At the crux of successful remote work is the technology that enables it. Sure, remote work takes away the option to look over an employees’ shoulder or have an enlightening watercooler conversation. But thanks to technology, remote teams can work as seamlessly as in-office teams.
Tools exist for pretty much every foreseeable circumstance that can crop up in managing distributed teams. If anything, there is an overwhelming number of tools in the market.
So how do you know which project management tool will help manage your distributed teams the best?
The simple answer, of course, is choosing the tool that offers precisely what your business needs.
Asking a few questions about how you will use the tool will go a long way in whittling down the overwhelmingly vast list of project management tools out there.
Ten questions to ask before investing in a project management tool for your remote team
- What kind of projects does your business undertake? (creative, product design, software development, HR, publishing, etc.)?
- What is the usual size of each project?
- How many projects do you run concurrently?
- How many users/remote workers are part of each project at a time and all together?
- How does the work unfold (is the work completed and submitted or is the entire project done on a collaborative platform or a combination of the two)?
- Do you work with vendors who should be in the loop?
- Do you bill your clients or pay your remote team members hourly?
- Do you work with other app suites (that your project management tool will have to integrate with)?
- Which features of a project management tool are indispensable to you (maybe chat) versus which features would be nice (perhaps invoicing)?
- What is your remote project management tool budget?
A quick overview of project management tools for remote teams
While there are hundreds (literally) of project management tools any remote team could use, and it is more prudent to pick a one after you have carefully answered the above questions, here are a few project management tools for you to consider.
Basecamp: If you want to give your remote teams a fair bit of autonomy, don’t want to micromanage, yet want them to work like a well-orchestrated symphony, then Basecamp is your friend. Everyone on your remote team can get an overall view of the projects they are working on, manage their tasks and to-dos, and touch base with anyone, anytime with Basecamp. From daily updates to automatic check-ins, Basecamp is ideal for small and medium-sized businesses. Price: flat pricing of $99 per month.
Samepage: An online collaboration tool that has real-time edit features, Samepage integrates with multiple apps from Slack to Salesforce. Video chat, file share, calendar, email – are just a few of its features. Samepage also happens to support multiple languages – great when working with globally distributed teams. Price: Pro plan costs $7 per member per month. They also offer a free version for ten users that includes plenty of features.
Quip: A versatile collaboration tool, Quip will let you exchange spreadsheets as quickly as it will let you edit code. From product development to sales to HR and recruitment, any remote team looking for essential project management functions will find Quip easy to use and reliable. Their Live Apps feature is an excellent way of keeping all the tools and software connected with a project in one doc, making work more efficient. Price: $30 per month for a team of five and $10 for each additional person.
Wrike: If your business handles multiple projects at once or needs to develop a custom workflow, Wrike could be the best tool for you. In addition to assigning or prioritizing tasks and setting timelines, you can analyze outcomes and generate reports for your campaigns. Price: you can get started for free, but paid plans start at $9.80 per user per month.
ActiveCollab: Touted as the Swiss-army-knife of project management, ActiveCollab offers all the features mandatory for continuous work on multiple projects spread across different continents. The option to customize workflows according to Gantt chart-like timelines or Kanbans or simple lists make it easy to use. Their many features include time tracking and invoicing. You can host ActiveCollab in the cloud or your server. Price: free trial available along with five different price buckets starting at $25 per month for cloud hosting.
Zoho Projects: The project management software of choice for more than a million businesses, Zoho Projects is precisely what you’d expect from a killer online collaborative tool. From great communication features to doc sharing to deep diving for insights, Zoho will make working online with a remote team a cakewalk. Mobile apps, easy integration with other software, as well as REST API extends its usage for any business. Price: starts at $25 for 20 projects.
Assembla: For large enterprises looking to move their entire or a part of their operations on cloud and integrate their work with other state-of-the-art software like Git or Jira, while following strict security compliances, Assembla is the answer. They offer solutions for industrial manufacturers, healthcare services, and game developers. All the minutiae of project development, building and testing, and deployment are covered in Assembla. Price: $7.50 per user per month for project management.
Asana: If your business consists of many remote teams working on multiple projects at the same time, and you need a project management software that’s robust enough to handle all your needs, has the best in bells and whistles, integrates with 100+ apps, and yet is very easy and intuitive to use, then give Asana a try. Use this tool to give your team leads administrative control, share information in private, and use work process templates to cut down repetitive work. Price: $9.99 per user per month, but start-ups can use a basic version for free.
Teamwork Projects: Large businesses often consists of teams that work in silos, without being aware of what the other teams are even up to. But if you want all your teams to connect with each other, keeping in mind their inter-dependencies, and for your remote team members to know where exactly they fit within a project, then Teamwork Projects is the right solution. It offers all the features of an online collaborative tool, pays attention to security and online access, and is intuitive to use. Price: the Pro plan starts at $9 per user per month.
Best for Developers
Atlassian Jira Software: The top choice of software developers working in agile teams, Jira has become synonymous with planning, tracking, and releasing new software. Whether your teams follow Scrum, Kanban, or Mixed Methodology, no matter where they are situated, and despite how quickly your team is growing, Jira can accommodate and customize your entire software development process down to catching the last bug. Over 3000 integrations, Rich APIs, and password protection are a few of the features that make Jira a trusted project management tool for remote developers. Price: $7 per user per month for growing teams of 11-100.
Atlassian BitBucket: If you want your remote developers to use Git repositories and yet maintain a cache of proprietary code, then BitBucket is your answer. With features like code review and inline comment, BitBucket makes collaborating on codes easy. Also, it is highly scalable – making it suitable for small to large teams. Price: $2 for medium-sized teams.
GitHub: Collaborating with developers is what underlines working on GitHub. Proprietary or opensource, on a platform like GitHub not only can your remote developers get the help they need on their code, your project managers can keep track of everyone’s work and project progress. Assigning task (or an issue), monitoring resolutions and milestones, exchanging documents – is all taken care of in one place. Price: $21 per user per month for business.
Best for Product Development Projects
Productboard: Product roadmap, feature prioritization, collaboration with your team, clients, and customers are features you’d rightly expect of a product development tool – all of which productboard offers. But what sets this tool apart is how it helps you develop a product that stems from your customers’ needs. Customer insights, current trends and how they relate to your strategic goals, and competitive analysis to give your work a cutting edge (along with a repository for all your findings) – are features that can make your new product about as fail-safe as possible. Price: $49 per month for 20 contributors and 5 projects, comes with a 15-day free trial.
Aha!: Developing a new product with a remote team requires a platform that will support not only the big picture, but sharing ideas, getting feedback, and actual execution. Aha! supports all of this along with helping you create a strategy and a visual roadmap for your product development. Also, it enables you to define your product better and makes it more marketable. Price: start-ups can use the tool for free, premium plans start at $59/month per user.
Best for Marketers and Creative Agencies
iMeet Central: Although iMeet Central (formerly Central Desktop) can be an excellent resource for enterprise teams, this tool is particularly suited to marketing teams and agencies that work with several vendors and creatives who are situated all over the world. It does managing campaigns, creative proofing work, and customizing workflows a cinch. You can integrate iMeet Central to your current apps, thanks to the JSON-based REST API it offers. Price: $45 per user per month for marketers and agencies.
Best for B2B Content Marketing
Kapost: The crux of B2B marketing is content creation. But creating innumerable content ad hoc can quickly get out of hand if you don’t rely on a project management tool, such as Kapost. You can streamline content production, discover content gaps, and send out the right content to the right leads using Kapost. It is an entirely collaborative platform that allows teams to work together on a document, share their work, and communicate ideas and feedbacks. Price: $3500 per month.
Best for Service Providers
Scoro: From scheduling to creating to selling and getting paid, Scoro is an all-in-one project, resource, and financial management software best suited for service providers and creative agencies with a remote workforce. Features like setting multi-currency custom rates to quoting a project to differentiating between billable and non-billable work, Scoro has everything an agency needs to run its business. Price: starts at $22 per user per month.
Best for Designers
Abstract: Said to be Git for designers, Abstract is a platform where designers can collaborate, upload their sketch files, get help/suggestions from others, and share their work. Abstract allows for easy changes to designs, saves the different iterations, and lets you merge all the changes in one go. Whether you are working with graphic designers or frontend engineers or storyboarding a campaign, Abstract will provide you the tools to collaborate on your design projects. Price: starts at $9 per contributor per month.
Best for Construction and Remodeling Projects
Mydoma Studio: A platform for interior designers to collaborate with all the parties of a design project, Mydoma Studio provides an end-to-end solution, from sending out contracts to invoicing. Features like designing a creative brief, adding products from different websites, keeping clients in the loop, and reviewing progress reports will help streamline your interior design projects. Price: $59 flat price for unlimited users.
Focused on Time Management
Teamweek: If managing your team’s time is your central focus, then Teamweek is the ideal tool. You can assign your resources new tasks knowing how much work they currently have and when they will meet their deadlines. The tool revolves around a highly detailed calendar that also gives you a top-level view of your projects and the groups working on each project. Price: free for five users with limited features. They also have four other price plans starting at $34 per month for ten people.
Lean Project Management Tools
Flow: This project management tool is a great option for managing straightforward projects and campaigns. Be it entire projects or merely the tasks of all your resources or getting a quick overview of project progress, Flow will make managing your remote team easier. Price: $16 per month for up to three users.
Best Free/Budget-Friendly Options
Freedcamp: If you are just getting started, a basic project management tool like Freedcamp could be the best way to go. Not only is it straightforward to use, but it also offers many crucial features at no charge. File sharing and editing, integration with other apps, backups, white label work, password protection, and invoicing will help you cover all the bases of your projects and keep your team working effortlessly. Price: free for basic users, but they do have paid plans that include additional features.
Paymo: Everything from online collaboration to task scheduling and time tracking to help streamline your work while staying on budget, you can expect from Paymo. From Gantt charts to Kanban boards, Paymo will help you track the work of your remote teams through the entire lifecycle of a project. To boot, it is pocket-friendly. Price: $4.45 per user per month.
Easiest to Use
Redbooth: Offering many of the features of other project management tools, what distinguishes Redbooth is its ease of use and visual representation. These two attributes along with the inclusion of basic features make it ideal for small businesses executing simple projects. One of its unique features is that it assigns each user on a team a separate workspace, like a virtual office. Price: the paid plans start at $9 per user per month.
Trello: Kanbans help you organize your projects into easy-to-see boards. Trello offers that visual aid to track your projects all at once. Assigning tasks to team members, setting deadlines or a sequence of actions, and moving boards across columns make managing any project easy. A part of Atlassian, Trello integrates with many apps from Jira to BitBucket. Price: free, but business plans that include features like app integration begin at $9.99 per user per month.
Monday: A simple project management tool that helps you carry out all aspect of your project from one board, Monday is intuitive to use and gives you an overview of your project in one place. At one glance you can see exactly who is working on what part of the project and when they’ll finish. From talking to your team to keeping clients in the loop, Monday has all the features that make managing a project a breeze. Price: the basic plan starts at $25 per month.
Slack: Simplifying team communication is a significant step forward in streamlining project management, and Slack offers you exactly that. It is the ideal tool for remote team communications with the added feature of working together on projects. Features like Screenhero make working on the same document at the same time achievable. Chats are saved and searchable and help create transparency within a team. Price: free for small teams, paid plans start at $6.67.
Stride: If keeping in touch with your team is the primary focus of your project management, then a tool like Stride is the way to go. Stride is the latest offering from Atlassian slotted to hit the markets soon. Whether discussing an idea with a whole team or sending direct messages to one person, Stride enables communication in a collaborative online work setting. Other than messaging, you can comfortably host voice and video conferencing and cut out the clutter of emails and lengthy chat discussions. And when you need to focus on your work, you can turn off notifications. Price: free for basic use; a paid version that includes more features will cost $3 per user per month.
G Suite: If the ability to share your project work with anyone in or outside your team is an essential factor in choosing a collaboration tool, G Suite is a popular option. From G Suite your team gets access to Gmail, Google Docs, Drive, Calendar, Hangout – so communicating, sharing, storing, and chatting are all easily taken care of in your shared work. Besides, Google’s Admin and Vault make your work on G Suite safe and protected. Price: the basic plan starts at $5 per user per month.
Atlassian Confluence: A popular overall choice for managing any projects, Confluence boasts NASA and Spotify amongst their many users. Being from the Atlassian family of project management tools, Confluence easily integrates with many other apps including Jira that also help extend its functionality. From creating a company knowledge base to getting quick updates and status reports on an ongoing project to monitoring multiple teams at the same time, Confluence has robust capabilities along with ease of use – at a reasonable price. Price: $5 per user per month for teams of 11-100.
Most of the above project management tools have one thing in common – they give you a free trial. Once you know what type of tool will make managing your remote teams easier, feel free to try a few different ones. Keep in mind that your team may not be familiar with the software and they should be trained if they are to work with it. No matter how useful a project management tool is, it’s only as good as the work you can accomplish with it. If the tool gets in your way, don’t shy away from trying a new one. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices in project management tools for your remote teams, give us a nudge – we’ll be glad to help in any way we can.