a few team members helping you get everything done.
Making sure everyone is on the same page, that nothing is falling through the cracks, and that best practices are being documented for future use, are all part of business excellence.
You can invest as much – or as little – money as you would like in a solution that will work for you and your team. The key is to find a program that fits your budget, your requirements, and your future growth.
There are dozens of project management programs available at every price point, but I don't want you to over-invest. So I've put together a list of three possible solutions, two free, and three at a monthly paid level. Let's take a look:
This is part of Google's suite of business management tools. While it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles as far as communication, it provides a basic level of collaboration services, including document sharing, like spreadsheets, text-based documents, drawings, etc., as well as shared folders. It also has the ability to chat when team members are online and logged in at the same time.
As manager, you can create documents for each project and share with the applicable team members. Google Docs is a great, entry-level solution for small teams that mostly need file sharing and joint access to documents, and don't need a high level of interactivity or flow-chart planning.
Cost: Free, but all members must have a Google account. Find out more at Docs.Google.com
Zoho Projects is a feature-rich web-based project management and collaboration software that is easy-to-use and of course ‘social' too with twitter like status updates which improves communication and overall productivity of your team. They offer many features, the free ones I've italicized. You can create Storage Space, Files Sharing, Import MS & Basecamp projects, Integration with Google Apps, Task Dependency & Reports, RSS & iCal, Time Tracking, Log and Track Time, Record Billing Hours, Export Timesheet(xls/csv), Invoices and Billing, Bug Tracking, Tracking issues via forms, Notifications, Business Rules, Custom Fields, Add-ons, Cost Project Wiki, and Project Chat.
Cost: Free to $699 a month. Find out more information Zoho.com/projects
This is the gold standard for online project management. With a variety of membership levels, there are several options for everyone from the independent freelancer to a ramped-up team of many. With tons of options, Basecamp provides you whiteboards for sharing brainstorming, messaging, milestones, and to-do lists for multiple users. The drawback? A commonly cited complaint is that there is a bit of a ramp-up before users feel comfortable with all the features and elements.
Cost: $24 to $149 per month, unlimited users. Find out more at BaseCampHQ.com
This is one of Basecamp's main competitors. It offers many of the same options, including file sharing, messaging, and assigning and managing tasks. One of the benefits is that it uses a familiar, Twitter-style interface for users, and you can be updated via RSS feed. The interface is a bit more intuitive than Basecamp.
Cost: $12 to $299 per month, unlimited users. Find out more at Teambox.com
This is the service that I personally use. I find it to be very user-friendly as well as cost effective. It has all of the bells and whistles as the other paid sites (task management, calendar, filing versioning, milestones, discussions, time tracking, activity stream and more).
Cost: $10 to $80 per month, unlimited users. Find out more at GoPlanApp.com
When selecting your solution from these or other options, keep in mind that what works for you today may not work tomorrow and beyond. If you're hesitant to invest in a paid option right off the bat, you might want to start with a free or low-cost option so you can see what features and options you need, and then upgrade from there. Do remember that you're investing in a solution that will save you time, and therefore money in the long run, so any investment you make now will pay off over time.
Photo Credit: GoPlan